Schrijven voor het web

Why are you online?

When you are online, you are not active within normal physical reality. Being online demands a tremendous amount of discipline. You must shut out the world around you and focus exclusively on a glowing screen. You must sit in a chair for hours on end and will your body to remain still. When you are online, you are not doing anything else. You are not going to a bar, or watching a movie, or playing ball, or talking to other people. You may be chatting with someone across the aether, but the strange words that appear have more to do with messages on the wind than conversation.

Why are you here?
You are here because there is something online that is missing from real life. In this post-industrial Western capitalist middle-to-upper class civilization that – another assumption – most of us live in, the situation is both wonderful and appalling. Materially, we have never been better off. Basic needs are met, with plenty of leftover resources to indulge ourselves. We have money in our pocket that is waiting to be spent, and we have hundreds and thousands of corporations all eager to help us spend it. We are offered everything from technology to entertainment to transportation to luxury. We live with an embarrassment of riches.

No wonder we can’t stand them.
Now, however, it’s no longer geeks and early adopters who are preaching the word. People all over the world who have no interest in Web standards or SQL are flocking here, looking for something that they can no longer find in physical reality. They’re out here. They’ve been given the opportunity to make their voices heard. They’ve peeked through the veil, and they’ve seen that there is possibility here in the online world, that there might be something that can answer the questions we’ve all had. This is a huge shift from the tech-happy libertarian/anarchic ethos that gets all the hype. However, people don’t want the Next Big Thing; they want a space where they can get away from modern life. Instead of getting on their knees and asking someone for the answers, they’re trying to determine the answers for themselves. They want a space, a cave, a retreat, a wall they can mark on so that others can see and share. One of the most uncanny things I’ve ever seen on the Web began simply: “I ache for storms.” Not a review of the latest tech thing, not a navelgazing rant, not an entertaining meme. No, a simple primal, elemental yearning for the natural mystery of the skies. We are still magical creatures, despite our toys, and we want more than a simple hand-out existence.

Why are you here?
You are among the few, the very few who understand just how intricate this entire network is, just how fragile and beautiful it can be. You are the creators of destinations. Your sites, whether they are commercial or personal, are beacons and oases to the world. For better or worse, you are the ones pushing the boundaries and creating the high-profile sites that we hope that people will come to. Recent arguments about “content” on the Web have led some to ask what the big deal is. It’s a big Web, they say, and there’s room for all sorts of stuff. And there are people still doing stuff, so what’s your problem? Is it a big Web? How will people find their way around the corporate sites, which might be the only Web they’ve ever known? Personal sites don’t have million-dollar marketing budgets. How will they avoid the fast-food hooks to reach the banquet they need? And is what we’re creating even worth coming to? Our Flash movies and our Metallica parodies - are these what people are looking for? Is this what they’ve been seeking all this time? Or is it something you took time and effort to create, where you pushed yourself beyond what you thought you could do and ended up creating a work that illuminated the boundaries of the human soul? We are not mere technicians. We are not throwing words around for our health. We are not out here to make a buck, because there are surely easier ways to do it.