by adam mathes
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trenchant daily turned 16 yesterday.

16! daily’s format – one daily post across multiple media formats, focused on quotes, essays, photographs, and links – was intended to be a departure from the weblogs that were dominant.

And now, here we are, a decade and half and change later, and not only is having a weblog an archaic concept – but so is having a personal web site that is regularly updated.

In 2001 the web felt like a place of beautiful chaos where anything could happen, and the frictionless creation and distribution of information would change everything. That mostly happened, though not always in the ways I expected.

the persistence of daily

In past years I used to reflect on whether I’d still be doing this site in the future or not, and how old I’d be.

Now I think about it a little differently – it’s remarkable how little maintaining a web site has changed in these years, technology wise.

HTML, CSS, HTTP, not-quite-Unix servers.

Good technologies and protocols are durable. They last. You can expect they will work in a few years when you need them.

The tech is better and cheaper. For $5 a month you can run a hosted virtualized server that has more power to serve web pages than you’ll probably ever need.

What’s changed is that readers spend time in other places now. The web isn’t it anymore.

it’s charming

But the modern, hyper-optimized, aggregated social systems lack the charm of the personal web.

I was trying to explain to coworkers earlier this week that when we removed web design as a part of web publishing, we lost something magical – the “ugly” web of early web sites, and even the centralized services of Livejournal, Diaryland, Pitas, Blogger, etc. generally had voice and personality that you can’t get when you decontextualize web pages into aggregated social streams.

Also it’s hard to be charming when you are basically highly optimized surveillance technology for more efficient advertising.

I used to think everyone should have a web site and then we had the dystopia of social networks and I changed my mind but maybe everyone should have a web site. They should just have to learn HTML and UNIX system administration first.

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The web has a look and feel and voice and authenticity and power that you can’t get elsewhere.

It’s still thrilling to have my own domain name and server and site and make it all look and work and feel exactly how I want.

I hope it still does in another sixteen years.

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