Yesterday morning, as I was riding the metro home through a blizzard, I suddenly realized what the non-corporate Web has become.

A couple of feet of snow descended here over the past few days, which naturally enough disrupted most routine activities. My wife and daughter had tickets to go to Manhattan via rail on Sunday morning, so that our daughter could audition for a summer music program. Thus it was that before dawn we found ourselves slip-sliding down the road to Union Station through the overture to a monster storm. In spite of some (d)icy moments we made it and abandoned our car in a covered garage. After the train for New York City departed I took local mass transit back home.

Thus it was that when the subway emerged for an aboveground section of its run, through the white-noise static of falling snowflakes I spied the spray paint on the wall and had a tiny epiphany: the Web is a surface for graffiti.

Just as email has turned into a vehicle for bulk advertising, the bulk of the Web (not including most commercial sites) is now a quasi-public place on which people scrawl their messages. Like graffiti: some are artistic; quite a lot are obscene; many express political statements. Like graffiti: most Web pages are driven by a "look at me!" individual urge to garner attention. Like graffiti: the Internet's underlying infrastructure --- the plane on which pigment is spread --- had an industrial-commercial original intent. And like graffiti: all of it is ephemeral, liable to be overwritten or erased at any moment.

And in a wiki, even more so. Enjoy it while it's there ...

(see also RailWeb (3 Jan 2001), ...)

TopicPersonalHistory - TopicLiterature - TopicArt - 2003-02-17

(correlates: Buss and Ride, ShortTimers, RunningBored, ...)