GARY VAYNERCHUK is our guest on Episode #26 of The Big Web Show, taped live before an internet audience at 1:00 PM ET Thursday 4 November at live.5by5.tv. Gary is the creator of Wine Library TV, the author of the New York Times bestselling book Crush It!, and the co-founder with his brother AJ of VaynerMedia, a boutique agency that works with personal brands, consumer brands, and startups.
The Big Web Show (“Everything Web That Matters”) is recorded live in front of an internet audience every Thursday at 1:00 PM ET on live.5by5.tv. Edited episodes can be watched afterwards, often within hours of recording, via iTunes (audio feed | video feed) and the web. Subscribe and enjoy!
Pixy Stix | Jason Santa Maria
I wrote a true story of love, obsession, heartbreak, and candy and my friend Jason Santa Maria art directed it. I’m proud of this tiny, fast-reading story, which is like condensed essence of me (and all these years later, nothing has really changed) and I love what Jason’s done with the page. Please enjoy Pixy Stix, the October 19th Candygram.
The Self-Published Author
I didn’t have much of a marketing plan other than e-mailing my friends and writing to people who had book-review sites and asking them if they would like a free copy. But the word got around. Soon I was deluged with e-mail, and within days I started getting checks in the mail. Many dozens of ’em. Mostly from the United States, but also from Sweden, Australia, Singapore …
THE DEATHS of Leslie Harpold and Brad Graham, in addition to being tragic and horrible and sad, have highlighted the questionable long-term viability of blogs, personal sites, and web magazines as legitimate artistic and literary expressions. (Read this, by Rogers Cadenhead.)
Cool URIs don’t change, they just fade away. When you die, nobody pays your hosting company, and your work disappears. Like that.
Now, not every blog post or “Top 10 Ways to Make Money on the Internet” piece deserves to live forever. But there’s gold among the dross, and there are web publications that we would do well to preserve for historical purposes. We are not clairvoyants, so we cannot say which fledgling, presently little-read web publications will matter to future historians. Thus logic and the cultural imperative urge us to preserve them all. But how?
The death of the good in the jaws of time is not limited to internet publications, of course. Film decays, books (even really good ones) constantly go out of print, digital formats perish. Recorded music that does not immediately find an audience disappears from the earth.
Digital subscriptions were supposed to replace microfilm, but American libraries, which knew we were racing toward recession years before the actual global crisis came, stopped being able to pay for digital newspaper and magazine descriptions nearly a decade ago. Many also (even fancy, famous ones) can no longer collect—or can only collect in a limited fashion. Historians and scholars have access to every issue of every newspaper and journal written during the civil rights struggle of the 1960s, but can access only a comparative handful of papers covering the election of Barack Obama.
Thanks to budget shortfalls and format wars, our traditional media, literature, and arts are perishing faster than ever before. Nothing conceived by the human mind, except Heaven and nuclear winter, is eternal.
Still, when it comes to instant disposability, web stuff is in a category all its own.
Unlike with other digital expressions, format is not the problem: HTML, CSS, and backward-compatible web browsers will be with us forever. The problem is, authors pay for their own hosting.
(There are other problems: the total creative output of someone I follow is likely distributed across multiple social networks as well as a personal site and Twitter feed. How to connect those dots when the person has passed on? But let’s leave that to the side for the moment.)
A suggestion for a business. Sooner or later, some hosting company is going to figure out that it can provide a service and make a killing (as it were) by offering ten-, twenty-, and hundred-year packets of posthumous hosting.
A hundred years is not eternity, but you are not Shakespeare, and it’s a start.
Information Wants To Be Second-Rate
Thousands of … filmmakers and writers around the country are operating with the same loose standards, racing to produce the 4,000 videos and articles that Demand Media publishes every day. The company’s ambitions are so enormous as to be almost surreal: to predict any question anyone might ask and generate an answer that will show up at the top of Google’s search results. To get there, Demand is using an army of [impoverished filmmakers and writers] to feverishly crank out articles and videos. They shoot slapdash instructional videos with titles like “How To Draw a Greek Helmet” and “Dog Whistle Training Techniques.” They write guides about lunch meat safety and nonprofit administration. They pump out an endless stream of bulleted lists and tutorials about the most esoteric of subjects.
The 3rd Edition of Designing With Web Standards is coming soon to a bookstore near you. Abetted mightily by our secret cabal of interns, co-author Ethan Marcotte, technical editor Aaron Gustafson, copyeditor Rose Weisburd, editor Erin Kissane and I have worked hard to create what we hope is not merely an update, but a significant revision to the foundational web standards text.
