Replay Web

In the post Life as Instant Replay, Over and Over Again, by Jenna Wortham, we are immediately thrust into an example of her point that is likely familiar to us all, spoilers. Using the idea of a “Breaking Bad” spoiler and how it can travel through and be obsessed over in various forms of social media, for days, and sometimes weeks after it’s air date, Wortham reminds us all that the web is consistently focused on the past.

She breaks the web down into two distinct categories. The replay Web and the real-time web. This was quite interesting to me as I’d always just thought about the information we process on the Web as all being the same, news as being the news, etc, no matter when I received it or how. If I received something via a Reddit post or an old article shared over Facebook, it always SEEMED the same. However, I see now the importance of making a distinction between the “replay Web” of past information found on Vine and Facebook etc and the “real-time web”  sources like Twitter.

Wortham points out that most of the time, the most fun and interesting information about a topic comes from the commentary and reactions of everyday average Joes like you and I. I couldn’t agree with this more. I’ve increasingly found myself over the years spending twice as much time reading through the comments of any news article than I spent reading the article itself. I can get lost on Reddit for hours reading through peoples opinions on relatively silly subjects that were only briefly covered somewhere “important”.

I have to say that I am glad that we have this replay dynamic going on. Whereas a decade ago (just throwing out a relatively short number) we would have had trouble with the pace of information flow that we are working at now, we have built a system that can catalog and make easily available at the search of a Tag or Keyword, any bit of information that has crossed the web. We’ve made it possible to have a slew of information cross our path without having to absorb it all, and depending on the topics that you are interested in, the “replay internet” makes it possible for you to go to one spot and have all info on  your favorite subjects translated, and thought out for you.

For instance, Dennis Rodman goes to North Korea. You see this headline in the news and quickly read through the article. It’s interesting enough, but it’s new news and they know very little. Minutes, hours, a day later they are onto something new and even though you’re still interested, it’s over. Or is it? Flip to Reddit and you’ll find thousands of discussions on the topic just minutes after it’s initially reported. These commentators have brought together the combined facts of a multitude of resources, have taken the time to think out their ideas (many of them of course are just jokers) and have done a lot of the information processing for you, leaving you with distinct understandings, opinions, and facts to form your own opinions on. This is incredibly important to someone like me who values information very highly. I love to learn and the more information I can absorb, the better.

I’ve felt over the years that while I’m learning so much, I’m not actually learning anything. I struggled trying to figure out why this was, but this article made it clear. I’ve been absorbing so much real-time web, but it’s just surface content. It’s the replay web information that becomes what’s important, and the place where you can actually get most of the facts in one place.

The idea of Present Shock that Douglas Rushkoff is attributed with, where people are stupefied by the “never-ending onslaught of status updates…” is actually the perfect term for what I think I’d been experiencing the last few years. Always trying to find what is new, and getting lost in that rather than what is actually important. The news hasn’t changed, the constancy and availability of it has. Now that we get to know about EVERYTHING rather than just what a news network has deemed important, it’s increasingly harder to pick out the important. Until, of course, you switch to the replay web.




  1. I think its really interesting that you point out how we read and read constantly but with no bulk or meat–how maybe we miss the points and the news completely because we are so used to just reading through it.

  2. I agree that there’s a general lack of “meat” with some of the sources we’re gaining news from. We’re always having little tidbits of news thrown at us (ESPECIALLY on Facebook and Twitter) and many take this as the full story even though the news has just broken.

  3. I love that you touched on the topic of the two categories of the web. In my opinion that was the best part of the article because it is very true that there is the real-time web and replay web. Although I think the web leans towards replay web, the information comes up so fast that it is like real-time web. Again, I do agree that different forms of social media lean towards different forms of the web. I agree that twitter is more of a real-time social media while vine is more replay web. I like that the web has both, it makes it more interesting.

  4. Your article is well written and covers all the salient points of the article. I agree that as an excess of news is “thrown” at consumers, consumers are apt to miss more important information among other superficial news. Consumers are essentially becoming more and more desensitized to news, no matter what the magnitude of the report.

  5. I think you make an excellent point about articles being able to tell readers what’s important. It definitely helps readers wade through things they may not care about but I wouldn’t say that this is always the case. I think as a whole, the internet and Replay Web probably pays closer attention to popular culture, things that aren’t actually important in the grand scheme of things. However, I do agree that there are certain cases where Replay Web comes in handy. Your Reddit example was perfect; I’ve heard a lot of rumors/stories about Redditers (sp?) finding out new information by looking closely at old pictures/stories.

  6. Your response was well written and very insightful. I agree with many of your points. News stations are always competing to get breaking news info out to the public as quickly as possible. On top of that, you have people on Facebook and Tweeter giving out info about the situation too. Real time news make it hard to sort out what’s accurate and truly important. I remember when people were talking about spotting the missing Malaysian airplane in the Indian ocean, but in the end it wasn’t true and the debris was just trash.

  7. You did a really great job of analyzing the article and relating it to your every day life. Though our parents think we’re wasting time on sites like Tumblr and Reddit, I’m definitely a different person because of those sites, and not because I’ve spent so much time procrastinating. Rather, those sites make you learn and absorb information in different ways. You’re opening your mind further and experiencing things in so many different ways, that truly is amazing.

  8. Great detailed response. You made it clear that the most valuable information is usually found in the replay web, and I agree. Most of the frequent information status updates that we receive from twitter are usually useless information but serve as a source of entertainment. There are instances where tweets and status updates have been educational, as the person who was trying to relay information used tweets to inform people in a quick way, but at the end of the day, the best place to put detailed information is in the replay web.

  9. I completely agree with your sentiment about the dynamic between the real time event and the commentaries that occur after it. As someone who really likes talking about television shows after they air and share my opinions and predictions about what will happen next, this article really brought home the point of the replay web phenomena. I remember feeling like the author of this article after the Lost season finale happened. As in, I made sure not to miss it because I knew that it would be all I would hear the next day and the next. And I was correct. Even now, after three years since its been off-air, there are still all these people talking about and blogging about it (both good and bad) and what the different bizarre things that occurred on the show could have meant. So really well thought out post!

  10. Your response was extremely well written and explains all of the main points really well. I completely agree that over the years I have learned so much but, sometimes feel like I have learned nothing at all. This article is a great explanation as to why I feel this way and helps me understand how the web is a great place to get information in one place.

  11. I have stopped following certain blogs I used to love because the authors insisted on rehashing the same old stories under the impression of it being a relevant issue. And don’t even get me started on spoilers…it’s like you have to avoid the internet altogether if you can’t catch the latest episode of whatever when it actually airs.

  12. Get response to the article. You cover all of the points rom the article. The internet is a wonderful resource and I have used it so much over the years. Sometimes the information does get repetitive on certain subjects. The internet is a wonderful resource to access information at any moment in time.

  13. I think you gave a great analysis and covered the main points very well! I agree with you, I enjoy reading through the comments sometimes more than the article haha, comments do make reading web articles more fun!

  14. I think that through out this entire post the quote that resonated with me the most was “the most fun and interesting information about a topic comes from the commentary and reactions of everyday average Joes like you and I” I think that is the exact truth. How many different pictures can we find on the internet with a different caption? Memes are a perfect example where you can put in so many words into the same exact picture and it’s always funny. I don’t pay too much attention to internet trolls so they’re funny to laugh at too. And then when someone genuinely wants to know something or leaves a thoughtful comment or bit of advice it’s something that you’re grateful for, and this is possible because of the replay web

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