The World Wide Web is an ever-growing platform with media that is both old and new. We might like to think of the Internet as a linear sequence displaying content in chronological order of when it was uploaded; however, that is rarely how it works.
Take Google, for example. When visiting Google.com and entering keywords to search, do you expect the first listing to be the newest content on that topic or the page most relevant to what you searched? Google aims to do the latter. Google uses a series of complex algorithms to determine which content is worthy of being reused/recycled.
Likewise, Facebook does something similar. Users will oftentimes find their account settings defaulted to “most popular,” instead of “most recent.” On the “most popular” setting, the posts displayed at the top of a user’s feed will be the content that is attracting the most activity among their friend group.
We see in the article Life as Instant Replay, Over and Over Again, that media does not go away. If something is popular, it will stay in a place where it has the best chance of staying popular. If you’re on Facebook, this could mean at the top of everyone’s feeds. If you’re on Yahoo, it may be “featured” or promoted to a space place where it is likely to be noticed. Even WordPress has a way of doing this – a page called Freshly Pressed.
The author discusses the “replay Web” and how it’s a never-ending cycle of content being published before our very eyes. While I see the development of the replay Web in the ways discussed, I’d still argue that there’s a way around it. By searching something and going to page 20 of Google instead of opening up Twitter, you can still discover content that isn’t connecting you back to a large network of consumers. But I suppose that takes extra effort and is perhaps unrealistic when analyzing the nature of the Web in 2014.
Another interesting point that was discussed is how old content sometimes makes a comeback. Something that was posted long ago that got little attention may be edited or rediscovered and gain significant popularity years later. We see this happen a lot with viral videos.
This is actually something I have observed with my own blog. Back in July, I wrote a blog post titled: The Story of the Haunted Winchester Mystery House. At the time, it got very little attention. Interesting enough, the post has been getting more traffic than usual this month. I believe this is most likely because it’s getting closer and closer to Halloween so people are now seeking this type of content. I was surprised because I had actually forgotten about this post but sure enough, it reappeared when the time was right.
In this day and age, people essentially determine what everyone else can consume. Each time we tweet, share, or re-blog an article, we are putting it right in front of the people we have connections with. If the post is good enough, those people will continue the process by sharing it again. Through this chain, the best and most important media makes it out on top while everything else fades away in the background.