Robin Sloan’s Fish app is, like it says, a tap essay about the difference between liking and loving something on the Internet — about the way most of us enjoy things only once, in a rush, online. We click the little star or heart or “like” button, maybe even update our “Read it Later” queue. Then we move on, never to return.
For me, it’s more rarely than never. I Google up old favorites; I rummage through my archives for links to and thoughts on things I read years ago; but most of my quick hits have moved to Twitter, and those are a lot harder to track down six or thirty months later. And yes: most of what I like online, I see only once.
That’s always been true for me of some other things, too. Magazine articles. Theatrical productions. Limited-run films. Even books. Plenty of books. The problem isn’t unique to the Internet, but it feels different here, more endemic to the medium. So many new things are always streaming past that we don’t often make time to visit the old ones.
Sloan advocates going back to things. Really sitting with them, getting to know them. To say much more than that might spoil the Fish for you, so I’ll just recommend downloading it and reading through, possibly more than once. There is no back button.
For a good companion app, try the beautiful and mysterious Everything Is Its Own Reward, which I, like Laura, find myself returning to often, especially at the end of a stressful day. It took me several readings to remember to look for the hidden parts.