A List Apart


Valentines to the Web

Valentines to the Web

O, love! O paradox divine! ’Tis constancy toward an object that forever changes. We asked ALA’s readers (and a few invited experts) what they love today about that repository of our mutual affection, the web. Herewith, a handful of their loving replies.

Greg Altuna, web designer

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…even though laying out with CSS can be difficult and brain-stressing sometimes, it is still far more powerful than using tables, etc. and I can’t believe others out there cannot see that! My plan? To take over the world, spin it backwards in time like Superman, and do away with tables all together.

Faruk Ates, Web Kaizen specialist

What I love about the Web is everything: the good, the bad and the ugly. The good makes me proud of my fellow men and women who have created the good. The bad inspires me to learn more and show others how to create the good, to the best of my abilities. The ugly is what I think is nothing but a diamond in the rough (iWeb for example),  something that needs polishing (and lots of it) but which has potential. The ugly thus also represents the evolutionary nature of the Web, how things must be improved upon continuously and how this is a learning process for one and all.

Chris Batchelor, web developer

I love: the combined power and simplicity of Ruby on Rails, making web application development a real joy!

Ryan Ballantyne, student / web developer

The DOM (and manipulating it with JavaScript), the flexibility of CSS

Darren Brean, web developer

Extensions to customise Firefox. Surf cams. Desktop widgets such as Konfabulator. Huge amounts of free/open source applications. Help forums. Large amounts of free mail space (i.e. GMail, Yahoo!).

Nathan Brown, technical director

RSS: Great use of current technology, and probably the most successful use of XHTML to date. The ability to bring in information from recognized resources (e.g. ALA) into your own site, really empowers average website owners to expand the services/usefulness of their sites.

Flash 8: Haven’t seen it really used yet (tech/webcam examples are great tho!)  but the possibilities of some really cool stuff really gets me excited.

AJAX: Great, the ability of creating cross-browser, server independent tools makes me drool… as long as security issues are managed, this is a great step for the web.

Kevin Callender, web developer

Being able to fully customise our web experiences nowadays. From search engines to photo galleries. Where will it end?

Meeting the authors of some of the web standard blogs out there in the flesh! e.g. Dave Shea, Jeremy Keith.

Being able to save time doing stuff (shopping, dev. or downloading) on the web during the week, to have time to relax in the present world at the weekend.

…the way the web is being crafted lovingly by all developers/designers who care about their code, including me!

Robin Cawser, student  

Reading Joshuaink.com. That web standards are becoming more widespread.

Ian Corey, filmmaker / designer  

Google video.

This is a user-centered, user-created index of videos which I like to think will become something comparable to the Library of Congress. Currently there are hundreds of hours of interviews from the American Academy of Television with everyone from Mr. Rogers to Michael J. Fox. And just as many skateboarding accidents.

Searching the index reminds me of the old days of just typing words into a search engine and following them where ever they would take me. I mean come on. Seriously.

Cindy Couldwell, designer and photographer

last.fm. I can have my own streaming radio station? I can find friends with similar music interests? And I can do it with next to no effort? Rad!

blogger.com. My brilliant and hilarious friends can publish their ideas anywhere and any time. And they don’t have to ask me for help anymore. Phew!

Candy Hearts: Flickr and Google

flickr, del.icio.us, etc. The social web is pretty exciting. Back when the Internet was invented (which is the same day that I discovered it in 1995), everyone thought it was going to be the great freedom-maker—anyone could publish anything! We came to realize that (a) corporations own the internet and (b) the Web was being over run by every company thinking it needed a website. It was all e-commerce all the time. Well, we’re back with easy-to-use tools that allow users to be publishers, for real this time.

Tagging. Tagging is back. Folksonomy is brilliant. Put the power in the hands of the people.

Sean Curtis, web developer

Tables are dead, AJAX ain’t new,
CSS is sweet, A List Apart is too.

I love the amount of nicely laid out CSS sites that are popping up everywhere.  I love the whole blog thing (WordPress has done wonders).  I love the amazing new things happening with AJAX.  I love how Microsoft are at least putting some effort into fixing some of the well known IE CSS bugs.  Finally I love sites such as ALA, Simple Bits, PositionIsEverything, Snook.ca and CSSZenBeauty (which really won me over for CSS).

