Maxwell's Demon:Hungry cats "herding" people towards their food bowl, as if the person had forgotten where it is. Blocked "retreat" when one makes a wrong turn, otherwise an honour guard.
Big differences between the early internet and what we have now, from the perspective of a user: centralisation of search and flattening of media. By flattening of media, I'm thinking of how there was once much more of a diversity of protocols and services through which people tossed data around, with TCP/IP and fast direct connections between user and first source of content not being assumed. Usenet/NNTP, uucp, archie, gopher, all these things are largely dead along with all their traditions. One of the things I liked about bulletin boards and gopher was that they provided a nice cultural expectation for people to put up collections of neat files to share with each other - almost every BBS back then had its own (sometimes very eccentric/flavourful) collection of this stuff - while we could still this today, there isn't as much of a tradition for random people to do this anymore (so there presumably would not be so many visitors), search engines (and worse, copyright-patrol bots) put what used to be the neighbourhood café under the spotlight of the world, and so much of our hosting now occurs on sites that don't give enough flexibility or cpu/bandwidth to do as much. As cool as it is to see users creating content, with the possible societal shifts there being very exciting, at some point it would be nice to decentralise the hosts too - as a social/hosting model, usenet was fantastic - perhaps the old tensions between centralisation/power and autonomy could be revived and applied to other social models on the net... I guess in a way things like XMPP are steps in this direction, even if they're not as functionally social. Maybe the problem isn't so much that the other traditions have gone away so much as they haven't grown and have been sidelined by convergence on the web - at times past advertising an IRC channel for tech support was not considered that odd, but now we usually have to do with each company's distinct and poorly-done web forum.
Would lowered prominence of search engines be a good thing for the internet? Is it even a good thing that they index all media? Is there a way to make the internet more of a neighbourhoody place than a giant market?
Maybe I should set up a public FTP server - some of you already have access to my server, but it might be nice to have something that doesn't require an invitation. I probably could find a way to install SearchLight BBS into DOSBox and glue that to listen to telnet somehow - people brave enough to, on their side, install RIPTerm (I regret that I can't find a good link to info on RIP without ties to Jason Scott, a troll who took on the task of preserving BBS culture and became prominent because nobody else bothered... like ESR but more so) into their own DOSBox and somehow get it to go out over telnet could have the old experience.
Daydream: Chinatown planes (like Chinatown busses that run between cities on the east coast) - unstable, packed, noisy planes flying between chinatowns all over the US for $30 a person. People would bring on the plane whatever they could get away with, with live chickens, people carrying large amounts of things for arbitrage, etc. No insurance, no liability, no complaints, much flavour. It seems this stereotype is a big component of what we've come to consider cyberpunk...
"The Other Pittsburgh" flipped into existence recently - empty streets, summer hours, nobody around. It's kind of creepy.
I think I have enough entertainment materials on my laptop that my nonsocial entertainment/amusement/things-to-do needs would be met for at least a year if I stopped seeking new stuff of each. In a digital world, we all might have a cache of fun. I wonder how big other people's caches are in this way...
Surprised: Fit almost all my books into three large boxes. I've decided to pack things up for the amusement factor - apart from programming, reading, and enjoying the outdoors, I don't have anything else to spend my days on right now. For people in Pittsburgh, I am highly available for adventures/company provided little or no money is needed to participate.
Feeling a bit blah, hoping it doesn't turn into an emotional tumble.