Wednesday, November 10th, 2010
31

Andrew Sullivan Predicted the Future of the Internet in 2002

Well, it is a little rankling to read about how Slate's Jacob Weisberg INVENTED THE INTERNET. Or, as he puts it, in a "we got new offices" profile of Slate, "We basically invented blogging." Which, okay, no, not really. But you know what? While investigating the historical record, we stumbled across this little bit of history from May 10, 2002, in an article headlined "APOCALYPSE IS UPON THE BLOGGERS OF THE WEB—OR IS IT?," by one Seth Mnookin, then a reporter at the New York Sun.

Mr. Sullivan, for his part, didn't respond to an email seeking comment. But, of course, he had posted a small item on www.andrewsullivan.com. "In my opinion, most online magazines will in the not-so-distant future become agglomerations of bloggers," he wrote. "Their most popular features are already drifting in that direction. What they will eventually become will be more like talk-radio stations, where a handful of provocative bloggers will create a branded talk environment, rather like the blogosphere itself, but with a few editors picking which people to include."

Ta da! We actually should give him some kind of award for this.

And, to even be fair to Weisberg, he has come down on the right side of history for quite a few years! Also in 2005, he wrote:

[M]any old-line journalists have tried to define their work in a ways that exclude the new aspirants. Insitutionalized journalists argue that bloggers don't do conventional reporting, aren't accurate, aren't responsible, or aren't paid "and hence are not genuine reporters. They fret that the current influx of amateurs will undermine professional standards or that seasoned professionals will be unfairly brought down by an electronic lynch mob, as some posit that Dan Rather of CBS and Eason Jordan of CNN were.

Disregard all such self-interested whining.

So with that in mind we won't even get fussy and picky about the rest of the things Weisberg puts forward in the interview. Here's to everyone! The Internet, it is full of friends! And mostly: thank God everyone's done fussing about "what journalism is." That was the worst conversation ever, and the annoying people lost that argument quite thoroughly.

Update: Weisberg thoroughly trashes the piece in a memo as "a good example of a kind of bad journalism we thankfully seldom see at Slate." SHEESH.

31 Comments / Post A Comment

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

What it is.

saythatscool (#101)

Great to see all of journalism's problems solved through the internet.

barnhouse (#1,326)

How come is it that for years and years on end either I totally agree with Andrew Sullivan and want to hug him and fix him dinner, OR I disagree with such fury and rage that I would gladly clock him on the head with a brick.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

Open therapy thread!

Kevin Patterson (#5,933)

Come to p'town in the summer time and you can have the opportunity to do both.

HiredGoons (#603)

this is how I feel about most people.

Moff (#28)

@barnhouse: I feel the same way about him, and I suspect it's because he's doing something right.

As aggravating as he can be (AND WHOA CAN HE BE), he's also better than just about any other political pundit on that level at airing dissenting views and admitting he was wrong.

joeclark (#651)

Someday somebody will do a proper investigative piece on why Andrew Sullivan hasn’t been deported yet, if Sullivan got special dispensation from the sitting president as a consequence of an off-the-record conversation while he was still a candidate, and if the Attorney General of the United States issued an interpretation bulletin that essentially exonerated Sullivan after Sullivan got caught smoking dope in a federal park.

A sidebar to that report would examine just what kind of sex he’s been having in the wake of the infamous MilkyLoads incident. In other words, is he a public-health menace, or is that pretty much negated by being a bottom?

Bryan Keller (#3,804)

Reminds me of that convo in the 80s about synthesizers vs. "real music".

YESSSSS. THANK YOU.

dntsqzthchrmn (#2,893)

Or that one in the 00s about rockism.

Aatom (#74)

The machines always win. Always.

I predicted in 1963 that the internet would become a repository of boner jokes.

KarenUhOh (#19)

This is how old we've become: an entire article about the Internet, and it doesn't use "Wild West" once. But he does mention Nick Denton six times.

He didn't use it, did he? I was just looking, not reading.

Actually one other part of the piece I enjoyed is how they made fun of Slate's ancient and frightening CMS.

It was, and remains, the worst. It always feels like some MS-DOS hangover with 8-bit graphics plugged into the front. You could almost hear the worker-birds inside the servers chirp "It's a living!" Every slideshow was hand crafted by Albanian coders with bizarre web-stalinist beliefs: NO CAPTIONS OVER 150 WORDS! ALL NAVIGATION BUTTONS MUST CHANGE POSITION WITH EACH NEW IMAGE! HOXHA SAID SO! At least the flyout menus have been tamed.

MaryHaines (#3,666)

OK, you all are using jargon I don't know, but the part about the slideshows I get. Slate's slideshows are so awful they leave me wondering why they didn't just post the photos on a single page. I only click through once in a while, but whenever I do I'm shocked that it's just as broken as it was the last time. I keep thinking it must be a fluke.

It's not a fluke. It's just ancient in web terms. Newspapers have traditionally had horrible IT, and Slate was part of Microsoft for so long that the general brutalist culture seems to have colonized the design. It's all being muscled into place and then quickly tied off with baling wire. (Of course, you can have a decent Content Management System with a horrible design—HuffPo—but it's almost impossible to have a decent design if your CMS isn't sleek.)

Next time you want to wonder wtf is up, click on the SlateV link. It's a totally different world! And it's ugly, but it's better—you could save this world, if you had a reason to. The main site? Go with god.

Moff (#28)

Is it worse than the Gawker Media Editor?

Rollo (#3,202)

Me too!

BadUncle (#153)

Let me guess – they still use Vignette?

HiredGoons (#603)

more importantly, who invented internet-porn?

Doug Englebart

keisertroll (#1,117)

The Motherfucker Of All Demos

DoctorDisaster (#1,970)

The New York Observer can't tell the difference between a successful publication and a financial disaster?! FETCH MY FAINTING COUCH FORTHWITH

Baroness (#273)

Don't worry about an award for Andrew. He gives himself a medal every time the history of blogging comes up.

refractor (#3,009)

Hathos alert!

Jeff Barea (#4,298)

BOOTY CALL with an ex…

You that's rankling. It's an old Internet truism that whoever claims to have invented it, didn't. Especially if they are a tv or publishing personality whose only claim to having started it is to have talked about it first in their article or on a tv interview.

We used to have to HTML up the hill both ways to the Internet. Andrew Sullivan sure as shit didn't invent MySql or scripting or PHP.

Hell, I had a sexxxy time blog in 98 and I definitely learned it from someone else. I just had to add HTML code to the same page, not like these fancy new doodads all of you benefited from. I could even go back to 92 with online college newspapers (your sucky aol never could compete with uni hubs setup.

I invented that truism btw.

Aatom (#74)

This was back when you could still see his face.

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