The Next Stage.

So recently, I had the misfortune opportunity of using Material UI in a project at work. When I looked through its documentation and found this huge library of predefined components, ready to be dragged and dropped into any project for rapid development, I was disgusted.

Overreacting?

Maybe. But the above discovery (along with many others) just confirmed my concern over web manufacturing, and left me thinking: don’t anybody want to exercise their imagination anymore?

I really don’t want to sound like an old record machine and start reminiscing about  the good old times, but the Internet/Web was way freer, and people were way more imaginative and diverse in their designs and ideas. And then the increasing obsession with the holy trio of headers + footers + sidebar began, and by now we have whole libraries of components to be used and reused on every single website out there with increasing speed, almost as if we have this ambition to turn the whole Web into one homogenous, boring  template, differentiated only by logos and colors.

That’s Unfair.

Yes, I know there’s plenty of people out there who are working hard to inject their imagination and creativity into their daily work with the Web in spite of the business restraints.

But our voices are too weak, and I think we need to work harder to change things, to voice out, and tell the world to wake up from their slumber and stop sacrificing creativity for efficiency. For—I may be naïve here—it is my belief that the true value of us as a race lies in our capability to imagine. Not the ability to make the wheel run faster. Leave that kind of things to the robots. It is only when we exercise our outrageous imagination do we truly shine: when we dream up deities and gods in our paintings and sculptures, and when we crystalize the human experience into engaging tales passed on for centuries, that still touch the hearts of millions.

We need to work harder and tell the world to wake up from their slumber and stop sacrificing creativity for efficiency.

Onto the Next Stage, Maybe.

It seems to me that there are 2 stages of the Web so far.

First, when the Web was newly open to all, and everyone was jumping onto the bandwagon and making the best of their imagination and individuality. Flash sites were in, Geocities homepages were all the rage, and every homepage reeked of  “individuality”. (Not always good, I have to admit.)

In the second stage, where I think we’re, the Web has matured in terms of technology, and we’re trying to take full advantage of the this relatively stable medium to better our lives. At this point, I suppose it’s only natural that people want to act fast and consolidate their share of the market. In the midst of this apparent “need” for speed, I think, we’ve invariably sacrificed a few things, among them the courage to try new things.

At some point in time, though, people are going to get sick of the monotonicity of things and the apparent oligopoly of the few giants who had measured and streamlined themselves to dominance, and that’s where I think the next stage will come in: the stage of personality.

People are going to get sick of the monotonicity of things and the apparent oligopoly of the few giants who had measured and streamlined themselves to dominance.

Whereas in the first stage, everyone and anyone could create their own content and appear special, by this stage, a certain polish is expected of personalities. And of course charisma. The artists and designers who have survived the first two (one) stages and who see the opportunity to stand out will, and whereas the Web’s foundation likely will continue to be dominated by a few giants, these personalities will begin to chip off at this foundation and show the mass that the Web can be human. People who are sick of monotonous, fast food content will start craving for the imagination and creativity of these personalities, and that’s when I believe the Web will become interesting again.

Corporates will Fade, Personalities will Live On.

How many of the companies that are striving today are ancient giants? Louis Vuitton? That’s the brainchild of a single personality. Ford? Not quite striving, I’d argue. Leica? Again, not too sure if it is still striving. And companies from centuries ago? Can’t think of any. It’s not so easy to remember companies that have been around for ages, yet it is easy to recall personalities from the distant past: Aristotles, Confuscious, Buddha, and lots more.

As a race, we humans relate more to people, not companies or machines. So while some companies may be striving now and it may appear as though they are so damn important, one day they will vanish. The Web as a structure will stay, like electricity, but the personalities are the one who will stay in the minds of people and in history books (Wikipedia?).

Maybe we should all strive to be one of them in the upcoming stage. To inspire, to touch, to awe, and most importantly—to be human.