Jay Hoffmann

Books, movies, and code

Quotes about the Web

It occurs to me that I come across quotes about the web a lot, so I think I’m going to keep track of them and then publish them from time to time.

There’s this tweet from Vincent Bevins:

I tweet this every few weeks but the internet absolutely does not work any more. You are corralled on to one of the few infinite-scroll brain-death experiences, and if you try to leave to actually go read something, an assault of pop-ups and broken paywalls forces you back here

Tim Bray recently wrote about a few technologies that he was able to recognize the potential in. One of those is the web, and he recalls a time he met somebody at a conference, early in the web’s existence:

I remember like yesterday a presentation at one of the early Web meetups, an engineering lead for a (then) big computer company. She said “This is so great. Our interfaces used to have to be full of sliders and dials and widgets or people would say we were amateurs. But now with the Web, there’s so much less you can do, but the important things are easier, and that’s what people want!” She was right.

And Claire Evans (author of Broad Band) interviewed R.U. Sirius (not his real name) about his cyberpunk magazine of the early 1990’s, Mondo 2000. Sirius has a long arc of experience with new technology and he puts a really fine point on where the web came from, and why it took the trajectory it did:

The aesthetics and politics of the web at the start was kind of a mix of two things: 1) American—mostly white, mostly male—boomer idealism about virtual communities and global brains and good, free, open communication that could lead toward positive change and common understanding and 2) an even more dominant Gen X sensibility of reflexive irony and evasiveness of politics and (the aforementioned) boomer idealism in favor of silly things largely unencumbered by political concerns. There was awareness, but concern seemed like an emotion that could be pushed away with ironic distancing.

Then there’s this all-time great by writer and blogger Heather Havrilesky in an interview about Suck Magazine

Reading Suck was like finding an eye rolling teenager with a Lit Theory degree at an IPO party and smoking clove cigarettes with him until you vomited all over your shoes