Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Death of the Free Web?

I read an interesting article about the death of the free web.  Gone are the days of the wild, wild west so to speak.  The article from the New York Times magazine on Sunday  
was intriguing not only because of the subject, but also for the metaphor that the author Virginia Heffernan used comparing the current Internet to blighted, decaying cities such as Detroit and equating the shiny new apps of the iPhone and iPad as suburbia, where everything is cleaner, but the same.  I'm curious what others think about this. 

In the beginning the web was all about freedom and there was very much an almost anything goes mentality.  Some people responded with creativity while others freaked out with all that freedom, sounds kind of like a classroom full of high school students.  Some can handle freedom while others can't.  The web has become corrupt as those who are going to take advantage of people have found many avenues to do just that.  But censorship and controls aren't necessarily the answer.  Perhaps purchased apps and paid sites give some "safe" havens to people who don't want to be out in the great wide open web.

Apple certainly has taken a lead in the web-based world we live in.  Their design is strong and clean.  I think the "apple-designed look" of all those apps and the way the iPad and iPod look has not only influenced the web, but also graphic design.  There is a certain look and feel to the 2000s that is different from the 1990s.  Grunge and retro designs led by Emigre and David Carson were the rage back then.  This included surf culture, California styles and retro colors of brown, blues and beige and even orange.  Now we're seeing a similar look to everything based on the new web, which Apple has certainly led, but so has Twitter.  The colors, fonts and look of things are all coming not from print design, but web stuff.  I don't know if this is good or bad, but it's certainly happening. 

Going back to the metaphor in the article:  Are the new web based apps making design into this generic "suburbanized" look and feel?  Curious what you think.

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