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In a reply to Holgers reply to my reply to his post, Bianca (@bkastl) writes

In contrast to 20 years ago the creative potential comes from a different approach: not the lacking knowledge or lacking means to do things on the web with tech from 2019 – it would be easy to use them - but the limits you set for yourself: focusing on what is required, not using things that are known and convenient - it's heavy thinking, but worth it.

I really like this. The more I think about it, the more I believe that this ultimately is what "expertise" boils down to: In an ever-growing playfield of possibilities and possible solutions and tools, picking the "right" thing. As opposed to using whatever is the "hot" thing right now. Which sooner or later brings us to the current trend of pushing everything over to the client-side and JS, but that's a topic for another TweetCast episode, methinks.

 

In a reply to my reply to his initial post, Holger (@foobartel) writes:

(…) Yet, those frameworks have allowed their sameness to creep in, default designs to be seen for how websites “should” look like today. Even though frameworks were only meant for prototyping and as a starting point to build upon, they have made their mark in terms of design. With a lack of understanding of the craft and its underlying techniques, it’s difficult to change and modify the defaults, to be creative and unique.

The interesting thing here is, (speaking from an economic point-of-view) that this sets the frame in which $clients are biased towards what they expect a website to be. So it gets increasingly harder with each new "same" (everyfuckingwebsite dot com) website that launches, to work outside, to surprise and to sell that. (On a side note, have you read about the Uber and Lyft drivers who played the system by simultaniously logging of the app; resulting in an increase in demand and a surge in fees? Maybe we webworkers could pull a similar stunt…)
And of course there's a myraid of so-called web-design studios who are making quite a good living out of that; selling the same website over and over again to different clients.
And there is a market for that. And in that market it is exceptional ungrateful to hope for honoration and acknowledgement of truly creative solutions.
Sadly, this market is where we are swimming in.
From the bottom the market is capped by the budgets that are available. Here, truly fresh and innovative things may be possible, but sadly for honour only since there is no money around. From the top the market is capped by the large ad-networks and enterprises; here large budgets are available, but seldom does this trickle down to small studios or single experts - in this market, creative decisions happened way up the ladder and we are hired for our (technical) skillset or because the ad-networks cannot provide enough woman-power on their own and have to sub-contract.

And why change in the first place, it’s what everybody uses. It’s tested. It’s trusted. It’s confirmed.
How could the masses be so wrong?

Coming back to the framework/theme "standard", I wonder if this really just is laziness, or if the rather boring "holy grail" look is like the frontpage design of newspapers, where some elements like the masthead have proven to work better under the circumstances (i.e. the display at the news-stand, where only the upper part of the page is visible).

We are constantly challenged by shifting technologies, but in the end the user, their device and their situation is what counts - and for most users, a boring, but easy to understand experience will always trump an "exciting" one where every interface element has to be learned and discovered anew.

May we live in an interesting web.

 

Holger's (@foobartel) post about this year's BeyondTellerrand Düsseldorf conference and the inspiration that transpires touches on a raw nerve for me.

(…) With so much sameness on the web these days, I would love to see more people dare, more creative outcomes and results, and more creative thinking, much more often. That’s myself included. (…)

I'm a graphic designer with all the formal education, with all the "creative" baggage and struggles that led me to study graphic design - an interest in illustration, street art, the skate culture and underground comics - and found my calling in the web. From the early/mid 90's, I gradually shifted from magazine and print layout, from illustration to html, css and programming. I dived deeper and deeper into what makes the web tick, and after more than twenty years in the front-line of conceptualizing, designing, building, and maintaining web sites I think I have a pretty broad AND deep understanding of the cogs and wheels involved. But. Every time I create something for the web, I have the feeling it is kind of dull. It works, it is lean. It is maintainable, scalable. Most of the web sites I produce live more than five years, some of them are happily humming along after more than 10 years.
And yet, often when I am confronted with ideas by designers who don't have that understanding of the web, there is this element of surprise and playfulness that I am missing in my work.
Maybe true innovation needs that element of ignorance that we so often call out and blame "the designers" for.
It is not that I, or we, always fall back to trusted solutions, no, but still, I have the feeling that while my work provides solid benefit for my clients, it kind of lacks the truly innovative and surprising moment. Interesting question is, and that's kind of what the conference planted, is it really that I'm not "allowed" the creative freedom in the bread-and-butter jobs or is it that I *think* that the truly creative ideas would be wasted anyway on these clients?

