Nova Spivack, in his article Is The Stream What Comes After the Web? suggests that the new metaphor for the Web will be the Stream. He says that especially with advent of Twitter and microblogging, the streamlike nature of the Web has become more apparent:
Just as the Web once emerged on top of the Internet, now something new is emerging on top of the Web: I call this the Stream. … The Stream is what the Web is thinking and doing, right now. It’s our collective stream of consciousness. … Perhaps the best example of the Stream is the rise of Twitter and other microblogging systems including the new Facebook. These services are visibly streamlike — they are literally streams of thinking and conversation.
The Web has always been a stream. In fact it has been a stream of streams. … with the advent of blogs, feeds, and microblogs, the streamlike nature of the Web is becoming more readily visible.
The Web is changing faster than ever, and as this happens, it’s becoming more fluid. Sites no longer change in weeks or days, but hours, minutes or even seconds. if we are offline even for a few minutes we may risk falling behind, or even missing something absolutely critical. The transition from a slow Web to a fast-moving Stream is happening quickly. And as this happens we are shifting our attention from the past to the present, and our “now” is getting shorter.
The era of the Web was mostly about the past — pages that were published months, weeks, days or at least hours before we looked for them. … But in the era of the Stream, everything is shifting to the present — we can see new posts as they appear and conversations emerge around them, live, while we watch. … The unit of change is getting more granular. … Our attention is mainly focused on right now: the last few minutes or hours. Anything that was posted before this period of time is “out of sight, out of mind.”
The Web has always been a stream — it has been happening in real-time since it started, but it was slower … Things have also changed qualitatively in recent months. The streamlike aspects of the Web have really moved into the foreground of our mainstream cultural conversation. … And suddenly we’re all finding ourselves glued to various activity streams, microblogging manically … to catch fleeting references to things … as they rapidly flow by and out of view. The Stream has arrived.
Spivack’s vision of the future Web as a Stream resonates with other commentaries, as I’ve discussed in related articles:
- Books: The Liquid Version – What Happens When Books Connect?
- Did Salman Rushdie envision the Web in 1990? – Rushdie’s word-picture of the Ocean of the Stream of Stories.
- Digital books: Narratives in long winding streams, Peter Brantley, 2009
- The Web as a Stream of Stories – Spivack and Brantley flow together into Rushdie’s Stream
- Rushdie’s Stream library & Borges’ print library
Eric Rumsey is at @ericrumsey