1 minute reading time (246 words)

Digital tumbleweed

Digital tumbleweed Studland Beach, Wikipedia

​The Verge​ has a good, thoughtful piece on the almost-empty digital spaces left behind when brands and services suddenly become less popular. These spaces, "Internet Ghost Towns" as the article puts it, take on a new life, and one which serves a very different purpose to that originally intended. 

The greatest joy of LiveJournal, and other similar proto-social networks and chat rooms, was their uselessness. There was no reason for any of us to be there, not really. Online sociality may have addressed loneliness, but in its early form, it did as much to simultaneously heighten it, isolating those of us who sought out artificial social lives in two-dimensional typefaces. That uselessness was precisely the thing that the internet offered: this was a place you visited to get nothing done, a place where nothing counted or lasted with benefits or consequences.

Perhaps more than anything else, what has sucked all of the joy out of the social internet in its current form is its exhortation to be useful. We have arrived at a version where everything seems to be just another version of LinkedIn. Every online space is supposed to get you a job or a partner or a stronger personal brand so you can accomplish the big, public-record goals of life. The public marketplace is everywhere. It's an interactive and immersive CV, an archive. It all counts, and it all matters.

Helena Fitzgerald
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