kowabunga, dude!

18 03 2006

i just had the experience that i’m sure happens to many of us.  i was reunited with a long lost favorite website. the collaborative learning environments sourcebook was one of the first resources i use when i began learning about communities of practice.  unfortunately somewhere along the way i "lost" my bookmark for it.  (thus the power of bookmarking services like blinklist, de.licio.us, and the like.)


but what struck me as worth blogging about was that i rediscovered this resource through practicing one of the first forms of informal learning that the internet spawned – web surfing.  back in the barbaric dark ages of web 1.0 before rss, news aggregators, blogrolls, technorati tags and folksonomies, most "webbies" would wander around from site to site, following whatever link caught their imagination. 

today the web is about finding information you "know" is there and thus tools from google to tags to rss feeds are created to help you pinpoint what you need to find as quickly as possible.  but back in the day, the internet was still evolving.  you really had no idea what you might find.  there was even a time when browsers didn’t have book marks. (i recall having a legal pad with urls scribbled on page after page.)  so you would just sign on, log into a site you knew had some interesting links, pick one and off you would go, surfing from one site to another.  it was like a scavenger hunt every time you went on the net. 

my favorite discoveries back then include a site called "the big red button" where fellow surfers would leave their impressions of their experience having found the big red button (it was picture of a big red button. it didn’t do anything. but thousands of people left notes.) and another site which stripped the captions off family circus cartoons and visitors wrote their own captions – most too off color to repeat here.

now don’t get the wrong idea, if i’m trying to get a project done and need information or just trying to stay up on the latest in our profession, i’m very happy to use my rss feeds and google to get the job done fast.  but i realized that i’ve kept my web surfing skills up and i use them regularly to just discover new things.  just to explore and learn. 

then i wondered, i never hear anyone talk about surfing the web anymore. 

am i the only one still practicing this ancient craft?  do you secretly sneak off to you computer at work to hang ten hoping to find a site with a wicked cool design that blows you away?  or a site for radical environmentalists in southeastern oregon seeking to protect beavers’ rights to dam any river they want?   or a gnarly site with pictures from a berlin burlesque show?

vote in the flash poll over in the left hand column and let me know if you’ve totally co-opted to the web 2.0 thang, or if you still are with it and get stoked lookin’ to catch the big one.  if you have some rad stories to lay on us of your surfin’ days, it’d be so chill if you’d lay it out in a comment below.   


hang loose dudes and dudettes!



2 responses

18 03 2006
Jay Cross

Long live surfing! The delight of discovering a new nugget keeps me hopping to new sites every day. Good post, Dave.

22 03 2006
Mike B

I think the nature of the web has changed dramatically in the past several years. When I first started surfing the web, I would visit a page of a friend and immediately look for their list of favorite sites. I would visite the sites and follow links to other sites. I would also look for webrings and visit each member site.

Now, it seems like there are more organized sites and fewer lists of favorites. I haven’t seen a webring in a long time. I still find new sites, but most are based on reading news or blogs.

With the advent of advertising on the web, people are sometimes afraid to link to related sites because it would draw business away from their website which makes it harder to truely surf from one site to the next.

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