Why I (still) love the web

When a technology becomes so commonplace that we start to see it as obvious, you start seeing more opinion articles focusing on the negative side-effects of that technology. The danger is that someone who hasn’t experienced life without the technology, might assume that today’s focus in opinion-land represents the overall merit of that technology. It reminds me of a stock market: during a small swing down, the displays reads “absolute red”, while the long-term trend could very well be positive. I feel like the web is one of those technologies right now, though the backlash seems for a large part aimed at (the growing power of) social media. Time to restate the obvious: here’s why I still love the web as a creative medium:

The web allows me to combine other media almost seamlessly.

Writing, typography, user interfaces, programming, music, sound effects, photography, video, webcams, illustrations, 3D, patterns, games, storage, live data, particles… the list goes on and on.

I can publish almost instantly to any device with an internet connection.

All the media mentioned above, shared with just a link.

‘Parts’ are easily obtainable and free.

Compare this to two other interests of mine, art and electronics: if you’re not working at a company or studying in art school, you can’t share costs of components/supplies, which are much cheaper in bulk. Delivery means waiting at least a day before you can continue with your project to see if your theory even works.

While pencils and diodes are scattered throughout these institutions (try-before-you-buy by asking a fellow teacher/student), people working from home often don’t have that luxury. As a result, my shelves are stocked with art supplies and electronics I’ll probably never use. With the web, most libraries and assets are free and can be obtained in less than a minute with Github, NPM, Codepen, stock images, and even Devtools-enabled ‘stealing’. Fonts and images can be tried and licensed only when you actually use them.

Tip with stock vectors: if the watermark hurts your eyes, Illustrator’s Image Trace is amazing


Experimentation is low-risk

Undo and duplicate are features of all digital media, but software in particular benefits from a tradition of version control. Git is the norm, and it even works with SVG’s. Back in the real world, though it might just be my OCD, when I draw on paper, I prefer separate sheets. Throw away my mistakes, nothing is permanent. A neat sketchbook feels like a streak, which makes me anxious to put pencil to paper.