In 1934, years before Vannevar Bush dreamed of the memex, decades before Ted Nelson coined the term
In real life, there is nothing like a small child to help you remember the passage of time. Ever since Thanksgiving, I have heard the daily refrain “I wish Christmas was tomorrow.” Finally it is. Between then and now, time has passed both quickly and slowly. Grown-up activities seem to whiz by, while the moments of glue and colors, flour and sugar, paper and scissors stretch into forever.
People always said that internet time moved quickly. A few months on the net was like a year of normal time. The pace of software development increased with smaller, more frequent releases. Innovation became disposable. “That’s so last week,” was a standard tongue in cheek response.
In other ways, it seemed that time didn’t pass at all. When I first started regularly browsing the web in 1995, it felt like an ever-present representation of NOW. Unlike paper publications, whose back issues collect on library shelves and coffee tables, a web site shows what’s on the server at the moment. Unless the publiser tooks archival steps, yesterday’s news no longer existed.
The folks at the Internet Archive are working to ensure that we can still find yesterdays’ news. This unique endeavor strives to compensate for unusal nature of the digital web. We can resurrect the past through the magic of the wayback machine, but it doesn’t change our experience of the web.
Weblogs capture the passage of time. Fundamentally different from traditional website publishing, every entry has a date and time, and achiving is automatic. The experience changes for both the reader and the publisher. Its a small place in my grown up life of software development and internet time where I can recapture the feeling of scissors and construction paper, glitter and glue. As I write an entry, time can stand still for days. My desktop is strewn with web pages, useful references and distractions. I collect and discard links. I read and I think. I string together ideas as paragraphs in a web form. It is one of those unexpected reasons to keep a web log.
read more top ten reasons for a web log
There are times that I become immersed in a project and it feels as if it swallows me whole.
It can be awful. I remember one of those times working on a project, part of a large team at a fairly large company. They took the whole team to see the movie “Groundhog Day.” It was eerie because that’s what it seemed like to work there. Every week you would be a week away from the deadline. You would work super hard and do different things every day, but seemed destined to repeat the same events over and over again. In the movie, this guy would keep waking up on groundhog day and kept repeating that one day until he got it right. Software projects are like that sometimes.
It can be wonderful. You wake up in the morning with visions of new and interesting ways to appoach the problem. You can feel it all coming together. It is a frentic race to make real as many possibilites as you can within the constraints before the deadline. If only you had one more week, one more day, one more hour, you could add that feature or fix that tricky bug. There’s more you want to do, but real software ships. It wouldn’t be fun as a research project. The whole point is to get it into the hands of real people for whom it will make a difference, as you imagine it will. In fact, you have this insane belief that just once more line of code, one more bug fix, and two extra pixels will make all the difference.