When I got my first gig at Internet.au magazine (no website, our boss didn’t like the idea of us having a website…) one of the big issues with the mag was that it was such a time of transition for the tech industry that we were trying to restore a focus on what was exciting about the Internet at the time.
The ‘90s was the wild west, full of weird fun experiments of a million different kinds. A website was about what it let you learn or do.
The late '90s was the first dotcom bubble so everything started to be about the business. A website was now discussed in terms of the business potential of what it let people learn or do.
Then the crash happened. The online business questions got awkward. And so the focus on business potential got awkward.
That’s when I got that job at the mag.
In my second year there an editor from the earlier days of the mag came back. And we set about refocusing on 'what makes the Internet awesome’. Because all that was still out there. It didn’t care if it made money. It was enabling cool things and new cultures to emerge as a member of the community and not as a business opportunity.
That’s kind of the same reason why YouTube, Facebook and Twitter flourished. They were focused on enabling community in one way or another. They were cool to talk about as they emerged.
Now? I worry too much talk is business again. The money making. The potential to make money. The potential to consume. I think we could better spend some time exploring cultural potential again, and why things let us do awesome things or find awesome people to connect with.
Some of those questions can still be answered by YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Reddit and the rest. But there’s also so much lurking out there that deserves more acknowledgement.
I say all this because scouring the last few days of news has been all about the quarterly earnings reports. And I’m reminded that tech news websites didn’t always scour these reports in as much detail as they do now. That was left to the business pages, not the tech pages. But in many instances the only tech pages left in major outlets are business-centric tech pages. (You can find me at the AFR on a regular basis, so I like those pages too!)
I’m just opining for more tech on the culture pages. More discussion of the cultures that tech enables. The cool things. The wow factors.
Tech is so much more than a business story.
But also… business leaders and analysts could do with a lot more of the cultural understanding if they want to make great decisions about what is going on with tech. The business crowd really needs to understand more than the $$$ to get the future of digital.
So read the culture stories through your business lens if that is where you live. Lose the myopia to get a better big picture.