www dot not boring?
March 28, 2004 1:24 PM   Subscribe

I'm bored with the World Wide Web. Can anyone help? [more inside]

Whenever I log on in the evening I seem to find myself looking at the same websites. I check my favourite weblogs, read the usual news sites, check through the trends at blogdex, check the visitors to the weblog, write said weblog then go to bed. For some reason it feels like I'm in a rut. Google searches 4,285,199,774 and I end up seeing the same twenty-five or so. Is this it? Has the web flat lined or would things be different if I was on broadband, and is dial-up my downfall? Can anyone suggest ways in which I can make my time online more interesting? Perhaps some websites they find invaluable or reliably interesting (beyond something you would post on the front page)? What else do you do online when you're not using Metafilter? I need web therapy ...
posted by feelinglistless to Computers & Internet (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Isn't the POINT of metafilter to find you (me, actually) new and interesting things on the web? I think it is. But I know what you mean, and here's some things I've tried:

Start your own community: install an open source forum package organzed around what you're interested in

Explore the links on the blogs you read now. In my experience, at least 50% of the links on sites I like are interesting.

MeFi's been around a while. Browse through the FPPs from 2000, you're sure to see stuff you've forgotten about or never caught the first time 'round.
posted by luser at 1:38 PM on March 28, 2004

Response by poster: Oh sure, Metafilter does all of those things, every day. But I think one of the problems is that I'll visit a bunch of sites and the same topics or links keep re-appearing all the time and I wanted make sure I wasn't missing anything else.
posted by feelinglistless at 1:50 PM on March 28, 2004

I couldn't live without broadband. That said, I'm in the same boat as you. So upgrading to DSL might put the spark back in your relationship with the interweb, but sooner or later it grows old. I'm addicted to the net, but I'm bored with it. Before I had DSL I used to read three or four books a week. I can't remember the last time I read a book for pleasure. The web is a curse. I suppose I could get a life.
posted by Grod at 1:52 PM on March 28, 2004

I second the links thing, and you could try playing google games: typing the first word that pops into your head, or something you hear on the radio or tv, etc.

and the WebCollage thing i posted a while ago is good too for surprising and random links.
posted by amberglow at 2:09 PM on March 28, 2004

would things be different if I was on broadband, and is dial-up my downfall?
Being in a similar boat, with ADSL at work and dial-up at home, I find that it is just too much trouble to go searching for new things when at home. As I don't have much time at work to surf, I tend to just hang around things that I know I will find interesting, with the end result that I feel pretty much the same way you do. The (seeming) trend towards more bandwidth-intensive design throughout the web just makes it worse and I end up giving up on at least half the links I click at home.

As far as finding "new" things on MetaFilter goes, if you take out the political threads and the news-only threads*, there is not a huge amount of "new" links that are not of the same persuasion as any number of other links on MeFi.

If it helps (which I doubt), I feel your pain and look forward to any suggestions that will help me move outside the realm of the usual.

*This is not a criticism of MeFi or anyone who posts these threads, just an observation.
posted by dg at 2:28 PM on March 28, 2004

Maybe you could try to think of some fun, interesting and/or challenging offline projects to do, then use the www to find information about how to do those things. Even if you don't ever do the projects, at least you'll have learned something.

Also, if you do end up visiting the same ol' weblogs every day, take the advice above and click a different "recommended reads" link every time you visit -- just DON'T click any of the usual suspects.
posted by bkeaggy at 2:29 PM on March 28, 2004

Here's one person's solution to predictability on the web. Basically it seeds your google search with a random word to skew the results.

There's also tinyroulette, which throws random strings into tinyurl.com.

I second the "going off the grid" approach as well, though.
posted by O9scar at 2:49 PM on March 28, 2004

the web is boring, that's just how it is. sure i spend 8-9 hours a day surfing it, reading it, and working on it, but it's just not all that entertaining. Interesting, yes, enlightening, sometimes.

If I were you I'd watch more TV. OR check out history stuff. I am not much of a history buff, but every time I look up something like, say, Ghengis Khan, on the internet, I end up going off in crazy tangents and learning about all kinds of crazy stuff like riverboat gamblers who trekked to Asia in the 1820's or whatever.

I feel like I'm in a rut too, when I sit there and say hmm what website is going to entertain me. Well it doesn't work that way, TV and movies will entertain you, but the web will feed you information. Think of some weird subject and just go for it.
posted by cell divide at 3:28 PM on March 28, 2004

Most of the time I do just end up going to the same news sites, reading the same political commentators, looking at a few journals, a few professional journals over and over and over again each day, though, and cursing them for not changing fast enough or being interesting enough.

It seems like the only time I find new or interesting stuff on the web these days (outside of occational inspiring link on metafilter) is when I'm working on or thinking about something in the real world.

When the Passion came out, I was interested in reading different people's takes on the movie. In trying to find more, I came across a number of strange (to me) religious communities. It was fascinating to get insight into their world and that was a good way to kill a few hours.

I have recently decided to take up sewing, and google searches about how to make skirts has introduced me to a bunch of neat how-to craft sites.

