Last week, after much public ridicule and ribbing, Luke Dorny published his new, gorgeous, funky-fresh, personal web site. The kind of website the Internet hasn’t seen in quite a while. Luke’s site is the archetype for a designer’s passion project that also serves as perfect evidence of his creativity, skill, and craft. The site is just as beautiful as it is functional, but my favorite part is that it exists—It’s out there, not hidden behind a private repository or a secondary domain.
This website is the type of project that helped to launch a million careers in the industry we know today as “digital.” In the early days of the web, designers, developers, and engineers came from television, publishing, journalism, public relations, and advertising to try their hand at being pioneers in a medium—a new frontier—called the World Wide Web. In the beginning, we were surrounded by people who were just as curious as we were to learn about this new medium with its own principals, practices, and technologies. Every day offered a new discovery, a way to push the boundaries and the limits of this new space. And we mostly shared what we were discovering along the way through a form of self-expression that manifested in the form of thousands of self-published ‘zines of different shapes, voices, tones—sometimes very visual and other times more narrative.
Dorny’s website is a reminder of the web we lost, as some would say. I have likely said it myself while lamenting for a time when the Internet still felt like a frontier instead of the top of just another marketing funnel.
I am thankful to Luke for the time he invested in creating his site because it’s a reminder that the only thing in the way of a resurgence of an independent web is a simple matter of our own level of passion. How much is each of us who lament what-once-was willing to invest in dusting off a domain and building something new? It was easier when we were younger, and we were all rich in time with an empty canvas and a pirated copy of Photoshop CS in front of us. Now the path is more difficult with higher demand for our attention, and time seems to be in shorter supply.
That said, I see signs to be encouraged.
During our Twitter-based protest towards Luke to launch his website, a side conversation ensued wherein a challenge for everyone to re-launch their own website on March 1 was suggested. And a handful of people accepted (maybe more). New website launch or not, I’d love to see more than a handful an RSS feeds light up again. More signs appear from friends who have long-sense grown tired of social platforms—all of them. Creators are fed up with shifting Terms of Service that favor the corporation’s rights over the creator—Shinny new export user data features are damned. But it’s the Babylon effect of so many social networks that are driving more folks I know back to their own corner of the cloud to create their own channel, photo album, and animated GIF repository. These things are happening slowly, and the folks making these moves are feeling that pioneer spirit again, if even just in a small dose.
Final touches are underway on the code for a visual refresh of this website. While I’m happy with it, I can tell you that it’s no Dorny. Not yet, at least. Now that Luke has set the bar, I don’t intend to sit on another design for as long as I did.
See you next month, if not sooner.