My Problem With The Modern Web
As I've mentioned before, I first got internet access around 2000/2001. Since that time (and indeed the earlyer web days in the 90s that I've since learned more about) things have inevitibly changed...
What is worse to me though than the technical bloat of the modern web, is the sense that something magical from those early days has been lost. The early web was more colourful and diverse, with sites created by people who didn't abide by strict guidelines of what a website should look like. Personal sites had a sort of scrapbook quality to them. There was a community of people who shared GIFs and signed guestbooks. It was a world of webrings and 88x31 badges linking to eachothers sites, A world that many of us are now trying to replicate and revive here on Neocities. Now "professional" web design is the be-all and end-all of web sites. Web designers who have always believed ever since the hayday of Geocities that amateur web sites shouldn't exist, have now managed to convince us that only professional web designers should be making web sites. The free expression and creativity of those early web days has been dumped into the "hilariously awful" pile of history, along with the ugly sweaters and out of fashon hairstyles you had as a teenager. An embarrassing and immature part of web history that we should look back at and make fun of, because now we know better, just leave web design to the professionals please.
Many of the Geocities-era web page creators probably didn't even know HTML and likely used programs like NetObjects or Dreamweaver to help them create their sites. The non-tech-savvy couldn't begin to create a passably "professional" looking site using such programs today and are instead pushed to use the cookie-cutter templates provided by such companies as Squarespace, or just make a Facebook page instead. The end result is a clean, sterilised web with sites that all look the same. No more glitter text, no more dancing baby GIFs and no more X-Files MIDIs. Instead you get plenty of white (with the occasional dark mode), rounded edges, drop shadows, smooth animations and have your links tucked away inside hamburger menus.
I'm not saying that web design shouldn't evolve and of course there is an important place for professional, polished websites, but there is also a place for the personal community spirit Geocities-style web. Yes, some of those old Geocities sites or customized Myspace pages could be hard to deal with sometimes, they could hurt your eyes (and potentially your ears with their auto-playing music), but I would still rather have that web than one that is an endless sea of the same soulless high-design Squarespace and Wordpress templates. The 90s and early 2000s was a time where web design was very new even to the professionals and perhaps if normal "netizens" had been encoraged to keep making websites the quality of their sites would have evolved beyond the early-web/Geocities style while maintaining the community spirit and creative expression that is so rare on the current web. I want a web that people are encouraged to take part in, not one were they are pushed out by "web designers" who get the privilege of deciding what it should look like. I don't think your creative flair on your web presence should be regulated to the strict boundries of a circular profile picture and a top banner image. I think the dismissal of those early amateur web pages for their abundant colours and assortment of gifs comes from an elitist idea of objective good taste thats making the web a very boring and uninspiring place.
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Some good links on this subject
404 Page Not Found - An article by Kate Wagner
CO2 emissions on the web - on Danny van Kooten's blog
Against an Increasingly User-Hostile Web - An article by Parimal Satyal
The Bullshit Web - An article by Nick Heer
Why isn't the internet more fun and weird? - on Jarred's codeblog
30 years on, what’s next #ForTheWeb? - from World Wide Web Foundation
Making the Web Fun Again - On The Neocities Blog
LOW←TECH MAGAZINE - Website about page
Wiby.me - About page
I hope this article wasn't too rambly, I spent a long time writing this one trying to get it right. There are a few aspects of this topic I wish I could have covered such as Ads, privacy issues, Google and the fact that almost all browsers nowadays are using their browser engine and the effect this is having and will have for the future of the web. However I hopefully managed to convey the bulk of my point. Thank you for reading. I will say though that many of the articles linked above do a much better job of explaining this issue.