[You're reading a message to the Media Access mailing list]
An article from one of the _Wired_ online spawn, Packet. The predecessor
article she mentions is at:
This particular article's URL is:
The lessons here are applicable to accessible Web design and Web
typography, which are kissin' cousins anyway.
> [Brooke Shelby Biggs - Media]
> So Cool You Can't Even See It
> Online media constantly strive to prove they're on the technological
> "cutting edge" at the expense of readership
> Two weeks ago, I made the case that Web media is too elitist and
> insular to ever attract a mass audience, and that without a broader user
> base, it would surely fail. I was reminded, in the ensuing truckload of
> email, that it isn't only content that can be exclusionary, but
> presentation as well. Digital media gets so wrapped up in groovy
> animations and slick, complex designs they fail to notice that hardly
> anyone out there in Web land has the technology to appreciate it.
> In the dark little recesses of the retro-pomo warehouses where the digital
> elite congregate to conceive and create online publications, you better
> believe they're not thinking about you, the end user with 8 megs of RAM
> and a 14.4-Kbps modem. That's your problem. Hey, we've got T1 and T3
> lines. We've got SPARCstations and SGI boxes. Get with the program or get
> out of the way. We're shooting so many cookies, graphics, and massive
> image maps at you when you arrive, you're lucky if your browser doesn't
> wave the white flag and bail out entirely.
> But as we grind out more and more bandwidth-intensive loveliness, we
> alienate ever greater numbers of our loyal followers and first-timers.
> That's because the online media is using more sophisticated tools to
> create material than our public has to view it. While we attempt to
> mesmerize you with our creativity, we pulverize your telephone line.
> And then we wonder why more people don't stop by.
> Although most of the mail I received about the elitism column ran in
> enthusiastic favor of my thesis, some readers worried about the "dumbing
> down" of the Web. After all, appealing to the lowest common denominator
> (to the elite, that's anyone with an AOL account), puts you in about the
> same league as the FOX Network and Married ... With Children. Believe
> it or not, that analogy was made by three different people who wrote in to
> comment. It's wrong. There is a difference between being smart and being
> exclusive. Just because 90 percent of the public doesn't know or care what
> you're publishing doesn't make you intelligent. In fact, it makes you
> My friend Carmel put it this way: "Sometimes I try to read a publication
> online, but it's like going down to the corner store and buying the Sunday
> newspaper one page at a time," she said.
> Perhaps a more precise observation is that while the Web may not ever be a
> mass medium, it should be accessible to the masses - or at least those
> masses with the most basic Net connections. Nothing is more frustrating
> than waiting 10 minutes to load the Shockwave movie that just hijacked
> your browser (forget about doing anything else while you wait), just to
> look at some murky Wayne's World-inspired pseudo-intellectual horseshit by
> some bored GenXers making like the Rupert Murdochs-cum-Francois Truffauts
> of the Web.
> Web designers should visit their own sites over a 14.4 connection with a
> stripped-down browser. It's hard enough to create niche publications based
> on the common interests of a limited number of users, and it only gets
> harder if you present your material in a manner that shuts out half your
> target audience.
> Even if users bothered to figure out how to install every plug-in they
> encounter, they're probably not willing to wait for each application to
> download, let alone for their computers to process and display a token
> Shockwave animation or a pointless sound file just for a little flash.
> But those of us who are fortunate enough to work in the Web publishing
> industry have superfast network connections and loads of RAM, and we just
> can't remember the days of visiting Prodigy on a 9600-baud modem from our
> Mac Classics. We've blocked the memory. Too bad for you.
> Of course all this talk of "cutting-edge multimedia experiences" and
> "pushing the technological envelope" makes the online media feel
> important, but it doesn't make it relevant. In fact, it hurts publications
> that are already scrabbling to hold on to the users they've managed to
> attract thus far. It's a selfish, shortsighted, shallow, and arrogant
> excuse to get paid to play with cool toys, cop a superiority complex, and
> then blame the baser instincts of society for the commercial failure
> of pet projects.
> There's a place for the vanguard on the Web; don't get me wrong. But
> the smart ones don't expect to make money at it. They understand that just
> because something can be done doesn't mean it should be.
> [Brooke Shelby Biggs]
> Send mail to Brooke Shelby Biggs at [log in to unmask]
[log in to unmask]
CONTRIBUTIONS: Mail once only to [log in to unmask]
TO UNSUBSCRIBE: Send "signoff access" (no quotes) to [log in to unmask]
MESSAGES as DIGEST: Send "set access digest" to [log in to unmask]
ARCHIVES: Send "index access" to [log in to unmask]
PROBLEMS: Calmly report to [log in to unmask]
TO SUBSCRIBE: Send "subscribe access" to [log in to unmask]
ON THE WEB: <http://www.interlog.com/~joeclark/axxlist.html>