Nicola D’Agostino, journalist, translator, occasional print and web designer and musician

What I love: the many tools which are available, both as software and resources/services online. The voices of those who fight hype with irony. Web Archive, Google Cache and those who try to preserve the shifting sands of the world wide web.

Dante, student / enigma

I love the ubiquity of the web and its ease of sharing information.

Todd Dominey, designer

The energy. A phenomenal amount of talent and ideas are pouring into the web right now; electrifying it in a way that hasn’t been felt since the late ’90s. It’s such a fantastic medium to be working in.

Liz Danzico, information architect

I continue to be smitten with Flickr, but I’ve noticed something troubling about my relationship with it. Suddenly, only events that are captured in photos I’m posting there seem real, while others, relegated to live quietly on my hard drive, seem invalidated, almost as if they didn’t happen. Although this phenomenon is quite fascinating, it’s also a bit unsettling.

I also found myself falling for The New Yorker Cartoon Caption Contest and its addictive counterpart The New Yorker Cartoon Anti-Caption Contest.

Brandy (bran) Fox, illustrator

I love the ever-improving means of archiving that now enable visitors to sift content not only by date but by topic, and related topic.  I love the ease of propagation on the web, with services such as Flickr and del.icio.us that branch beyond weblogs and stale link lists to offer interactive, community-built databases of information, photography, art.  I still love one of the very best aspects of the weblog boom—push-button publishing that enables people of all walks of life to get “out there” and be heard—and I love the diversity of topics (peoples, etc.) that are open to me via the internet.

Charles Gordon, web consultant

Standards do seem to be making some headway. Finally. New, clean, innovative stuff like Google Maps. .NET 2.0 being able to render clean HTML (if you avoid most of the controls). eCommerce sites with big, generous, detailed photos of their products (and don’t take too many clicks to bring them up).

Olaf Gradin, web hobbyist

Now, and since my first development exercises in 1995, the Internet has allured me with its maximum potential of universal communication.  The spoken (or read) word transcends mere stories and becomes a tangible thing in which you may palpably work into the culture and daily lives of your audience.  I’m not a cornerstone in this process—not even a visible point in the time line—but like everyone else, I sculpt a model by which a few others’ perspectives are inspired.  My vision today is more mature than that of 1995, and yet I am still a child in the scheme of what’s to come.

Carole Guevin, editor

Independents self-starting projects all over the world. Self-publishing books, venturing into kewl merch, creating events and exhibits. Thoroughly enjoying the ever expanding canvas of opportunities for designers to express.

Hu Nicky

I’m from China. So English is second language. Excuse my poor English firstly.

Secondly, I should say that Google is a wonderful company. The web service provided by Google is so quick, effective and clean that I can’t bear my passion to it.

So I vote Google as best web service provider.

Katie Keenan, web designer

I love being able to find the answer to almost any question on the web!

Amanda Kern, professor, graphics technology

Recently there’s a greater support of CSS by most internet browsers. This helps encourage web designers to make their sites standards-compliant.

The integration and versatility of projects for the web. XHTML, CSS, XML, RSS, Flash, FLV.

RSS is amazing, it helps keep us informed of the latest news on web sites (such as the great RSS feed from ALA).

James King, software engineering student / bar supervisor

The fact that there is something good that is new to find every day (I use StumbleUpon with Firefox). The sense of a worldwide community, with instant communication.

The freedom I, and others, get to create beautiful designs for websites. Also, viewing other peoples designs.

The fact that even with completely free speech, the internet is mostly a nice place.

Porn :p I’m a guy!

Hermann Klinke, developer

Free education and free valuable content (text, books, video and audio).

Richard Lawson, web / intranet application developer

Current accessibility movement and general drive to enable content to be accessed in a consistent and friendly manner by all individuals using all different tools.

The recognition of the web by many in the business world as more than an advanced newspaper, recognising its collaboration and true interactive nature. “It’s not just an IVR with pictures”.

Victor Lombardi, information architect

I love that designers are getting out from behind Photoshop and creating their own products and their own product businesses. Building a business isn’t easy, but products crafted with love and expertise are making the world a better place.

Aaron Robert Martone, web developer / graphic artist

Candy Hearts: CSS and XHTML

There’s a plethora of information on the web, and for those who know how to find it, you’ll quickly realize just how much easier this makes many things in your life.  Although the validity of that information may come into question, your ability to research the facts is just as prudent as when you take a trip to the library (don’t take everything at face value).

