The Dying Internet

Is the textual web dying?

When the Internet was originally founded, websites were white and blue and consisted predominantly of text.

Fast forward to now and we have lavish websites, consisting of beautiful stock photography and font faces.

Google then vs Google now
Google then vs Google now

We have smartphone apps which do our work without us needing to open our browser.

Snapchat, Instagram, Vine etc. run off images and videos, every app these days is focusing more on audio-visual.

It’s like the textual web is dying.

Or is it?

The Image Centric Web

New social networks are on the rise, Instagram is attracting teens and Snapchat is gaining the attention of the youth.

6915403022_af241f182f_o

These apps are attaining huge user bases growing everyday.

A common trend among these evolving social networks is the form of content.

Multimedia.

These apps are focused on images and videos, basically, audio-visual content.

Audio-visual is booming these days, everybody is trying to incorporate it into their systems.

Meanwhile text is sitting in the corner like, “Somebody notice me!”

We are moving towards a more image centric web.

Text, which prospered during the early stages of the Internet, is now fading away.

Everybody is focusing less on text, and more on images and videos.

But why?

The Stream

The stream, a modern concept of providing content is evolving substantially.

The stream, synonymous to its name provides a stream of content curated towards your preferences and “likes”, it eliminates the need to go anywhere to find content, it’s all in front of you.

This concept can be seen in Facebook, Twitter and various other social networks built around the idea of the stream.

Facebook Feed
Source: https://goo.gl/I5HW7Z

In these social networks, an algorithm controls what content is displayed according to our “likes” and “favourites”.

This essentially means that an algorithm is controlling what you see and what not.

It eliminates the freedom to explore and discover what we like ourselves.

It’s also causing us to have a shorter attention span.

Short Attention Span

Our attention span is becoming horribly slow, we can’t pay attention to something without getting distracted.

You must’ve noticed that whenever you try to do something, say, study for a test, your mind is constantly diverted, you’re checking your phone, eating chips, and roaming around the house.

What new notification did I get?
What new notification did I get?

Why? Because your attention span is slow, during the early times, humans required to pay attention to their surroundings in order to survive.

As time passed, and luxuries developed, the attention we had to devote to our surroundings decreased considerably.

As a result, our attention span became short and we started paying less attention.

And now, technology has further spoiled us.

With information on the tip of our fingers, we don’t need to concentrate on reading books and scavenging through information, just Google it!

Here's the answer to everything!
Here’s the answer to everything!

If you want to know the height of Barack Obama for some inexplicable reason, you don’t have to open his biography and look around for mentions of his height, or ask an unusually wise man, you just take out your smartphone and type into Google: “What’s the height of Barack Obama?” and Google presents you with the answer: “1.5 meters”.

We don’t need to pay the same amount of attention as we did before to learn, all thanks to technology.

That’s also why teenagers and young people find it difficult to read a book continuously over a long period of time, their brains have been wired to get distracted.

The Internet is one of the biggest factors causing this to happen. If the Internet Didn’t Exist, things would be quite different, but because it does, we have a short attention span.

Our Impatience is Killing Text

Because us humans are blessed with a short attention span, we do not have enough patience to read through a lot of text at once.

Anybody still do these?
Anybody still do these?

Whenever we see a lot of text at once, we get intimidated and skim through parts of it, and at times, don’t even bother to read it.

We need visuals and breaks to keep us interested in a string of legibly arranged alphabets.

That’s what I, and various other bloggers do to keep you, the reader, interested in what we have to say (or write).

If this post did not contain any images, I doubt people reading it carefully and not skimming through it.

It’s inevitable, content writers have to use “visual baits” to retain you to their content.

New web applications and softwares are eliminating the need to use media to keep you interested in their content, their content is media itself.

This could mean that in the future, the Internet would be a place where images are important than text, and text is a mere sidekick.

But What’s At Stake Here?

What if text dies? Let’s say the Internet becomes a place where images are king and text is a mere sidekick. Even then, how is it bad?

If the web became a place where images and videos are the primary form of content, then our already horrible attention span would become even worse.

All these visual goodies would further shorten our attention span, it could become even difficult for us to focus our heads on studying or reading.

This would also bring about the plight of writers; novels and books would have to be stuffed with images like kids’ books, epic novels and fantasies would be filled with pictures.

Blogs would fall or the definition of a blog would be altered, with people not having any patience to read a lot of text, blogs would either become more of a place where only images and videos are shared or maybe even a thing of the past.

Breaking into Internet fame would become even difficult, if images and videos became the kingpin of the web, the stream would also become a dominating part of the Internet.

If the stream controlled the content we consumed, newbie creators would have a tough time getting internet-famous. Big players would be more on our stream because we already “like” them and know them, small-time individuals would not be there, thus nobody would actually know if they even exist.

Rays of Hope

But not all hope is lost yet, we still have places which assure us that text isn’t going away, WordPress, Medium etc. are sites bent on “textual content”, their main form of content is text.

These sites are popular and have a huge community of readers and writers alike, who consume text and appreciate the things it does.

But the most important of all, the biggest hope, is you.

Yes, you.
Yes, you.

You are reading a 1200 word article that I have created, every one of your view, like and comment is a huge boost to me and my blog, and it essentially drives me to write more.

Similarly, every single thing you read and appreciate drives its creator to make more content of the same type.

You are saving the Internet, and I’m proud of you.

Do you think the Internet would transform into a place where images and videos are primary? Or is text here to stay? Whatever your thoughts, let me know through the comments below. 

