If you've put a finger in the wind lately you'll have noticed a lot of the air is about the commercialization of the web.

The cry is out that the innovative, independent sites are being lost in the deluge of commercial sites. Possibly the finest spokesman of the cause is Jeffrey Zeldman, perpetrator of A List Apart and so many other good things. He's just posted an essay on this topic at his column with Adobe, and it's a sure bet that every web design site in the world will link to it, because Zeldman is good stuff, and because he's pointing out a perceived threat to the design community.

I can't help but smile. Doesn't anybody remember the geek community feeling the same way about the designers just after the internet got Netscape? You guys swamped them! No wonder Zeldman got a rocky reception at his Slashdot interview. Those guys still think Lynx is a good browser. The web "designers" that suddenly showed up in 1995 were like art students breaking into a computer lab with 50 gallons of pink paint to "spruce it up" and "make it more attractive". Some of the geeks did not grok this. They did not want it to be more attractive. They wanted the net to get more people like themselves, not more people like everyone they had shut out with the computer dept door.

Here we are, only five years later and the designers are saying the same thing. Well, well, well.

No, the net isn't going to stay still and be the designers' paradise. Just like it didn't stay still and be the geek paradise. That is to say, as long as your vision of paradise requires the exclusion of everyone else, or at least that you're on top.

If we could see using a net where enjoyment is not measured by a turf war of numbers and eyeballs, a net that does not have to have a homogeneous mass, a net where you don't have to get "everybody" on your "side", THEN maybe we can all relax enough to get down to finding our personal paradises on it.

And then maybe we'll learn how to have everyone online in numerous overlapping communities of interest, without ever thinking in terms of competition or dominance of content or view. And if we manage to do that, this model would naturally start to spill into the meat world ... wouldn't that be something? That's more my idea of a revolution.

This site is strictly personal. I give no guarantee to the accuracy of my facts or my fictions.
© 2000 Owen Briggs
last modified on 24 May 2000