The first Macintosh computer was released in 1984 and soon ushered in the era of Desktop Publishing. Of course a number of technologies were needed as well as the computer itself, Postscript and laser printers were instrumental. But without the overall simplicity of use that was pioneered by Apple it is unlikely that anyone not trained in the “world of print” could have hoped to produce their own flyers, newsletters, and for the more adventurous, books and catalogs. It was a revolution in keeping with the invention of type and the printing press that truly empowered people who had ideas and interesting things to do. A technical background was not really needed if you were willing to dig in and experiment.
Then, along came the World Wide Web. Suddenly almost anyone could aspire to not only printing but electronic publishing to an ever-growing audience, virtually unlimited! The new “language” of HTML and the basic tools required were really very simple by design.Quickly learn how to make a paragraph, bold specific text, add a picture and a hyper-link to someplace else… what more could any aspiring self-publisher want?
<p> Just to remind you of the <b> simplicity </b> of it all, <a href="link.html"> THIS String of text </a> has all of those elements! <img src="some-picture.jpg"> </p>
Not really, I exaggerate to make a point but the fact is that every advance in the tools and functionalities that make up the WWW and the devices that access it can also make it more complex for the average user rather than more approachable. This is because it is human nature to turn our specialties into jargon with a good dose of obfuscation. It is basically job protection.
Try dealing with an important legal document without a lawyer. They have had job protection built into our bureaucracy for a long time. Microsoft built an enormous job market for Certified Windows support technicians based upon the average user’s inability to rid themselves of the infamous “blue screen of death” (and of increasing seriousness, red and black) so the concept is certainly already built deeply into our digital infrastructure.
from “The Adventures of Baron Munchausen”
The Baron: Go away! I’m trying to die!
Young Girl: Why?
The Baron: Because I’m tired of the world and the world is evidently tired of me.
Young Girl: But why? Why?
The Baron: Why, why, why! Because it’s all logic and reason now. Science, progress, laws of hydraulics, laws of social dynamics, laws of this, that, and the other. No place for three-legged cyclops in the South Seas. No place for cucumber trees and oceans of wine. No place for me.
I am not complaining as much as simply waxing sentimental about the bygone days of the Web when it was possible to think in terms of Cucumber Trees and set out to make one with little more than a bit of determination and experimentation.
But I can still make an ocean of wine. I just can’t make it in Flash anymore!