in General

An Invitation to the Future

The popular image of the visionary is someone with a clear view of the future, but empirically it may be better to have a blurry one.

— Paul Graham, Frighteningly Ambitious Startup Ideas

This past week could be deemed the Week of the Future. It’s hosted the launch of the new iPad, the successive launches (and updates) of several popular apps (Highlight, Sonar, Path, Flipboard), and SxSW is taking place. It has been difficult to keep track of all of this information, and I have yet to delve into all the news coming out of SxSW yet. For that, I’m going to wait and listen to TWiT and some of the other podcasts on the 5by5 network. All of these items are important to varying degrees, but another small event happened that is more satisfying to me.

Jason Kottke released a new version of his website, kottke.org (you simply must read his coverage of the iPad event). The design of the site has always been minimalist in nature, and it always appealed to me over the years. It’s one of the quickest loading sites out there, and puts a real emphasis on the reading of it. Heck, he even eliminated his logo from appearing at the top of the page and moved it to the side.

Watching the launch of that site made me reflect (once again – 4th time in the site’s existence, if not more, I’m sure) on how the site looked. I was pleased with the overall look of the previous design, but never quite happy enough. I didn’t like the font choice for headers, but not entirely sure what to replace it with. Some web browsing later, I came across the current theme. I made a few minor modifications to adjust the fonts across the board, and finally took the time to eliminate a lot of the extraneous plugins that I had installed but never used completely. This site is more in line with the sites I enjoy reading the most (not just for the content, but for the design, as well).

and also inspired by Instapaper and Flipboard.

I also decided to get rid of all the ads on the side and put more emphasis on the writing for the site. I’m going to continue making minor tweaks over the coming days, but I am much more at peace with this design than all the previous ones. This is something I can stick with and won’t muck around with. I have a suspicion that as the web becomes more mobile, these kinds of site designs are going to become more prevalent across all types of websites.

The flashy websites are neat to look at once, but are rather a pain to visit on a consistent basis. Stripped down retail sites are becoming more popular, as well, (Beyond the Rack, My Habit are two that are gaining in popularity). Design has gone back to focusing on the reader, the shopper, and away from cluttering the screen with as much information as possible. There is a real draw to using Flipboard on my iPad to get away from a lot of the noise of reading on Twitter, and the web in general.

I long for a clean web, with Flash entry pages gone, popup ads gone, and as much advertising as possible gone. I wonder what would happen if the internet had an ASCII text day where all webpages were just words and links. How much faster would our internet services be if that were to happen? I can’t solve this problem on the net, but I’ll contribute my little piece to help speed things along.