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Out With the Old, In With the New, February 16th, 1997 :: Ben Turner's Soapbox

 

the soapbox @ benturner.com
archived soapbox: February 16th, 1997
"Out With the Old, In With the New" [permalink]
    keywords: internet, world wide web, web design, personal sites, blogs
    soapbox #: 72
    written: February 16th, 1997
    words: 993

"Out With the Old, In With the New", an Essay

My periodic reports on the state of the Web have worked well in the past. I think it's because I'm an insider to the forces behind the Web, yet at the same time, I'm an outsider to what actually happens and I have to tell it strictly how I see it. I know a lot of people who design and maintain small to large web sites, and I'll talk to them on occasion about whatever we feel like. But I have never really known what the authors have in plan for their web sites. I'm sure they feel the same way about me. Heck, I don't tell anyone what's to come for this site. Of course, no one asks so I've never been put to the test.

That doesn't stop me from making wild predictions about the future of the Web, though...did you think it would?

I could be completely wrong, but my generation of web sites are beginning to stagnate a bit. When I refer to "my generation of web sites", I'd narrow it down to a time frame of within the last two years. Not all that much has happened in the past two years, if you think about it, and that's why I think all web sites created within my site's generation are alike. Sure, Netscape Navigator's release was a major change for the Web, but we haven't had time to work with frames, font tags, etc. etc.

But next-generation sites will be taking advantage of all the brand-spanking new HTML widgets, instead of just playing with them like we have.

The sites in my generation (particularly personal sites) have, for the most part, been very ambitious projects. They say much more than what is necessary and divulge too many details about personal lives or about company stats. The people who maintain these sites are knowledgeable with HTML and how browsers will display the HTML, simply because they grew up with the most primitive versions of Netscape Navigator. The sites often have sections like weekly articles and have grown up in a world where dynamic content, or updating the site obsessively, is king. But in my generation of web sites, I've begun to notice something: the sites are stagnating a bit -- they're not being updated as often as they used to be.

I'm not quite sure what to make of it, but rarely do you see sites which are updated every day, unless it's the gargantuan CNN or some other bandwidth-sucking company. Authors are working on other things besides their web sites, often a job which has to do with some aspect of the Web itself. Authors are closing down some sections of their sites for various reasons and loyal readers are having to find another place to get their warmth and nourishment. I think authors have also become a little burnt out with their sites so they aren't as eager to feed their brainchild by writing something new to appease the UNIX directory goddess. ("UNIX? Hah! These days there's NT!" I'm sure to hear.)

For whatever reason it is, all I know is that I don't have to visit some of my favorite sites as frequently as I used to in order to catch up. I include myself in this, but I can honestly say it's because I'm too busy working on other things in my life to update the site every day, beyond the usual bug fix. I still love writing for the site, and in fact, I had never planned to update this site more than once per week, barring small or large additions. I'm definitely not burnt out -- in fact, I've beaten my artist's block and am now clear in mind again...sometimes.

I must make it certain that I don't think this is a bad thing at all. I feel a lot of the more successful people I know are taking their work a step further, into commercial development, where they can express their talent in projects which give them actual monetary compensation instead of just pats on the back from friends. They are contributing back to the Web in another way.

Time has passed and my generation of web sites is growing old. That means it's time for something to change -- it's time for new web sites to fill in the gaps left by retiring web site junkies of my generation.

I embrace the next generation of web sites wholeheartedly. I'm interested in seeing the next wave of web sites (again, particularly the personal ones) and how they'll evolve, based on their feelings about the web sites of my generation. They'll learn a lot from the crotchety old sites, yet they'll be able to combine multimedia more fluidly into their creations. Man, if I started designing web pages using HTML and stylesheets, I'd be killer... And there'll be more ideas and opinions to come along with the new crowd. But I'm sure they'll come to many of the assumptions we did.

Yes, the older web sites are finally beginning to stagnate. But there may be a reason behind it all -- the old, withered rose is making way for the new, blossoming flowers of spring.

But dammit, I'm leaving this site up if it's the last thing I do! I'll update it quite regularly! And it'll continue to be just how I want it! Even if you think it's a granddaddy compared to the new sites...

Now, if I could just find time between juggling projects, finishing schoolwork, and writing, I'd be fine. I think I'll concede to the young whipper-snappers for now, though, as they still have the time to spend to do what they love.

[Who knows? Maybe you'll find some sites of the next generation on the links page.]


 
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