We build the web. That’s what the people who create, share, and curate the web live by that others don’t.
It’s not something “out there” that you Google. It’s not a passive repository of information that you access when you want to know something. It’s the product of the collective effort of many (formerly) unrelated agents acting sometimes in unison and other times in completely separate spaces.
What we create counts. What we link to, retweet, comment on, email to friends, imitate, down vote, dismiss, blur over, buy, reject, and critique counts.
Sometimes our actions count in small ways, but those small things add up. For instance, up to a certain point, each comment on a post increases the chance that someone else will comment. At the same time, past that point, each comment makes it less likely that someone else will comment.
At other times, those actions have much larger effects, say of starting a new meme or introducing the broader world to an idea that’s been fringe, local, or relatively unheard of. If you’ve got an idea, you now have a place to share it. That wasn’t true 20 years ago.
Are we building the web we want to see, though? Does what you create embody the ethos you live by and cultivate the culture you want to be a part of? Are you sharing and supporting the work of others that you find relevant, useful, and interesting?
What we put here isn’t just about you or me – it’s about this thing that we’re building. It’s about the way this web affects how we live our lives online and off.
This web can create a latter to climb upon, a net of supportive people to catch us when we fall, a blanket to keep us warm, or an entangling mess that smothers the life out of us. What are you building?
p.s. Like anything we build, there will be flaws in the web we create. Better to put out the best you can rather than trying to operate as if you can get it perfect the first time. Be mindful, but have fun, too.
Jason Wietholter says
Great point. It’s so important to realize that everything produced online is available instantly for everyone in the world. Every word we write has an impact, so it is paramount to think about each word’s value.
The internet provides a massive platform that can be used for good or evil, just like every other platform ever created.
Charlie, thank you for the insightful post. It helps me to focus on my content from another point of view so that I can be certain it achieves it’s goal.
Thank you Charlie, this post is inspiring. The freedom the internet provides us for creation is astounding. But it also makes me think of the importance to step back, and to consider if what I am posting is moving things in a positive direction.
Thanks Charlie. You make some great points. I especially responded to the idea of sharing and supporting others. Too many people are blogging in a pretty cynical way, living by the rules of more is better and you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. A community of people who care more about having something to give, rather than something to get, would be nice. Where do I sign up?
Kirsty Hall says
This is one of the things I love most about the web, Charlie – that sense of shared creativity and the joy of seeing so many people DOING STUFF. I don’t care if it’s a YouTube videos of your cat, a retweet of something that made you laugh or the best blog post you’ve ever written – as long you’re creating as well as consuming, then I’m happy. I’m with Clay Shirky on this one, I think you need all levels of engagement for the net to work – the silly as well as the profound. Like Dickens said, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
Stella Stopfer says
Well, one thing is for certain; more people can get more easily inspired or get together to work on something thanks to the world wide web, and us. So, yes, we should always have in mind that we have that responsibility and appreciate people who support us. And you raise a great question; we should also think about ourselves as ones who consume content from others and know why we support those people. Is it for value, inspiration, entertainment or just popularity? And what is the effect of that…
Katie Brandt says
I feel like the web is the world’s collective conscious manifested in physical (errrr..electronic?) form.
tara gentile says
To my mind, the internet – and each person’s tiny corner of it – is a work of art. Maybe performance art at its best.
But I think it’s also important to note, that the more we create our own part of the ‘net the more likely we are to insulate ourselves within community of like-minded individuals. There’s an art in stretching outside the bounds of what we create. There’s value in taking a break from creating “the web we want to see” and viewing the web as others want to see it. What can we learn? How can we grow as creators & curators?
Thanks for this great post!
Kirsty Hall says
How funny Tara, I just did a podcast interview with Diane Gilleland and I described how I think of Twitter as a form of performance art. 🙂
Reed Everingham says
Thanks Charlie and thanks everyone for the comments. The internet has so much potential to network and mobilise. I’m posting from Sydney, Australia! Not sure about you other folk. I think it’s great that we can connect and build capital (social, cultural and spiritual) via the web.
Michel J. Gagnon says
This is great Charlie! I agree that there’s a need for us to be more careful about what we create. I wrote a while ago that an opinion is like the flu. It’s not because you have one that you have to give it to everybody.
The web has given us that possibility (or impression might be a better word). To broadcast everything we think of and feel.
I’m optimistic though. Through all the noise, you can always find great music. Just like this post.
Mars Dorian says
Yeah – we all part of this beautiful, giant network.
We affect the net and it effects us – it’s like Karma in digital form, and I’m luving every minute of it.
The potential we have is grrreat it’s sometimes really hard to fully grasp it.
We can build our own worlds nowadays, and all it takes is enough passion to melt the sky and a desire for inspiration.
I hope that my actions positively influence the digital world, and that the world will be a better place because of my digital contribution.
heart-warming post, Charlie. Enjoyed it !
Karri Flatla says
Yes! The “web” comes full circle and now itself is a metaphor for life … for we are the architects of both 🙂