In my first post I talked about the influences that persuaded me to start this blog.
The biggest hurdle was to stop thinking about creating a blog and actually begin writing one.
On reflection there was another guiding thought that also strongly influenced me – the idea that it’s not too late to get started.
Part of my reticence to start a blog was my perception that I’d missed the boat. There are dozens, if not hundreds, of blogs about advertising, media and communication, most of which have now been going for years.
Many of these are written by intimidatingly bright, very senior, highly influential industry figures offering their treatise on every communication model, every new campaign, every possible way of reaching and influencing people.
Has it all been said? Is there anything new to say? Will I just end up looking silly in comparison with the supersmart advertising bloggerati?
The answers, I think, are No, Yes, and Quite Possibly. But I’m going to do it anyway.
Because I’m now convinced we’re still at the beginning of the internet revolution, not at the end of it. And in my own small way I want to be part of that, not just a bystander.
Two recent articles I read made me think differently about the internet; the opportunities it affords us and its influence on our lives.
The first is The Internet’s Original Sin by Ethan Zuckerman.
Now a director at MIT Media Lab, Zuckerman was one of the original pioneers of online advertising.
In this article he explains how, and why, advertising became the primary funding model for the web, and specifically why ever-increasing amounts of audience targeting are the only way online businesses are these days able to secure funding and generate revenue.
The Internet’s Original Sin is a fascinating read for a number of reasons – not least Zuckerman’s mea culpa for being the guy responsible for creating the pop up ad format!
The main thrust of his argument is that the ad-funded web is ‘bad, broken, and corrosive’. Which is pretty impactful in itself given who’s saying it, where he came from, and the questions it raises.
But the bit that struck me most when reading the article was this:
“The web is celebrating a 25th anniversary, but that celebrates the invention of the HTTP protocol by Tim Berners Lee. In practical terms, the web as we know it is less than 20 years old. Many of the services we rely on, like Twitter, are less than 10 years old.”
It’s incredible to think just how much the internet has completely transformed virtually every aspect of our lives in the space of just 20 years.
In a single generation it has gone from nothing to being absolutely central to our society. Zuckerman’s argument is that the scale, influence and sheer ubiquity of the internet mean we no longer question how the internet works. It just is.
We assume its structure is fixed and unchangeable. But really we’re still at the beginning. There is every opportunity to change and improve things.
This liberating and uplifting view is shared by another internet veteran, Kevin Kelly – one of the co-founders of Wired.
A couple of weeks ago Kelly wrote a great piece for Medium entitled You Are Not Late, in which he argues that “nothing has happened yet. The internet is still at the beginning of its beginning.”
Fast-forwarding to 2044 he imagines looking back on the present day from a position 30 years in the future, reflecting wistfully on how easy it would have been to be an internet entrepreneur in 2014 when there were “more opportunities, more openings, lower barriers, higher benefit/risk ratios, better returns, greater upside”.
He asserts that all we’ve done so far is “created a marvellous starting point, a solid platform to build truly great things. However the coolest stuff has not been invented yet”.
It’s easy to imagine that we live in the most technologically advanced age. That nothing new could possibly be invented to improve upon it.
But every generation in history has thought that. And so far they’ve all been wrong.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not banking on us being the first group to buck the trend.
In creating this blog I’m not seeking to change the world or revolutionise the internet. I’m just looking for an outlet for my opinions, which hopefully some other people will find interesting.
Ultimately what I write may not be any good, and people may not want to read it. But I know one thing for certain.
I am not late.