Who wants universality?

It was on this day, in 1887, that L.L. Zamenhof published the first book (Unua Libro) on Esperanto. Many date-related sites on the web report this event, telling us that the book was the first book in Esperanto, but apparently that wasn't the case. Instead, the book was first published in Russian, and shortly thereafter in a number of additional languages. And since the book was a grammar, it makes sense that it wasn't in Esperanto, but instead only described the language and its grammatical rules.

Esperanto represents an attempt to create a universal language which in turn was seen as a means of bringing people together and building a peaceful world. Many people see the web as an extension of that dream. The WebDweller page, for instance, seeks to develop a composite photograph of the "average" web surfer. A rather simple morphing program takes photographs submitted by readers, and adds them in to a composite, and highly uninteresting, photograph. Just what the attraction in finding that we're all alike, however, is lost on me. To my mind the true attraction isn't in finding how similar we are, but in celebrating the differences.

If there is universality in the web it can probably be found in the various Cool Site sites that once flourished, but are much less popular today (are they? or do I simply not get to them?). WebDweller, for instance, was once featured on Yahoo's Picks. And when thousands, or hundreds of thousands, of us flocked to see those suggested sites there was, perhaps, something that united us.

Go to: Where's the Beef?