Let’s talk about some of the things the web allows you to do today that were difficult or even impossible to do 10-15 years ago.
- Today, if you want to produce and publish content of any shape, you have a multitude of inexpensive or even free options to do it without any complicated setup work whatsoever. If you want to, you can still rent a server and set up Wordpress (or some other blogging engine), but if you’re not tech savvy enough, there’s enough alternatives out there.
- Today, you can build a mobile game or app and potentially get it into tens of millions of pockets all from the comfort of your desk. Yes, there may be gates you need to pass (eg. Apple’s App Store approval), but 10-15 years ago, these gates and the gardens they’re protecting didn’t even exist.
- Today, you can build immensely powerful web sites/applications at pretty much zero expense (except your own time investment). You may even get away with free hosting (through Heroku and similar cloud offerings). The technology available to you today is ridiculously powerful. Remember web development 10-15 years ago? It sucked.
- Today, if you want to enable others to participate in the creation of your application/product, it’s incredibly easy to publish and open your code for collaboration. Yes, this was also possible 10-15 years ago, but it was an incredible amount of effort. GitHub has really made collaborating on software projects as simple and empowering as it can be.
- Today, once you’ve created something, it’s incredibly easy to let pretty much all of your friends know about it, thanks to the various popular social platforms. In fact, it’s worth noting that today, pretty much all of your friends are online. 10-15 years ago? Not so much.
The next time you read articles like Anil Dash’s The Web We Lost or any of its numerous “gee, things were really a lot better back then, fuck this, I’m quitting Twitter” type responses, please take a deep, long breath and think about all the things that we’ve gained. Yes, of course we did have some good things going on at some point that were abandoned, forgotten or made obsolete in the process. But you need to understand that this is perfectly normal; everything changes, not always for the better, but more often than not. Accept the fact that this is just a normal part of the cycle (and one of the reasons why it’s called “cycle” to begin with.)
The web of 2012. It’s different, but I like it.