How We Lost the Web

When I wrote about the web we lost a few months ago, I thought the idea that we’d strayed from some of the philosophical and cultural underpinnings of the social web’s early days would be of note to a few old-timers like me, and that most folks would sort of shrug their shoulders at this obscure concern. Instead, that piece and the conversation that have followed have gotten more of a response than almost anything else I’ve written. As a result, I found myself, astonishingly, asked to speak at Harvard’s Berkman Center earlier this week about the topic.

If you have an hour to spend on the topic and don’t mind the sound of my voice for that long, you can actually watch the entire talk, complete with my slides shown inline, here:

The Berkman page for the talk also offers downloadable formats for the talk, including a 41MB MP3 if you’re the type who listens to podcasts.

Even better, David Weinberger acted not only as an incredibly gracious host, but a shockingly complete transcriptionist, and created a detailed record of the talk, which actually includes a few improvements on my own phrasing of some of these ideas. Doc Searls also ably captured the talk in the form of an outline, and kindly took a few photos during the talk, including this moment where I went to Harvard and was throwing up the finger guns. Betsy O’Donovan also took the time to Storify many of the tweets about the talk, offering a nice window into how people were documenting the conversation at the time. Finally, the YouTube video also offers a crude transcription if you click through to the site and want to follow along in text.

Overall, I’m quite pleased with the response to this conversation about the web we lost because one of my central points is that the arrogance and insularity of the old-guard, conventional wisdom creators of social media, including myself, was one of the primary reasons we lost some important values of the early social web. Seeing this resonate with those of us responsible gives me hope that perhaps we can work to remedy our errors.

Some key links if you’d like to further explore the themes in the talk: