It’s appropriate to write about this topic as so many changes are happening all around the world, but particularly in my own life. A child of the web, weaned on ADSL, at some point in my development I developed an insatiable thirst for change, newness. Whether this was an inherit quality magnified by the hyperlinked nature of the web or whether it was actually developed as a result of my exposure, I don’t know.
My desktop is a randomly generated fractal pattern, changing every two minutes. Before that it would rotate between about a hundred random photographs from my photolog. When listening to music at home I’m more inclined to put my entire collection on random (a virtue of having them all in electronic format) than pick any one CD. Anything that doesn’t constantly change loses my interest over time until I’ve moved on.
Now this isn’t true of everything in my life, though it may be more than I like to admit. The design of this site, after changing every month for several months, has remained relatively constant over the past year or so. When driving I’ll often attach to a single CD and listen to it repeatedly for anywhere from a day to weeks. (Fiona Apple comes to mind.) My tribe of friends has settled down more than it has in the past. I’ve settled down more.
I saw my friend Alex Jones today and one thing I like about him is that he never looks the same twice, every time you see him his hair in particular can be completely different from the last time you saw him. (I should find some pictures.) That’s a quality I’ve tried out myself, but I’ve never been successful to any significant degree.
Most of all I’m curious how this chaotic thirst affects the things I do. This current design, once finished, will probably be around for a while. However at the top of every page is a randomly rotating thumbnail drawing from no small corpus of photos. If I didn’t touch anything else on the site, you could refresh every minute of every day for the next week (roughly) and never see the same thing twice. Is it too much? Am I alone? Looking back at every significant website I have created for myself since I began, there has always been an element of controlled chaos, a random rotator or quote or time or weather or timer or whatever the technology would permit me at the time.
Why am I so afraid of the static?
Getting back to the web at large, it keeps me content. There is a constant stream of new information coming in, and I don’t even frequent traditional news sites or use a RSS aggregator. First there are stats, thousands of referrers every day to dozens of sites, each referring URI representing an avenue of exploration. Technorati is an extension of this, cleaning things up and alerting you to something you might have otherwise missed. The WordPress Support Forum has frequent traffic, and represents hours and hours of possible diversions not only in itself but also in the actions it elicits. I’ve shunted all but a few of my subscriptions to lists, procmail keeping them out of inbox and out of mind, but still there is a constant stream of new communication, beautiful in its asymmetry; I can address it at any time, and do. Let’s not even touch instant messaging, the killer app of online communication and singly the greatest timesuck of anyone overly connected.
There aren’t enough hours in the day.