Web: Internet inertia

 
 

With trillions of websites at our disposal, Aoife Valentine asks why we choose to visit such a select fewAh Facebook, the eternal source of wisdom and gossip and, according to a recent survey by Hitwise, the most visited website of 2010. Knocking Google off the top spot and adding insult to injury by also occupying two of the top three most searched terms, while also taking up most of the time we spend online. It’s possible that Facebook has won the internet.

This fact was noticeably reinforced when I realised that the Christmas holidays generally not only mean the steady demise of whatever semblance of a sleeping pattern you had in the first place, but lots of time to gently peruse the internet. By the internet, I mean Facebook, Twitter, and your email. Maybe a trip to YouTube if you felt so inclined, but really, that’s a bit of a trek.

Apparently, it’s not only most students who are blind to the rest of the web, ignoring the many uses of such a vast resource. In the survey’s top ten most visited websites, after Facebook, there were only email clients, search engines, YouTube and MySpace (glad to see the angsty emo teens still haven’t moved on). But why when we’ve essentially got the world at our fingertips, do we only visit a couple of sites regularly?

Perhaps it’s because we’ve got everything we need with our current browsing habits. We have insane ease of access to information and can find out anything from the capital of Uzbekistan to cinema times in literally a matter of seconds. Why scour the internet when Google will do it for you a million times faster?

With social networking sites, we can keep in touch with everyone from Uncle Paul in New Zealand to your sister who’s in the next room, while Twitter caters to all your micro-blogging needs. It’s obvious that this sort of connectivity doesn’t always justify the billions of minutes we collectively spend watching our new feeds update themselves each month. However, these sites do have some obvious and worthwhile benefits, which most people wouldn’t readily give up in exchange for a broader view of the internet.

With sites like StumbleUpon, you’re introduced to pages of websites at random. Thus, it exposes you to just some of the many, many things to be found online, outside of those three or four sites you visit everyday. In reality however, unless you’ve a specific interest in something, you’re never going to revisit it or even go looking for it in the first place. We visit our regular sites because they have everything we’re looking for from the internet. Anyway, if we want something more, I’m sure Google will find it for us.

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