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Archive for February 19th, 2007

QOTD: To accomplish great things…

Monday, February 19th, 2007

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.”
— Anatole France

the teen domain scene was my precursor to today’s net

Monday, February 19th, 2007

I was thinking yesterday about typical. Most people don’t know that Meranda Writes is not my first foray into Web site ownership. Hardly. I actually bought my first domain when I was 14. Yeah, 14. It’s still around at typical.net. But I haven’t redesigned it or really updated much since freshman year of college. It looks way off on Macs, but the quote splash pages look pretty great on PC’s using IE. (This was before Firefox existed as a serious contender on either.)

I have, every year, paid to renew the domain out of a sense of obligation. See, typical.net has history. It’s a big part of my adolescence. I’ve tried to think of what I can do with it. My main objective, honestly, is to avoid it being snapped up by a domain reseller who will turn it into a page of links. In the meantime, it sits there, a relic of my past.

But that’s not why I was thinking about typical. I was thinking about how lucky I am to have grown up using the Web as my playground.

There was a time before MySpace and Facebook were the go-to places for young people. There was a time before Flickr hosted your photos and your bookmarks were anyone’s business but your own. Back in the days when AngelFire, Tripod and Geocities hosted the Web. There was a time when Yahoo was how you searched, and nobody’d ever heard of Google. Hotmail was a fledgling idea, and AOL was the cool ISP to have. And back then, everyone had ICQ, and you could still get a meaningful AIM username. There was a time before Blogger, Xanga and LiveJournal gave everyone license to be a writer. Believe it or not, there was even a time when Amazon only sold books and when eBay was just a place to look for rare beanie babies.

I know this because I watched each of those technologies develop in the past decade of my lifetime. And that my friends is why new media excites me.

I don’t care about SoundSlides. I don’t care about the benefits of QuickTime versus Windows Media Player and how Flash is really what you should use anyway. I don’t care about message boards or story chats. I don’t care about blogs or wikis. Sure, all of these things are fun to play with and make for some compelling packages and discussions… today. But what excites me is knowing that next month or next year something I never even saw coming is going to become commonplace.

Typical is an example of this. It is who I was, and it was a necessary step in becoming who I am today. It taught me about the importance of community, about keeping content fresh and writing for an audience. It let me hone my photoshop skills and gave me an outlet for my photography and creative writing to be seen. But I was one of many doing that.

There was this almost underground “teen domain scene,” we even had a homebase. You’ll notice the last time the “Today’s Domain Online” site was updated was June 2003. That’s about right, because that’s when I graduated from high school and kind of stepped away from the “scene.” There were hundreds, who knows when you count the hostees probably thousands, of us. We hailed from Tokyo and London from San Diego to Alaska to NYC to Akron. It was in many ways an elite club. You had to prove yourself to get noticed, to get hosted. You had to participate and put yourself out there for critique. But that interaction made it fun.

We didn’t just use these communities like kids today use MySpace. We CREATED them.

Today’s teens wallow on MySpace, but we had message boards on domains with names like “snuggles.net” and “bluemorning.nu.” When I first bought typical, I put up a message board. One of those UBB’s, which seemed ubiquitous among the higher profile “teen domains” of my era. I even grew a community of probably 50 very active users. We even had a mascot, Fred, who graced the top of my very orange message board. We talked about school and relationships. We talked about parents, about careers and college. Last year, one of the girls who had frequented the message board contacted me at my kent.edu e-mail address. She was enrolling at my university and wanted me to show her around campus. It was an interesting meeting, and it reminded me of the real world implications of the connections we make online. I learned how to moderate and generate discussion on those boards. I also learned how to collaborate and create a community on the domain.

Those are skills that, at 14 or 15, I just thought meant making it more fun. But then yesterday, when I was thinking about some of the awesome things available today and their predecessors, I realized it has all been just one big precursor to today’s Internet. I guess that’s the theory behind calling it Web 2.0. It excites me to think how quickly we’ve gotten here today. I can’t wait to see what the next generation holds and what new tools it will bring for communicating in, collaborating on and most importantly creating our world.

Flickr down

Monday, February 19th, 2007

So, uh, Flickr’s down right now.

UPDATE: It’s 11:30 p.m. and it appears to be back up again.

Apparently, it’s been down for awhile. The Flickr blog says it was down earlier, up briefly and down again at 6:45 p.m.

But it’s 10 p.m., and this is the message I’m receiving on everything:

Flickr taking a massage

I don’t use Flickr much now, especially not since I have yet to take a single picture since moving to Lafayette a month ago. No joke, not a single photo. Most of the readers won’t understand why that is weird. But for my Kent State buds, you know how extraordinary that is. I am practically attached at the hip, in fact, when I have pockets in my pants or hoodie, I am literally attached at the hip, to my little camera. It goes everywhere with me. I just haven’t been motivated to trek out in the cold here yet. Today, as I was walking a few blocks to the parking lot after work, I looked up at the sky and felt the almost spring-like breeze and thought: man, this is perfect for a picture. Of course, my camera’s battery was dead because I hadn’t used it in a month. But I’ll resurrect my photo hobby soon.

The thing is, lots of people use Flickr like I use gmail or del.icio.us or wordpress even. I remember last semester when blogger would take forever to post my overheardatksu posts. It drove me insane. But still, they got posted.

What happens to people who spend hours each day on a social networking/Web 2.0 site and it goes down. Where are all the Flickr users uploading their photos? (I’m hoping this is just a fluke and not one crazy person mad about the whole ‘register for a yahoo name or else’ dictum Flickr’s imposing.)

But what if MySpace went down? What would college students do without Facebook for a day? What would Digg’s community do if the server was down for four hours? How about if you couldn’t post bookmark’s to del.icio.us? Or access Technorati? And so forth. You think these are silly questions, but I know people who literally would not know what to do with themselves without Facebook.

But, I suspect they, like many Flickr users probably did, could and would find suitable alternatives for the afternoon. If it was a longterm problem, they’d move on to something new. Which brings me to the longwinded point of this post: everything on the Web is temporary and replaceable. You can find what you want or are looking for in multiple places, whether it’s information or community. And it’s worth remembering that. What is big today, could tomorrow seem silly even primative.