I grew up admiring Dan Cederholm and John Gruber and Jason Kottke and Cameron Moll and Jeffrey Zeldman and Molly and Jeremy Keith and Andy Clarke and Shaun Inman and Jason Santa Maria and Eric Meyer. I witnessed them advocating for a free and open web, through The Web Standards Project and the W3C (which I proudly contributed to as a budding web developer). Because of their work, I fell in love with the open web and the creative possibilities it made available to the world.
But then Google and Facebook and Twitter (although to a less extent Twitter) sucked up all the water. They slowly drained the internet of its personality and verve, and the majority of artists and mavericks I admired, hung up the hat. For more than a few years, the internet felt like a desert, and I know I’m hardly the first person to feel that way.
The interent giveth. But for quite a while there, it was taketh-ing a lot more than it was giveth-ing.
In the last few years, though, the scene has shifted. Not to great acclaim. It just happened, a little at a time.
Micro.blog launching in 2015 was certainly a harbinger. Cameron Moll just made a comeback this Spring. Kottke and Gruber are going stronger than ever. Those should be sentences from 2000, not 2020.
The independent web will morph and shape shift, but it certainly won’t die. That’s a nice thing to be able to say in 2020.
What I loved back when I was a kid, I still love now. Moreso, actually. I love independent authors and artists, with the guts to keep doing things their way. People who like to make mistakes and blaze a path through action, not council. (As opposed to those who choose their path based on Google Analytics. Also known as sycophants. I should know: I was one! Nothing destroys the fire in your belly like chasing page views.)
That's what I loved about all those old school web gurus: they were out on a limb, inventing the future, focus groups be damned. They didn't do it for money. Some got rich. Most got by. But they just kept at it, they kept creating things where there weren't things before.
I’ve always thought that people who create because they need to are the most interesting people in the world.
The ones who do, and keep doing, regardless of whether or not they’re being looked at. Those are the ones who change the world.
June 27, 2020