It is the end of an Internet era with the news that AOL has shut down DMOZ
The antiquated web-directory was the bane of many users and editors. However, without it, much of the internet would not be what it is today.
Larry Sanger stated once that DMOZ inspired him when co-founding Wikipedia. When the internet was in its infancy, people became excited about endless possibilities. Cyber communities could create an information highway within cyberspace.
Wikipedia was born from volunteers endeavoring to create a giant knowledge database. DMOZ set out to create a giant web directory using human volunteers to create a site directory.
DMOZ Dead and Defunct
Once upon a time, search engines such as Google could take advantage of DMOZ to optimize itself. Nowadays, Google’s algorithms are so advanced, DMOZ is obsolete to them.
Sites like Wikipedia have survived because knowledge is always updating. It presents information in an easy no-nonsense layout. It isn’t perfect, but it has evolved with the times.
Previous web giants like Yahoo are also deteriorating. It is, therefore, no surprise that DMOZ should admit it is defunct. Yahoo directories became obsolete years ago. DMOZ is even more meaningless to the modern world.
Web directories were staple in the days before advanced algorithms and super-powered web-crawlers. If you didn’t know the name of a web-site you could search such a directory. It was similar to a search made in an old fashioned telephone directory.
Product of Yesteryear
But times have changed. Just like we rarely see the “Yellow Pages” of yesteryear anymore, there is also no need for web directories. And this has been difficult for many DMOZ editors to digest.
There is an essence of nostalgia attached to DMOZ for some volunteer editors. It was unpaid work, therefore any time and effort invested would feel wasted by pulling down the site.
However, DMOZ was a bone of contention to most users, and also many editors. When people attempted to submit sites to the directory it could take years for them to achieve a listing – if at all.
Riddled with bugs, many editors struggled to have sites listed. There were also suffocating politics within the organization. Some editors utilized the directory for self-promotion, deliberately hurting their competition.
Most of the information in the directory was wildly out of date. In fact, chances are most millennials have no idea who and what DMOZ was about. It truly became a pointless entity.
Human Vs Robot
As technology has advanced, there have been large debates about robots replacing humans. Humans like having control, but they also like convenience. Humans want to create and develop, but robots do things so much faster.
For example, many driving enthusiasts are not excited about cars becoming automated? However, as the times move on, self-driving cars will slowly become the norm. The advances in technology ask humanity: “Do you want to have your cake? Or do you want to eat your cake?”
The Future Waits For No-one
Until the industrial revolution, time appeared to move along more slowly. Your grandfather’s life looked very similar to your own before the 19th and 20th century. But for over a century now, each generation has become almost alien to the one gone past.
The nostalgia of the early internet pioneers such as DMOZ makes it hard for many to let it go. However, the legacy will never disappear. Google owes web directories such as DMOZ a debt of gratitude.
The debate over humans vs robots can also use the past experiences of DMOZ to answer many questions. Humans need to appreciate the value and beauty they experience when creating. But they must learn the limits of power and control.
Projects such as DMOZ revealed much about the ugly side of human politics. And this is where the argument for non-partisan artificial intelligence is strongest. A neutral machine does not have favorites or care for its own self-interest.
Google abandoned DMOZ many years ago. Their algorithms no longer needed them. However, in recent years, it has noticed the importance of human input.
Employing “search quality raters” has been Google’s ways of restoring the human element. This, however, has stirred a lot of controversies, with fears that this will threaten free speech.
But Google appears to now acknowledge that human involvement in cyberspace is essential. The site listings created by their web-crawlers will be subject to human vetting. The nonemotional nature of AI has meant that malicious content is not recognized. Humans can perform this job.
Everyone you meet has a unique perception tunnel. They see the world through their brain structure’s unique thumbprint. This essential element in cyberspace will never become obsolete. Since, after all, it is we whom it serves in the first place.