08 September 2011

Those Little Buttons

Capital F! Bathroom-type stick people! Radio waves! Little t! Little b!

Squares at 48 square pixels with rounded edges.

White, off-white, blue, orange, punk, and green.

Countless styles, all different but none original.

Those little buttons are changing everything. You see it, don't you? The internet used to be such that hypertext had a place. That you went to a website for that particular thing, that band, that article, or that video game. Sites on the web used to be art. Shittily designed Netscape pages gave way to equally shitty Geocities pages gave way to professionally designed websites gave way to MySpace. But if you were lucky enough to know a designer or clever enough to fudge one yourself, you could have a really cool website. Oh that "blog style" site has been around for ages: rectangular header logo that didn't change, links, and content. But that wasn't what you wanted. What you wanted was a really modern, clean design that communicated information and gave your product a sense of identity.

Now those little buttons are here.


They used to be an addendum to a page, a sort of postscript that said, "By the way, if you want a little more information or to support us on Facebook and maybe get updates a little quicker, check this out". Now the inverse has happened. The website now says, "This is our logo. If you want anything more, click the F or the T or the orange radio thingy."

What does this mean? It means we can leave the designing and the processes to the ones who know best. I can update my blog or my site or my readers as fast as I can type it; no HTML or Java or Flash knowledge required. It also means I can take the easy way out. I don't need a website anymore, I just need a way to communicate to people how they can find my blog, my Twitter, or my Facebook page. Maybe, just maybe, I'll have a logo to go on these things but if not who cares?

Are we sacrificing what has been the art of web design for the convenience of today and its egalitarian communique? Once we were but the learners, the recipients, the chicks feasting on the regurgitated mice-remains sent forth from the beaks of our mothers. Now we're equal, part and partial to the process of sending, receiving, and spewing oftentimes pointless information. It's cheap, it's easy, it's efficient, and everybody has a voice.

But in the end are we losing more than we gain? Are we coming out ahead, breaking even, or being taken to the cleaners? I don't have answers to such questions, I just have a second cup of coffee and a critical eye.

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