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Author Topic: Is the Internet going Downhill?  (Read 2719 times)
Vanni
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« Topic Start: August 15, 2008, 06:51:44 am »

It seemed like about four or five years ago, you could find a great many of good pagan sites with active forums.

Now, it seems like there are fewer sites and forums have dried up or become very inactive. TC is one of the few that seem to still be going strong.

Also, it seems that when you google a term, you get mostly sales. If you go to google scholar, you get snippets of articles that then require payment for the rest of it. It is like the internet has become one giant home shopping network with the intellectual interests seeming to wane.

Is that just my imagination or have others noticed this as well?
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Lusiphelia
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« Reply #1: August 15, 2008, 07:42:58 am »

It seemed like about four or five years ago, you could find a great many of good pagan sites with active forums.

Now, it seems like there are fewer sites and forums have dried up or become very inactive. TC is one of the few that seem to still be going strong.

Also, it seems that when you google a term, you get mostly sales. If you go to google scholar, you get snippets of articles that then require payment for the rest of it. It is like the internet has become one giant home shopping network with the intellectual interests seeming to wane.

Is that just my imagination or have others noticed this as well?

As far as pagan websites, I never remember there being any really good ones to begin with (present company excluded, of course Wink )

And yes, sometimes it DOES feel like one huge home shopping network, with everything you can ever want, and a plethora of things I can't imagine people wanting.  But I'm not so sure how much it was supposed to be "intellectual" to begin with.
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RandallS
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« Reply #2: August 15, 2008, 07:59:57 am »

It seemed like about four or five years ago, you could find a great many of good pagan sites with active forums.

There never were that many _good_ sites out there. Lots and lots of fluff sites. Sturgeon's Law (90% of everything is rubbish) seems to apply to the Internet. As more people put sites up, the number of non-so-good and outright bad sites will increase greatly, making the good sites harder to find.

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Now, it seems like there are fewer sites and forums have dried up or become very inactive. TC is one of the few that seem to still be going strong.

Forums are time-consuming to run well. People who run them well eventually burn out. Even TC isn't what it used to be. Hosts and staff have had less time to devote to the board over the last year and it shows in less activity.

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Also, it seems that when you google a term, you get mostly sales.


This is partially because people selling things spend a lot of time optimizing keywords in their web pages and doing other things to get their web pages higher in Google listing while those not selling something generally lack the time and interest to do so. I know I could care less about whether every one of our 1000+ web pages in keyword optimized. And even if I did care, I lack the time to rewrite every one of them to be both keyword-optimized and still enjoyable by and useful to the real target audience, humans.

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If you go to google scholar, you get snippets of articles that then require payment for the rest of it. It is like the internet has become one giant home shopping network with the intellectual interests seeming to wane.

The intellectual stuff is still out there, it just does not get promoted like the money-making stuff does -- so it is much harder to find.
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Star
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« Reply #3: August 15, 2008, 08:46:16 am »

But I'm not so sure how much it was supposed to be "intellectual" to begin with.

Depends on how far back you go, I guess.  I may be getting my history wrong here, and if so I hope someone will correct me, but IIRC ARPANET (major precursor to the Internet) was originally developed to share research between universities.  In that sense I'd say it was intended to be pretty intellectual.

That said, we've come a long, long way from ARPANET.  I mean, initial deployment was in...  what, 1969?  We're almost 40 years along now?  I think it's only fair to expect something to change over that period of time, especially as it moves from being the domain (no pun intended) of a specific, specialized group to being something that is widely accessible to the public.  Time and the easy ability for people to contribute to or change a thing is going to result in that thing evolving.

I should go reply to the original post with the rest of this...
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« Reply #4: August 15, 2008, 08:57:54 am »

It seemed like about four or five years ago, you could find a great many of good pagan sites with active forums.

Now, it seems like there are fewer sites and forums have dried up or become very inactive. TC is one of the few that seem to still be going strong.

I don't think that's necessarily any indicator of an overall trend on the Net at large.  (And I should correct us both here and say "the Web at large", because I think that's what we're talking about, and the Web and the Internet are not interchangeable terms.)  It might or might not be an indicator that the representation of Paganism on the Web is going downhill.  It says nothing about non-Pagan content availability.

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Also, it seems that when you google a term, you get mostly sales. If you go to google scholar, you get snippets of articles that then require payment for the rest of it. It is like the internet has become one giant home shopping network with the intellectual interests seeming to wane.

You get shopping sites in your results because they pay for advertising.  Scholarly sites aren't as interested in attracting customers and probably don't make much if any money with which to pay for advertising, so they aren't going to pop up in sponsored links and sidebars and so forth.  They're going to rely more on word-of-mouth and linkbacks from other (hopefully reputable) pages to draw in traffic.  I see nothing troubling or surprising about this.  It doesn't mean that commerce is taking over the Web; it just means that the people who are most interested in making money are also most able to pay for ways to draw your eyeballs to their site.

