Re: About wanting control over the look of a page

Marius Ibenhardt Watz (mariusw@ifi.uio.no)
Tue, 31 May 1994 14:33:28 +0200


From: Marius Ibenhardt Watz <mariusw@ifi.uio.no>
Date: Tue, 31 May 1994 14:33:28 +0200
Message-Id: <199405311233.27856.surt.ifi.uio.no@ifi.uio.no>
To: lilley@v5.cgu.mcc.ac.uk
Cc: www-html@www0.cern.ch, subtopia@oslonett.no, otis@cwis.unomaha.edu
In-Reply-To: <94053111434455@cguv5.cgu.mcc.ac.uk> (lilley@cguv5.cgu.mcc.ac.uk)
Subject: Re: About wanting control over the look of a page


Please note that this message is cc'ed to the OTIS list and
the www-html list. Please edit the headers if you do not want
it to go to both lists.

Chris Lilley said:
> As if to support my contention [on the www-html@www0.cern.ch list] that users 
> want control over the look of HTML documents - and should be afforded the means 
> - this popped into my mailbox. It's from a list for computer artists, 
> otis@cwis.unomaha.edu
> 
> I hope that the author does not mind this being cross posted, but it really 
> drives home the point. In particular, that commercial sites want a corporate 
> look, an image, and are prepared to pay real money to get it.

Hmmm. I'm not on the www-html list (and unfortunately I don't 
have the time to follow yet another mailinglist), so I can't really 
follow this discussion nor know the context it has evolved in. But 
since my work has been referred to, I feel a need to explain what 
I have done and  how I feel about design on the Web.

I have been a Web-publisher for about half a year now, and have
established a number of pages serving information to the net, 
mostly with my personal homepage as a base. 90% of it is for
non-profit, but I have also been involved in professional 
graphic design for the Web. My pages has received some
attention as an infobase for fringe elements on the net, since
it has information about the FutureCulture mailinglist, the
avantgarde philosopher Hakim Bey and various other 
fringe topics. I also maintain a personal art gallery on
my pages. The URL for all this is http://www.ifi.uio.no/~mariusw/

First off, let me state that the payment I indicated for the 
Norwegian Telecom Project is in fact incorrect, doubled due to 
a misunderstanding on my part at the time. It is NOK 48000 
($6500). I did not correct it on the OTIS list, since I feel 
uncomfortable talking about money when people equate making 
money with greed. The NTR project is being done by me and 
Subtopia, a Norwegian design studio I work with. My role is 
primarily that of the HTML literate in the team.

Yes, it's true that firms that are going online with their
services want to maintain their interests also in terms of
having them look good. The choice of WWW as an information
protocol instead of other protocols like gopher etc. is
often simply because the Web is a rich media environment
and allows the use of visual images as a strategy for 
giving a good impression.

That's advertising. But it's also design. The need for
design is the need to express identity. This is as old as
society itself, and is not specific to commercial companies.
All Web publishers have a visual identity the second they
set up their pages as more than plain text.

The thing with commercial companies is that they employ
professionals to create a visual identity for them. They
want it to look as good as possible and to have control
over the identity and message that the viewer will perceive.
So they use designers.

WWW publishing is one of the first examples of rich media
graphic design on the Web, yet graphic design has been
here since the net started. Even 7 bit ASCII contains a
visual identity.

HTML is currently a logical format first and foremost. In 
terms of graphic design, it is strictly based on a grid
(or more precisely: a stream) structure. That makes for
fairly boring design opportunities and makes the designer
have to work around the limitations of the format. It
does not lend itself easily to the complex visual language
that is currently emerging in the field of graphic design.

I think a compromise between a visual and a logical format
is needed. To include full PostScript functionality into
HTML would be to kill off the simplicity of it and thereby
the ease with which anyone can publish. But we do need
protocols for more complex handling of text, images etc.
To go for a pure logical form will probably cause a lot of
information providers to go for the next best format that 
comes a long and which allows design control.

> Chris Lilley
> |  <A HREF="http://info.mcc.ac.uk/CGU/staff/lilley/lilley.html">my page</A>   | 

Marius
mariusw@ifi.uio.no
http://www.ifi.uio.no/~mariusw/