What do you want?
July 14, 2001 11:46 AM   Subscribe

What do you want?
We keep hearing about this "who owes what to whom" now that Assembler has closed, and Kaliber and Dreamless are closing.

But what of it? What does it mean? Are we so closed minded to think our Web world is the only one and that somehow the rest of the universe revolves around those of us privileged enough to be able to embark on it as a daily journey?

All of us feel one way or another towards this debate. Either we hate it, or love it, and what of that too? What *do* each of us want from this virtual world? Is there something here worth redeeming and at least arriving at a point to agree to disagree? Discuss?
posted by sixandone (10 comments total)
k10k and Dreamless are taking breaks, not closing permanently.

As MetaFilter will, from August 6th to August 20th. I'll be in Australia, and will be taking the site down during my time away, to ensure I don't have any reason to worry about the site while I spend my vacation/honeymoon relaxing.

As to your question of why people put stuff on the web or what they want from the virtual world?

Most of the people I know that have personal internet projects do it solely for personal enjoyment. They do it because it's fun to learn new things like programming and design, it's fun to explore what you can do online, and it's fun to connect with others all over the world. It takes quite a bit of time out of your life to play on the web, and I think what we're seeing recently is a post-boom hangover. People are waking up from the dot com boom fog, and they're sorting out what's worth doing, what was a waste of time, and focusing their energies on what matters for each of them.

Over the last few months, I've talked to a lot of people and heard many people questioning the amount of time they spend online, and wondering if it's still worth it. If you started doing this for personal enjoyment reasons, is that still working for you? Sure it was fun to learn the ins and outs of frames and javascript 3 years ago, but is there any joy left in tweaking CSS or manipulating the DOM?

People are re-evaluating their involvement with the web, due to the barrage of "rah, rah, rah, get everything online! online is the future! online is great!" messages all over the media in the last few years. As companies abandon the web for more stable business environments, people are doing the same thing - except with time instead of money: figuring out what their best use of it is.
posted by mathowie at 12:03 PM on July 14, 2001

That question of who owes what to whom that came up in the original debate stunned me when I first read it because it really sounded like so much whining inspired by an attitude that says "the world owes me." If some people turned to these sites as sources of inspiration, that's great; their lives have been enriched by that contact. If these people think of the sites' creators as artists, that's great; but they should remember that an artist does not owe his or her audience anything.

An artist is not a journalist (that is not to say that journalists can't be creative or that artists don't have a grip on reality); he or she owes not his audience, but his or her vision....

The point of art, including web art (whatever that may be), is not to give us a pre-packaged, easily digestible experience. If art has a point, it is to engage us in a dialogue. We are to bring to it as much as it brings to us. These sites did that ... and they continue to do so, as evidenced by sixandone's post and the long thread of the original post.

On a more practical note, I couldn't have said it better than mathowie already did.
posted by poorhouse at 12:34 PM on July 14, 2001

Seriously, the design community is the most introspective community I've ever taken part in. Endless musing over the future of the community, dramatic exits, a continual effort to label everything as cliche... blah.
posted by skyline at 2:27 PM on July 14, 2001

MattHowie Said:

"Over the last few months, I've talked to a lot of people and heard many people questioning the amount of time they spend online, and wondering if it's still worth it. "

Absolutely Matt. I've questioned it myself ("Death By Information") and came up with mixed results.

It just seems to me that there is still a very ominous lack of self-honest and awareness going on. Skyline, I'm not certain if the design community's introspective nature comes from the fact that with creativity often comes a melancholy nature, or if we're just indeed spending too much time in front of our glowing boxes, but I tend to agree somewhat with you. I disagree with the cliché part, but I can see your point.

As for not clarifying the fact that Kaliber and Dreamless are only taking a break, I apologize.
posted by sixandone at 4:44 PM on July 14, 2001

I'm also tending to very much agree with Nick Finck in his latest post on Digital-Web:

"All this talk about unrest in the "design community" has left me feeling like I missed a memo or something. It's as if the problems (whatever they are) only exist because we keep talking about them. I say: It's time for designers to stop pointing fingers and just do some good work. That's what it's supposed to be about, no?"

posted by sixandone at 4:51 PM on July 14, 2001

I'm not too upset since I've never heard of any of these websites until today.

Of course I don't know squat about design (but that ain't necessarily a bad thing).
posted by dr. zoidberg at 9:04 PM on July 14, 2001

You've made my point exactly, Dr. Ziodberg. Oh, and when did they let upright-walking crustaceans in here? How's Fry and Lili?
posted by sixandone at 3:16 AM on July 15, 2001

well, my main concern is with the majority of the worlds population who have no access to the net. where i live, in tanzania, the doctors at the local hospital would benifit tremendously from the net as would the school, womens groups etc etc.

perhaps we should remember that the powerless people of the world who need the net, are being left behind.
posted by quarsan at 5:18 AM on July 15, 2001

quarsan said:

"perhaps we should remember that the powerless people of the world who need the net, are being left behind."

Another point I was trying to arrive at, but with my pathetic knowledge of my own language, was unable to. Thanks, quarsan, for making it for me.

I don't think a blind idealism is the key here (NOT implying you suggested that, quarsan) though. Obviously not every day one can think of every person in the world and how we can better them, but I honestly think there are better things to do with our time than bicker arrogantly - even better things than answering this post.

Nobody wants to be idealistic all the time. Sometimes we just want to have some friggin fun. But when fun leads to thinking only of ourselves, that's the point priorities need some realignment. Something needs to give here on the Web. Here's hoping it's our pride.

posted by sixandone at 5:41 AM on July 15, 2001

Why do I like the net?
It's like a subset of the Library of Babel except only containing the interesting strings of text and nicely cross-referenced in a fluid, organic manner :) Everything I could ever want to know is out there, or has been out there or (espescially) will be out there.

It's like a sloppy crystal ball made out of spaghetti. It's a tool that genuinely improves my life, and I want to invest the time and energy to help maintain it (not to mention that doing so also improves me :)

One particular site, or ten, or twenty, are not important. Where there is a hole in the web, someone will patch it.

It's maybe the most complicated man-made system in existence, it evolves by necessity..

Ah, well, I'm rambling. Sioux-fice to say the net is beautiful and surprising and amazing, as all complex systems are, and, in my opinion, it's only second in wonderful developments to it's superset, the universe :)
posted by sonofsamiam at 10:32 AM on July 15, 2001

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