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Video Nostalgia

I will be adding nothing new to the blogosphere by mentioning this fantastic video by Michael Wesch, which has been careening around the Web faster than a dancing baby.

But I must ask: Does anyone else feel a wave of nostalgia watching this?

As a guide to what’s new and cool in the world of web development, it seems to me a little too exuberant regarding something that really isn’t all that new or revolutionary. If you’re at all involved with Web development, “Web 2.0” is by now pretty old news.

But the video instantly takes me back to something like 1996 when I used to give presentations that sort of looked like this (and I could use terms like “radically decentered” in a talk on hypertext without laughing). Combine that with the earnest techno, the low-tech/live-tech look-and-feel, the “not since Gutenberg” evangelism — I’m just so filled with longing for the days when all that seemed just so cool and exciting.

It’s all still cool, of course. In fact, it’s probably cooler, given that the technical revolution we’re seeing online (full-fledged applications of the sort we could only dream about back in ‘96) are truly revolutionary. But it’s just not the same. Back in the mid-nineties, we looked at the Web (which was appallingly primitive by today’s standards) and thought, “This changes Everything.” Web 2.0 also changes everything, but not, you know, Everything. The first revolution was sudden. This one is more an evolutionary development to which we all easily and gleefully adapt. Back then, I was frequently asked by bemused audiences of my dev-angelical preaching whether I still liked books. Nowadays, no one would bother to ask such a silly question, because “doing literary studies with computers” doesn’t really seem all that weird any more.

Ah, the good old days… you know, like, ten years ago.

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