Geert Lovink on Tue, 6 May 1997 12:01:45 +0200 (MET DST)

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<nettime> Mieke Gerritzen on web design

From: (mieke)

Desire to be Wired/Proud to be Flesh
Lecture of Mieke Gerritzen on web design

Doors on Tour, Amsterdam, may 2, 1997
Organized by the Netherlands Design Institute

Hello everybody,

In this presentation I am going to talk about my definition of web design
and what it might look like in the future. I will show you examples of my
work that I have been doing in the last years for the  VPRO dutch
broadcasting organisation, Ars Electronica in Linz and the Amsterdam based
Society for Old and New Media.

In the old media, such as printing and television, the design possibilities
are well known. In the case of Web design, I wanted to give you a personal
definition, but I realized I couldn't do it - because basically, the Web
originated from a technical environment and was developed by technicians
using their own sense of esthetics.
At this moment, designers are improving upon these esthetic standards to
create a new, open, dynamic visual context by uncovering the possibilities
of this medium.

In a way, the Web has all the qualifications of old media but by mixing the
media disciplines, interactivity and networking, the
Web' s many-sided nature makes it difficult to define the ultimate web desig=

Most designers are of the mentality that Web design is too narrow . They'd
rather wait until the medium has evolved and the experimental stage is
Design values on the Web are multi-faceted. This is because of the open
character of the medium. It doesn't have a clear form.
There are differences between beautiful design and good or functional design=

=46or me, designing for the Web means organizing and composing the design
elements while discovering the new relationships these elements present on
the Web.

The vpro is a real 'anti push' media organization. The digital department
tries to make the connections between the already existing media such as
the guide, radio and television. It's not the purpose to use the Internet
as an extention of radio and television. Television is a medium and an
industry in itself, also the people who are making it. These people are
communicating enough via fax and telephone. Radio and television makers
don't want to have too much influence on the projects initiatied by the
digital department of the vpro. That's why it's an autonomous, free,
experimental place.

The projects I'm doing there are based on the of mixmedia idea.
In those projects we try to clarify the visual way,sometimes even the
physical way, and show the greater value of the digital media versus the
linear media such as radio, tv and print. We are doing this by building
applications with highly personalized interfaces. Besides the vpro site and
CDroms, we are also organizing lectures, workshops and events. We try to
include all aspects of media, like posters, flyers, and radio-tv to create
a media infrastructure and events such as the Popfestival Lowlands.

I'm working alot with students and interns. Presently there are a few
people around me who feel that the design of new media has to do with the
knowledge and insight of technical aspects. The combination of the
technical development connected to a technical learning process gives rise
to interesting methods and environments specially made for the Web. Dealing
with time based interfaces related to movement, interaction, sound  and
algorhythms provides the user with the sensory aspects of the cursor. For
example  - the longer you scroll, the quicker the image goes.

I now recognize that students are giving legitimacy to the medium by their
experimential way of working. They know how to squeeze ideas into small,
completed applications. Things such as on-line journals and live web
experiments stimualte this development .

The quality often comes from the dialogs and differing perspectives of the
social formations of people and disciplines - organizations who in
themselves have a media consciousness. These interactions are connected to
events which are most of the time cultural or politically based and lead to
enthusiatic experimental collaborations which shift borders.
We have to eliminate the static magazine form we have grown up with, which
you can see in many Web sites, so that we can enjoy the special creative
expression this medium makes possible.

We want to have more than a web edition of a newspaper. Other journalistic
possibilities other than just text with a digital photograph. The
webjournal is more than just connecting text, audio and video. It's
important to develop applications that use the increasing possibilities of
the web to create new and exciting forms.

The tradition of journalism is changing. There is a subtle difference
between this method of 'webreporting' and 'netcasting'.
Broadcasting of audio and video via the Internet is slowly taking a form.
We are dealing with the reporting of events and the historical notion that
we have to archive this information. As designers we have to build
templates and systems that archive and network. This will give us
perspective for the future.

In principle this way of thinking doesn't have to do with the technical
possibilities. We think faster than technology develops. The conceptual
capacity of ideas grows still faster than cyberspace. As designers we can
influence technological development with our wishes. We make these
applications only for ourselves and other developers in this area. These
sites are not very accessible to the public-at-large. You need a powerful
computer and lots of patience. We are working on these applications now
because we're speculating  on the future promise of the fantastic bandwith
everyone's talking about.

The first few years of web design might be soon remembered as a
'minimatistic' period, where people where forced to compress their ideas
into the smallest possible size in bytes, a sort of 'digital cave
The next web generation might forget this period as for the upcoming
'full-color-full-frame-full-motion' capabilties.

On the one hand, in web design, details such as typography, were not so
important, mostly because of the limitations of the techniques. On the
other hand, the context of design is becoming more important. Because the
web is so big, disordered and international, identity and environment
become more important. The Reading Table of Old and New Media in the caf=E9
in the De Waag of Amsterdam's Nieuwemarkt is based on the traditional
reading table, well-known in Holland.  The electronic reading table has
eight seats: four for new media using the web and CD rom, and four for old
media and the reading of newspapers and magazines.
The relationship between these old and the new modes was important in the
furniture design and digital interface.
New media 's concerns with combining different disciplines within the
screen environment are influencing physical product design. In designing
the Reading Table, the atmosphere and ambience of the caf=E9 was of great
importance. In the interface design, the software industry disappeared.
Netscape and Eudora can't be seen. The user doesn't look throught he
glasses of an American software house when he or she is having contact with
Buenos Aires, Taiwan, Paris or the neighbor from around the corner. It's
the local design from where you watch and communicate with the rest of the

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