From the frontier to pre-fab to feeds

MySpace was ugly, but at least there was individuality. I miss the old web and the way it showed our creativity. Before we had powerful tools, we were forced to design our own websites.1 Everything had its own custom touches. I remember looking through the weblogs that Lloyd linked to and seeing how each one was different.

Then, facebook came and wiped out creativity. We were all given a profile and they all looked the same. White and blue. Boxes. At least we got our own picture. The old frontier was replaced by the pre-fab web. I guess it was better: MySpace was godawful ugly. Glittery gifs for text, unreadable backgrounds, sparklies following the cursor, and pop music that automatically switched on. Yeah, I don’t miss that. But we’ve still lost something.

WordPress came along. Customization became picking someone else’s theme, instead of making something of your own. Even now, my own weblog is some default theme. Unremarkable. A lot of corporate websites re-use the same themes and start-ups use the same styled landing pages.

Now everyone’s switched to Tumblr, and we’ve moved from the pre-fab web to the primacy of the feed. No one actually visits anyone’s tumblr. Instead, they get a stream of posts from different sources.2 So, we can pick a theme, but no one will see it anyway. Individuality is stripped away, and we’re all lumped into an equal pile. Well, except the corporations that pay for sponsored posts. The same is true with facebook. Before, you’d visit someone’s profile and post on their wall. That was how you’d send a message. Even though it was pre-fab, at least it listed our interests. Now, we don’t care for that. Just give me a list of everything from everyone, please.

Of course, the feed age is even worse than that. We can’t even be bothered to post original content anymore. No more reflection. Let’s just repost a funny picture someone else made. (Oh and this picture is a drawing of someone else’s characters, who are actually from a remake.) Individuality gets stripped from our pages, and then it gets stripped from our content.3

The nostalgia becomes most potent when I see my own weblog. I look at the default theme and cringe. If I’m going to rail against this sort of thing, shouldn’t I at least take the time to not be a hypocrite? What happened to my individuality?4 In the frontier days, I designed (and then redesigned) from scratch. I suppose that some time in the near future, I will need to make this weblog into something that better reflects who I am right now.

1This is a narrative, so it is a lie. There was Geocities back then and Frontpage and all sorts of options to make websites easier for the less tech-savvy.

2Again with the lies. This has been around since RSS.

3Then again, so many of the original popular blogs collected links to other content. They were aggregators themselves, not creators or artists or even writers.

4Much of it was channeled into my comic. Some of it was taken offline due to the demands of needing a professional persona. More importantly, while I have made modifications to themes in the past, this blog has never really been that much of a creative outlet beyond the writing.

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