Soon, you might see Web surfing on ESPN. I'm not making this up. Competitive Web surfing is a real thing, where users try to get from one website to another only using a mouse.
The Web surfing competition was organized by Dragan Espenschied. He's an archivist at an Internet arts organization called Rhizome. He studies what the Internet has looked like over the years and how people use it.
Then Google indexed the web, weighing links and basically doing the surfing for you. With Google Now it has tried to make search vanish entirely. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest created closed systems populated by formal templates. "Surfing became more and more difficult because the web is becoming isolated," Espenschied told me earlier. "It’s an industrial internet, full of islands."
Players are given a starting website and an ending website. They have to get from one to the other using just a mouse. They can't type into Google or type in a Web address. They can't even use the back button! There was also a beginning round where players had to find three random items on Amazon without typing.
"If you can’t type a search request into Google or Amazon, you have to explore more, and you start to understand the structures of what these huge companies think is the world, of whose existence they acknowledge," Espenschied explained.
The sport is harder than it sounds because many websites link back to themselves and don't make it easy to go to another site, especially competitors' sites. Just try getting from Facebook to Twitter without typing. It's tough!