Stanley Kubrick, Call Office

Have I mentioned that I'm tired of the Web? Have I said this already? I wouldn't so much say that there's nothing worth reading out there as that I'm no longer interested in reading it.

I'm sick of computer screens. Not for everything, mind you, not for everything. I'm a programmer, and if I never see another printed source code listing again, it'll be too soon. Not to deny computers their due. But specifically this: I hate reading things in such a way.

Some have said that we'll need to stop reading and start interacting and I say bullshit. Long-form text ain't going away no ways no how. And it just don't fricking work online. I'm resubscribing to my magazines, considering getting a newspaper again. It's the only reasonable way. You're just not going to convince me to read that many words on a screen if I have half a choice.

About these other modalities, well, I ent convinced. My news is half-baked and mostly consists of stories that textually include stories I read earlier in the day. My entertainment is scrambled, random, a mixture of updating schedules and when I remember to check. My intellectual stimulation is on-again off-again blah blah blah. I don't think I've gotten stupider or less involved with the world. I've just gotten bored.

There's not a weblog in the world, mine included, that I wouldn't trade for a couple of gallons of water, were I stranded on a desert island. There are thousands out there, more good ones than I can count. But I can't bring myself to go surf them.

My current rant is that I get the same damn links anywhere I go. Start with Plastic, Metafilter, and Slashdot all linking the same news story I see at every news site I hit, plus half the weblogs I read mentioning it. How damn often does this happen? Too often. Are these people in dialogue with each other? Not in the slightest.

The web consists of a huge number of people shouting and pointing at each other. The beauty of a browser is that it serves as a pair of protective earmuffs: you only hear the people you get close to. Which is fine, dandy, sure, but civic culture this ain't.

We need a monolith, some sort of radical rethinking, some sort of leap forward in what we're doing. Throw a bone in the air, and maybe a space station will come crashing back down. It's the only way I can think of. So try this one on for size.

Flip the weblog paradigm. Right now everyone points off at URLs and adds their two bits, if that much. Imagine the Talmud, as organized by commentator, and you'll see that maybe we're going at things the wrong way round. Sort things by link target, not by source. Let me see in one place what everyone interesting has said about it, rather than making me go indvidually ask everyone what they've been thinking about.

Possible. Perhaps. Although I have no idea how best to do it with existing technology. That's the damn problem, too. The web works. People have browsers, some people have servers. Retrofitters die, any way you look at it, just count the corpses. RSS maybe. Maybe some sort of plug-in that collates, spindles, folds, mutilates. I don't know. I just know we need either some technology like this, or some massive cultural shift, or there's going to be one huge-ass great big collective yawn.