5 Reasons The Internet Is Still Gonna Look Boring For Awhile

We see the avant-garde every day, in every discipline; across visual art, industrial design, music, architecture, hell, even cooking, creatives are making content and structure of every conceivable variety, style and flavor. True masters of these crafts routinely take their chosen medium to the cutting edge, doing everything that can be done with their tools. The diversity is staggering.

So what’s up with the web, man? Seriously, what are we doing? Where is the innovation? Where is the artistry? Where is the experience?

It would not at all be incorrect to say that the internet is an artistic medium like any other. Yet, for all intents and purposes, the internet is currently presented as an interactive book. Yes, yes, I know we have things like YouTube, and Last.Fm, and any number of examples of diversified content – but I’m not talking about content, I’m talking strictly about presentation. About the internet as an experience. YouTube or not, it’s still just a book, guys. It’s still scrolling pages of hyperlinked text.

Does the internet need to be an experience? Well, why not? The internet began as scrolling pages of hyperlinked text, but only because it had to. Hardware limitations, and all that jazz. Today, though, we’re at a point where those limitations hardly exist at all – we’re free to present content in any way we choose. So why aren’t we? Why stop at clickable buttons and text in columns? Why does using the internet feel more like “reading a newspaper” than “using the internet”?

Well, I’ll tell you why.

Your Parents

I want you to do something for me. Click here, log in with your Facebook account, and poke around for a few minutes. Go on, go ahead! I’ll wait.

That was cool, right? Browsable content presented with artistry, and still reasonably navigable. Totally awesome.

Now imagine your mom trying to use it.

Exactly. The generation gap still exists between those born into the internet, and those born into… well, no internet, and frankly, until that generation is dead and gone, the internet has got to cater to that demographic, as well, if it wants to make money. Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents! I’m just also looking forward to Outer-Spacebook.

Science Fiction Makes It Seem Silly

This one’s kind of up to speculation, but I was a picked-on geek in high school, so I feel qualified to posit this idea. The wedgies still hurt, guys.

Science fiction makes interesting experience design look silly to the average user. Remember Minority Report? The Tom Cruise gesture gloves? Actually, wait, that’s an interaction method. Uh, what about Hackers? Yeah, remember the internet in Hackers? You, me, and a legion of tech geeks thought that ruled. But the disparity between where we’ll be then and where we are now is still a great divide, indeed – designing websites like The Profiler is too much of a jump for people to accept as anything more than a novelty experience for the time being.

It’s the same reason girls giggle at you when you mention Star Trek.

It's Hard

For all my bitching, I’ve got to confess, I’m coding-dumb. I don’t know the first thing about advanced web design, and not because I’m ignorant, but because it’s simply a really, really difficult thing to do. I have a major respect for a good web designer, and even more for a great one.

Perhaps you’ve heard of Nawlz? If not, click the link and marvel at the most staggeringly bizarre entertainment experience you’ve had in weeks. I don’t dare call this a simple ‘web comic’. The man is an artist truly using the canvas of the web to its full potential. Meanwhile, I still use Dreamweaver in Display mode. Until there are tools that allow a larger user base more than a glorified text editor, a traditional internet experience is all we can hope for.

The Tech Just Isn't There (Sorta)

This one is and this isn’t true. While my roommate has a laptop so old it’s practically steam-powered (seriously, I swear I saw vapor rising from it one time), he’s able to run Halo server-side. This would tend to solve all problems with displaying sexy graphics, but then it would become a matter of connection speed. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. With the current state of the wireless web, diversified web experiences aren’t much of a viable option. Hell, my modem is only 30 feet away and sometimes even Techi chugs.

Probably from all the awesome.

A Traditional Internet is Practical

Okay, fine, you got me. I’m sure you were thinking this since the beginning of the article, anyway. Yeah, fine, so it’s a hell of a lot easier the way we do things now. Gutenberg invented the printing press in, what, the 1400’s? We as a species have been conditioned to read columns of text for six hundred years. It’s natural to us, invisible and intuitive. While multimedia will surely be the future’s monomedia, unfortunately, that change will happen very…very slowly.

So why does it matter? Why am I even writing this? There are hundreds of internet locations out there that offer totally rad, new ways of presenting and interacting with content. But there were plenty of scientists in the 1200’s, too, and nobody cared.

I suppose, as a designer, I long to see the internet truly become ‘the internet’ – a standalone, unique experience, rather than an amalgam of experiences we’ve already had. Y’know, greater than the sum of its parts. A Renaissance, even. I’m not necessarily asking for YouTube videos dynamically floating in a sexy void, but imagine if movie promo sites were more than a trailer and a release date, or if a recipe site was a way to virtually prepare meals without having to head to the grocery store. The potential is there, we just may not be ready yet.

Written by Ty Dunitz

Ty is an illustrator who stays up too late, and has to wear glasses. You can follow him on Twitter if you want to (@glitchritual), but he's just gonna throw your stupid PR crap in the garbage, so don't email him.

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  • This is such a good read! iwonder if apple is about to cure a portion of the boring internet with it’s new interactive form of advertising, iad. iguess that’s sorta in the direction of a more exciting internet, or at least a portion of it. I dunno, great article.

  • @Dion: What the heck has Apple to do with anything about this article?

    I enjoyed reading this, love the humoristic side of it, instead of just blabla facts.

  • Wait! I need to show this to my mom.
    She doesn’t get it.

    Wait! I think my girlfriend wants to see this!
    She doesn’t get it.

    Ahh. Whatever. I’ll just retweet it!

    Great post which makes me think to re-activate my parked domain http://www.slowww.org again.
    Anyone up for this project? 🙂

    Kind regards

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