A bunch of retro experiments hit the web this month, which is a perfect time to look back at all the different moments that define it, and where it’s going now.
The ideas that changed web design
A couple of articles have reached some pretty incredible milestones in the last couple of months. The first was A Dao of Web Design by John Allsopp, published 20 years ago, back in 2000. It was one of the first articles that encouraged designers to embrace the web as a new, fluid medium and inspired an entire generation of designers. On his blog, John reflects on the ways in which the web has changed, and how much further we have to go.
Ten years after A Dao of Web Design, Ethan Marcotte published Responsive Web Design on the same site, A List Apart. In it, he described a new technique for approaching web design that was flexible enough to accommodate screens of any size, from those you held in your hands to those projected on the sides of buildings. On his own blog, Ethan goes back and tells the story of how that article came to be, and everything it’s meant to him.
What’s Old is New
I’ve been seeing these crazy experiments to recreate old interfaces on the new web. And for some reason, especially Microsoft. Hannah Blair upgraded her site to mimic the relic Windows ’95. Jordan Scales released a CSS library if you’re looking for more of that Windows ’98 look. If you’re looking for something a bit more web, artist Nathalie Lawhead recreated the feel of Flash in her game Mackerelmedia Fish.
But maybe one of the cooler experiments I’ve seen is Vistaserv, a web host with a GeoCities vibe trying to take back the true meaning of a home page (with Guest books!).
Hackers Save the Internet
Wired published a feature story on researcher and hacker Marcus Hutchins, who helped stop the WannaCry virus back in 2017, but had a secret past of his own revealed when the FBI came calling. A fascinating read. Pairs well with an article from last year about hacker group Cult of the Dead Cow, which had a more adversarial relationship with the FBI.
Catching Up with the Tech Scene
In last month’s round-up, I mentioned an article about Tik Tok dancer Jalaiah Harmon in the The New York Times. It was written by Taylor Lorenz, who published another article this month about Tik Tok cults and fandom. If you’re like me and you’re interested in how the web evolved, you’re probably also interested on where it’s all going. I would highly recommend following Taylor Lorenz on Twitter or through her newsletter. Her work has its finger on the pulse of Internet culture more than any other I’ve seen.
The History of the Web
I’ve been digging back into the web’s origins again and I came across a documentary I’ve never seen. It’s called ForEveryone.net and you can watch it on PBS, featuring an interview with the man himself, Tim Berners-Lee.