Martin Oetting, writing on a whiteboard

Hello world. Old School.

I am starting 2024 with a new website. Feels good.

I haven’t had a proper home on the Internet in a while. Back in the day, when blogging was cutting edge, I was still working in marketing and had a thematic blog with an actual audience and proper debates in the comments section. So yeah, I was there when the Internet was still a place where people learned something from each other. On websites.

Today’s “Social Web” did not exist then. Today’s mega corporations that dominate the space didn’t exist. It was before Facebook. Everyone (well, the few that did) had their own blog, and we pinged back and forth in the comments, and spun an actual web of discussion and debate and exchange. We found each other through the things we had to say.

The geeks and tech nerds soon called this emerging truly interactive Internet “Web 2.0”. It seemed like a rise in democratic plurality and excitement of knowledge and exchange — and we were all part of it. I also remember trying to encourage more people to share their thoughts on the Internet. And they would make fun of me, asking things like “what, you want me to write on the Internet what I had for breakfast?” We were frustrated when others would not understand why this was exciting. Or when they thought commenting and trackbacks and Twitter were too complicated for them to bother.

And then I remember the first time I heard about some racist right-winger posse that had dominated or derailed a discussion online. It must have been on Facebook, when it was starting to become part of our lives. Those who did not think like “us” at all had discovered the web. And I started to make a sort of joke about it:

“Remember how we hoped the Web 2.0 would become truly accessible to the masses? Oh my god, imagine what happens when it does?”

Back in the day, when the racists and right-wingers were discovering the Internet.

That feels very innocent now. Like a long time ago.

Since then we’ve had the Snowden revelations and the algorithmic corporatisation of every corner and niche of the Internet, with commercial greed pushing the worst of humanity to the fore. We’ve had the Trump election, and everything that came after. And now we have AI.

I cannot undo any of that.

I can only try to stay true to what I think is right. And that is taking the time to make things, and then maybe publishing them here. And being as old school as I am, I am starting my blog with a “Hello World” blog post. Because that’s how it was done.

Hello world.


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