Living with the Web

When I wake up, I check my email and a few websites. Sometimes I listen to a podcast or flip through something on my iPad. Sometimes (rarely) I make an effort to read the news. I often hop on Adium pretty soon after I wake up to see if anyone is online to chat with. I spend the majority of most days with my laptop, and it sits next to me as I fall asleep listening to a podcast or audiobook, and then wakes me up with an alarm in the morning. During the day I sometimes entertain myself by watching a TV show or two. I make a lot of phone calls most days to stay in touch with friends and family on the other coast, and even then I often have the computer open in front of me.

I don’t think this is particularly unusual for people my age, or for most ages at this point in time. Even if I didn’t primarily do my work by making websites, I would probably be on a computer for a good chunk of the day at any other sort of job I could get. And I don’t even consider myself to be that bad with how much I’m in front of a computer and connected to the web. I spend hardly any time at all on Facebook, which I always hear about everyone spending gobs of time checking out. Ditto with Twitter. I have a lot of high-minded opinions about why social networking websites are bad or stupid or whatever name I come up with that day, but the truth is probably more like I just get bored easily with them.

I consider myself lucky to say that I generally feel like a productive contributor to the web, and a productive person in general. I’ve had my hand in a number of websites, none of which have probably changed the world or made it a better place. But there is something to the feeling that I know how to make something on the web, which to me feels like something beyond posting aphorisms to Twitter every so often.

I spend a lot of time on the web, and I think for that reason alone, I want it to be a really great place. I personally started interacting with the web through an AOL account my family got in 1994, when I was 9. I hear about people making interesting contributions to the medium as early as high school or middle school, and at this point I’m sure that means there are a lot of meaningful contributors to the web who grew up in a world where the web has always existed. I’m sure a lot of people who interacted with various precursors of the web would say that I’m already a member of that group. I believe in some ways I’ve watched the web grow from a subculture into mainstream culture. I wonder if there is any remaining doubt that it is probably here to stay and has simply become a part of humanity in the way that books are the primary record of our history. Books aren’t a subculture, they are a part of our culture, and the web seems to be as well.