The Streets of Tijuana
Another New York Times article sites a "lack of compelling content" for a trend away from casual Web surfing. Of course, the writer's idea of compelling content seems to encompass coffee pot Web cams and Web soap operas.
Now, I like coffee pot cams as much as the next guy, but I for one am glad to see personal homepages go the way of senseless dot-coms. I realize my opinion may not reflect the majority of Internet users, and the Times may be right, or perhaps we just figured out something useful to do with the Internet.
"Somehow, Times writer Lisa Guernsey equates some slowing of the Web's ability to mint instant pop-culture memes with a 'lack of compelling content' -- as though the presence on the Web of every major newspaper, magazine, radio and TV show; every major government agency, most legislative bodies and court systems; nearly every significant retailer and manufacturer; and every think tank, research center and institution of higher learning were insufficiently 'compelling content' compared to the supposed dearth of inane diversions crippling the Web today."
Scott Rosenberg has built much of his career on attacking...errr, I mean...rebutting old media's appraisal of the Internet, and I think it is safe to say the New York Times counts as old media. So, in a way, this is just another conversation in a by now tired debate between new and old media with the Net facing many of the same challenges that TV and radio faced.
I'm sure if we went back far enough, we'd find that Gutenberg's printing press wasn't universally extolled for its virtues: Sure you can make hundreds of thousands of copies of books and sell them for next to nothing, but they just aren't as pretty and they didn't make some poor monk blind scratching out Genesis for the 4th time in his life. And how exactly do you plan to make money off of it?
Lisa Guernsey uses some interesting facts to back up here argument which are worth mentioning:
- The number of expiring domain names has exceeded new ones being registered. As noted, companies are consolidating their Web presence to as single URL. I've also heard that this trend is the result of bankrupt dot-coms who were in the domain name speculating business.
- 20% of the public Web sites that existed 9 months ago no longer exist. Of those still operating, a large number (?) have been taken over by pornography. The statistic doesn't address whether or not this is the result of a "lack of compelling content" or some other trend. Maybe our connections to the Internet and our computers themselves have gotten faster and it now takes us less time to download the same amount of useless information. Or perhaps search engines have become more accurate and we need to spend less time sifting through the trivia to find what we really want?
She goes onto address the discouraging commercialization of the Web. One interviewee is quoted as comparing the Web to "walking down the streets of Tijuana." (remember this article's title?) :) One would hope that companies like Google will set an example for how to turn a profit without turning our stomaches.