Ever since the introduction of social media, bookmarking stuff on the internet has seemingly become irrelevant. Of course the physical act of bookmarking websites hasn’t gone away, you probably have the equivalent of an Amazon warehouse of orphan webpages sitting in a dusty folder in your web browser somewhere. We find cool things on the web and we want to come back to them someday, so we add a bookmark to that page and then seemingly never revisit or speak of them again.
Social media has only accelerated the bookmark’s demise. Now instead of a Google result or a blog opening us up to the wonders of the web, our friends and family serve up an infinite buffet of news-oriented content and saccharine self-actualizing quizzes (which Pokemon do YOU look like?), and even worse, memes. We only have so much bandwidth in our digital day and Facebook makes consuming content so easy and rewarding, the art of actually discovering cool shit in the dank dark corners of the world wide web now eludes us.
The early days of the internet, or more accurately, the period of the time when the internet was known as the “world wide web” (roughly from about 1990 to 1999) the art of accidental discovery was abundantly practiced. Part of this had to do with search engine technology being in its infancy and not yet having the ability to know exactly what you’re trying to find (presenting you sites which fall way outside of your narrow filter bubble, an impenetrable force field of knowledge that Google now so lovingly cultivates), but an even larger excuse for why everything on the web felt so fresh and exciting back then had to do with people purposing technology and the internet in new and previously inconceivable ways. You couldn’t shake your mouse without running into a surreal web rabbit hole like Superbad or an internet-controlled robotic arm planting a flower garden.
It’s no mistake that the first web browsers and search engines used the metaphor of intrepid discovery as part of their marketing (Netscape, Internet Explorer, Excite!). Apple still kind of does it with their web browser, Safari, but like most things Apple does, the rest of the world has moved years ago to more timely ideas. When you came across something you felt was awesome and truly worthwhile on the web, you’d save it and probably tell your friends about it somehow. This was what actually inspired the earliest blogs and “social” services on the web (Boing Boing’s website spawned from this primordial ooze, as did social bookmarking sites like del.icio.us)
But now, we don’t discover much of anything online anymore. And the tragedy is that today, right now, right this very second, it is the most fruitful time ever for content on the web. There has never been a better time in the entire history of the internet than right now to search, find, and share your bizarre website bounties with others. I’m not entirely up to date on the numbers, so in lieu of that I’ll make something up, but the web continues to grow and churn out new content at an exponential rate, roughly doubling in size every single day. There is a vast wealth of ephemeral crap out there and you’re missing out! Break out of your Instagram and Youtube walled gardens and seek out that real authentic web shit!
I want to bring back the blogroll. I want to make social bookmarking, or whatever the concept would be considered these days, cool again. I want to do it in the spirit of discovery and fun and be continually amazed at the amount of awe-inspiring stuff out there on the net. Sharing bookmarks isn’t a bulletproof art form, websites cease operations and go offline all the time (and the dead links that come with it), but in some ways that’s part of the discovery, right? Part of capturing ephemera is that it, by definition, won’t be there after a while.
I’m not 100% sure how I’m going to reconcile or manage such a list of personal bookmarks (it would be nice after all to indicate which links work, which links are dead, which links I visit frequently, etc), but I’m going to cull from my overflowing disarray of internet bookmarks (both current and from sites past) and share them somewhere in my About section.