Definitely something to think about a litte longer.


Can “Indie” Social Media Save Us? – Cal Newport, The New Yorker

A nice article about the IndieWeb, published on a paywalled site ("you have three articles left this month") 🤷🏼‍♂️. I find it a bit too focussed on servers and social media platforms, but with the right angle about 'engineered adictiveness'.


(…) a loose collective of developers and techno-utopians that calls itself the IndieWeb has been creating another alternative. The movement’s affiliates are developing their own social-media platforms, which they say will preserve what’s good about social media while jettisoning what’s bad. They hope to rebuild social media according to principles that are less corporate and more humane.

Take back your web - Tantek Çelik @ Beyond Tellerrand Conference, Düsseldorf 2019

Empty row of red seats, in the background the Beyond Tellerrand Logo on a mirror above the bar

Watch this. Understand this.

For quite a while now I really think we are at a crucial point in the history of the web.

Beyond Tellerrand Düsseldorf 2019

Empty row of red seats, in the background the Beyond Tellerrand Logo on a mirror above the bar

For the ninth year I attended this great small conference about Web, Design and going beyond. Here are some notes and thoughts. Maybe I polish it later, but I want to get this out of my head.

These moments stuck with me - which does not mean that any talk that is not mentioned here didn't. This conference's iteration was very very very good, there was not one talk that wasn't great. All killers, no fillers. This here is just a first .brain { overflow: visible;}:

The Power of Metaphor - Mike Hill @Beyond Tellerrand Conference, Düsseldorf 2019

This talk yesterday kind of illustrated the frame for many of the stories that were told by the talks that followed.

The circle of stories, the archetypes, the whole 'going from the known to the unknown', the 'old self / new self' transformation, the dragon's den… there's a lot of that to be found in the (success) stories about the great creative works that followed on stage.

I love how Marc Thiele curates the talks of Beyond Tellerrand.
It is like putting together a tape for your crush, or making a set list. ...

Fighting uphill - Eric Bailey

Digital accessibility is a niche practice. That’s not a value judgement, it’s just the way things are. Again, it’s hard to fault someone for creating an inaccessible experience if they simply haven’t learned the concept exists.
And yet, seventy percent of websites are non-compliant. It’s a shocking statistic. What if I told you that seventy percent of all bridges were structurally unsound?
Some engineers who work with physical materials have a reminder of the gravity of the decisions they make. They wear iron rings to remind them that they have an obligation to the public good, and that actual lives ...

Deflektorschild

Ich hatte gerade in einem - zugegebenermaßen leicht rant-gruppigen - Gespräch über einem vergorenem Apfelgetränk einem guten Freund versucht zu erklären, warum mich das IrgendwasMitWebArbeiten zuweilen so … auslaugt.

Dabei fiel das Wort "Deflektorschild". Ihr kennt das doch, wenn bei StarTrek sich die Raumschiffe beharken, und irgendwann kommt dann:

"Capt'n, die Schildenergie ist runter auf 20%!"

BUMMS.

"10 Prozent!!"

Und dann werden die Energieströme aus irgendwelchen Lebenserhaltungssystemen auf Deck SoUndSo auf die Schilde umgeleitet, während im Hintergrund ein Scotty an der rettenden Lösung arbeitet.

BUMMS.

"Noch 7%!!!"

Genau so geht es mir zuweilen in Kundenprojekten, vor allem, wenn ich mich mal ...