When I'm at my bordest moments, that's when I'm most likely to try to tweak my web journal. I guess the excitement of the '90s is really dead.

posted by croutonsupafreak at 3:46 PM on March 28, 2004

Cell, I don't get how something can be interesting and enightening and boring at the same time.
posted by grumblebee at 4:09 PM on March 28, 2004

For me the web is only as interesting as any passive content medium can be, with books being my favorite of that short list. At some level, it's mostly reading and watching. Maybe you should try creating some web content that is outside your normal millieu, or engage in something collaborative with a web buddy? I find that new challenges [trying to make my pages standards compliant, trying to learn how to use transparent PNGs, trying to get a php script to do something different, trying to remove all the old mailto links from my site] can get my head working in a slightly different direction and hence make the entire online experience more interesting. Plus, broadband really helps.
posted by jessamyn at 4:28 PM on March 28, 2004

I'm going to be the first to say:

"How about going outside?"

Before someone says it seriously :P
posted by abcde at 5:56 PM on March 28, 2004

"...would things be different if I was on broadband, and is dial-up my downfall?"

Nope, the webs the same on broadband. You'll just get bored faster.

I'm a new broadband guy at home, I live in the woods and DSL just came to town. After a week of, "Oh cool, look at the porn. It moves." and filling up a 40 gig hd with music, the novelty wore off and I went back to my usual haunts. I hate to admit it, but aside from downloading Sopranos episodes I use the web pretty much the same way I did on dial-up. I just use more of it.

I spend a *lot* of time on the web, I subscribe to some 1800 newsfeeds (no, I don't read them all, I'm not insane) and have a link directory that scares me to look at. But there are only so many ways to spin a war, so many ways to have sex and so many ways to analyze the face on Mars. There aren't even any good kooks left.

The only way I can bear to keep this crate plugged in is by making stuff. If I'm sending stuff upstream I wind up with something tangible down the road, something I can look at and say, "I made this. Cool, huh?" As jessamyn touched on, at a certain point you may as well be reading a magazine -- contributing seems to mitigate that.
posted by cedar at 6:01 PM on March 28, 2004

I wouldn't want to give up my ADSL, but I gotta admit the web bores me, too. Just more quickly.

Time to go find some semblence of a Real Life. I'm going to start walking. Maybe toy with sculpture. Learn guitar.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:32 PM on March 28, 2004

Wow, I am amazed to hear so many people talking about being bored with the web.... I have almost the opposite problem. I can look up information on any one of the millions of thoughts or questions that occur to me, and from that point I can just keep surfing for hours if I have the time and the inclination. In fact, time is really my problem. There are a ton of free downloadable tools and applications I would like to try out, and a lot I would like to learn (I haven't really touched PHP yet, for example, which I really want to do, and I've played with Flash a little bit, but not enough to gain any confidence). And I haven't even talked about the games...

I guess the short story is that I'm still in a state of constant amazement that this technology exists, and I don't expect that to change much. But as far as suggestions go, I'll mention a couple of sites: my friend Hanan Levin's blog, Grow a Brain, which, including the "collections", has so many links you'll probably never be able to follow all the ones that interest you. Another one of my favorite spots for beginning epic web journeys is Digital Librarian (NAB - not a blog), and, of course, our plep. Also, I often cruise around via the Google image search by typing in any term and then just checking out the pages with the images that look interesting, which very often leads to fascinating pages that I never would have found via any sort of linear approach.

But I am suspecting that what's really going on here is less "boredom" with the net than perhaps some sort of "information exhaustion", in which case I would echo those who have suggested narrowing your focus by learning a skill or devising a research project that will concentrate your internet energy and give things some purpose. Maybe you've been eating too much candy, and it's time for a real meal?
posted by taz at 10:55 PM on March 28, 2004

Take a break from the 'net. Decide not to log on today -- not Metafilter, not Google News, not even email. Just decide to do something else, today. Refresh yourself as needed weekly or more. Try to build up to two or three days, even if you know you have email waiting. Remind yourself that going online is a choice, not a daily requirement. If necessary, unplug the modem cable and put it away.

Delete your bookmarks. No, I'm serious. You'll remember the ones you can't live without, and all the rest -- who cares?

Expand your blogroll. Randomly. Try to end up with a completely different list of daily visits after a couple of weeks.

Join a new community. Choose a different username, and if it's a UBB type place, choose a wacky, not-like-you avatar. See if they have a pet quonsar. If not, start humping legs.

Ditch Google. Try another search engine for a while. There are a few decent ones out there. It will lead you to different places.

Go outside. Hell, it's spring. Sit by a river. Walk in a rainstorm. Plant a garden (or, like me, try to bring a lawn back to life). Prune the trees -- a wonderful, interactive, physical yet intellectual pursuit.

Pick up a book. Most people should have at least half a dozen books in their house they never got around to reading. Voracious MeFi types should (rules check?) have something on the order of two hundred. Read the book intentionally. Make notes.

Plus all of the usual reccos for someone in a rut: Join a club. Take a class. Move to Australia.

Oh, and say hello to wendell for me.
posted by dhartung at 12:27 AM on March 29, 2004

As others here have noted, there is [more outside].
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:09 AM on March 29, 2004

You need StumbleUpon.
posted by rory at 5:03 AM on March 29, 2004

I've been finding new stuff through BlogLines which was recommended by multiple users in MeTa a while back.
posted by yerfatma at 6:40 AM on March 29, 2004

Spurl. Del.icio.us.
posted by kindall at 9:38 AM on March 29, 2004

If what's on the web is boring, and it often is, then try to put something interesting online yourself.
posted by anildash at 5:33 PM on March 29, 2004

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