Valentines to the Web
Issue № 212

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.

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Greg Altuna, web designer #section1

…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 #section2

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 #section3

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

Ryan Ballantyne, student / web developer #section4

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

Darren Brean, web developer #section5

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 #section6

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 #section7

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   #section8

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

Ian Corey, filmmaker / designer   #section9

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 #section10

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 #section11

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 #section12

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 #section13

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

Todd Dominey, designer #section14

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 #section15

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 #section16

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 #section17

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 #section18

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 #section19

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 #section20

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 #section21

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

Amanda Kern, professor, graphics technology #section22

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 #section23

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 #section24

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

Richard Lawson, web / intranet application developer #section25

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 #section26

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 #section27

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 #section28

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 #section29

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 #section30

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 #section31

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 #section32

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 #section33

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 #section34

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 #section35

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.

Sooz  #section36

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 #section37

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 #section38

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.

29 Reader Comments

  1. Shame that there are more negative comments on this Valentine’s Day double-header about the web. But you’ve got to be positive. Let’s hope the web 2.0 thingy phenomenon type thing doesn’t go boom and bust, I’m sure we learned our mistakes the first time around.

    There’s plenty to be positive about: CSS + Web Standards making things better for everyone concerned, simple ideas like Flickr, del.icio.us and RSS giving users the power that should make Mr Berners-Lee smile, and that it was all worth while.

    Here’s to the future, wherever it may end up online.

  2. It’s all about the people as already said. I’ve met so many people over the web, without it I wouldn’t have so many friends from around the world. And specifically…

    last.fm, weebl and bob, ecommerce, forums (more so than blogs)…and lots of other stuff i’ve missed 🙂

  3. Someone negatived that ‘amateurs’ feel the need to make websites and try and be web pros. I say that’s rubbish.

    There is no school for web design, okay so there are some, but most people don’t go to university to do web development.. would you? So there is no school, the beauty of the web and open source software, is that if you’ve got the inclination you can get in there and start learning – free!

    The beauty of the industry and the pace of progression is that while the guy who’s only been in it for a few years can know as much about current technologies (e.g. XHTML/CSS) as someone who’s been in it for 20 years.

    This is what enabled me to become a web developer and start being _offered_ decent jobs at 21 before i’ve even finished my computing degree. I can’t think of any other industry where that would be possible without being exceptionally talented.

  4. 1. View Source: the web wouldn’t exist in it’s present form without it.

    2. The “newness” of the web: it’s a very young system of publishing, so the conventions (or standards) have yet to be “agreed up on”.

    3. The “Connectedness”: all content can be connected to other relevant content.

    4. The “Immediacy”: hard to explain, but I sometimes perceive the web as “an extra brain” or “telepathy”… Forgot something? Look it up on the web.

  5. The main thing I love about the web is being able to meet with so many new people and share common interests without ever having to leave the comfort of your own home, though finally meeting these people in real life is a totally different feeling in its own. Websites like Flickr, Digg, del.icio.us, and blogs in general are a great help and I’d go crazy without them.

  6. *37 Signals* – like the cut of their jib

    *Ruby on rails* – got me enjoying programming again

    The fact doing things the ‘right way’ is easier now than the wrong way.. im still sceptical about everything that is going on right now .. but im trying to embrace everything with an open mind.

    I love the fact I have a hunger, instead of an apathy – its the community’s offerings, speaking of which i should start returning the favour.

  7. 1. i love different opinions all around the web
    2. people awareness to the standards is finally starting to grow
    3. joining the hype of ajax and web 2.00112a sites alike – i like seeing well-done web-based application, though not using ajax in every page, like some people intend to do
    4. clean (x)html/css sites – they make me feel better =O)
    5. i love technical articles around the web (list apart for ex.) =O)

  8. I love IE! It has earned me tons of unexpected billable hours. It has paid for my house, my car, my family and my over all well being.

    I also love that the Massacre column already has 27 comments to this one’s nine. Clearly, we hate our platform. 😉

  9. Something we do love about web is its semantic markup.
    XHTML helps to make friendlier and most consistent sites, besides, along Css to change or update a whole site is crazily easier.

  10. I love that I find an interesting site design on the web almost everyday. It keeps me focused and energized, and that’s definitely a good thing!

    And as a client-seeking designer, I also love seeing so many crappy sites. =D

  11. To provide the positive, here are three things I love

    1. The fact that the exquisite talent of so many designers out there is available for me to see and to take inspiration from.

    2. CSS, XHTML and all things standards based – the beauty of it makes me very happy.

    3. The fact that I can make a living from it and never feel like I have grown stale – the web changes and moves faster than I could keep up which means the challenges each morning are just as exciting as they were the morning before.

  12. I love “W3Schools”:http://www.w3schools.com/ . It’s horribly outdated (not necessarily up to par with today’s best practices nor info on today’s browsers), but the info is still correct and succinct. I used it as a reference for years when getting the hang of things. It was great to go work in a coffee shop and not have to bring a reference book with me to check what was what and what was it used for.

