It’s easy to fall into the trap of nostalgia when examining the “slow” web. But remember that the web being bigger isn’t necessarily a bad thing:
Of course you liked the internet better then: there were fewer people on it, and they were all kinda like you. Of course you want to require people to run their own websites: that acts as a subtle throttle on who can participate. The things you complain about—centralization and templatization and, yes, corporatization—all follow naturally from the internet’s maturation, at last, into a truly public platform. The network you’re so nostalgic for? That was a private club. You can be forgiven for this. You were just a kid. You didn’t even realize you’d been invited.
Futureland describes itself as a “new kind of journal,” and as such I was surprised to find that there’s a very vibrant community alive on the site.
The Futureland homepage has the three bullets:
- Structure your day for flow states.
- Store your process in public or private over multiple years.
- Store process with your friends or by yourself.
Since I am focused on web communities here, I will focus mainly on the “storing your progress in public or with your friends” aspects.
What’s great about the community on Futureland is that there are lots of folks working on really interesting projects and posting about that work in a way that feels very casual and low-expectations. It feels more like people post on Futureland for themselves, not others (makes sense if you consider the journaling aspect of the tool).
What’s great is that the same folks are also posting things that are entirely meaningless to others publically just like their work, and Futureland makes no distinction between the two types of content. They are both just as valid and neither takes any sort of precedence.
Robin Sloan has done something clever and turned his newsletter into a series of “committees” that you can join based on your interests. The format of each issue varies, but always feels like a message from an old acquaintance. Robin does some interesting things with the format of a newsletter as well—for instance, embedding forms that collect responses and submissions from readers.
Incredible. A cafe as a website, “open” each day from 8am to 11pm. In the top left, a can see how many other folks are currently in the cafe, the current time, and a switch to turn the lights on or off. On the page, three categories: tunes, coffee break, and “what are we doing today?” You can submit a message or link to each.
All of these wonderful things are largely unrelated, but they do share one thing: they embrace the web as a medium, not merely a delivery mechanism. They take advantage of the medium of the web in order to drive accountability, educate others, and create community.