I thought I knew about the Internet but now I know I didn't really get it. Which is pretty remarkable because I work for Google, am 36 years old (37 in two days), and have followed technology pretty closely. I'm also a medium adopter, an investor in a Web 2.0 start up, and generally consider myself to be fairly in-the-know on this stuff. I guess I have to play the, "but I'm only in HR" card to let myself off the hook (not too many times I can use that actually).
But today, I'm different than I was yesterday, because I experienced the reach of the Internet in a unique and very personal way. One of my guest posts on Brazen Careerist got picked up on Wired.com, and then over to Valleywag, and then InformationWeek, and onwards around the Internet. The number of hits to this blog, and to the Brazen Careerist site were substantial given the traffic patterns that developed. Now, intellectually, I know all about the reach of the Internet and how it truly creates a World Wide Web, the theory behind The Long Tail, yada yada yada. It was just so...mind-boggling... to see it happen, hour by hour, with the traffic counters spinning up and all. When you are involved in it personally, it gives you a whole new appreciation for the power of the Internet. I'm sure many other bloggers have experienced this sort of spike in traffic, but until it happens, I think it's hard to appreciate. For example, here's a reference to that post in German.
So all of this is good and well, and there's a 'cool factor' to having something you created spread around the world and having others read it (although being called a douche by Valleywag readers was ...er...odd) but what is amazing is the personal connections it created. I had authentic, very human interactions with people I may never meet that either commented or email me or generally connected with me.
Blogging is such... a remarkable thing. Ironically today it has left me at a significant loss for words.
I guess it's like this: Sometimes you hear about things that are big, and you see them and see that they are big, you rationally understand that they are big, but you don't really understand that they are big until you experience them.
That's what happened when I learned about the Internet yesterday.