Remember when the web was simply enchanting, in the years shortly before and after the turn of the century? These days, it has its fun and useful moments, but overall it has become more heavily-laden. At times it’s downright insufferable. The early web seemed so magical.
But the web seems to have lost something over the years. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what. Maybe it’s the rampant commercialism, or the sensationalism and endless need for attention that today’s social sites foster. Maybe it’s the sameness—so many people jumping on the bandwagon and using or allowing the latest anti-patterns like parallax scrolling, gratuitous animation, intrusive ads, scrolljacking, bloat, and modal windows. Let’s face it, there’s a lot of stuff on the web today that simply doesn’t work well (I’m looking at you, typical banking website). It’s frustrating. What is happenening to the craft?
The indie web used to be a thrilling commerce of ideas, and a lot of it—or at least the part I was aware of—took place in homespun communities like Fray, the Mirror Project, and on blogs like Dooce, Airbag Industries (how prescient was this post from April of 2003?), Daring Fireball, SimpleBits (check out these archives!), Jason Santa Maria, Zeldman, and Todd Dominey’s wonderful but now-defunct “What Do I Know?”
And then there was A List Apart. I don’t recall exactly how or when I stumbled across this pot of gold. It may have been a link from John Allsopp, from whose Style Master software (and guide) I was learning CSS. Once I discovered ALA, I was hooked. For one thing, it houses one of the most seminal articles about the nature of the web, that still rings as true today as the day it was published in 2000: A Dao of Web Design.
Over the years I’ve learned so much from the A List Apart authors and community, and I’ve had the pleasure of attending the spin-off conference An Event Apart several times. I guess I took for granted the importance of advertising as a revenue source. Now that the Deck—the only ad network to meet ALA’s high standards—has shut down, A List Apart is boldly forging ahead, attempting a new patron-supported revenue model.
I am a proponent of the philosophy, “Be the change you want to see in the world.” And since one of the things I’d love to change the most about the web is to see fewer of those damn ads, I’m putting my money where my heart is. Today, I pledge to make a small monthly payment to support the great work that A List Apart does. It’s a modest amount, but if enough people do the same (and I hope that you will!), together we may sustain the legacy of this resource for the next generation of web builders and writers. And maybe we’ll help restore some of the web’s lost magic.
If you’re a web professional, I encourage you to join me in supporting A List Apart with a monthly pledge, if you can afford it. And if it’s right for you, please consider sharing your knowledge and your time. Long live A List Apart. Long live the indie web!