Remember that unforgettable turkey sandwich you had at Subway, and the incredible conversation you had with your good friend while eating there? No, not ringing a bell? Maybe it was Quizno’s, or wait, could it have been Arby’s?
A turkey meal I’m sure you do recall was only a few weeks ago. Yep, Thanksgiving dinner with your closest family and friends.
We remember it, because Thanksgiving is unique to each and every one of us. The random Subway pop-ins are not. This juxtaposition in the food world is the equivalent to an emerging trend called the Slow Web. But, with any new movement, whether it be politics, economic theory or fashion design; there has to be an incumbent or status quo in place for that group to rally around.
Well, the old guard here is the Fast Web. The Subway sandwich. White bread. A number 3 on the menu. The slimy turkey. The insistence on making it a combo meal, thinking that adds more value, when it makes you feel more full - not better.
On the Fast Web, you always feel full. Overflowing inboxes. Missing that funny video everyone is talking about. Making sure to like everything on Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr, so, that others do the same with your mediocre stuff. Tweet. Download. Share. Vote. Review.
You feel constantly overwhelmed, because quantity - not quality - is pushed all across the web. The question to ask: do any of these interactions feel special anymore?
Do any of them resemble the engaging conversation you have with your Aunt every Thanksgiving on how she bakes the corn soufflé to perfection? Unfortunately, most of them are like the exchange with a Subway employee or colleague in describing your food.
Employee: “What’d you get?”
Me: “The turkey.”
Employee: “That’s it?”
Me: “Yep, just the turkey.”
Co-worker: “What’d you do for lunch?”
Me: “Just grabbed something quick.”
I haven’t been to Subway in forever, because it sucks, but you get the point. The Slow Web isn’t a restrictive thing. It’s not an Internet diet. We all want to get as full as the next guy. But, with the Slow Web, you get full on emotions, self-awareness and deep understanding. You still consume, which definitely happens on Thanksgiving, but in healthier and more sustainable ways.
Here are some principles of the Slow Web movement and a few of the companies practicing them:
1. As Jack Cheng puts it in a fantastic post, “Fast Web is about information. Slow Web is about knowledge. Information passes through you; knowledge dissolves into you.” Subway is not memorable because it’s only food, whereas Thanksgiving is more than food, it’s a meal. Good meals are knowledge. They hit you emotionally. You tell your friends about them, and they tell you about theirs. Quibb, for example, sends me an email at 7pm every weeknight, when everything has slowed down (thank god), and delivers a highly curated list of real knowledge on the tech/startup world.
2. Fast Web has no boundaries. None. 24 hours. 7 days a week. ESPN is producing content nonstop to meet pageview numbers. Individuals, on the other hand, have limited bandwidth. As a result, the good Slow Web guys are mindful of this bandwidth. Timehop is preserving your digital history, yet only presents it to you on this EXACT DAY in history. Not yesterday, not tomorrow. In today’s case, December 5th only. So, if you were lame last year, do something cool today to make up for last year. Sadly, you’ll have to wait a year to check it out.
3. Slow Web is interaction-based; while the fast Web is destination-based. Both have to do with increasing value, but for different groups. Destination-based is for the business. Calls to action to boost downloads, page views, subscriptions, etc. Interaction-based, by contrast, focuses on driving value for the user. Best example of this is with iDoneThis and, in similar fashion to Quibb, a daily email sent to me at 7pm, asking me what I got accomplished that day. The beauty of it is, I don’t need to visit their website to do so. I simply respond to that email, by typing each task from the day on a different line. That email hits their servers, then, all my tasks are added to my iDoneThis calendar, both on the web and mobile.
Now, most of these guys won’t be huge VC companies (although Timehop raised a nice round). But, who really cares?
Artisanal. Crafty. Experience-based. Community. Curation. I love that stuff.
It’s the pour-over as opposed to the Keurig. A New Yorker piece compared to a 20 page slideshow from Business Insider.
Food and Fast is all about scale. Meals and Slow are special.
Last time I checked, my Aunt Ginger and, your aunt for that matter, aren’t looking to scale their Thanksgiving operations.
What do you think? Fast or Slow Web? Where’s the middle ground? Is there a Medium Web we should strive for?