11/05/19 - Fast Web vs. Paced Web

I was reading paeneultima’s site the other day and thinking about this part:

For a moment I had begun to think I actually HATE THE INTERNET. But I don’t. I hate the attention economy, I hate cowtowing to racists, I hate shitposters. I hate everything that the fast web has done to how we interact as people in a society.

I share paeneultima’s frustration with the Fast Web. I formally left “fast” social media about a year ago and started getting really serious about curating my online experience and space. This was not a difficult transition for me, I was never really big on Twitter or Facebook to begin with and I’ve always been most comfortable with forums and message boards since that was the bulk of my early internet experience.

I now primarily communicate with people through forums (and I read posts on Reddit, which I consider a forum) and personal journal sites (as opposed to blogging sites that focus on driving content creation). I think of these types of sites as “paced” compared to the firehose of content that comes from Tumblr or Twitter. Conversations go on for days. You reply when you get a chance. There is not really a push, that I’m aware of, to stay on top and get the most exposure.

Fast web, by its nature, encourages shallow consumption, one-click interactions, and skimming, because there is so much stuff it’s impossible to dig into it all. Invest in quality control on the front end (switch platforms, drill down to very specific interests when able, etc.) and there’s a lot less to dig through. Marlin and I see two very different versions of Reddit because I take advantage of subscriptions, so my front page reflects specific interests that are positive and make me happy (arduino, roguelike development, board games, nature photos, shmups, etc.) from subreddits that tend to be slower-moving, whereas his front page is whatever hot topic has floated to the top that day, which is usually something that makes him angry.

To clarify, I’m not talking about creating ideological thought bubbles where all incoming information has been filtered so you only see reinforcement for your world view. I’m not talking about curating factual reality so you can justify shitty ideas. I’m talking about evaluating what platforms and what types of content are a good use of your energy and time, and adjusting the volume and quality of your consumption so you can be productive and happy.