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The Internet, CyberSpace and the Future

I read a survey recently of people across the nation’s values of different types of media. It seemed a littlle biased but it did seem resoundingly sure that people are placing a lot more importance on the Internet than any other media. This seems like old news but what I’m left wondering is how that is going to affect design.

We are all aware of the cult of online brochure design and the ongoing activities of “the Design Community” but how do you think that design will change to meet the needs of consumers getting more and more data at 72 dpi, sitting in a chair alone in front of a computer?

Do you think the Internet (and computer technology) will slowly rise to meet the polished beauty of print? What can we do as designers to affect change in a medium which is still in its infacy? Where do you see design on the Internet in 2005? What about 2013?

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PUBLISHED ON Feb.06.2003 BY long-gone author
Su’s comment is:

I assume you're talking about the web. The Internet is a different concept. It's an important distinction, if you're going to discuss concepts of beauty.

Your questions imply certain suppositions on your part, whose explanations I think would be more interesting than the answers to your questions. Why don't you think the web has reached a state of polish, or is it that you've just not run across sites that meet the criteria(in which case, what are they?) Your second question practically begs a "The Web is not Print" argument. What kind of designers are the "we" you're addressing it to, and what are their interests in affecting said change? (ie: the web designers are going to start creeching about you wanting to cram print conventions in where they don't belong; return to my first comment on this question).

I think that the web has risen to have its own evolving idea of beauty, which includes consideration for elegant code and not just what the browser renders. Why? Because while almost nobody ever sees the convoluted mess of layers and groups in your Photoshop and Illustrator files, anybody can look at your (X)HTML and CSS source and call you on how dirty it is(Armin, why is there PHP include code on the HTML-coded index page? *ducks*). Beyond that, every user, whether they want to or not, at some point ends up considering code, even if indirectly, when Netscape4 totally botches a page because someone left a table cell empty, for an easy example. Want another? Go to the Photodisc site with a Mozilla-based browser, and see what happens.

In 2005, I see coders finally being able to actually use all of the CSS2 spec, while wondering why the hell no browser renders CSS3, with all its sexy new ideas, the same way as any other browser, and coming up with ever more convoluted workarounds. Sounds a lot like right now to me.

On Feb.06.2003 at 11:18 PM
pk’s comment is:

i see designers and coders working in concert to make effective reading spaces which are both visually and operationally beautiful. i am sick to death of designers not even caring about what happens behind the screen—you know how to help your printer make his work more beautiful, why not your coder?

typographically, i long for a browser which uses more complex methods for typesetting: column flow, graceful forced justification, and intelligent usage of ligatured characters (which could actually happen now that opentype is starting to become useful).

conceptually, maybe marketers will finally get a clue and start making something worthwhile for consumers to look at. but i'm not counting on that one at all.

On Feb.06.2003 at 11:27 PM
Kiran Max Weber’s comment is:

The Internet has lost its flash appeal, no pun intended. Gone are the days of lengthy intros, audio laden rollovers, and five clicks to gain simple information. Content providers and designers have conceded that the Internet is a practical source of current and frequently updated information for services such as shipping (FedEx), retail (Amazon), transportation (Orbitz), entertainment (Netflix), research (Google), education (Speak Up), news (CNN), phonebook (Switchboard), and self publication (web blogs) with simplified navigation, organized layouts, and instant publishing. Content is king.

Here is what I would like to see happen between 2005 and 2013.

In the future television service and the Internet will merge once the internet is accepted by the general public as a valuable service such as cable television, gas/electricity, or telephone service. I hope it will merge in terms of services not appliances. Email, movie rentals, and phonebook, etc. will be included along with common household services such as telephone, heating/cooling, and stereo. Households will have an appliance that will project an interface of the service being accessed to any screen in the house.

