The Internet is ready for a new cultural shift. Discuss.

motivational posters erroneous

[“Erroneous Belief”: the very first cartoon I ever published online, back in 1999. Seems like a couple of lifetimes ago etc.]

1. One of the early inventors of blogging, my old friend Dave Winer is trying to reclaim that thing that blogging was first designed for. Blogging needs our help, he tells us.

The mission of blogging is to empower all of us to go directly to each other with our expertise. So if you know something as well as anyone else, or you learn something or know something that should be shared, then you should share it on your blog.

Like a lot of the early adaptors, I discovered blogging during a long, post-Dotcom/9-11 period of unemployment and general career nosediving.

It seemed back then to a lot of us, that the world had changed forever.

Even though history would prove us right eventually, we had no way of knowing this. All we knew was that the rules had changed somehow, and that we desperatelly wanted to know how this new Internet-enabled world of ours was going to work.

So we all started blogging to share information and to share ourselves, trying to make sense of it all. Real visionairies and trail blazers like Joi Ito or Loic Le Meur or Nick Denton were all part of the conversation; it was a really interesting, exciting time to be alive. Not only did it feel really personal, it felt really empowering. We really felt like we were on the cusp of something huge.

This cultural shift eventually adapted the popular moniker, “Web 2.0”. It basically meant personal websites, designed to enable converation and the sharing of information and ideas between fellow amateurs. As opposed to “Web 1.0”, which  implied commerical sites, more interested in selling stuff or broadcasting their “content”, their corporate agenda, than any meaningful contact between real individuals.

Eventually all this became what’s now known as “Social Media”. And like all things online, it degraded as the mainstream caught up with it eventually, with Facebook, Twitter et al moving in and taking over. Goodbye, Cluetrain. Hello, Cat Photos.

2. It seems we’re all getting sick of the noise.

We’re sick of checking our email forty seven times a day. We’re sick of of all the endless crap we see online, the never-ending content blizzard. We’re sick of spending most of our free time staring into our phones. Our lives are being devoured by all these billions of carnivorous Web 2.0 pixels, and we’ve grown weary of it.

3. Blogging came about because a decade ago, the Internet was ready for a new cultural shift. I think it’s ready for another one.

As this Internet-malaise that Dave is fighting against reaches critical mass, I predict we’re going to see a backlash, a rebellion, similar to what blogging was originally, back in the day.

A shift.  A movement. A reaction against the mainsteam Internet, against the noise.

A new quiet, as it were.

This movement doesn’t appear to have a name yet. For now, I’ll give it the hashtag, #TheNewQuiet and see what happens, whatever, the name really doesn’t matter. Not yet.

5. Kudos to Dave for taking a stand. I wish more people would do the same.

[Bonus: “Motivational Art For Smart People.” Daily cartoon newsletter.]


  1. Isn’t #thenewquiet going to be not the Internet? Won’t that be the likely movement? Not Web 2.0 but web No.0. When things go virtual, noise explodes. Keep it physical, noise dimishes. You know, the difference in actually having dinner with friends you want to spend 2 hrs with rather than watching FB pics from hundreds of “friends” and what they’re eating so you can do what friends do and like it. You can only eat so much real food. Physical experiences are like noise canceling headphones for the cacophony of the digital domain. That’s where the new cultural shift goes. And to the extent that a renewed approach to blogging and sharing ideas and expertise help people get to that physicality, now that’s interesting.

    • All valid points, Jeremy. Time will tell, naturally.

      Of course, we’re already seeing a lot of that happening. I’m noticing a lot of brands embracing the “Zen” thing, tea drinking becoming more fashionable in big cities etc etc. It’s all a reaction to over stimulus, a need for refuge etc.

      • I totally agree with your idea that social media (i.e., train) can not sustain itself, at this pace. Blogging (for me), is a way to create, voice, and properly store my thoughts in one place, that is also accessible from anywhere in the world, digitally. Cool.
        I enjoy your comments and artwork. Keep on going!

    • Yes!! Dance freely, walk freely, be together + smile + laugh + live freely and close to nature (both inner + outer nature). Simple. #thenewquiet is nothing new. Its available every day with a balanced limit to screen + devise time.

  2. […] Winer and Hugh McLeod are putting pieces in a pot, cooking up a new blogging stew, a cultural shift as Hugh […]

  3. I’ve been thinking this for a long time now. Totally agree. I think some of the noise falls away when we choose to show up authentically. It just feels quieter. But I also sense something else is coming. Wish I knew what I was because I want to be there. :)

    • I agree, Daphne. By the way, I’m not saying I have any answers, I just think there’s a real need emerging, here.

  4. […] don’t know if one gets to plan cultural shifts, but someone thinks The Internet is Ready for a New Cultural Shift. Many of us (me, for sure) can identify with this […]

  5. I’m usually a cyberstalker. I read and reflect on the various blogs and articles I read, but mainly discuss them with friends over a glass of wine. I usually don’t enter public dialog… However, I’ve been thinking about this post since reading it yesterday and felt compelled to enter into this discussion.
    I agree there is a shift happening and it’s been happening for some time. You said it well… we are all sick of the noise. I think at the heart of it I’m sick of the one way communication with limited meaningful discourse. Personally I’ve shifted my “recreational online time” to private hangouts with my friends scattered across the globe with a glass of wine in hand or coffee/tea for those in the wrong time zone. It’s a perfect opportunity to discuss ideas, catch up with one another all in our private space. (seeing each other adds to the enjoyment!)
    Maybe it’s time for bloggers to still shape the discussion but enter into alternative ways of communication with its tribe. Private communities aren’t the answer for all, but might be part of the “new normal.” FYI: I’m even subscribing monthly to be part of three different private online communities. Maybe that’s the answer to dwindling financial incentives for the blogging community.

    • Charlene, I agree, there’s a lot we can do. The trouble is, it’s a lot easier to just LOL at cat photos 😀

  6. Hey Hugh I just finished reading your book “ignore everybody” for the second time (good read btw!) I guess we are all a little hypocritical here talking about the need for a change through blog comments, but I also agree with you. No longer is the internet connecting everybody, in more ways it is like an anti connection and individuals are living vicariously through stimulus on social networks and interacting less with each other physically.

    Social media really just becomes a bunch of people commenting and posting about different peoples comments and posts. Again, we are all a little hypocritical here.