Matrix movie still
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

A few weeks back, I posed the question: Is “stream” as a design paradigm over? I asked because of some behavioral changes that have become prevalent on the internet. First, most of the internet is now algorithmically organized by large platforms, so we are increasingly predisposed to receive information in atomized form. With those two trends in mind, the idea of people going to a destination — say a blog — to consume information in reverse chronological order doesn’t isn’t relevant as much. 

I shared the article with two fellow bloggers who are big thinkers about web architectures, user experiences, and Internet software — Jim Nielsen and Jeremy Keith. Jim sent me an email and subsequently shared his thoughts on Mastadon. He is still thinking about the design concepts, but his way of organizing information is simple: “his words” (aka posts) and other “people’s words” (aka links.) He will turn his email into a blog post, so I will refrain from quoting. I will link to his post when it is published. Last week, Jeremy also weighed in on his blog in favor of the stream-like approach on this website. 

I actually like the higgedly-piggedly nature of a stream of different kinds of stuff. I want the vibe to be less like a pristine Apple store, and more like a chaotic second-hand bookstore. For me, that’s a feature, not a bug. 

Matthias Ott, a user experience designer, also came in favor of the randomness of the stream

You could even think of this home stream as what in literature is called a “stream of consciousness”: a constant stream of the multitudinous thoughts and feelings which pass through the mind of a narrator. Your website is a way for you to share your stream of consciousness, that temporary and subjective and highly biased snippet of the universe, with everyone else, including your future self. In all its multitudes.

This free-stream thinking is contrary to how the general population is now being trained to consume information. People want the information to come to them, and who knows what happens when the “ask for information” paradigm of ChatGPT becomes all-pervasive. Like everything, even the web, its design, architecture, and economics will be transformed with the rise of augmented intelligence. 

Feb 13, 2023. San Francisco