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"Individuality: Where is it on the Web?"

This week's soapbox shouldn't be taken as vanity or jealousy. It should be taken as an outside perspective of what's happening on the World Wide Web. If you don't believe the above, send an e-mail to me about it so I can save it for posterity.

It takes no more than to steal a peek at my bookmark.htm to confirm that I am a devoted web browser. I have well over 100 original bookmarks. And obviously, if I put out all that effort to move the mouse to the top of the screen and click "Add a Bookmark", then it's a good site, huh? These pages have been bookmarked based on their content, artwork, or how much they tickled me. And I find more each day. But to be brutally honest, very very few of them are personal page links.

This is my way of subtly hinting how bad personal homepages have become. Like a mental patient, I keep going back to PowWow's list of top 10 homepages candidates. This is a list of mainly personal pages which basically look the same. You know it's bad when you view two totally different pages and the second one loads from cache.

So many people have pages that are basically advertisements for companies. Netscape Now! Use Microsoft for best performance! What is this trash? Do you folks know that we've seen these phrases millions of times before? Why do you insist on making us load that extra image so you can tell us to use a browser that everyone uses? And why would you do free advertising for companies that couldn't care less? I suppose by putting those links to Yahoo! and C/Net that we'll visit them or see them for the first time.

It's like the Web is being assimilated into a template... ooh, another Microsoft conspiracy in the making?

Most personal pages don't contain any content! I have worked hard to provide meaningful content on my pages, from topics from Robin Hood to this weekly soapbox. I present the information nicely, with sharp graphics. I certainly don't consider my pages a waste of time to look at. Yet do I get any awards or publicity for this? Nope...

Consistently the "best" pages on PowWow's list are the same: a frigging huge glob of links and non-cropped images in ONE big file. Yes, it's one top-down document full of phrases like "Use Netscape or this page won't load properly," "Click here to see a pic of my dog!," "See the dozens of awards I've won," and "Welcome to my page of thoughtfulness." The images are unappealing and useless, cropped and obviously "borrowed". Java and gif animations are added without discretion, just to show people that they can actually get it to work. Pages with frames are very poorly done and often don't even back-support a 640x480 screen. Alt tags for text browsers aren't added in important places. The pages are more superficial than a politician at a multiple sclerosis fundraising. If your page is like this, ask yourself, "What have I added to the newest medium of communication to hit the globe? Have I successfully contributed to the Information Age?" If the answer is no, for God sakes, redo your page or ask someone to design it for you. Don't let commercial webpages cover up the wealth of personal pages like a slick thicker than a jar of Los Angeles air on top of Prince William Sound.

Strive for individuality and something radically different from anything else you've seen before when you design a webpage. In the future, webpages will be combinations of answering machines, personal addresses, business cards, and status symbols. Hey, maybe Shakespeare took all the plays from other people originally, but he made them ten times better than they were before. Put some care into your webpage; then when people read it, they'll know just what kind of person you are.

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