David-Michel Davies, Executive Director of the Webby Awards & the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences, visited the department in October to discuss the Forging the big and beautiful web. As executive director of an organization that has, since 1996, honored excellence on the Internet; and as someone who had an early interested in what the web could do for society, David has a unique perspective on how the web has evolved.
David notes the early web was aesthetically ugly, but its roots as a space for social expression and interaction are very much alive today. He even indicates, through his examples of early sites built in Flash, that many early interactive features and experimentations have evolved to become part of what we define as engaging and exciting. He reminds us to look past our visceral reactions to what we see on the web, and appreciate the Web as a place of evolution, where stakeholders create trends and standards through dialog and experimenting with the possibilities of technologies. This evolution points to an exciting future for the Web, centered on the very human needs of self-expression, community, and connection.
Throughout his talk, David recalled his early experiences with the web. Below Sam Wander, class of 2015, shares a few of his early memories:
The sound of a dial-up modem: bip bip b-b-b-b-bip kchoo-ahh kchoo-ahhhh.
Netscape Navigator, and its little loading animation.
Directories of websites, and typing in URLs from recommended websites I read about it in the paper.
Web-rings and counters, and spending 24 hours downloading Radiohead bootlegs to listen to in RealPlayer.
I remember feeling sure all of it would change things forever.