    Add to that “dithered.com”:http://www.dithered.com/ , “quirksmode.com”:http://www.quirksmode.com/ and others that have been instrumental resources for learning the cross-browser bugaboos. And I cannot close this comment in good conscience without mentioning A List Apart, “Eric Meyer”:http://meyerweb.com/ and the CSS Zen Garden as well.

    In general, whenever I butt up against a problem, there’s almost always someone else out there that has butt up against it too. Either they’ve found or created a solution, or they have at least confirmed for me that it’s not just my system (or as so may IT guys love to say, “it must be a Mac thing.”)

  13. What do I love about the web today? That is indeed a very controversial question, so I’m going to try and keep it simple.

    Firstly, the web today is a very powerful means and medium of communication. It unites people, groups and pieces of information from around the globe. I dare to say that the web today truly resembles McLuahn’s “Global Village”. However, with great power comes great responsibility and although content on the web should not be censored, it should be controlled not by governments, laws or whatever, but by us.

    Secondly, and speaking from a designer’s point of view, the web nowadays offers us unlimited resources in order to create more standards-adherent web sites. Web sites that should be accessible by all, especially now that the use of portable devices is rising steadily. People can now access web sites from their palmtop, their mobile phone and so forth. Hence it is up to us to try our best to create pages that conform to standards!

    Forgive my long-winded and rambling post everyone. I did my best to keep it brief and concise.

  14. Alas everything great about the web can also perhaps be classed in the list of what’s not great too. Examples, following the above comment:

    * CSS – great for styling, with a lot of power. But also frustratingly primitive; lack of browser support etc.

    * XML – Great idea for describing and manipulating data. But look at XSL-FO and see how unreadable it can become. Plus it has problems: a page of XHTML served as xhtml/xml in Firefox will stop dead if there’s a single error on it.

    * HTML – got everyone onto the net; easy to use; errors are ignored. But those are also the reasons it sucks, leading to masses of poorly-written invalid pages by everyone from their grandmother to their dog. Also laughably poor range of markup tags (nothing for marking up poetry etc).

    * Flash – I love it. But not when an advert takes over the whole page.

    * Email – an amazing tool. But I hate the way HTML and replies get all mixed up into a soup of different fonts and sizes. Can’t any email client sort this out?

    * Popularity – sites like eBay, Flickr and so on are great. They bring people together and provide much useful information. But then everyone registers and you suddenly have way too much information to take in and sift through. Likewise forums – can’t do without them for help. But they’re so popular it’s hard to find what you want in all the noise.

    * Blogs – wicked idea full of future potential. But who has the time to read them all? Is the net drowning in them?

  15. I love amateurs who use a lot of animated GIFs and star backgrounds to make their personal home pages instead of resgitering with Blogger or installing Word Press.

    Keep up the great work, amateurs, you are the true stylists of the web! Make more midi background music as well and continue having flocks of pigeons or sprinkly stars going after the mouse pointer. Get some cheap web space and upload all your stuff there, don’t fall to the boredoms of visual standardisation offered by flickr and friends! It’s your web, understand?

  16. # (My best reason to love the Internet.) It provided aging, eccentric, slackers like me with their first decent job. It continues to pay my bills.
    # The Internet made open source software viable enough to change the world.
    # If you really pay attention, the Web has managed to transcend and outlive all the trendiness and hype. The dot-bomb didn’t destroy it and neither will “Web 2.0.”

  17. I love internet because I learn every day new thing, I share my interests with my partner and friends, I speak with skype with my parents in the world . I love Yahoo because is the best place to find informations and the best search engine to indicize my website without spend a lot of money. I love internet because is free. I love internet because our opinion is valuable. I love internet because every day we can invent our self. I love the web because every people has the opportunities to make business.

  18. I find it funny when people knock the state of internet shenanigans. Think we need to appricate we’re currently enjoying powerful tools and a level of communication and information which if you described it just 15 years ago, the majority would have thought you were talking about some strange magic.

  19. I could give up my ordinary job for my online business. I have to go only once per day to the local post office to send some stuff for customers. Like I’ve said – I’m fat by now 🙂

  20. What I like is the change to travel around the world in some seconds. I am living in germany and have a office in shanghai. I need only 5 minutes to start with Key Word advertising in Shanghai… And Online-Translation of Google also make it possible to search chinese web pages and have a look to all my competitors there.. this is amazing…

  21. 1) The freedom it offers for expression; your voice, your way.
    2) The variety of information available.
    3) A variety of browers that are not from effing Microsoft that work well.
    4) The fact that no government, business or individual(s) own the web – it’s not property in any sense.
    5) Business web sites that are sleek, fast loading, well written and well designed.
    6) Personal web sites that stand up to or exceed corporate sites.
    7) Surfing the web is a good use of time (mostly).

  22. The political blogosphere and You Tube

    The former provide an awesome amount of political commentary that you cannot get from the mainstream media and all of it is easily converted into text or video files that can be displayed on the internet.

    You Tube hosts great political videos as well as music videos. Gotta love it. 🙂

    -ted

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