Everything dies… even webpages.
When you think about it, they’re in a state of constant life support, existing only because we continue to maintain them. The landscape of the digital world is ephemeral, in flux. Yet in the back of our mind we take it for granted that a website will still be there, still give us the same experience it did before, the same experience it will give everyone else.
The normally passive act of viewing a webpage is undermined in this piece. A webpage, normally static aside from the periodic update or patches made, is like an artifact in a museum, locked in a glass case, only able to be touch by the chosen few deemed worthy to handle it. As a viewer of a website, you’re on a guided tour. You never see behind the scenes, you only see what they want you to see, and it stays an unchanging message, the same one-size-fits all message that every other viewer receives.
All that changes in degenerative. The owner of the website has given up control of curating their own set and left it to the whims of its programming (if programming can be said to be possessed of whims at at all, the notion seems rather anthropomorphic). Each view of the page leaves its mark, causing the text to degrade.
As the initial text says, “seeing is not an innocent action,” and “this page will not be the same after you visit it,” the creator calls us to be accountable for our actions, even if the action is only viewing. It is a reminder that our actions always have consequences and that we can never be non-participatory viewers, because the internet changes because of our actions… it’s just normally more subtle about it.
Here, the author refers to the programmed degeneration as a disease, but isn’t it reminiscent of the same entropy that causes everything to unravel? After all, the process of oxidization, the very breath we take, leads to our own degeneration. Web pages may not have to deal with erosion or free radicals, but entropy eventually erodes everything. Just look at GeoCities. Once again, degenerative is just less subtle, because it wants to make you aware, while everything else tries to hide it.