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
|"Keep going and you'll find that you've touched somebody maybe even changed their life a little." Zeldman|
I do this because I must. Same reason a painter paints, a singer sings. Sometimes the singer's gift is so great it is undeniable and the singer simply has to sing. Sometimes the gift is not obviously great at first, but the singer believes in it, and keeps singing.
Sometimes nobody but the singer has any clue why the singer keeps going. The public doesn't care for the voice or the tunes. But the singer keeps singing because the singer must sing. Maybe it ends in Carnegie Hall, or maybe in a local dive on Open Mike Night. The singer is happy simply to sing. Strike happy. The singer may be miserable. But the singer still has to sing. It's a compulsion.
There are as many kinds of creative people as there are kinds of people. But really there are only two kinds of creative people: Those who work exclusively on client projects. And those who use client work to support the work they really need to do. I'm the latter. Whether it's good or not so good; trend-setting, world-changing, or a blip on the screen, I have to do this.
Before the web I was a composer/producer. But I had no means of distribution. I worked for months on projects few people heard. Occasionally I had a wider distribution, but only when it was in the service of someone else's project (a documentary, a score for a dance company).
Before the web I was a writer. I wrote things nobody read no means of distribution. And I wrote things everybody read, but they were not for me; they were commercial.
Long before the web I was a cartoonist. But nobody saw the work I did, aside from a few editors who rejected it. I was a kid at the time, and I wasn't very good. But I thought I was, and everybody needs to believe they are good simply to get up in the morning and keep trying.
Twenty years of doing work that nobody sees starting when you are a child is plenty of motivation for seizing the opportunity when a medium comes along with built-in worldwide distribution. The fact that I've gotten somewhat good at it, found a voice that suits the medium, and reached a few people: that's extra motivation. One email saying "I like what you do" is juice for six month's work. Keep going and you'll find that you've touched somebody maybe even changed their life a little. Is there any higher motivation than that?
I do it because design and technology are my passion, and I have a great deal of fun. Why do I share it? I used not to.
I would just experiment in the dark and create things that never left my hard-drive. I discovered the power of sharing by reading other people's weblogs, seeing their experiments, and I thought about what I had done and wasted.
I started publishing it, I got feedback and interaction with other people, and it motivated me even more. Now I'm addicted. When I have a new idea, I try to get it out there in a rough form as soon as possible, to see what happens.
In the end, I think I still do it for myself, and because I love it, but I've learned to do it for others a little too. By listening to them, I learn and get to do it better. And most importantly, I get more happiness out of it, because I know other people have played, watched or interacted with my stuff, and sometimes even enjoyed it.
I do it because I have a real need to create something. Creating websites fulfills a few needs at the same time, actually... I get to do pretty much whatever I like, I get (mostly) positive feedback, I meet a lot of interesting people, online and off, and some of those interesting people even pay me. Creating, and communicating... that's pretty much what this is all about in a nutshell.
But making something from nothing, and the satisfaction of solving design problems and learning new languages and the like... that's the thing that keeps me coming back. I have to be challenged in whatever I do, and this is the best challenge yet.
By nature I'm a giver, that's why I make fonts, keep a weblog, and help out at astounding... things of that nature. Designing websites, weblogging, and especially making fonts, is like giving people little pieces of yourself all the time. It just suits me.
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.
I guess it's my little mark on the world. Like carving the date and my initials in a tree (which I have never done) my website is my little way of saying "here I am, there I was, for what it's worth."
I can't write a novel; poetry was never my thing; I can't paint a picture with oils (or watercolors); I'm not a songwriter; I'm not good at sports; and I don't play the piano; but I can take photographs and create a website. If somebody out there sees my site and gets some enjoyment out of it, I feel like I've accomplished something and hope it made their day a little better.
And, it gives me something to do on a rainy day.
The short snappy answer; 'cause I can!'
I started surfing in 1994 when Mosaic was the only browser available. I knew that the web was gonna be my day job. I didn't start building websites until 1996.
Being able to build websites and have someone you have never met from somewhere you have probably never been, email you is a very cool thing. The ability to email someone else and receive a reply is what the web is really about.
I do it to share.
Well, originally I was going to say "for the money", but I can hear Zeldman and Herrell laughing already. :0)
I like to create. I can't think of anything more rewarding than taking something I see in my mind, and make it come to life in a tangible form. Not just limited to HTML... but Flash, Smil... or even a new cartoon character doodled on a napkin. Even if no one will ever see it, I still get a feeling of accomplishment that you can't put a price tag on.
This question comes at a fascinating time, where I'm just rediscovering that passion, and getting back to what's really important to me. It's better than sex.
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