We talk about Big Oil and Big Pharma and Big Ag. Maybe it’s time we started talking about Big Internet.
That thought crossed my mind after reading a couple of recent posts. One was Scott Rosenberg’s piece about a renaissance in the ancient art of blogging. I hadn’t even realized that blogs were a thing again, but Rosenberg delivers the evidence. Jason Kottke, too, says that blogging is once again the geist in our zeit. Welcome back, world.
The other piece was Alan Jacobs’s goodbye to Twitter. Jacobs writes of a growing sense of disillusionment and disappointment with the ubiquitous microblogging platform:
As long as I’ve been on Twitter (I started in March 2007) people have been complaining about Twitter. But recently things have changed. The complaints have increased in frequency and intensity, and now are coming more often from especially thoughtful and constructive users of the platform. There is an air of defeat about these complaints now, an almost palpable giving-up. For many of the really smart people on Twitter, it’s over. Not in the sense that they’ll quit using it altogether; but some of what was best about Twitter — primarily the experience of discovery — is now pretty clearly a thing of the past.
“Big Twitter was great — for a while,” says Jacobs. “But now it’s over, and it’s time to move on.”
These trends, if they are actually trends, seem related. I sense that they both stem from a sense of exhaustion with what I’m calling Big Internet. By Big Internet, I mean the platform- and plantation-based internet, the one centered around giants like Google and Facebook and Twitter and Amazon and Apple. Maybe these companies were insurgents at one point, but now they’re fat and bland and obsessed with expanding or defending their empires. They’ve become the Henry VIIIs of the web. And it’s starting to feel a little gross to be in their presence.
So, yeah, I’m down with this retro movement. Bring back personal blogs. Bring back RSS. Bring back the fun. Screw Big Internet.
But, please, don’t bring back the term “blogosphere.”
Image: still from Lost.