Sunday, January 05, 2014

Old-fashioned blogger

This title isn't totally accurate, as when I started blogging, that word didn't exist. But today the word is "blog," and so I didn't call this "old-fashioned online journal writer."

The Internet is irking me lately. I feel more and more like the type of blog I want to write and read no longer has a place. I don't even like to read much of the content I find, but because web content is designed to grab attention, I find myself reading. The trap set by headlines or pictures that make me want to know more leaves me, despite my disappointment, clicking link after link. It doesn't always work. For example, if I have to scroll through dozens of other pictures-plus-headlines to get to some piece of information I want, or if the link leads to a video (UGH! especially the kind that start playing automatically! with VOLUME! With no warning so you can quickly mute if you are in public! UGH! What's wrong with you, Internet?!), I end up closing the tab before anything can load, any ads, anything, and anything else that would attract me into the click-picture/headline-click cycle. It's like that slightly delayed loading time, that momentary white, empty Firefox browser tab, breaks the spell. If a page takes long enough to load that I have time to form a complete sentence of thought--"Wait! What am I doing!? I could be reading Bleak House!"*--then the website has lost me. Real life has gained me back.

So much about the Internet today makes me ask, "Am I old?" I prefer, "old-fashioned." I like long books. I don't have many thoughts that fit into 140 characters. I understand what hashtags are; I just think they're (most of the time, improperly used and therefore) silly! And of course I'm not anti-technology; I've worked in IT, I dream of inventing my own legal software but first I have to decide what kind of lawyer I want to be when I grow up, and I've recently said things like, "If only I could design a relational database to help me run my entire life!" (One module would be like the thing in Clueless that Cher uses to pick out her school clothes, linked to weather information and the user's personal calendar; for example, if there's a business casual event later in the evening and no time to come home and change, that would be taken into consideration. Oops, I'm digressing.) The point is, I love technology! Anyone who has seen me with my smart phone can attest to that.

I just miss some things about the old Internet. I used to have a blog, then called "online journal," in the late 90's. It was just text. I did have pictures on my website, but only on table of contents pages and the front page, or on separate "My Art" type pages. Online journals didn't include pictures in the text, because they took too long to load! (Although now, there is so much extra crap on webpages, that they still don't load quickly. I'd like to see a comparison of how long modern cluttered pages take to load compared to a text-with-maybe-one-picture webpage of the 90's.) In fact, web browsers had an option, which I loved (because we had dial-up), that would let you load webpages with TEXT ONLY. How I have yearned for that option when I find myself on Huffington Post or some other newsy website whose headline overpowered my urge to read Bleak House, a headline that shouted at me, "YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT THIS IS ABOUT" louder than my inner voice protesting, "But this isn't real news!" I would settle for a browser that, if it wouldn't let me block pictures, would let me block ALL VIDEOS from loading (let alone playing automatically) until I clicked, "Yes, I do want to watch this TV show. Allow!"

I know I am not alone. First of all, there's this about the "magazination of blogs." When I first read it, in 2012, I thought, "But I like some of those blogs!" However, it didn't leave me, like so many things we read on the Internet whose presence in our mind is ephemeral as snowfall in Portland. It stuck with me, because I agree. I, too, miss the storytelling.

I also heard an interview with Camille Paglia (linked here, currently available for free, but that might change!) with one of my favorite comedians and podcasters, Julie Klausner, and at one point in the interview, Camilla Paglia talks about how TERRIBLE design has become on the Internet. I thought, "I AGREE!" Someone has put into words what I am thinking! If you don't know what I am talking about, go on Facebook, click a link that someone has shared from a popular website, and just take in the mess of pictures and headlines and comments and pop-ups and gifs and videos playing when you don't want them to and ads and pop-ups. Content chaotically crammed into any available space. A friend of mine with a gift for analogy once said that he hated Times Square and that it was, "like walking through somebody's MySpace page." I loved that analogy so much, I used to use it both ways. ("This MySpace page is like walking through Times Square! Slow! Crowded! Music playing that you don't want to hear!") Well, a MySpace reference may no longer be topical**, but it seems to me that every website on the Internet is like that now. Like walking through Times Square.

Where does that bring me and my blog? I don't want to stop writing, just because I might be old-fashioned. Maybe there are readers still out there who enjoy stories. I'm not sure what the future of Botanylicious will be, but I do know that my flying cat masthead is too good to let go to waste. So Botanylicious will continue into 2014. Happy New Year, readers, if you're still out there.

And because I don't hate everything about the new Internet, I present to you a picture of a cat. Her name is Kokusho, she is about nine months old, and she was a stray that we adopted in September.

*The last sentence interchangeable with, "This isn't the news!", "It's sunny outside!", "The cat is doing something cute!", "I could be knitting!", "I was just supposed to be looking up my reading assignment!" and a variety of others.
** Here, I stopped writing to see if still existed. Before I inaccurately wrote something like, "MySpace is dead!" To my surprise, a website began to load that looked peaceful and uncrowded. I saw whitespace! But I was wrong, it was just a background image that was taking awhile to load.