Packed with new ideas
After years of stasis, the world of standards-based design is exploding with new ideas and possibilities. Designing With Web Standards 3rd Edition captures this moment, makes sense of it, and keeps you smartly ahead of the pack.
From HTML 5 to web fonts, CSS3 to WCAG2, the latest technologies, claims and counter-claims get broken down in classic DWWS style into their easy-to-understand component ideas, helping you pick the course of action that works best for your projects. As always, the core ideas of standards-based design (which never change) get presented with clear insights and up-to-date examples. You’ll find strategies for persuading even the most stubborn boss or client to support accessibility or reconsider what “IE6 support” means—and for handling the other problems we face when trying to bring rational design and development to the unruly web.
Now with more “how”
While this 3rd Edition, like its predecessors, spends a great deal of time on “why,” it also features a lot more “how” than past editions. If you loved the ideas in DWWS, but wished the book was a bit more hands-on, this is the edition you’ve waited for.
Oh, and the color this time? It’s blue, like l’amour.
There’s a new book mini-site as well, with more content and features to come. The sharp-eyed will notice that the mini-site is set in Franklin Gothic. A web-licensed version of ITC Franklin Pro Medium from Font Bureau has been embedded via standard CSS. It works everywhere, even in IE. (View Source if curious.)
Whereas awards for graphic design, art direction, and advertising routinely honor the finest work in their respective fields each year, awards for web work disappoint.
Your typical web awards are a commercial enterprise first, last, and always. Companies pay to enter work, pay to attend, and pay for their awards. The same thing happens in graphic design, art direction, and advertising shows, of course, but those shows mean something because they are juried by the top practitioners, and everyone in those fields who does great work submits it.
By contrast, people writing and designing the most important websites and applications tend to ignore web competitions. They neither judge nor submit. This has a distorting effect in two directions. And that is why, if you view the results of a typical juried web awards show, you may see work you’ve never heard of, and that doesn’t strike you as particularly good, carrying the day.
The .net magazine awards 2009 are a rare exception, put together by people who actually live and breathe the web. I’m honored to be one of this year’s judges. I’m even more delighted to see who I rub shoulders with in that capacity. Most of all, I applaud the list of worthy nominees. Voting for the .net “best of the web” closes 12 October 2009, but why wait? Vote today.
Among the pleasures of running an independent personal site is the accidental discovery of an ancient page, such as the version of this site’s contact page from the 1990s that I stumbled onto this morning.
“We’ve got mail!” the old site cheerfully announces, complete with a meaningless header image. The image, like the header and navigation typography, is pixellated to convey “webbiness”—in case you forgot that you were looking at a website in a browser, I guess. “Got mail” is a play on America On-line (kids, ask your parents). “We” is the royal first person plural with which I used to write this site, despite being its sole author. I’d gotten into the habit of “we” from writing copy on entertainment sites for clients like Warner Bros. It made their sites, and mine, seem bigger. It was also an ongoing, self-deprecating joke, although not everyone got it.
As I look at this old page, the copy still feels like me, and it also, if I may say so, anticipates the playful directional body copy of Web 2.0 sites like Flickr by about a decade. (Could be coincidence. Derek Powazek and Heather Champ also wrote jovial instructional copy at the time. Others may have done so as well.)
I’m a lot more ashamed of the design. I’m particularly abashed at:
My abysmally stupid effort to straddle the “liquid layout” and “fixed width layout” genres by designing a page that doesn’t work as liquid or fixed. Possibly the only web design ever to put peanut butter and bicycle chains together and call it a sandwich. It should have stayed fixed, and the text and input fields should have matched the width of the illustration and header.
Alignment, alignment, alignment.
Tiny type with seemingly random hierarchy. In my defense, remember that in those days all type was pixellated. I picked 11px Georgia and 9px Verdana because those sizes looked great in that pixellated world. Still. Feh.
If your old work doesn’t shame you, you’re not growing.
It’s nice to look back and feel that you’ve made progress. When you look at old work, it should suck glaringly and you should cringe painfully. But there should also be some germ within it that you’re not ashamed of—some spark of talent or inspiration that connects to what you do now.
Editorial Intern Wanted
Update: The position is now closed. Thanks to all who applied.
NYC area location is ideal, but not required—what matters most is your commitment and professionalism. Must be willing to work with Microsoft Word, have access to one of the latest versions of it, and be a Word styles ninja. We’re looking for 6–8 hours per week through September or mid-October. The right person will see this as an opportunity to experience the publication process from first draft through galleys and launch, and to learn from industry and community leaders who are funny, smart, and nice.
Apply by e-mail to internquest at happycog dot com. Send a short note selling us on you. All queries will be handled with discretion.