Wings.Nu Wings.Nu

Web Manifesto

Please note: This is all coming from a highly emotional place -- because the Wired is my home, after all, it can't not be -- and can make your humble webmistress sound like a bit of a prick. I promise I'm not (well, not on purpose, anyway), and this is just sort of flavoured with a lot of bitter feelings. When I'm not discussing depressing things, I swear I'm much nicer than this essay makes me sound...but without further ado:

The corporate web is a sack of Eiri Masami-flavoured utter shite that needs to be excised from the Wired and set alight like the spare viscera it is, and let's not even talk about what should happen to web3. Protocol 7, more like. That's literally all that needs to be said on that; expounding would merely be beating a dead horse. HOWEVER -- the "old"/"yester" web is sorely lacking in a few areas itself. I know, blasphemy. To wit:

1. It cripples both user and webmaster with its lack of features. Simpler is not always better, especially not if "complexity" actually made your life easier for sheer ease's sake (as opposed to making a buck, as it tends towards on the corporate web). Beauty exists and it should be allowed to exist. Destroying beauty just because the corpnet uses the same base elements to construct that beauty is cutting of your own nose to spite your face. HTML does not have to be ugly. Embrace PHP, you cowards.

2. "BNF" culture of the early 00s is in full flourish in a lot of those communities. I'm sorry, but no gods and no masters on my Wired. That's some shit we can leave behind in Web 1.0 with hamster dance, surely.

3. Given the above two: it's not the haven for artists it would like to think it is. Artists (of all stripes) need features to display their work, and artists need eyeballs. If you're automatically not given one and not getting the other because the "l33ts" don't approve of your content, you're up that well known creek.

4. It encourages non-accessible web design under the guise of "retro nostalgia". If your website is hell for a disabled person to access or view, it's shit. No exceptions. And web standards exist for a reason, and no, it's not people who use them think they're better than you, you self-obssessed child: it's so that people can have access to whatever information you're putting forth with ease, on ALL browsers. For a community that keeps going on and on about keeping the web accessible to all, shouldn't this be one of its main tenets? Or is it only for some people, after all?

5. Very few of the people trying to "recreate" Web 1.0 know what they're making, having never experienced it except via the WayBack Machine. I go into far more detail about this at Nostalgia Is Bullshit. Because really, it is.

6. It glamourises Web 1.0 as a perfect advertising-free heaven where everyone was lovely to one another. It fucking was not this, excuse my Klatchian. There was advertising on Web 1.0 (anyone remember trying to insert code into your webpages to block pop-ups/banners?), and there was evil there that didn't fucking sleep, trust me. People could be absolute and utter arseholes, and frequently were. The pre-WordPress, teen girl blogsphere was simply a bunch of hormonal, catty young women kicking the shit out of whoever fell afoul of their cliques that week, linking each other in every blog entry, and blowing smoke up each other's backsides. It was not this supportive, girls-helping-girls feminist haven that people would have you think it was. Ask me about how a teenage self-injurer was openly mocked and dubbed "Professor Slitwrist" within a certain slice of the anime/Harry Potter weblog community.

7. Hard work is ignored entirely if it's not dressed in nostalgia...and even then. A website is not part of the corpnet just because it eschews lime green Comic Sans MS and a moving .gif 'aesthetic'.

8. Javascript has its place, but if turning it off breaks and entire site, it's not an answer. Server-side includes are not your enemy. Or anyone's enemy, let's be real.

9. The community claims to be all about originality...but all their sites look awfully sameish. If you've seen one nostaglia-mine site with autoplaying music, creditless gifs and a moving background, you've seen them all. Give me something to sink my teeth into that won't make me try and brain myself with my fucking keyboard out of sheer boredom. Even everyone's personal goddamn manifestos sound like they've been Xerox'd from the same source.

10. The community completely ignores the fact that the personal/hobbyist webdesign community has been around, consistently, for literal decades. No, it has. Trust me, just because you were off playing on Facebonk or MySpoot or whatever doesn't mean some of us weren't still designing sites like it was late '04. You didn't revive the creative web, because it was never dead. End of story. Don't believe me? Hit up your apparently infallible bible.

11. This is particular to Neocities -- for all its userbase's crowing about decentralized Web 1.0, it still runs on a basic social media framework. That being more followers and likes + "most followed" pages = you're better than the rest of the peons and your opinions matter more. Fuck that utter shite and go back to Instagram.

"Oh yeah, how do you know all this?"
Because I was there, chucklehead. All this absolute nonsense was my childhood and adolescence. It certainly wasn't all pixellated roses and dancing baby gifs.

My solution to all this? Fucked if I know, to be frank. At this point, I am just too tired to really care any more, either. There are a precious few on the Wired that understand me and where I'm coming from, and I cling to them like a binary burr and am deeply invested in what they create, but overall I am exhausted. I've been disgusted by the corpnet and badly burned by the yesterweb, so maybe to hell with all of it. Maybe all facets of the web are just walking corpses and I'm just a grieving widow clinging desperately to a casket disappearing inch by inch into the digital ground. Oh well. Some of it was nice while it lasted.

So that's my manifesto. Or lack thereof, let's be fair. Well, no, my manifesto can be summed up thusly: fuck the corpnet and everything that acts like it: I don't need anyone's approval nor a sense of belonging to create, and I will not sacrifice creativity for fitting in anywhere.

I know, rebel rebel.

Love,
Professor Slitwrist