Kellen wrote something I just had to link to because it's a subject that's near and dear to my heart.


Alex Payne

I understand why it's a subject you're passionate about, but I'm skeptical of this sentiment. I think it's actually harmful.

Take a rhetorical step out of the San Francisco/tech conference circuit echo chamber and you'll see that what may have seemed like a renaissance to us web people is a blip on the radar for real people.

The "social web" as a movement is a flyspeck compared to what Google has delivered in terms of impacting people's lives, for example. What Google has offered in their search product isn't sexy to social web geeks. Google Search runs on a combination of disciplined engineering and serious business acumen. It's changed the way humans relate to information. I like that I can see my friends' bookmarks, photos, and events, but you can't say the same for the businesses that Kellan calls out.

Look at the comments on that post. I respect the commenters, but these are people who care about the cultural interpretation of calling a web business a "website" versus a "startup". This means nothing to most people, and it shouldn't - it's a petty, "Inside Baseball" distinction being made by smart people who may have lost sight of what our priorities and goals as technologists should be.

The businesses Kellan cites have the same problem that my employer, Twitter, has: their strongest user bases are rooted in the Bay Area geek community, a community with utterly skewed priorities about what worthwhile, broad-reaching technological change means. Delivering the latest in sexy solutions to the most of first-world problems is, if not dangerous, a pity. It also doesn't seem to be a great way to build a sustainable business.

Ultimately, I share Kellan's hope, but I think to a different end. If we're forced to tighten our belts, I hope other technologists realize that there are problems beyond the ones we see from our wealthy, hyper-connected social station. The products delivered as part of the "social web" movement have largely failed to offer lasting improvements to everyday people's lives, and have failed to push engineering, interaction design, and the general state of the art as they idle in their hubris and refuse to learn the lessons of their technical predecessors.

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before this i wrote love this ad after this i wrote gothtober


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