Mx. van Hoorn’s cabinet of hypertext curiosities – another personal directory counterinsurgent raises a hand.
Ok, I’m sorry - I’m going to go off again in this post. I know sometimes it seems like I’m just rattling off random observations about a link - minor observations that you can pick up for yourself by just visiting the link - but I feel like I have a responsibility to anyone out there.
Basically, you’re reading this hypertext here because you want a Web of some kind. You’re looking for a way to preserve this Web, am I right?
That means pages connected. Easy. We can do this. Let’s get these pages connected, yeah?
I’m not going to type this in caps, because I don’t want to, but: the directory is the foremost way make these connections.
In fact, I confess that only found Marijn because this linkroll page linked back to me. And I was like, “Okie - yeah let’s get connected.”
A related article ‘The Return of the 90s Web’ showed up today on HN. Interestingly enough, the author discusses webrings and blogrolls, but not personal directories.
I left a comment, which I’m just going to save here.
People are still creating great stuff along these lines - you just won’t find it through Google or Facebook or most of Reddit. Complex, interesting hypertext creations and web sites are still everywhere. But try typing “interesting hypertext” into Google or Facebook and see where it gets you. You can’t search for something that’s off the beaten track.
This is where directories come back in. Check some of these out:
Competing with Google in search has become an insurmountable task. Personal directories attack from the opposite direction (human curation, no algorithm) in a way that actually puts Google far behind. It’s kind of exciting and unexpected.
The beauty of this is that a directory can be thrown together very quickly. It could be as simple as ‘Some Things’ by Laurel Schwulst. Although this is a huge list - and I’m sure was a massive effort to assemble - it shows that you can just start with a poem of linked words if you need!
I understand not wanting to blog. I’m not going to want to do this forever. You need something worthwhile to say. And writing, editing, publishing - it’s very time-consuming and it requires skill on so many fronts. But it’s still worth attempting - like any creative project that might flower into something. That might actually make life worth living.
But a directory doesn’t require you to get into ‘content creator’ mode, where you have to continually keep some thread going or to fabricate topics. With a directory, you just have keep track of your favorite stuff. You probably want to hang on to that stuff anyway.
And by doing that, you form a support network to the projects and ambitions that might improve this world in small ways. Simultaneously, you put a brick back into the World-Wide Web. Name a better contribution you can make to its healing. And imagine a Web full of personal directories - where people both build them and are familiar with browsing them - how do walled gardens exist in that world?
The Internet is now full of metric tonnes of low-quality shit. I’m not a misanthrope - I just think that most people aren’t great writers and are not meant to have a platform. (Hey, I’m not meant to have a platform either - it’s fortunate that I’m off in the corner.)
Directories can highlight the high-quality hypertext. They can form a Web of the best. They are our libraries, lifting the signal out of the noise. There is so much unexplored territory to do this, don’t you think?