Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Legacy and the Web

I know I haven't updated this blog in forever, but with good reason. We've been working our asses off at TickerHound -- I wish I could share the big secret with you now but you'll just have to wait a bit longer.

In any case, I was finally inspired to write a new post as I was on the train this morning.

I had my headphones on and two of my favorite songs played back to back:

Big Pun's: You Aint a Killer
The Notorious B.I.G's: Warning

Aside from the fact that they both have "Big" in their names (and rightfully so), the other thing these two talented artists have in common is that they've both passed away -- too young, might I add.

But here I am -- along with thousands of other hip-hop fans -- listening to these young men weave rhymes that are over 10 years old and still thinking to myself, "Damn, these guys are good". I'll be 90 years old one day (god willing) and I'll still be thinking, "Damn, these guys are good".

And that right there is the LEGACY these two men have left to this world. Their ability to take concepts, events and emotions from their lives and craft beautiful rhythmic sentences out of them.

The same applies to many creative people:

  • Visual artists
  • Film makers
  • Actors and Actresses
These people, 100 or 200 years after they're gone, will have left a legacy here on earth that all future generations will be able to appreciate.

But what about us?

The rough and tumble entrepreneurs who are creating, crafting and weaving beautiful web experiences and products each and every day.

Sure, we make an impact now but what about 100 years from now?

Will our works of art (read: "our web sites") even be around then? What happens if we have to close up shop and shut down our sites?

All that creative energy just fades into oblivion.

And I know what most people would say: "that's business". And while I agree to an extent I have to imagine that the web is more than just business. The very nature of it makes it so that content can persist.

Our designers and developers put just as much creative energy into building a site as a Director would into making a film -- where's their legacy?

Sure, the "Portfolio" section of a designer's personal page or an item on an entrepreneur's resume/bio gives a viewer a brief glimpse into a product that no longer exists...but don't we deserve more than that?

Shouldn't someone be able to EXPERIENCE the sites and products we've built as we originally intended? Shouldn't they be able to ask a question on TickerHound, or vote for a story on Digg or find a great wine on Snooth?

I think sites like The Way Back Machine do a decent job at preserving a site's content, but not so much the experience.

I also think sites like Blogger, Wordpress, Flickr and YouTube have also greatly helped keep legacies alive - albeit in a static form.

But I think we need a new type of web archive -- one that allows a site's experience to persist throughout time. I want my grand kids to be able to go to TickerHound (even if it no longer exists as a business) and experience something I created when I was in my 20's.

What would a "legacy" service like this even look like? How would it function? Is it even possible?

I don't know.

All I know is if there were a way to make it so a young man, 25 years from now, could use TickerHound, Digg or Snooth (whether or not the businesses were still "alive") and say, "Damn, these guys are good", then I'd be one happy entrepreneur.

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