Welcome to Following, New York Magazine’s new limited-run site about internet culture, social media, and the many weird and fascinating things people do online.
Forty-six years ago last Thursday, the very first message was sent over ARPANET, the precursor to the modern internet: “lo.” The system crashed before the full message — the word login — could be completed. For the next two months, Following will operate in the spirit of those auspicious beginnings, exploring the connections and communities created on the internet, as well as the glitches and confusions that keep it interesting. We’ll write about social-media celebrities and hashtag subcultures, Twitter flame wars and Facebook campaigns, artifacts of the old web and curiosities of the new one. We’ll post videos everyone is — or should be — watching and pictures the whole internet is sharing.
“We,” in this case, is Kyle Chayka, Brian Feldman, and myself, as well as an array of contributors bringing reported dispatches from as many corners of the web we can reach. We’ve all spent way too much time online and yet still find ourselves stumbling into odd and fascinating wormholes.
I bet many of you feel that way, too, and I’m excited to hear from readers who are similarly enthralled (or, as the case may be, disgusted) by the internet’s oddities and innovations. My email address is email@example.com, and my Twitter handle is @max_read. What is your favorite site on the internet? What communities fascinate you? Which hashtags have you addicted? What link do you find yourself compelled to share? Who — or what — are you following?