The Art of Starting New Things


The Web In The Beforetime

nofun

In the later 90’s, the web was a place where people created things. There were no firm rules or search engine rankings or Twitter identities to incorporate. Rather, there were people making and creating and writing about matters they loved. There was no expectation for any of those creations to “do anything” and yet the result was that much of what was created was a remarkable well of knowledge from which one could find all manner of facts and inspiration. Nobody was especially concerned about monetizing their website since monetizing a website did not really exist.

Corporations

Then, paradise was rudely interrupted by corporations. Most of these corporations were concerned with how to monetize the internet to make money as corporations tend to do. Gradually, the hobbyist type sites were eliminated because they were no longer profitable to host. All of this was akin to a flower garden being destroyed so that a new parking lot could be put in its place. Passionate people making things and exploring and compiling were becoming rarer. One blockage to that process concerned that one gradually needed to be not only able to create in the sense of writing, but also one needed to understand something about coding and web standards. Gradually, the idea that one should code if they wanted to say anything at all became the new paradigm. Of course, this misses the point of technology serving human beings and instead makes human beings serve technology. An antecedent was established perhaps in the industrial revolution. As opposed to making factories to serve people, people were turned more into machines to serve factories.

But Wait, It Gets Worse And There Is More

More recently, we have not only decided people need to be able to code, but they also better be especially politically aware of the climate at all times. In particular, it is not a good idea to be straight, white, male, or Christian or have some other specific spiritual faith that is “conservative”. If you happen to have an off day and your tweet can be used for social justice, get ready for a wild ride. Now the internet has become a tool of “gotchas”. If you do not have a social media profile, maybe you have something to hide so you should not be hired. By the way, have you thought about money in the past three seconds? You better answer your email and make sure you field all calls because you no longer have an excuse of having been away from a phone.

On Some Level, We Have All Consented to this Dystopian World

Deep inside all of us, we somehow think this is right or normal human behavior. Actually no, no we do not. However, we are willing to put up with it and then wonder why we feel lifeless. So here is a confession–I am one of the few people in technology who can say I liked Macromedia Flash. No, I am not talking about the plugin and I am certainly not talking about the security features. What I am talking about is the ability for someone with some artistic ability to come into some software and make something. Flash was especially good for this. Indeed, there was programming language to be had behind its interface, but one did not necessarily have to delve deeply into that unless one wished to. Instead, one could “play around” with Flash and then see if learning the language was something that added to that play or not. Now that Flash is dead, everyone seems to think that we have progressed in security and the web. From the standpoint of code, sure. From the standpoint of human beings using tools to be creative, no. Rather, it is a step backwards.

Fancy Metaphors

I have been around the computer scene long enough to see all kinds of buzz words come and go. The bottom line, though, is that the concrete metaphors tend to stick and the abstract ones tend to go by the wayside. There are exceptions to this rule. Hypercard, for instance, was a technology that allowed common people to understand how to put together presentations and basic software. It got axed, though, ultimately because a select group of people thought that it was too messy from a programming standpoint. So, why could not people who want to use these technologies be given some VM area of the machine to use them if they are security risks where there are basically built-in firewalls or firejails? The code might not need to be fixed in the sense that the interface is enjoyable to use. Maybe instead we need to think about how to make a walled garden around “messy apps” so people who are creative can use tools they understand.

All Of This Pertains to Starting New things

Why? Well, because when you start new things, you often ask yourself questions like how it will make money. The funny thing about starting new things is that questions like that tend to kill them process before it begins. You do not make things to make money necessarily. You make things because on some level you enjoy the process of creating things. You hold a job that hopefully allows you some in between of doing a skill that you are good at and also supports you financially. If your creation suddenly takes off, that is always a bonus. Odds are, though, if you find it fun and valuable, somebody else somewhere does as well. Whether or not they will reward you with actually units of exchange or whether they simply want to share in the pleasure of the thing, though, is a different matter with societal scope beyond the all ready long piece.

Back To Stuff That Is Sorta fun

So, I am going to personally go back to the Hypercards and Flashes and Visual Basics of the world. I do not care if is sloppy or encourages bad programming habits. I do not care of some arbitrary code aesthetic is violated either. What I do care about are the simple joys that some of these interfaces bring. After all, a thing does not have to be perfect in order to be a fun creation. Computers somewhere along the way have become about endless work and money. Of course, that was not at all about how they started, so how do we account for winding up in this digital wasteland?

JB Schirtzinger

Jacksonville, USA
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Conveniently this entire site is about me. I do some technology, and I do some astrology.