Lipstick Traces

So. About 16 years ago I read a particular book called
Lipstick Traces.
Maybe you’ve read it. Maybe you’ve seen it.

In a very real way, it changed my life. Seriously. It woke me up from my own dogmatic slumber. Sure, it was just the first cup of coffee, and I’m still shuffling, bleary eyed and confused into the late morning brunchtime of my life, but it woke me nevertheless. I was in SF, we were having swell times, but I was stalling. So I came to NYC, did a year at the New School Graduate program, realized that it was bullshit, started a gig in web work, ended up in interactive adverstising. So now I ask myself:

How did I get here?

And more importantly,

Where do we go now?

Boring like a toilet…

So. Mark Cuban say’s the internet is boring.

He’s right.

It can also be funny (Lazy Sunday?), scary, touching, educational, utilitarian, and social. (Demented and sad, but social)

I think I get his point — or rather: What he’s saying resonates with me because yeah, there isn’t a whole lot of truly “oh-my-god-this-is-radically-different” stuff going on. But I also completely disagree, because the internet isn’t anything in and of itself, any more than a computer is a really great way to do some computation. He also closesby acknowleging that it’s about application, not wiring. What are we talking about when we talk about the internet?

As he points out: something like blogging is pretty much just putting some dates on something you posted. Oh, except it’s also things like trackbacks, pingbacks, blogrolls, comments, Technorati and whatall that end up creating a completely new thing that is unfortunately often called the ‘blogosphere’ — which is to say, people communicating. And that’s something. It’s nothing hugely different from, say, crouching around a communal fire pit and sharing some good stories, but it’s definitely a new way of doing it.

Cuban’s talking about the internet as the underlying technology, the code, the hardware, the infrastructure. And that is boring. Probably will be for a while. But ‘The Internet’ isn’t necessarily about the tools, it’s about the USES of those tools. And those uses impact individuals, societies and cultures in exciting and disruptive ways.

Half the “is this different from that” examples Cuban mentions can easily be answered with “No, it’s not that different, except more people can use them now”. Like the printed word after Gutenberg — it’s the same letters, the same essential material as before, except, eventually, everyone gets some and that changes power structures, world views and lives.

In a follow up post, Jason Kolb get’s talking about “push” technology, and how it failed – way back when. But how it might be time for those tools to get remade and work this time. And it’s kinda all back to that, about the Street finding uses for things.

Oh, and toilets and plumbing aren’t boring if you’ve been pooping in a hole in the ground in mid-winter for most of your life. They’re pretty life changing.