David Hudson on Tue, 18 Jun 96 22:37 MDT

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Re: nettime: Rewired

Ok, I guess whenever we get 3 of these '>'s going in a row, it's probably
time to take the dialogue to private email, BUT I would like to respond
once and then invite both John and the org (is that you, Paul?) to come
over to the Rewired board <www.rewired.com/board> where we can carry on if
you'd like.

>>dwh@berlin.snafu.de (David Hudson) wrote:
>>>...Who was it that decided
>>>the Web is the Net's killer app anyway? And if some of the smartest and
>>>richest and most powerful movers and shakers are putting their heads
>>>together on the Web, Why isn't it working?
>>MediaFilter replies:
>>Content is the killer app...<br>
>>Any effective  carrier is its medium.<br>
>>Don't limit your options.
>><a href="http://mediafilter.org">MediaFilter</a>
>To which John Perry Barlow replies:
>I'm not sure what content is in the absense of containers. Does a face to
>face conversation consist of "content". Isn't the Net really just a Great
>It seems to me that human connection is the Net's killer app. And if the
>Web isn't working, and that seems an open question, perhaps it's because
>it's not yet conversational enough.

Interestingly, Andrew Sullivan (who puts Rewired up & is now on his
honeymoon, so we'll be back to your regularly scheduled daily programming
as soon as he gets back ;-) was asked by Suck <www.suck.com> to do a piece
on why big time access providers are going after small time content
providers. His first words:

>Have Microsoft & AOL realized that the Web's killer app is people...

I'd like to add a couple of paragraphs from my own reply to that one in
reply to this one.


But traditional content providers, who were among the many to hype the Web
over all other Net applications in their own pages, forgot that what the
Web does is not why people rushed onto the Net in the first place. The
thrill lay in meeting people they wouldn't have otherwise (Usenet, IRC), a
cheaper, faster way to exchange mail with people they already knew (email),
and free stuff (FTP).

So, as Andrew notes, big time access providers like MSN and AOL are
changing gears. They're shifting down. They're going after funky, offbeat,
Gen X -- in a word, alternative -- content as a means, not an end. An
article on, say, Pavement (the band, not the asphalt) is dangled as bait.
The name catches the eye, the eye reads, ho hum, but lo, there's a link to
a chat area where other people who bit the bait are discussing the last
concert, the next CD and lots else that has zilch to do with either music
or streets. Doesn't matter, especially in the access providers' view, as
long as they keep talking.

Content as packaging, not product. And because the market for the product
is relatively young with a fair amount of cash and time to squander and
aware enough of what's going on around them to be online, the ideal package
is alternative content. I'd only add to Andrew's point there that it's also
a lot cheaper than Michael Kinsley. Nonetheless, whichever way the market
goes, the smarter providers are sure to follow.

The overriding point in terms of what it all means for the Web is that it's
being forced to reinvent the wheel. A look at most attempts at Web chat and
conferencing reveals a Web dreadfully uncomfortable, bending over backwards
to try to do things it wasn't designed to do. It either throws up its hands
altogether and tosses the baton to a telnet application or reminds you to
reload often, which in essence is a reminder that nothing on the Web is
either live or genuinely interactive.

Yet. Too much has been invested in rounding us all up and herding us onto
the Web, and now that we're here, the Web will be bent 'til it breaks
giving us what the investors think we want. So eventually, maybe sooner,
maybe later, the Web will be doing most or all of what we want out of
online technology, and we'll probably be doing what it wants, too.



David Hudson                    Rewired <www.rewired.com>
dwh@berlin.snafu.de             Journal of a Strained Net
                                RHIZOME INTERNET
.....see.also.....              <www.rhizome.com>



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