I absolutely loved this written version of Maciej Cegłowski’s talk from last year, Web Design: The First 100 Years.
I think it’s time to ask ourselves a very designy question: “What is the web actually for?”
I will argue that there are three competing visions of the web right now. The one we settle on will determine whether the idiosyncratic, fun Internet of today can survive.
Vision 1: CONNECT KNOWLEDGE, PEOPLE, AND CATS.
This is the correct vision.
The Web erases the barrier of distance between people, and it puts all of human knowledge at our fingertips. It also allows us to look at still images and videos of millions of cats, basically all of it for free, from our homes or a small device we carry in our pocket.
No one person owns it, no one person controls it, you don’t need permission to use it. And the best part is, you are encouraged to contribute right back. You can post your own cat pictures.
Why is this not enough?
We live in a world now where not millions but billions of people work in rice fields, textile factories, where children grow up in appalling poverty. Of those billions, how many are the greatest minds of our time? How many deserve better than they get? What if instead of dreaming about changing the world with tomorrow’s technology, we used today’s technology and let the world change us? Why do we need to obsess on artificial intelligence, when we’re wasting so much natural intelligence?
When I talk about a hundred years of web design, I mean it as a challenge. There’s no law that says that things are guaranteed to keep getting better.
The web we have right now is beautiful. It shatters the tyranny of distance. It opens the libraries of the world to you. It gives you a way to bear witness to people half a world away, in your own words. It is full of cats. We built it by accident, yet already we’re taking it for granted. We should fight to keep it!
Read the whole thing, it’s excellent (and has more cat pictures than that one above).