I feel like I missed the boat. Like the internet passed me by. I remember when I first felt it coming, like a wave growing on the electronic edge and growing nearer, and now I look around me and I see that it has already washed over and past me, and I missed it. Back when I was hand-coding web pages in 1994, I was ahead of the curve. In 1999 when I first put together a design for Modern Evil, before I knew what I wanted from it overall, that design was 100% XHTML, CSS2, and DOM compliant, which was unfortunate because browsers didn’t start to become compliant until almost two years later, but I was thinking ahead of the curve. When I figured out what I wanted Modern Evil to be, back in early 2000, I described features that are now common all over the web, but which I had never seen on any website when I wrote my description, and while it took me 18 months to implement it on my own and the internet basically caught up with me by the time I did, in 2000 I was ahead of the curve. When I first put together the ‘ramblings’ section of Modern Evil in March of 2000, I was already blogging although it was another year before I found out other people were doing it and the word for it was blogging, and another couple of months after that before I actually started using ‘blogging’ software to manage my posts, but I was doing what I’m doing now before the other 50,000 blogs appeared on the scene, and at that time (though there were a couple hundred other blogs out there) I was ahead of the curve.
Now, I don’t mean to say that being ‘ahead of the curve’ is what I want. In fact, with all of these things I’ve mentioned, I wasn’t trying to be ahead, I was just doing what I wanted to do and it happened to be ahead. But at any point along the line, when I learned about other people in the world doing some such thing online, I understood it. Perhaps saw how what I had been doing parallelled it. Perhaps integrated it into what I was doing. But now … now I’m lost.
It started with RSS. Something like a year ago, I heard about RSS and knew instantly that it was going to be an idea that would catch on, an information tool that would come into common use and draw information and people together. I could see how it would allow people to see through the increasing numbers of bloggers out there and get what they were looking for. I saw that it could become a highly personalized system for aggregating information from all over the web together not only in a way that one prefers to see it, but from sources and about information that one was interested in, all at once. So I researched it and I found out that there were three (or more) specifications for the idea of RSS that were not exactly inter-compatible. And I found out that the end-user experience for accessing RSS feeds was largely unfinished and somewhat unusable. And I looked into adapting Modern Evil to put out RSS feeds anyway, but between the competing (and changing) specs and the lack of support, I decided to wait until the details had been ironed out. And actually, what I did was learn PHP and build a way for the different parts of Modern Evil to do what I wanted RSS to do, and a clever file that on-the-fly pulled the RSS-like information together into what you currently see on the main page of Modern Evil. See, the information that RSS gives out seems lacking to me in certain areas, and so I built mine to include all the information I was looking for. And as far as I know there’s no such thing as a live RSS aggregator that I can install on a web server that generates web pages on the fly from an unlimited number of RSS feeds, but that’s exactly what I wanted, and what I built. It was rough, and I’ve wanted to re-write it since I first put it in place (moreso since I’ve had to share it with other people on the web; darwinscomplex.com & lofatmo.com) to be more universal, more extensible, and easier to install and use. I may still do that. But … I’ve been noticing lately from multiple sources that people are using RSS aggregators instead of browsers now, and actually forgetting how to surf the web. They don’t even look at the websites of the blogs they read, they just see the information that comes through the standalone RSS Aggregator, maybe use a browser when clicking on links from the entries, but beyond their Aggregators and the links therein, they basically aren’t using the web anymore. Not like a web, anyway. And I uhh… I still read blogs by clicking through a list of bookmarks or typing in URLs. I still surf the web. Sometimes I end up places I have no idea how I got there, which is the heart of surfing, some would say. But RSS? I forgot about it… I didn’t hear about it in between “doesn’t work yet” and “everybody’s been using it so long they forgot how to browse”, and I don’t think I can catch up. Or that I want to, which is weird. Like I said, I just want to build a more powerful and extensible and easy to use backend for the existing Modern Evil system.
Or here’s one: Do you know what a ‘blogroll’ is? I keep reading people referring tot hem like … like everyone has one or uses one or like everyone should know what one is inherently, and aside from such references I have no idea. No idea. People sometimes even speak of blogrolls in the context of RSS feeds, which … like I said … are beyond me. Worse, it’s probably something obvious and easy to understand. That’s the thing I hate the most about being me; all the obvious things I can’t wrap my head around. All the years I spend trying to understand all the things that everyone else seems to take totally for granted. That everyone else understands so inherently that they can’t even figure out why I need it explained to me (they think I’m joking or don’t understand the question), or how they could even begin to explain it to me.
I’ll stop now. blogrolling is not a universal truth. I won’t get into the two or three other techs that seem to have been absorbed into the group consciousness with no way for me to break in that are leaving me feeling behind the times, an anachronism in this modern age. Fuck. Did you know that almost nothing new has been said on the subject of string theory since I was in High School? And I’m only now getting into it. Then again, maybe I’ll break some new ground myself I can sit on and never do anything with. Fuck.
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