19 December, 2006

I am well versed in jargon, buzzwords and ease of use applications, but choose abstinence overall

"It's amazing that everyone's yelling shit, and the only things I can make out are 'anal sex' and 'the internet.' Where's my mind, as Black Francis once sung."
- Mike Doughty, May 7, 2005 at The Middle East

This pretty much sums up how I feel about the internet. Lots of shouting, but nothing really useful coming through, to me at least.

I am an avid reader of the tech blog written by Susan Mernit. As a former technology consultant and current Yahoo! employee, she knows the deal when it comes to technology news and advances, as well as the evolution of the internet to it's current format.

Reading her blog, as well as posts at Slashdot and Wired News is always interesting. I love keeping up with the new advances in cross-platform applications and user driven content. However, I generally can't relate to much of what goes on in the web development community from a user's viewpoint. I'm a casual observer, but active non-participant when it comes to things that are designed to 'streamline' the user experience. The only real intersection of my web activities has come with the recent development of Blogger Beta, which uses the google account login.

I am one of those people that did not grow up with the mindset created by AOL, despite having AOL initially, in that the ISP should also provide a hub for activity on the internet. AOL really focuses on getting users online and then keeping them within the AOL fold, providing messaging, e-mail, news, games and a search engine; a one-stop shop for all things online, if you will.

Yes, I had AOL for a spell, but I never used chat rooms, or any of the things that came along with it. I opted instead for using Netscape and finding my own way around the internet. I only used AOL mail for a short while, switching first to Hotmail, then Yahoo! mail, and ultimately to Gmail. Simple, easy.

I think that internet users like myself are kind of rare, in that I don't use desktop widgets, RSS feed readers, online storage and bookmarking, web accelerators or any of that sort of stuff. I use firefox, and I keep my bookmarks there. I have internet provided by Comcast, but I've never used any of the features they use as selling points such as 'the fan' or webmail. I prefer my internet experience much more streamlined. If I want to go to ESPN's website, I open firefox and type in www.espn.com. It's all pretty simple.

I guess I just like doing things the hard way. I like using the internet for regular and sports news, research, and e-mail, and that's about it. I don't base my life around it. When I hear on the news that online sales are easily going to surpass store figures this holiday season, it surprises me. I still like the human experience of going to the store and purchasing something from a person.

The only real technology I keep up with from an active user standpoint is music downloading. I have gone from an early user of Napster, Grokster and others to Kazaa and Bearshare, leading me ultimately to Bittorrent and currently, Azureus. Outside of that, I could care less.

I guess I'm just difficult like that. From a marketing standpoint, how does a company looking to expand it's user base appeal to me? How do you appeal to someone who simply likes to look a few websites? I was almost had with the advent of del.icio.us, but the idea of having to log in to a website that isn't my e-mail or blogger just doesn't appeal to me.

Edit: Just this morning, I found this item on Wired News about the new company called Pluggd. Now that is something that sounds so completely awesome my mind is reeling. Digital indexing of audio files for words and phrases with the intelligence to link similar ideas, coupled with a search function? Amazing. That means that I could get all the latest news and opinions in podcast format on any given topic without having to sort through all the muck of the podcasting world, which I have knowingly avoided to this point. It even tells you where in the file you are most likely to find exactly what you wanted, so that in a 30 minute podcast, you can skip to minute 17 and hear all about, I don't know, how Peyton can't play in cold weather or some such nonsense.

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