[T]he first visitors to the web spent their time online reading web magazines. Then came blogs, then Facebook, then Twitter. Now itâ€™s Facebook videos and Instagram and SnapChat that most people spend their time on. Thereâ€™s less and less text to read on social networks, and more and more video to watch, more and more images to look at. Are we witnessing a decline of reading on the web in favor of watching and listening?
Is this trend driven by peopleâ€™s changing cultural habits, or is it that people are following the new laws of social networking? I donâ€™t knowâ€Šâ€”â€Šthatâ€™s for researchers to find outâ€Šâ€”â€Šbut it feels like itâ€™s reviving old cultural wars. After all, the web started out by imitating books and for many years, it was heavily dominated by text, by hypertext. Search engines put huge value on these things, and entire companiesâ€Šâ€”â€Šentire monopoliesâ€Šâ€”â€Šwere built off the back of them. But as the number of image scanners and digital photos and video cameras grows exponentially, this seems to be changing. Search tools are starting to add advanced image recognition algorithms; advertising money is flowing there.
But the Stream, mobile applications, and moving images: They all show a departure from a books-internet toward a television-internet. We seem to have gone from a non-linear mode of communicationâ€Šâ€”â€Šnodes and networks and linksâ€Šâ€”â€Štoward a linear one, with centralization and hierarchies.
The web was not envisioned as a form of television when it was invented. But, like it or not, it is rapidly resembling TV: linear, passive, programmed and inward-looking.