One of the things that keeps face-to-face friendships strong is the nature of shared experience: you laugh together; you dance together; you gape at the hot-dog eaters on Coney Island together.

The internet is often hailed for bringing people closer together. The apparent collapse of the physical space between users is achieved by slashing down the time between the moment in which a message is sent and received, until it’s close to real time. For millions of years, the only real-time communication we’ve had as a species involved physical presence. Thus, real-time digital communication makes us feel physically close (from The Neutrality Pyramid)

Opposite of digital permanence

Raider’s of the Lost Web

Source: RAIDERS OF THE LOST WEB on the Atlantic

“In Supreme Court opinions, every word matters … When they’re changing the wording of opinions, they’re basically rewriting the law.”

“It’s gone gone. A piece of paper can burn and you can still kind of get something from it. With a hard drive or a URL, when it’s gone, there is just zero recourse.”

The promise of the web is that Alexandria’s library might be resurrected for the modern world. But today’s great library is being destroyed even as it is being built. Until you lose something big on the Internet, something truly valuable, this paradox can be difficult to understand.

”Ephemerality is built into the very architecture of the web, which was intended to be a messaging system, not a library.” (maybe we need more friction?)

Modern content is sometimes actually assembled on the fly through the likes of Ruby, Django, Next.js, etc. Not actual ‘flat’/self-enclosed pages. The data may exist but not the in the format it was originally delivered in

Related: Mangrove Theory of the Internet, Dark Forest Theory of the Internet

Ephemeral vs Accretive Content


See also: digital permanence

  • Ephemeral tools are about the conversation. Slack is one. Zoom is another. Here, memory resides in the users
  • Accretive tools build over time. Developer tools tend to work like this: platform-as-code. Wikis are the main one: Notion is accretive. Memory resides in the tool