scotartt on 10 Jan 2001 16:49:34 -0000

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Fw: <nettime> Disassociate Webdesign from Usability

hiya felix  + geert

actually i think your article geert is completely arse about face. graphic
design be damned!!! felix is right of course; the "innovation" isn't in
the visual look of the "web" but what you can do with it - the focus on
networked applications of one sort or another -- slashdot and napster
being very good examples.

I spoke to my partner about this. she mentioned her personal 'killer'
application; the ability to renew her library book loans for her research
at the university library. there are two interfaces; one the original
telnet based one, the other the fancy web-based. the first is primitive,
no designers went anywhere near it ... yet the completely ugly,
non-usability-tested, telnet "green screen" *application* is infinitely
more useful and dare i say it, usable, than the pretty over worked,
functionally illiterate, "web interface".

out there in tech-land as geert states its no longer about aggregating
eyeballs or even making *content* (we're awash in the bloody stuff -- far
too much of it), but about making *applications*. applications of course
being things-unto-themselves, **machines**, appliances, stuff that makes a
difference to someone's life, i.e. what was the intial promise of 20th
century materialist culture, and the reason why, as a socialist, I believe
in 'progress', not this back-to-nature schizophrenia (as if we're external
to nature!) of the modern left.

remember Kruschev's comments to Nixon about the world's fair and
refridgerators? overshadowed of course by the famous "we will bury you"
comment, but you understand my point i hope. that stuff makes a difference
- a real advance in living conditions. so the real hope of the internet
now its run by capitalists isn't its unlimited potiential for aggregating
eyeballs onto some anti-WTO site but the actual potential that someone
somewhere will invent some appliance that makes a real difference to the
world. (the wind up internet terminal perhaps).

when people talk about the "web" or "internet" what they usually mean is
the information-retrieval application that they use over the internet, not
the internet itself. this information-retrieval appliance (the browser) is
just one of the possible appliances you could design for the web. the
network, of course, is a great boon to information-distribution
applications but of course its not the only application layer that might
exist on the internet, and design has almost *nothing* to say about these
other applications. think about radio-as-broadcast-model versus

By applications, I mean ... engineering ... software engineering, hardware
engineering, civil engineering, wetware engineering, network engineering,
electronics engineering, social engineering, but whichever way you want to
cut it it's still engineering. not design. boot design back to the
marketing department where it belongs.


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----- Original Message -----
From: Felix Stalder <>
To: <>
Sent: Monday, January 08, 2001 9:20 AM
Subject: Re: <nettime> Disassociate Webdesign from Usability


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