I hope the convergence of the Internet and television will not spawn it's own closed or proprietary appliance. Like hi-fi equipment today there will be all-in-one appliances or separate appliances that can be pieced together. Devices will be out of site, the interface is all that matters. Therefore I do not think we will be designing a poster in the family/living room, specific computing tasks such as Photoshop and InDesign will still be done on a contemporary type of computing device. Wireless networks and networking protocols such as Rendezvous will connect the various devices to share all types of information. Want to listen to your music in the living room? View a slide show of photographs in the kitchen? Raise the heat upstairs while watching television downstairs? Where there is a screen/speakers, content will be delivered. Of course one will need a central remote if the screens are not touch sensitive or voice activated which will be the future PDA. A topic for separate discussion.

This may sound far fetched but I believe it will happen sooner and is easier to achieve than expected.

As a designer that cannot get enough of the touch, smell, and joy that a book, magazine, or poster brings, no, the convergence of the Internet and television will never come close to the joy of printed matter. We influence a medium by preserving what we love.

On Feb.06.2003 at 11:59 PM
Armin’s comment is:

>Armin, why is there PHP include code on the HTML-coded index page?

Hey! stop looking at my code! (I'm kidding, you always provide great code feedback) there's a very smart reason for that, and that is... hold on... ok, I remember, I was going to do a referrer page, you know, that referrer.php from textism, but my hosting plan doesn't allow PHP, so I forgot to take it out.

On Feb.07.2003 at 07:09 AM
Darrel’s comment is:

I hope that by 2005 those that purchase web development services will begin to see the need to fill all roles evently...technical design, visual design, and content.

Every single web project I've been on has failed in one of those areas.


As for the 'convergence' argument...that will never happen. No one wants that. TV and the Web are fundamentally different user experiences. One is passive, one is active. It's as different as books and tv.

On Feb.07.2003 at 08:39 AM
Christopher May’s comment is:

>consumers getting more and more data at 72 dpi, sitting in a chair alone in front of a computer?

I tend to agree with Kiran; I believe in the near future most and any digital devices; T.V., mobile phones, hand held devices, appliances, etc. will fuse with each other and spawn hybrids of today's technology. Everything will be interconnected. The screen will play a bigger role in people day to day life. Resolution will increase.

I was in Dubai for business about a year and a half year ago. IBM was co-pitching with us on a project. Let me tell you... the stuff that IBM has already developed (not yet release to public consumption), makes the Jetsons look archaic. I've seen with my own eyes what is to come - and it's not too far ahead.

On Feb.07.2003 at 09:01 AM
Damien’s comment is:

As for the 'convergence' argument...that will never happen.

I don't know - when you start to see what Microsoft and Sony are doing with their game consoles, and it is bringing the internet into your living room, if not as email, web browser and so on, then as a completely interactive and immersive experience, in playing broadband, multiplayer games.

So whilst, I probably won't want to watch TV on my desktop computer - it is much more conceivable that I would have an appetite for a bunch of web activities on a TV - especially if its already hooked up to let a kid play internet games on it.

I worked with NEC/Mitsubishi, and did a brief amount of research into the concept of the 'next generation office' and what would happen to the computer monitor. Whilst I am not going to predict anything, I do see constant work into the paperless office, and how to be able to interact with your computer without a single monitor.

As this type of activity and the ones Christopher suggests, we continue to experience and interact with TV and the information on the internet in different ways - it grows, changes and we're going to be the 'old timers' who can remember using Mosaic browsers etc.

I think it was Fuller who had predicted the pairing of seemingly odd objects and machines, like, at the time, cars with watches and so on. I can't find the quote now - but I can imagine, at the time it seemed a silly idea.

On Feb.07.2003 at 11:32 AM
brook’s comment is:

>As for the 'convergence' argument...that will never happen.

I also think that this WILL happen. Digital TV is going to bring a lot of interactivity. This will probably start out with things like clicking a button on the remote while a commercial is on to view more information about a product or service, like a mini-website, or maybe even the actual company website. Or being able to view whatever stats you want while watching a sporting event. That is the kind of thing that I will welcome. I believe that a lot of what we call computers today are going to go away in favor of specialized appliances, like someone said above.

Will design always be done on a computer like we have now? Probably in some form...I'm curious to try and work on one of the new tablet machines. That could be an interesting way to look at things. Anyway...