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52 thoughts on “The Dying Internet

  1. I had no idea I could be such an important contributor to the cause of saving text. I feel rather important now, and even a little self-absorbed (well okay, a lot self-absorbed). Yet, in answer to your question, Gaurav, I fear the internet may already be in the midst of that transformation where images and videos are king (or queen). However, I don’t feel text will go the way of the dodo, as w will have a need for captions. This was a fun read. :@)

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, you’ve contributed double (because you write as well as read.)
      Yes, I suppose text will be a “support” to images and videos, only used in small things like captions.
      Thanks for reading!

      Like

      1. Thank you. I only need worry about the confusion that might develops when Christmas rolls around, and that reindeer (also with a red nose) hogs the limelight. Fortunately, its only once a year, and the confusion is only minimal. But, if I were ever to sprout antlers, I could be in for a spot of trouble. :@)

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Very thought provoking post. I think people are more likely to read posts if there are scattered images, paragraphs with just a few sentences and if the post is not very long.

    I am very concerned that even the children today are living in a way that they have such short attention spans and little in person contact with other children. I know someone who teaches in a community that doesn’t allow children all the electronics. Those children play in ways that kids did in the past. It would be very interesting to follow them over time and see how their lives develop compared to the kids who spend most of the day playing video games or texting.

    And as a psychotherapist I certainly am seeing the effect of internet and video game addiction on adults personal lives and on their relationships.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes, it’s a challenge for people to concentrate on reading long paragraphs and posts, even reading this one might’ve been tedious task for some.
      Exactly, even kids are becoming inattentive and unsocial. 7 year olds have Facebook and Instagram accounts!
      They are doing a great thing teaching kids to stay without technology, it certainly will be interesting to see how they turn out to be in the future.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. It’s such a worrying trend here, I see many parents allowing kids non stop access to smart phones/tablets. Some even stuffed the devices to their kids so that they could keep quiet.

      As parents, early education is vital in shaping the child’s character and abusing technology like this is equivalent to ruining the child’s live 😦

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Yes, I saw a parent a few days ago who gave her phone to her toddler so that he wouldn’t trouble her while she’s talking to her friend, and the toddler seemed to be an expert in using the phone, it looked like the parent had done it quite a lot before and the kid had become accustomed to getting a phone whenever he wanted to.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I hope text driven sites don’t fade out… That would be sad. Imagine all the kids in the future? And what social media will look like for them. I wonder about that at times. Great post! It got me thinking.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Gone are the days where most people read paperback books and newspapers. Nowadays, everything is online. And unfortunately, teens don’t even read books anymore except those needed in school. I see books as a channel where one can travel without leaving the house, when one can go through time effortlessly without a time machine, and when one can experience adventure at the safety of their homes.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Exactly, in my school, it’s difficult to find a teen who has even one novel! My school library which was once lacking books to read because of the avid issuing by my classmates is now flowing with books because nobody issues any book at all.
      I agree with you, books are a window to a different world, a world which the writer and the reader make.
      Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I think there will always be a need for both image and text and different people can absorb information better in different ways. But I do see that big change in how websites function these days due to them adapting for mobile / apps and I really don’t like the replacement of words for images however I can see how this would be useful for crossing intial language barriers

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes, text cannot be completely removed, only the form in which it is used can be changed.
      Totally, some people understand better by images and some are better readers, it’s different in different people.
      That’s an interesting point, images are a good way of crossing language barriers, who knows if in the future they are used to do so.
      Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. In a way, we are getting more disconnected by not being able to strike an appropriate balance between ‘Technological Convenience’ and ‘Technological Pleasure’.

    Guess what.. Our brains are getting hardwired to learn to get connected to screens more deeply than fellow humans.

    I am specially glad about the way Gaurav has put across his insights about the Short Attention Span convincingly and also about the subtle dangers that the technological boom actually poses for us. It is slowly changing the way we used to value some fo the conventional mediums of interaction, connection and bonding.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Great post once again 🙂 My motto is I avoid writing long posts because people will eventually feel disinterested. But, you on the other hand, kept the focus of the reader intact and anyone can learn many things from your post 😉 Text is alive my friend because my WhatsApp status is “Textually active” 😀 But yes media are booming and we will just have to go with the flow and also be stuck to words as long as possible 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Everybody has their style. 😉 (And yours suits you.)
      I think I’m going copy your WhatsApp status effortlessly as mine. :p
      Yes, we’ll have to keep both intact, because, in the end, we need them both.
      Thanks for reading brother!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. Awesome post! I do have to agree with you that Instagram and Youtube are such hige presence on the Internet nowadays. It’s a shame that we (even myself!) are having short attention spans because of the rapidly changing social media.

    I actually wrote about this photo-sharing website/app topic on my blog a while ago, but I think you might like it. Feel free to give it a go! https://thefinickycynicat.wordpress.com/2014/10/20/snapchat-and-instagram-really-40-d-challenge-day-16/

    Liked by 2 people

  9. While audio-visuals are certainly dominating the Internet, I do think text remains the most important element in delivering information. The way I see it, no matter how many videos and GIFs are shared every day, the need for written material is essential. Personally, I’d rather read a text, no matter how long, at my own pace and for hours on end than listen to someone say it or wait for the video to buffer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, essentially, text will never exactly die, but I doubt it being used less than we do now.
      Same! Text has a more soothing and calmer feel to it than audio-visuals, which cannot provide the same amount of peace that well written text can.

      Liked by 1 person

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