From: Bob Rankin
Subject: TOURBUS - 28 Mar 02 - The Web: Not Dead Yet
Today I had one of those Andy Warhol experiences... an unexpected 15 seconds of fame when my comments on the state of the Web appeared in the New York Times. Lots of readers saw the article (even before I did) and wrote in to say there are still plenty of interesting and quirky websites still out there.
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In her March 28th "Circuits" column, NY Times reporter Lisa Guernsey writes that "Just 11 years after it was born and about 6 years after it became popular, the Web has lost its luster." She quotes me as saying that it's becoming harder to find those "oddball sites" that I like to highlight in TOURBUS.
Yes, the fabled FishCam, the University of Cambridge's online coffee pot, and Mr. Edible Starchy Tuber Head have all gone by the digital wayside. Lots of once-free web services are now charging a fee to visitors. But TOURBUS readers beg to differ with Guernsey's assertion that the Web has become boring...
Bill Stewart wrote and said "Bob - I am a long time subscriber to TOURBUS, and read your comments about the dearth of interesting sites in Lisa Guernsey's article in today's NY Times. I've tried to do something about it with LivingInternet.com, covering the Internet's history, design, usage, and related subjects."
"The site is ranked by Google as the world's top site in the Internet Courses category. Developed over the last 7 years, I also call it 'the first Internet book' -- the only site that has published a reference length work integrated with the net, with more than 2000 intra-site links and more than 2000 external links. This is what Tim Berners-Lee originally designed the web for."
I was genuinely impressed to see that Paul Baran, the developer of packet switching (one of the foundational technologies of the Internet) and Vint Cerf, co-designer of TCP/IP (the basic Internet communication protocol) both personally endorsed the LivingInternet website. Well worth a visit.
John Herman, creator of Phrenicea.com also wrote to me in response to the Times article. "Phrenicea is driven by my passion to incite viewers to think about the future... Personally I think the Time's article was too pessimistic. The novelty of the Web indeed has worn off, not unlike what happened to TV through the 1950s. But TV is still with us - and I would not say that its effect or impact now is less than in those (g)olden days."
Phrenicea is a fictionalized account of what will occur within the 21st century -- predicting the ultimate outcome of the Internet and biotechnology revolutions. Interesting reading, check it out!
Kathy Bilton from Shepherdstown, West Virginia, said "Just saw the NYT article and it gave me the idea to send you this URL:
Kathy happened to meet up with Tom Fremantle -- who is retracing the steps of the 1863 route of his ancestor, Sir Arthur James Lyon Fremantle, who trekked from Mexico to New York City -- and created this page to document the portion of his quest that took him through her hometown. Fremantle is making the 2500 mile walk along with a mule named Browny, to help raise funds for charity.
Kathy adds "He should be arriving in NYC in a few days. I'll be really curious to find out whether he's actually able to get all the way to Central Park with Browny." You can find updates on the progress of Tom Fremantle and Browny here:
So I guess the Web really isn't dead. You just have to look a little harder to find the good stuff. Perhaps the Times article was a bit too pessimistic about the current state of affairs on the Web. I think that the Web is maturing into a medium where utility takes precedence over fun. People are tracking portfolios, making airline reservations, comparing auto prices, and searching for jobs.
Last year's "All Your Base Are Belong To Us" craze and the spate of anti-Osama humor sites that popped up after the 9/11 attacks are proof that fun and creativity are still alive on the Web.
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That's all for now, see you next time! -- Bob Rankin