Saturday, August 23, 2008

Happy birthday, Field Notes!

Well now.

A year ago I wrote the first post on this blog, about e-tickets and copy protection. The thesis, which I still buy, is that strong copy protection only exists in the physical world and that in most cases tying virtual content to the physical world is likely to fail. If technology is inherently limited but we still want people who create content to get paid, it'll be up to " a web (if you will) of legal and social constructs". The good news is that that's already how the world works.

It might seem a random place to start, but it does introduce one of the main themes here: the interaction between technology and society. I've since come to think that the web is one of the clearest and most pervasive examples of this interplay. One of the beauties of blogging is seeing such themes develop over time. You can only set out so much at the beginning. The rest you discover, thus the subtitle: "figuring out the web as I go along."

When I first started, I was imagining a wide-ranging discussion of high-level architectural concepts, spiced with real-world examples. But I kept the title deliberately vague (the original candidate, wisely discarded, was "morphisms") to allow some wiggle room. In the event, I think the focus has drifted toward a wide-ranging collection of real-world examples, spiced with the occasional comment on architecture.

I'm happy with that, and it seems more in keeping with the idea of "field notes". As I understand it, real field work in science consists mostly of meticulous observation, with theory providing some hints as to what to look for. I'm coming from the same angle here, minus the "meticulous" part. Sometimes I'll write up something I've been stewing over for a while, but if I see something random and interesting float by in the meantime I'll go ahead and write it up. Why not? It's fun.

I read somewhere that of the millions of blogs out there, most don't survive their first year, so I'm happy to have made it this far. Except for an initial burst of activity tapering off last September, I seem to be managing a dozen or so posts a month, though not at the steady rate of one every two or three days that that might suggest. This seems about right. There's always something to write about when your topic is "the web", but not always time to write.

If you've been reading along so far, thanks, and I hope you've enjoyed it. Thoughtful comments and questions are always welcome, but lurking silently is just fine, too.

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