plagiarist on 12 Jan 2001 12:14:00 -0000

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[Nettime-bold] Re: <nettime> don't Disassociate Webdesign (as an aspect of appengineering) from Usability

Hi, a few thoughts to add to various points that have been brought
up in this thread:

The Top 20 websites Geert mentioned in his initial post were largely
search engines and other sorts of sites where one would go to look
something up. That's something like saying that the phone book is the
world's most popular book, because it gets picked up and used the most
times. Web site ratings are based on "times used" as opposed to sales, and
the directories are ranked right along with the content, because on the
web, a website is a website. The result: the lines between content and
"map to the content" (or "end" and "means to an end" have become blurred.)
This is an interesting phenonmenon in itself, but I wouldn't think that
the rating results suggest that other types of sites may as well conform
to the standards of search engines.

As to graphics vs. text, etc... I think something to keep in mind is while
graphics and text on the web can be discussed in the context of graphics
and text in print, that they ultimately exist in the context of the net,
i.e., their "net aesthetic." Most of the projects people have mentioned
being impressed by in this thread are successful because of their net
aesthetics - i.e. they work in an interesting or useful way with or on the
net and would not work as well in another medium. Napster and Slashdot are
obvious examples, for the way they develop a structure within a net
community. Another example is "My boyfriend came back from the war..."  
It is interesting as a text piece, but the poetic elements really come
from the way it uses the browser to develop spatial and temporal rhythms
within the narrative.

In the early days of film, movies tended to be little more than
documentation of theatrical plays: wide shot, static camera. Then film
language began to develop - filmmakers realized they could move the
camera, montage came into being, etc. Early television went through
something similar - television broadcasts often featured radio announcers
standing in front of microphones. So net people are still figuring out
ways to "move the camera," and the net languages (no I don't mean HTML
here :-) ) are still being developed.... net languages/grammars will of
course always draw from their predecessors, just as photography draws from
painting, video draws from film, film from theater, etc.  But net
aesthetics and language(s) will develop into their own, just as film is no
longer documentation of theatre. And yes, I think it's still early...
(reports of the death of the net and/or net art have been greatly
exaggerated :-) )

One thing I've noticed about the net is that it has appropriated various
elements (text, images, animation, other time-based) that draw from
previously existing media, but often people working in the corresponding
"traditional" media don't cross-over, or at least not right away. Flash is
often thought of as an annoying technical bell-and-whistle on the web, but
actually, it's an animation package. However, it's taken the animators a
while to take notice of Flash as something they would work in, because
they thought of it as an annoying technical bell-and-whistle that only web
designers and programmers would do. So that's who worked in Flash.
Animators and other filmmakers are getting much more into Flash now... of
course, some animators and filmmakers are better than others, but, in
general, they focus on storytelling, timing, and movement, which are
lacking in a lot of Flash projects. Obviously there are a lot of issues
regarding why someone may or may not like a Flash animation, but clearly,
a graphic design approach to Flash is going to be different than a
filmmaking approach to Flash.

On the other hand, maybe bad Flash isn't the end of the world, because it
means that people who aren't animators are experimenting with animation -
something much more cheaply done with Flash than with film. But it also
means that on the net, people are crossing over into disciplines other
than their usual ones. So we see some embarrassingly amateurish and
sometimes downright lousy stuff getting turned out. But I think it's also
necessary for the development of net languages. Since the net is not any
of the things it draws from and needs to continue to develop its own
languages, aesthetics, etc... I think it's a good idea for us to dip our
brushes in each others' paint from time to time and see what colors we
come up with.

I've been talking mostly about the net in terms of traditional browsers
and traditional software packages, but I definitely agree with the person
who noted that "the net is not just the web," as well as the Jodi quote
about the usefulness of a browser bug.  With regard to the first part of
that: video art encompasses single channel works but also video sculpture.  
On the net, various people (including me) have done net art performances
and installations, but of course non-web work is also done in net-space,
using Usenet, IRC, etc. It's true that the web has received most of the
attention, and other uses for the net have not emerged as fast - though
perhaps with Napster's popularity that will change some. With regard to
the second part of my statement: browsers and software packages used as
intended have their use, but the problem is, they are generally based on
an existing paradigm and/or closed system. Developing montage meant
cutting the film into little pieces. Developing net language sometimes
means working with frames, but sometimes means working with browser bugs,
open source, writing your own, or "misappropriating" software or hardware.
Fortunately, it is not necessary to do all of them. :-)


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