Entering the World Wide Web

Published by Tim on Tuesday October 11, 2022

Last modified on October 27th, 2022 at 7:27

Photo of Tim Berners-Lee by Paul Clarke, CC BY-SA 2.0

In this day and age, as creatives, we are highly dependent on the tools that social media provides us. Instagram, at the time of this course’s publication, is the largest platform for creatives and offers us very powerful features to bring our ideas to the world without any financial resources. Unfortunately, this makes us highly dependent, because a hacked account or an invisible penalty by the algorithm can destroy an entire career. We’ve also seen complete platforms disappear time and time again over the last 20 years: Myspace, for example, used to be the biggest social network ever, and even the reasonably open Tumblr is now completely irrelevant. Many of the political practices and the power of the big companies in Sillicon Valley are highly questionable and dangerous. Anyone who has ever seen the brilliant documentary The Social Dilemma on Netflix understands much better why we as users are part of a dangerous system.

When Tim Berners-Lee invented the World Wide Web in the end of the 1980s, he had something very different in mind than what we think of as the Internet today. His vision was to design an open and freely accessible digital landscape that would give everyone in the world access to knowledge and the ability to share their own content without a large monopoly profiting or, in the worst case, even dictating the exact direction in its own favor.

In the nineties, all it took to create a website was to learn a simple language called HTML, which allowed documents to be cleverly linked together using hyperlinks. Today, that may sound pretty medieval, but hyperlinking documents as we know it today from Wikipedia is one of the greatest inventions of the modern era. We’ve passed too quickly by the awesome potential of web technologies. Unfortunately, the Fear of Missing out (F.O.M.O.) pushes us to always look for the better in the new.

Having our own website frees us a great deal from our dependencies on the apps and services of the big players. It allows us to present our content in our unique way and to design it the way we want. And the potential of web technologies today goes far beyond the development of websites. With the triad of basic languages HTML, CSS and Javascript alone, it is now possible to develop not only simple layouts, but complex interactive spaces and works of art. This is proven by artists of Net Art or the scene around Web Brutalism. As always I like to refer to Yehwan Song, who inspires me continuously with her work.

As a web developer, I have implemented many large projects over the last 10 years and know the basic technologies of the World Wide Web pretty well. I have experimented a lot with frontend technologies, founded a webdevelopment community and most importantly coded my own platform timrodenbroeker.de completely by myself.

All these are reasons why I want to offer web technologies on this platform in my online courses in the future and especially in 2023. I’ve been working on this for a few months now and I’m really looking forward to share first insights into this process soon.

Now you might ask yourself how far the work with web technologies fits together with my courses for Processing. Here I can reassure you: On the one hand, Processing is and remains the didactic foundation of my teaching and I never tire of emphasizing that, in my view, there is no better language for learning creative coding. For me, the language itself only plays a role insofar as what possibilities it brings with it. Processing is a great technology for generative design, a kind of Swiss Army knife for artistic work with programming.

Web technologies like HTML and CSS, on the other hand, empower us to show and stage our work. I think in terms of a connected system of languages that positively influence each other and where each serves a function. Thereby my main topic remains Creative Coding.

I’m totally excited to hear your thoughts! Please feel free to give me your feedback on Discord or on Patreon. I look forward to reading from you.

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