Sunday, January 4, 2009

I Drew Smileys Because I Could.

Here was left brain meeting right brain. And they clashed. It's not exactly true that Charlene hated color. She appreciated art and had a better understanding of it than some of my fellow artists. What she resented was the intrusion of pop-culture into a medium that had heretofore been reserved for scholars, librarians, and scientists. Important exchanges of information were being overrun with games, idle chitchat, and SPAM. I can empathize with that. Smileys do abound ~ as do ads for Viagra, ad nauseum. Bugbones "fun stuff" wasn't a world-class contribution to the body of human knowledge. It could only be called cheerful pollution. I was a child to the world of computers. The Internet was a new toy for me. I drew smileys because they were all I could manage at the time. It bespeaks the level of my technical expertise. Windows Paint was all I had. And building a page was my way of tackling the Internet. I did it because... it was there. Why do people climb Mount Everest?

Information? Or Pinball?

Early on in my web-page-editing days, I complained to my friend Charlene about how disappointed I was in the Information Superhighway: how hard it was to create a page, what a difficult time I was having with the art tools. She said to me, glumly, "I don't like this new icon-based Internet." I didn't quite know what she meant. I knew what icons were: small symbols, like red-ball Gifs and little blue mailboxes. You clicked on them and they brought you stuff. True, the Web was overrun with smiley faces... Was this her gripe? a grudge against frivolity? I could empathize with that. The 'Net was supposed to be every scholar's dream, and here it was turning into one big pinball machine. I couldn't get Charlene to commisserate with me over how hard it was to layout a page of my own design and theme, and upload my art. I came to realize that her complaint went deeper than than just a dislike of smileys. It was images she despised! Charlene was used to a text-based Internet. She'd had a taste of early DOS. A black screen. Simple lines of plain text in the old Courier font. Catalog cards all numbered and indexed. She resented the intrusion of color!

(Confessions of a fearful geek).