Firehoses and Tea
If using a search engine can be like drinking from a fire hose, Internet surfing using a Web ring is like sharing a cup of tea with a group of strangers who are batty about a favorite hobby, like collecting Australian emergency-squad insignia.
— Tina Kelley , “Surfing in Circles and Loving It” (source)
Let's get one thing straight. Firehoses are useful. If you aim that concentrated blast at a fire then it more than likely will quell the flames. I feel this way with social media, especially Twitter. Bix phrases it well here:
Here’s what I’ve realized: for the things I get out of Twitter, Twitter is very good at those things. For example, quick but in-depth input and information from experts when overwhelming bits of news are happening. Experts I would not otherwise known or have heard about; that’s a service I can use.
Aim the concentrated blast of Twitter at some subject and it will surprise you with insight. But what happens when you decide to drink from it? Same as what happens with a firehose. There's a disconnect, something that Bix touches on later in his post:
What I’m missing from my internet experience is that thing I’ve talked about over and over, on and off, since I started blogging again: that sense of place.
When I think of that sense of place, I think of sharing a cup of tea. Not with a group of strangers but rather with a small group of like-hearted people. I can also imagine not being with anyone at all, sitting with my cup of tea within the cozy recesses of my home. This warmth comes from drinking tea. It's restorative and intimate act, whether you are with people or not. I think this is what Tom Critchlow is getting at in the preface to “Blog Patterns” (source):
This post is a retreat from the crazy world into the domestic cozy self-care of fiddling with my blog.
I think this is what intrigued Tina Kelley about Web rings. Here were these tight knit communities of sites loosely connected by hyperlinks that embodied a coziness distinct from search engines. They had sense of place that Kelley could only describe as if you were having a cup of tea. There is, like Tom put it, a sense of self-care from fiddling with a blog. The same could be said for contributing to a forum or creating a web app on Glitch.
I think we need more cups of tea than drinks from firehoses.