Understanding the Web as Media is an elegant draft of an essay that is still more important and insightful than most of the sleakly polished writing about the nature of the web that’s out there.
“We were trying so furiously to make the medium do what we wanted it to do, few of us stopped to ask, “What is the web good for? What can the web do that other media can’t do? What can the web NOT do that other media CAN do?” In other words, what are the unique media characteristics of the web? What are its inherent strengths and weaknesses? How does the web “fit in” with existing media?”
The web is an immature medium, but lately we’ve seen uses of it that reflect its unique nature– napster, wikis, blogs…
A list I’m on recently rehashed the old argument what is IA with its attendent arguments about what medium it’s suited to. I said
“My ultimate loyalty is to the web. This new medium should no longer be a shanty town. It’s time for architects to step up and help build a mature information city, doing what we do best.”
and I mean it.
As architects, we must first understand our building materials. The ground we build on. The nature of the lot. The qualities of the neighboring structures. The use of the structure by the peoples who will inhabit it. And finally we must puzzle out how to delight, how to innovate, how to make our new structure soar in people’s imaginations and inspire a new series of spaces that are more useful, more precious to their inhabitants than anything that has gone before. It’s not “beautiful or usable,” it’s what if we did it right….