Michelle O’Reilly, web designer

Number 1: I love seeing clean CSS driven web sites which are user and bandwidth friendly—e.g. www.blogger.com, alistapart.com.

Number 2: I love when I see Flash used appropriately!

Tom (’Mas) Pickering, webmaster / web designer

Multiple communication channels: for those that are willing to embrace the web, important information can be delivered with practically no delay.

Income: both my employment and my business are web-centric.

Luuk Platschorre, web designer / art director

I love the web for speed. Instant gratification of any information I desire. Any lunch-conversation about whatever topic ends up in a Google-session to find the answers to the questions raised. This always stirs up new and interesting facts and figures.

Then again I love the web for bringing me to people who think alike: sites that do offer (or want to offer) safe storage of content “forever”. New movements towards upgrading the value of content.  The future is starting on the web… !

Keith Robinson, creative director

The people.  It’s all about the people.  I’ve met so many nice, talented, inspirational people via the Web, without that I’m not sure where I’d be today.

Louis Rosenfeld, publisher

Thank you, web:  your technology has become so cheap and powerful that it’s enabling me to enter an established, brick-and-mortar industry (book publishing) without a lot of investment and heartache.  And because you hate middlemen so much, you’ll also help my new business to enjoy great margins through direct sales.  Warm, wet kisses from me to you.

Nicolas Schudel, digital media designer

That Javascript is rising from the dead and is being used to create better web sites, and not just popups.

That the Industry now has some “hotshot” names to call their own. The only guy I can remember from the nineties was Nielsen and he was boring then.

Collective Intelligence.

Robert Scoble, man about town

That I can find a movie review from my cell phone.
That I can see a picture of my house.
That I can tell my boss that he’s wrong.
That I can praise my boss.
That I can track a flight.
That I can buy flowers. Business cards. A book. Or pretty much anything.
That I can watch Homestar Runner with my son.
That I can email a picture to Flickr and have all my friends see it within minutes of me taking it.
That I can arrange a party in London, a city I had never been to before, and have 120 people show up.
That I can read what everyone thinks from an executive at GM to a model in Paris to a guitarist in the Kingston Trio.
That I will never be able to visit it all or do it all.

Jesse Skinner, web developer

Candy Hearts: AJAX and DOM

What do I love about the web? Anybody can have a voice. It just takes one person with something to say to make a huge difference. The whole world is having a discussion at a round table. Everybody is an expert. Education, social status, location, race, gender, et cetera are completely irrelevant. All that matters are thoughts and ideas.

Not merely an ideological utopian vision, we are already living this reality. Blogs are not simply a new trend in marketing and journalism, but the beginning of a fundamental shift in the way the world interacts. We, the people, run the world. We are growing less reliant on government and big business to get things done and are doing things ourselves. Together, we can do anything, and nobody can stop us.


After all these years, it’s true: I still love the web. 2006 will show that it will always be about the humans: beyond the code, the hype and the acronyms.

Prasanna Srivatsav, computer science student

It’s a wonderful and quick medium to share our knowledge of the world and the things around us. More and more accessible and useful web pages coming up everyday. Standards being adhered to to create attractive pages that make you want to revisit them. Designs so amazingly stunning that they make you feel like you’re reading from a book.

I don’t have to resort to the library each time I want to find about something. I could just use a search engine. And I get a lot more opinions instead of the opinion of a single person.

I can listen to web radio broadcasts at CD quality by just logging on to a website. I can stay in touch with all my friends and talk to them all at the same time even though we might be thousands of miles apart.

Google, Wikipedia, Orkut, and the BBC are simply a list apart.

Paul Williams , web consultant / senior developer

I love the enthusiasm and the hopeful feeling I get when talking/chatting/etc. about the ’net.  There are so many new ideas bouncing around and people coming up with new ones all the time that I feel I can’t keep up—but that is a good thing!

In particular, I am loving AJAX and What Google and others are doing with it, and Ruby on Rails—just blows me away.

Jonathan Wiznuk, web designer and developer

Well designed understated websites with useful and dynamic content who have made the effort to comply with web standards.

Sites that display well and load fast on my handheld.

Well written content that’s enjoyable and educational to read.

Unique layouts that are refreshingly simple yet effective, they make a creative statement, but dont sacrifice usability on multiple devices with their weird positioning.

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