Multiple Personality Web Design
Just last year, my workstation at home was in front
of a window. Through this window, I would watch the sun come up in the morning as I
woke up, drank my coffee, listened to the husband and dog snore, read my
morning e-mail, touched base with some of my favorite web sites, played with
the "pay attention to me" psycho kitty and fed the turtle.
A few years ago, I walked away from the
old school work world as it
expected me to be. I did this to spend 10+ hours a day, 5+ days a week
for a new job that I knew I would love. As an Internet hobbyist, I
jumped feet first into the world of Internet and web design. What I
became was a middle-aged, tender gender member and jane of all trades
in a testosterone shop of IT junkies.
When I was not at work, I spent
another 2-4 hours a day reading e-mail, sorting out my real email from
the 100's of spam/junk mails that came into my multiple email boxes and
then evenings and weekends, most of my friends and family knew they
could find me online with chat open, playing with web work. People that
knew me well, also knew that most likely I was chatting with them at the
same time I was playing with graphic work and didn't feel neglected when
I often disappeared from the net for a while and on a regular basis.
More recently, I have moved my workstation
to a room without windows and
distractions, where the coffee overflows and the cigarettes are burning
away in the ashtray. Real life has intruded into my world. My multiple
play web sites stand neglected and the psycho kitty has defected with a
cult of ragtag wannabees that roam the neighborhood in search of
freedom from tyranny. The husband and the dog still snore, but I now
wake up to two special needs children, my niece and my nephew; both
searching for love, consistency and stability from the often neglectful
world they have lived in most of their short lives. My new
children are 10 and 11 and they are now doing sleepovers
with friends, baseball, Boy Scouts and french lessons. I have recently
discovered that the husband is a great Mr. Mom.
My passions have changed from being
excited at the thought of learning
a new graphic program or code, to being excited instead that Shelly
actually slid into home base and scraped her leg; a huge accomplishment
for this very effeminate little lady who has no real self confidence.
These children are seeing things like fireflies for the first time and
want to catch a jar full. Their heads are full of thoughts from
the latest Harry Potter book read by the light of bugs at their bedside.
They are catching snowflakes on their tongues in the winter and hiking
the beautiful trails that surround us in the spring.
My world has become one of multiple
personalities. I now search for
child safe web sites and won't allow the internet to be "the new
baby-sitter" of this generation, like the television was to the 70's and
80's. We have pizza and movie nights every Friday, with family
housecleaning day every Saturday. For the children, camping in real tents
is next on our agenda and planting flowers in the front of the yard is
now on the top of my list. I 've actually bought my first digital
camera and my hard drive is filled with images of children playing on a
slip-n-slide and the rope swing that now hangs in our backyard.
All of my more recent web work has been
related to creating and
personalizing small business web sites, like the one I recently created
for a crusty "old sea dog" type of a man, who happens to be a well known
local artisan. He is a man of the earth who hates technology but still
feels a need to be part of it. Everything he creates is from nature's
hand me downs and he creates his artistic pieces with tender loving
So, why am I telling you this?
This is the challenge. It should be a challenge as well as a reality
check for all of us as web designers, hobbyist or professionals, to
remember how many people don't and/or want to understand the intricacies
of the Internet. Many people want it to be magic. The last few years
have forced me to find the balance between learning and creating cutting
edge design work to making sure it is still "all people friendly." I
have been challenged to change my focus and remember how the real world,
"average joe" so to speak, views the internet world.
Since those of us in the baby boomer
age group didn't cut our teeth on
technology, it wasn't an ingrained aspect of our education. We grew up
playing in our own neighborhoods, and skinning our knees. Our best
friends lived down the street. Computers and the thought of
communication through computers were something for science fiction
novels and movies. Unlike current high-schoolers that crunch code for
breakfast, we the second career folks, often have to ferret out the new
technologies and information for ourselves. On the internet, this often
makes the learning curve much steeper for those of us who have entered
this world instead of being born to it.
The dot com generation has been as
slow to accept second career
designers and often believes we don't have the abilities to withstand
the constant changes. But, that's exactly what we DO know how to do.
We grew up in a world where direct human contact and care still
mattered. We already understand that everything in life is about
constant changes, both on and off the Internet.
As new and used; first and second career;
hobbyist and professional web
designers, if we can personally bridge the gaps to find harmony and
balance, we will all be better for our experiences as we continue to
learn and evolve. The people oriented combinations that are beginning
to emerge on the internet are taking root and these combinations are
promising to be electric. It's a great time to be excited all over
Now, if someone could just teach me how to set my laser printer to stun.
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