I wanted to highlight a series of articles currently published on Wired discussing the changing nature of the Web. The articles are entitled:
Personally, I find these kinds of articles quite fascinating, as I’m constantly struck by the changing nature of how we interact with the web. I can remember when I started my undergraduates degree at the University of Oregon (yes, my secret shame – I am an Oregon Duck alumni. Forgive me Saint Benny, the Beaver, of the holy Reiser Stadium), where navigating the Web was something that almost happened by accident. Sure, there were search engines like Lycos and AltaVista, but actually finding information on the early web was akin to going to a dictionary, flipping the pages and sticking your finger in the book and hoping it landed on a word you are interested in. At the same time, the early days of the Web were rough, unpolished and exciting because everyone had an equal voice.
As the medium matured, tools were developed to help find content as Google and the like, indexed the web and helped people sort through the plethora of information. People could now scan the web for content, and receive pages back from anywhere on the web (practically). Searching the web was almost a democratic process, as searchers materials from John Doe’s website may be placed side-by-side NASA’s. The searcher (and the ranking algorithm) making decisions to decide which pages provided the most relevant snippets of information.
Today, however, I think we are seeing a sanitizing of the web…and I don’t think that it will be for the better. While platforms like the IPad, Android, the IPhone are wildly successful, the application centric nature of these devices are changing the nature of the web. One of the draws (and draw backs) of these new devices and platforms is that they create information gardens, if you will. Device users no longer have to wade through much of the noise on the Web, because the device, the platform, it’s applications, sanitize and package appropriate content back to the user.
How this packaging and sanitizing of information is something to think about – especially for libraries and universities as we decide how to navigate this changing space. What affect does this have for education (as more content moves on line, but only specific voices are let through the walls) and for future researchers.