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10.15.98 

A few months ago, I wondered what I wanted from the Web.

Now, I think I have an answer.

This answer was triggered by a couple of articles I saw on the Web. One was at fierce.com, the other was at onlinepress.com. Being that my temp job has nothing for me to do, I have plenty of time to scour the Web, kill time, and overmanage my own site.

So. The gist of both these "articles" - and I suppose, in today's standards-be-damned journalistic climate, these do qualify as articles - was that there are several people who consider themselves elite, above and beyond most Web page creators, untouchable, and that they should stop putting on airs and shut the hell up like the rest of us. 

Now, mind you, democracy is one of the most prized aspects of the Web. The fact that anyone can put a site up and have people read it is the main appeal of the Web. 

However, just because you're on the Web doesn't mean you're any damn good. 

Let's take a look at some of these "elite" sites: 

Glassdog
The Fray
Moments
Afterdinner
Openwindow
Jeffrey Zeldman Presents
Hoopla
Smug
So. Anyway.
Flabjab
Prehensile Tales
Stating the Obvious
Rewired
Suck
Flaunt.net
Anthology
 

Now, go back and look at Fierce and Online Press.

Notice a difference?

Yeah. The "elite" sites are a lot better than their critics.

Sounds a bit to me like sour grapes.

Look at these "elite" sites. They're huge. They've got so much material and so much to offer. Most of all, you can see the passion that's put into them.

To me, it's fairly obvious that these sites are among the best the Web has to offer.  And I've looked around, and I've seen a lot of stuff.  And I keep coming back to these.

So when I hear whining about "well, why do they think they're so much better than us?", it's because they are better than you.  Deal.  Work harder.  Put the time into your site that they do into theirs.

And this is what triggered my revelation:

Why the hell do I care about these sites so much?

Let's be honest here - Xstasis takes up no time for me at all.  Like I said, I do nothing at work.  Anyone with a little patience and rudimentary Photoshop skills can do this site.  As fun as The Domain Game! may be, I'm not hellbent on having my own URL.  As much as I enjoy typing these whimsical observations, this is improv writing for me.  This is nothing compared to what I'm used to.  This is winging it with a wink and a smile.  This is simply my little corner when that writing bug needs instant gratification.  I save my big guns for where it counts.

And I guess that's the point:

Do I care about the Web and creating on the Web enough to pour everything I have into creating the perfect Web site, at the exclusion of my screenwriting, filmmaking, and comedy?

And the answer is a resounding

HELL NO.
Sorry, but as cool as it may be, it's still the Web.  It's not film or television or music - it's a jury-rigged illusionary space where design has to be cobbled together from a language that was never intended for style.  The Web excels at information storage and retrieval and selling shit to people.  As far as design and writing goes, the Web sucks.  The only advantage the Web has over other media is its immediacy and its reach.  Other than that, it's a few brave souls attempting to overcome the truly awful limitations of the medium.

As much as I admire and respect the passion, intelligence, and devotion the "elite" put into their personal sites, nothing there approaches art.  Admittedly, the Web is a young medium, but it's faster-evolving than any other one.  And not only do I not see anything out there that's art, I don't see how art could be produced in the future, unless HTML is thrown out the window and a more flexible language takes its place - which will probably never happen, since it would be like substituting PAL for NTSC as the American television/video standard.  There's not a site out there, not a one, that can compare with a movie.  Unfair?  Maybe.  But true.

So what do I want from the Web?  It all comes down to one word, one word that would kill Derek where he stood:

Money.

Working the Web is a great way to make a lot of money easily.  Do you know what the base starting salaries are for Webmonkeys?  Insane.  There's gold in them thar virtual hills, and damned if I'm not going to use highly profitable skills to earn my keep.

And you know what?  After work, I'll come home and leave my computer alone.  Maybe update the site once a week, on Sunday afternoon, when nothing else is going on.  I'll read.  I'll go out with friends.  Go to shows, movies.  Write a screenplay.  Work on my comedy troupe.  But I'm not going to spend my days and nights obsessing over this thing.  It's fun, it's kooky, but it sure as hell ain't the future of art.  And ultimately, I don't care.  Honestly.  I don't really care about the future of the Web.  Sure, I'd miss it if it were gone, but the only reason I'm so into it now is because I temp at companies with Netscape 4.0 and a T3, and I sit in a cubicle for eight hours a day soaking all this shit up for lack of anything better to do.  So I've gotten the World Wide Web from every conceivable angle.  I've been involved in discussions that, in retrospect, I could give a rat's ass about.  I, in a sense, have stuck my nose into the Internet equivalent of a high school, and I've watched, sometimes in fascination, at the social dynamic of these people who create on the Web.  But that's it.

The future of the Web seems obvious to me - a few corporations with some large sites, and a million sites owned by regular Joes.  I might care one day if monitors are 40 feet high and streaming video pours in as good as a 35mm motion picture print, but static text, JavaScript mouseovers, and choppy RealVideo are not enough to get me excited about the future.   And, for that matter, neither is the prospect of poring over the intimate online details of everyone's life.  If there's one thing I cannot stand, aside from animated GIFs, it's an online journal that expects me to care just because.  The few assorted ramblings here in Skipped aren't very revelatory, and they're all made in retrospect.  Just because you're you doesn't mean you're interesting.  Sorry if that hurts, but the truth is funny that way.

But then again, that's just this mummalard's opinion.  There are a bunch of people out there who do feel very strongly about the Web, and they're creating great stuff, almost to spite the medium.  So if you care about the Web, do me a favor.  Don't write childish, immature rants about the "Web Elite."  Don't whine and complain about the fact that these people are doing great work and sharing it with others doing equally great work.  Get off your ass and make a great site.  That'll prove your dedication.  If you're just looking for attention, you won't do a damn thing and continue to sit on your duff, whining away about how you don't get no respect and The Cool Kids don't like you.  Very high school.  Try again, mummalard.

If, however, you really do care about this fucked-up medium called the Web, if you feel the passion to truly create something, then do it.  Write, type, paint, render, do what you have to do.

Because only the great will survive.  Only the best of the best will get any recognition.  It's too late to be a pioneer, to say "I've been here, so I'm an expert."  There will be no more Glenn Davises, no more David Siegels, no more Carl Steadmans.  The only way to do something is to do it the best you can and beyond.  By your works ye shall be known.

So make it happen.  Or shut the hell up.

Now, the opportunistic money-grubbing mummalard will cease ranting, stop worrying about Web cliques and catfights, and work on something he considers important.

Guten nacht, meine freunden.
 

-- sjc

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