Looking back to look forward

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I remember first picking up Wired Magazine because its heavy stock cover and non-standard size. Most magazines at the time were all basically the same size and shape and generally of varying paper weight from light to completely flimsy. I’ve always been a bit of magazine nerd and also being a computer nerd made Wired an easy purchase for me.

Mitch Kapor

Wired was a big influencer of mine (especially in college, don’t get me started on their decline), but one article in particular has stuck with me for a long time. In Wired 1.03, published in July of 1993, Mitch Kapor wrote a manifesto called “Where Is the Digital Highway Really Heading?” that inspired me at the time and it was that article that really began my fascination with the internet and what the future might hold. Unlike re-reading most futurist prognostications, looking back at that article today doesn’t make for a good laugh. Most of what Mitch talked about then has come to pass.

Now a lot of the article talks about the technical and political hurdles of our current reality, but I’m more interested in the social implications of the article. The idea that captivated me most was that in the internet was “an interactive medium based on two-way communications, where people can fluidly shift from position of listener to that of speaker, from role of consumer to that of provider.”

Hmmm….. this sounds familiar.

So, Mitch Kapor looks like a pretty big smarty-pants, eh? Well, actually, this future, in theory, should have come a long time ago.

The web, you might remember, was given to us by Tim Berners-Lee while he hanging out at CERN in Switzerland. He had originally thought that “editing the web was as important as browsing it.” With the benefit of hind sight, that’s certainly not what happened with Web 1.0.

Social Media

So what the hell is my point? I think that blogs, video sharing, wikis and the rest of social media are fulfilling that prediction of everyone becoming both a consumer and a provider. How long will it take us to get there? It took about 7 years for the first generation web to boom and bust, but even with the bust, people’s behavior had changed permanently. I’m too chicken-shit to make a bad prediction on my blog, but it looks like we’ll get there before you know it.

Thanks Mitch for inspiring so many.

Read the original article here.

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