What is this?This may end up being a blog... or just a long page of ranting. Enjoy!
More on the purpose of this siteI, like many others, have a bit of a romantic fantasy that the internet was better before social media. But it's not just that. Something I've come to realise is that if people were learning about technology and making personal websites like this one, then the internet could be better than it ever was before. There's a lot of talk these days about the permanence of what you put online. Although there is a certain truth to it - it's much harder to erase your online history now that it's linked to your actual name rather than the handles we used twenty years ago - in terms of sharing detailed information and having in depth discussions the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are not an adequate replacement for online forums, journal sites and good old IRC chatrooms. Maybe there's a bit of a mix-up there... as IRC was really replaced, for most people, buy AOL or MSN messenger, which in turn have been replaced with Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. The only bad thing I really see about that being that they're all owned by the same company and people aren't likely to go looking for open source, peer-to-peer alternatives. Perhaps in a few years there will be some blockchain-based replacement... but that would only serve to immortalise the inane, and that's not what I'm talking about.
Here's a practical example: There is an online forum called "Trumpet Herald". At this time it is effectively a massive archive of nearly twenty years of conversations between trumpet players about all things trumpet related. I have spent many hours on my nights over many years just reading the conversations on that site and learning from experts that I'd never come across if I went looking for them. This type of website is not something that is sufficiently replaced by Facebook Groups for the simple reason that the format is different and the archive is not searchable. People are not posting long explanations, followed up by in-depth discussion of the topic. What you get instead is someone asking a question and then ten thousand group members bombarding them with stupid one-line answers and quotes from the first page of a google search. You know... REAL experts. Then give it a week and the conversation is likely lost forever. In fifteen years time you won't be able to log on to Facebook and find out what ideas I was teaching, and to me that represents (at least in a very small way) the destruction of the purpose of the internet.