And if commerce is becoming a major function of the Web...  Is that a bad thing?  (For the Web itself, I mean; I don't intend to get into the potential effects on brick-and-mortar stores, or the economy at large, or anything like that.)  It gives me greater access to the books that I want to read, for example, or the tools that I would like to get to aid in my religious practice.  It allows me to more easily, for instance, plan a trip to Greece to see the ancient sites firsthand.  (Hypothetical example, unfortunately; I'd love to, but now is not the time.  But if I wanted to, Web commerce would make it easier.)  The Web is not just greater access to information, it's greater access in general.  Commerce is a part of that.
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« Reply #5: August 15, 2008, 09:22:41 am »

Depends on how far back you go, I guess.  I may be getting my history wrong here, and if so I hope someone will correct me, but IIRC ARPANET (major precursor to the Internet) was originally developed to share research between universities.  In that sense I'd say it was intended to be pretty intellectual.

That said, we've come a long, long way from ARPANET.  I mean, initial deployment was in...  what, 1969?  We're almost 40 years along now?  I think it's only fair to expect something to change over that period of time, especially as it moves from being the domain (no pun intended) of a specific, specialized group to being something that is widely accessible to the public.  Time and the easy ability for people to contribute to or change a thing is going to result in that thing evolving.

That's almost exactly what I was going to write.  With changing technology, and the readily available access to the internet through home-computers, and companies which provide internet as now a 'necessary' commodity, it'd make sense that the face of the internet has changed.  I remember when my household first got the internet, we had to travel to a special 'Internet Provider', and sign up for our 36K modem...and plug it in, and it made that horrible noise.  Now, a lot of people are offered the internet through their cable and telephone provider, usually much simpler and faster than what it ever was before.

This amounts to essentially, an aid in communication, and more mass-applications of the 'web', for the general populace, especially youth.  Things like YouTube and Wikipedia, are huge and impressive in their scale of knowledge sharing, and MySpace and Facebook are more social applications of information sharing and communication.  Youth and young-people more and more are contributing to this, which makes the web a very hot commodity.  And with that, people are going to want money, and get their share of a 'cut'.  Pair that up with a parade of people trying to get information, or share information that is inaccurate (there's a thread in this category devoted to that I believe...), and things can become a jumbled mess pretty quickly. 

With the more people using and contributing to the web, it means more information out there, it just becomes more difficult to sift through everything.  As was mentioned before, most of it, is bunk, but you can occasionally find a few gems.  I found here for example, after a few years of looking, though not so actively, for pagan sites and forums.  Wink
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« Reply #6: August 15, 2008, 09:26:35 am »

With the more people using and contributing to the web, it means more information out there, it just becomes more difficult to sift through everything.  As was mentioned before, most of it, is bunk, but you can occasionally find a few gems. 

Exactly.  It's less like the Web is going from being Discovery to being the Home Shopping Network, and more like it's gone from being the local access channel to being the entire spectrum of available satellite channels, IMHO.
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« Reply #7: August 15, 2008, 11:34:38 am »

It seemed like about four or five years ago, you could find a great many of good pagan sites with active forums.

Now, it seems like there are fewer sites and forums have dried up or become very inactive. TC is one of the few that seem to still be going strong.

Also, it seems that when you google a term, you get mostly sales. If you go to google scholar, you get snippets of articles that then require payment for the rest of it. It is like the internet has become one giant home shopping network with the intellectual interests seeming to wane.

Is that just my imagination or have others noticed this as well?

I think it depends on what you are searching for and how you are searching for it. I use the web daily at my job, which requires a lot of research. Without the web, I wouldn't be able to do my job as well or as fast.

A note on Google scholar: They can't give away articles for free because they don't own copyright to them. They can only tell you that the articles exist and a small snippet of the content. I think this is fair--otherwise, no one would buy the content directly from the publisher, the publisher wouldn't make any money, they would stop publishing, and then there wouldn't be anything to find on Google scholar. 

Academic clearinghouses like JSTOR and ScienceDirect are not marketed toward individual users--instead their marketing efforts are directed at libraries who purchase subscriptions which they make available to their members or students.

I've been in college almost continuously since 1996 (I had a three-year gap early in this decade between degrees). The web has changed a great deal since then, and I am amazed at the ease at which I can find research materials. Used to be that I had to go to the library and scroll through the microfiche to find the journal or newspaper article I needed (assuming my library carried that journal). Now I can access articles in journals that my library doesn't even subscribe to just by logging on to JSTOR (which I can even do from home through a proxy server!).

Also, I've noticed a greater ability for academics to get together and share ideas through online forums. The Chronicle of Higher Education is one such place, as well as a plethora of yahoo groups and live journal groups that are mostly academic, and just this week a new site for graduate students to share their research and form research groups was launched. 

So I disagree that intellectual interests online are beginning to wane; however, communities can be very specialized and thus hard to find if you aren't searching for something specific.

Sasha
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