Wild Wild West

Many authors compare the current state of the web to the wild west of early America, and that analogy is not very far-fetched. I like to think of the web as an industry much like the automobile industry that serves a need. The automobiles provide transportation; the web is a provider of goods, services, and information. Without the automobile industry overcoming the obstacles of safety, government regulation, overall standardization (roads being made so wide, parking spots, every aspect), and surely many other things they would have been a fad that died down. Not useful, unsafe, monopolized, and for the most part, useless. Standardization, government regulation, semantics for machine reading, usability are all realities that anyone who wants a job working with the web in the next 15 years are going to have to come to terms with.

Anyone can make a website.

It’s free and easy, but you don’t come to expect a quality site on Geocities. In fact, most of them are an absolute mess. That’s because with Geocities, anyone can make a website. You don’t really come to expect a quality website online. Maybe one day we will.

But, every new industry has to start somewhere. I’ll admit that I had my first GeoCities Account (Colosseum/3813) – but that was in 1996. My oldest site on the web (which was last modified Sunday, March 16, 1997 2:17:03 PM—that’s seven years ago) is still hosted at GeoCities. Back in 1995, when I was learning how websites worked there was no Dreamweaver, no FrontPage, just a little program I used called Gomer HTML editor. I’d link to the Gomer-making company’s website, but it’s a dead company. Valuable sites like CSS Zen Garden and HTML Dog, or books like Designing with Web Standards, Designing Web Usability, or Eric Meyer on CSS weren’t available “back in the day”, but I digress.

Almost all of the web is horribly done (99% is my guess). It’s littered with invalid markup, unusable sites, inaccessible content, bland designs, and poor semantics. More and more of the web based sins are attributed to amateur markup in server-side applications like content management systems or advertisement campaigns. I’m not claiming to be a holy grail of the web, but a sincere effort is being made. Most of today’s professional “web designers” have not left the 1997 internet behind. They practice useless jargon, tabled layouts, frizzy (and useless) graphics. Well, I don’t have much of a problem with these inexcusable practices taking place – it all slowly secures jobs for me. Once businesses realize there’s a lot of money to be made on the web (for real this time – just look at e-tailer’s Christmas sales jump), I’ll be one of the few (especially in this area) that can make a site that will produce results.

Where should the non-techies go?

If you’re not technologically inclined or you are still stuck in the “glory days” (and you’re still reading this piece), the web still has a place for you. That place is in one-click publishing, or blogging.

Today, publishing on the web – that is, writing a piece and having it available via a website – is as easy as writing an e-mail, or instant message. It’s called blogging. Do not confuse “making a website” with setting up a blog. I’m all for everyone in the world to set up his/her own blog, but I am not for anyone in the world to actually make the blog templates. (Some related blogging links: 37 Signals Blog Presentation, Introduction to weblogs, Blogging Iceberg)

Go and set up a blog. Spread your link to your friends, family, co-workers, and anyone else who may be interested in reading what you have to say. Your blogging platform will hopefully keep its technology up to date and well done because they have to in order to make money.

I’m taking a little pride in what I aspire to do, so I can make the web a better place.

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About andyhillky
I'm cool.

11 Responses to Wild Wild West

  1. Bittel says:

    This post can definately help out the students in my JMC 390 class. Tock on Bofester. Yes I said Tock on.

  2. Bickett says:

    Damn good post, Andy.

  3. Ross says:

    The Internet was designed to be decentralized. Government regulation is wrong.
    Sure, states are losing billions in tax revenue due to Internet sales… But how exactly are states going to impose taxes upon US merchants selling over the net? Even if the government got its dirt-ass hands on the net, I predict that you’d see the same movements people made in switching from napster to kazaa.
    States are never going to get those pre-internet sales tax glory days back.
    Moving on…
    “They practice useless jargon, tabled layouts, frizzy (and useless) graphics.”
    I am terribly dependent on tables in every web layout I do, I’d love to hear the right way. I really don’t see the problem with tables now, but I’m ignorant about many things.
    On blogs.. I really haven’t seen them used other than diaries. How is that remotely useful other than for pleasure? Blogs are a fad that I believe will die.

  4. bofe says:

    Ross,

    Please don’t troll on my blog. Government regulation of web usage in the US is inevitable. There’s not much of a point fighting it if you’re just prolonging something that will happen.

  5. carl says:

    Ross is shooting for troll of the year so far. Nice work.

  6. Chris says:

    Nice ‘Geek’ picture. All it needs is a My Pet Monster somewhere.

  7. Ross says:

    It’s discussion, not trolling.

  8. Devin says:

    Ross,

    If blogs are just a ‘fad’ someone better inform Wil Wheaton (www.wilwheaton.net) and Tycho and Gabe of Penny-Arcade (www.penny-arcade.com), because they all seem to be doing pretty well with it.

  9. Ross says:

    The use of blogs as a personal diary is what I think is the fad. That is the popular definition of a blog. Don’t throw the book on me yet, this is what every non-nerd you guys are selling blogs to are saying what a blog is.
    I’ve seen easy news publishing systems since the beginning of time, only recently have pro-bloggers named these systems ‘blogs’.
    Of course I’m going to be called a troll for questioning the true worth of online diaries in the midst of pro-bloggers.
    Howard Dean is a tool, too. ;p

  10. Bittel says:

    Building a website is long and makes you hate computers more. But Bofe is the Lord of the Internet and has the cool glass’s to prove it.

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