The real good thing about all of this is that I think when digital tv really kicks off, its going to be like the internet boom, and there will be plenty of jobs for interactive designers (not specifically web designers.)

On Feb.07.2003 at 12:03 PM
darrel’s comment is:

Digital TV is going to bring a lot of interactivity

Interactive TV came and went. WebTV never really went anywhere. Digital cable offers little interactivity. My satellite interactive feeds are of little interest.

All of these 'interactive TV' pushes all failed to realize the sole purpose of TV...passive entertainment. People turn on the TV to veg out. They don't want to interact with anything on the TV screen, they want to be entertained.

I agree that there will be specialized appliances...to an extent. The concensus seems to be that the market wants phones, pdas and laptops. Once wireless kicks in (if market forces allow it) then we may see more specialized devices.

On Feb.07.2003 at 12:12 PM
Damien’s comment is:

People turn on the TV to veg out.

Isn't this also - people want to veg out and going to the theatre, reading and so on are also forms of veging out.

Whilst consumer products generally only survive if someone buys them, interactive TV doesn't have to be a complete replacement of the existing model, but an incremental step towards some other form of interactive, mainstream, entertaining content-feed - or using the TV in other ways.

I play my music through my television. It happens, that since moving country I haven't gotten a transformer for the UK stereo - and so I play CDs through the DVD player, and MP3s through an iPod or internet radio through a powerbook hooked up to the TV. There are external speakers - and if I could have a single interface to run them all - I'd ditch the defunct stereo for this set up. Its just simpler.

So I can still veg in front of my TV to watch movies, but also use it for a center point for my music.

On Feb.07.2003 at 12:36 PM
Todd’s comment is:

Screen resolutions will eventually get much better (flat-screen LCDs are already better than 72dpi CRTs) as HDTV becomes mainstream in the next decade and the advent of organic LEDs become viable. This trend alone will bring the "polished beauty of print" to interactive design. But the more interesting question is how people's rising comfort with onoine communications will impact the print world. How are we already seeing this take place?

On Feb.07.2003 at 02:46 PM
Armin’s comment is:

Damn! I have missed a lot today. Busy day.

I'm going to focus on a different part of Marcus's post, which has been discussed little:

>Do you think the Internet (and computer technology) will slowly rise to meet the polished beauty of print?

I do a lot of print work. I do a lot of web work too. They both have their own beauty and attraction like Su said. It's very hard to compare one to the other, as they are different mediums. When the web boom proclaimed that print was dead, we all had a little fear that it might actually come true. Now that web and print have both found their niches and established as separate ways of approaching customers it is great to see how each has become more focused and functional. Interactive work will continue to evolve the same way print work has evolved. One day interactive work will be stopped in it's tracks and be revolutionized (I'm not sure how) as print was by Desktop publishing.

Something like that.

On Feb.07.2003 at 03:59 PM
brook’s comment is:

>Interactive TV came and went. WebTV never really went anywhere. Digital cable offers little interactivity. My satellite interactive feeds are of little interest.

This isn't digital TV, though. Digital TV will be the new broadcasting standard and includes bandwidth for interactive features. I agree that there may not be much consumer demand for anything interactive (for awhile), but it is just too much of an opportunitry for advertising revenue. If corporations think they can get someone to actually do something as a result of their commercials, or even click somethign to buy whats on the commercial immediately...well..there's just no way they are going to pass that up. Money will be the impetus, as always.

On Feb.09.2003 at 02:18 PM
Darrel’s comment is:

Digital TV will be the new broadcasting standard and includes bandwidth for interactive features.

Actually, DirecTV/DishNetwork have been broadcasting in digital for years...along with 'interactive' features.

If corporations think they can get someone to actually do something as a result of their commercials, or even click something to buy whats on the commercial immediately...well..there's just no way they are going to pass that up.

We've had interactive advertising on the web for quite awhile now. I think the results of that speak for themselves. It's hard enough to get someone to interact with an ad in an already interactive medium. Getting couch potato Bob to find the remote so he can play with a commercial between Joe Millionare and E! True Hollywood Story may be a bit of a stretch.

On Feb.10.2003 at 09:34 AM