Sometimes the tech blog world circa 2005 makes me feel…

… just like Wired magazine made me feel circa 1998. (I was reminded of this by the BoingBoing story about a complete collection of Wired issues up for sale.)

I don’t mean that we’re in exactly the same kind of bubble. But when I read Wired around that time, I would get this faintly … breathless feeling. I felt like every other page was informing me about some really cool technology/trend that I’d never heard of before, but that was about to totally change the way everyone did everything. And to be honest, that breathless feeling it induced, even though faint, is best understood as panic: why don’t I know about this already? if it changes everything, what will happen after that? and if it’s my business to know about the next thing, then why am I so behind?

I don’t mean this in a dismissive way, exactly. Although many of the microtrends and technorumors that Wired reported on came to nothing at all in the end, some small fraction of them were important. A lot of what was driving it all was simply readers and writers (both) being extremely excited about the transformative power of the new technology — and that’s a kind of excitement I can’t dismiss.

But just like there is a brutal monetary logic that limits the number of tech ventures that can be successful, there’s got to be a corresponding attention-span logic that limits how many cool tech ideas can make it out to broad usage, even if there’s no capital outlay involved. There are only so many tech-trend watchers, a larger but limited pool of developers, and a much much larger but more time-and-attention-constrained userbase. If there’s a new idea every hour, that’s great, but most of them are going to disappear without a trace. So I guess that adds up to taking a slow, deep breath, and then doing some boring work on main chances and/or core technologies. But … what a boring thing to say! Wired would certainly never have published it.

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