In October 2000 I invited a number of people in the independent web production community to participate in a project aimed at encouraging and motivating newcomers to this online passion. I asked each this not so simple question, "What is the primary motivation for the production of your web content? Put another way, why do you do what you do?" As you will discover from the responses, there is a common thread. You will hear terms like sharing and creative expression, most of all, you will hear the word give. Jeff Clark
|"It's so much better than bartending." Elise|
I do this because I am compelled to. Searching my soul for an answer that I find I am comfortable with, that satisfies the totality of it, is difficult. There is not one singular reason that I can find.
I can say I do this to be creative, but this does not satisfy me as the whole answer. I do believe however, that communication, which is a form of giving and receiving, is the greater part of the equation.
The Web and its avenue for creativity, affords a grand ability for me to search deep inside of myself and to learn more about myself, but it is the expression of that to an entire web community that is the essence. However, the communication is dynamic. Not only do I have a voice and a medium to express myself and allow others to know me, it gives me the ability to reach out, to learn about others and to allow others to touch my life as well.
Then there is that never ending learning curve, for I find with each new corner I turn and each new skill I master I am met with new paths, new corners and a road that widens. There is just so much here, and out there.
As I continue on my journey through this world wide web, as I find new areas of creativity, expression and communication, I find my audience widen, my interests broaden, my mind and my heart grow. I am fortunate, at times, to be deeply touched by individuals I would never otherwise have known. And I find that every so often, I will touch someone's life, provoke someone's thoughts, and perhaps bring some light, if even for a moment, to someone's heart. That is the most special part of it all. And after all isn't that what life is all about?
I run a site called Website Awards, which offers a wide range of services for people who are interested in awards. I didn't set out to develop a comprehensive site about awards. It wasn't the result of some grand plan it just happened!
A few years ago, when I started to apply for awards, I created a spreadsheet to keep track of the awards I applied for and the results. Making notes on paper just didn't work for me. The number of awards in the spreadsheet quickly grew from a few dozen to a few hundred. So you see, I was serious about applying for awards. One morning I woke up with the idea of converting the spreadsheet into an HTML file so I could click on the names of the awards to visit the award sites. I called it "The Worksheet."
The Worksheet worked so well for me that I offered it to a few friends. After all, what good is something if you don't share it? They found it useful and told other people about it. Soon I was receiving requests for the Worksheet. To make it easy for people to retrieve it, I posted a copy in one of my sites. I called it the "Website Awards Worksheet."
As word spread and more people retrieved the Worksheet, I realized they needed a way to keep their copies up to date. The information was constantly changing. I was adding new awards, removing old ones, and changing URL's almost daily. To resolve this problem, I created a page called "Revisions to the Worksheet" and posted it every week. People with older copies of the Worksheet could retrieve this page and copy the changes. All they needed was a text editor.
It wasn't long before I decided to start my own awards program. I guess everyone who spends a lot of time around award sites eventually gets this urge. It's the next logical step. I also developed a list of the World's Top Awards and moved everything to a separate domain. I called it "Website Awards."
In time other features were built into the site, such as tips on How to Win Awards, a list of the Best Award Indexes in the world and a series of Articles About Awards, which are written by some of the leading authorities in this field. Jeff Clark, for instance, has contributed two articles to this series. All of these features were an attempt to fulfill a need. People want more information about awards.
As you can imagine, countless hours have gone into the creation and maintenance of this site. Why do I do it? I'm not sure I have the answer. Sharing? Helping? Prestige? Ego? Challenge? Perhaps it's a combination of these things. It started out as a simple desire to share, but I can't be certain this is the primary motivation now. When you create a useful service, it comes with an obligation to continue to serve the people who are using it.
A wise man once told me that the strongest impulse in life, contrary to popular opinion, is the desire for happiness. Maybe this is the answer! I work on my site because it makes me happy.
There's something going on inside that I've been trying to capture. It's there. I feel it, but letting it out has been most difficult. If I could just say it, then I could realize clarity. It starts with a dream I've had over and over. It's amazing how much coding I do in my sleep. I see the content and read it, clear as day, and walk through the coding and always finish it. And the first thing I think when I wake up is that I've got to upload it and then damn! I realize I still haven't figured out how to save it...
And, so, I wait. You wait. We wonder.
The question of motivation is not that hard to answer. I need to be heard. We all do. When I was 6, I did a gig at the local movie house. Lipsynching the words to "Blue Suede Shoes" with air guitar and all brought the house down. I was hooked. I liked being heard.
My mother's attempts to get me to learn to play an instrument were always tied to some financial dream she had in her head about it. If I could grow up to be rich, she would finally find that security she was so bent on achieving. I loved music, but to take my stand and do what I wanted, I would resist those attempts. Somehow, the thought of lessons and structure collided with my own prejudiced thoughts about what music meant to me.
After enough years of that, she decided I should be a doctor. What a surprise! The question of motivation is not that hard to answer. At 21, I decided to learn to play the guitar. I like to be heard connected, if you will. Learning to play the guitar never ended up making me rich, but it did make me whole.
What next? We wait. I wonder.
If you'd like to chime in on this topic yourself, stop by the IB Community and start a new thread. Just hit the Talk Back button. You know you can.
It's so much better than bartending, which really is my only other truly saleable skill at this point. That sounds flip, but it's really true.
The added bonus is that I happen to love it. But even when I find myself NOT loving it (which has happened a couple of times when I've just completely burned myself out), it's still much better than tending bar.
I do know that even if I ever decide I no longer want to do this for a living, I will still create for the web on my own time; for my own enjoyment. It is that satisfying to me.
Why? I love the work. I love the challenge. I love the community. I love the people I learned this with, the people who taught me and who I taught. I love being able to make a difference in one life or in many lives. I love the people I meet. I love the artistic aspect. I love figuring out the programming puzzle. I love that I get to mouth off whenever I feel like it. I love that I've done something that pushes women forward in a traditionally male dominated profession. I love feeling like a citizen of the world. I love talking to myself and the weird, eerie feeling that other people are eavesdropping on me. I love that people look at what I do, whether they love it or hate it. I love that there are people that inspire me to do more than I ever thought I could. I love that I have become friends with some of those people. I love that I have done more than I ever thought I could. I love helping people starting out. I love that I've been helping to educate the general web about intellectual property issues. I love that I've had lunch with Jeffrey Zeldman, twice (and I love that if I email him I'll usually get a response inside 10 minutes). But most of all, I love creating. I have surpressed that side of me for most of my life. The web has set it free and allowed me to express it. I can see something in my head and make it come alive on the screen. It isn't frustrating anymore. It isn't hard anymore. It's good and fun and liberating and rewarding. And if it comforts or uplifts or inspires or provokes or irritates or angers then all the better. But the bottom line is, I love.
I do it for the cash and the chicks. Mostly for the chicks.
Because if I didn't, I'd most likely go stark raving mad. I know, I know, that sounds straight from the realm of the drama queen, but it's true.
My work at school while completing my Fine Arts degree could be considered as "art therapy" and I've found a way to work through issues with personal projects.
Copyright © 1997-present Internet Brothers. Not that you'd want any of it.