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"Where Have All the Writers Gone?"

Don't worry, I haven't suddenly started listening to Paula Cole! Her latest song was so close to being something good, but then she started singing.

I regularly rant about how horrible the 'Net is for people who are actually trying to get things done (that includes me, of course), but I think this time, I've really keyed into something very important pertaining to the evolution of the Web.

For starters, it's getting much worse, not better.

I'm not even complAining about the commercial sites like I did recently on the main page of the site. I've given up wasting my time talking about sites like MTV, which don't let you enter if you don't have at least Javascript (a very non-standardized scripting language that won't even work at the same time on the two browsers that support it, I might add). Those people get paid heaps of cash to use a markup language they have no concept of, HTML, and to rise their snotty noses in order to decide what their viewers want. The sorts of pathetic people who look at numbers and nothing else. The sorts who see salaries and cars as the main requirement of a significant other. The sorts who, basically, make whatever created them disappointed in wasting matter on them, because they choose not to live life.

But no, I'm not talking about commercial sites this time (heh). I care very little about them because they will always be there. They have money and and endless supply of drones to work for them. They offer little to the Web itself, but most of them succeed in providing the audio and software files we're looking to listen to and use.

The important thing about the Web is the individual voice. It's what keeps the Web from becoming a print meets television form of media, and it keeps the Web from just turning into a network of push technology. Individuals are the ones who add the good content, the pages professing love for their various inspirations and the sites that make you think about how people develop so radically differently.

But you know what? The individual is gone from the Web. I don't think it's happened completely yet, but it's already begun. The Web is completely commercialized in the area of personal sites. You doubt me?

When was the last time you saw a personal site? I mean, a regular one. Some college kid's site that has some interesting stuff, but isn't much in itself and isn't very attractive. A long time, huh? No one wants to see that anymore. It's cute to look at such things if you're unlucky enough to be involved with someone who thought it would be fun to put up a web page, I guess. But you'd never willingly look at such sites...

What you look for, then, is a personal site that looks like a commercial site. You know it. You look for the site that looks really good, then you brag about it on your own site. "Oh, it's so beautiful...and, and..." That's all it is. It looks good. I admit that I don't go looking at cheesy college kid sites anymore (if I wanted to, I'd just visit the winners of Vivarin's college scholarship award, though...heh), but the difference is that I'm disappointed with all the sites I see.

All the personal sites look the same! They look like e-zines. And they're all Photoshopped to Hell. Generic, copied styles. Heavily filtered photos of the author, who took many photos to look as sharp online as possible. Links to other sites that look exactly the same (and whose authors have very similar resumes and stories to tell). Cites to those sites as their motivations. Guess what's missing? Content.

The most important thing about the Web has been lost in personal sites. Thought. In the early days of the 'Net, I never ceased to find sites that did exactly what I liked -- they didn't care about anyone else and they sure didn't have much to copy from. They wrote about what they thought. They wrote about God, or the aesthetics of the Web, or life and death, or something else that everyone thinks about and can relate to. They wrote about what I try to write about now.

Today's personal sites are so vapid. That diary is fine and dandy, but no one gets it except for close friends of the author. Reviews of the latest software to hit the market? What is that? I go to c|net for sorts of information like that. Pages and pages of inspiration? Fine, but it seems like it's only inspired you to write about the people who inspired you. Write about yourself for once... Think! Sort out what you feel inside on an HTML document! The site's about you!

Okay, so maybe the people who have the time for creating web sites are just designing worker bees. Maybe they aren't writers. Maybe they just know how to make something look good. Maybe they don't have time to think. So where are all the writers and why haven't they embraced the medium as a convenient place to practice their love of writing?

Is it that writers (I'm not talking about journalists -- journalists are more like technical writers, I think, as most could write a pretty damn objective software manual for WinZip) just aren't the computer types? I'll use my dad, Fred Turner, as an example. I've been busy completing his site, Genesis, under contract. Now that it's done, btw, I can get back to reading Spenser and Lovelace... Fred is a writer and poet and many other things. He creates beautiful verses. He creates the stuff perfect for a personal site on the Web.

That angel, who took Cain to be his mirror,
Knew how to die, knew how to share a grave;
Sometimes he almost overcrows my spirit,
His great feathered wings beating in the cave ...

He's not very knowledgeable with computers, to put it lightly. But I am, so we worked together to produce a personal site for him, combining my web design skills with his contributions to various different literary areas, among other things. If a lot of writers are like him, I'm not sure they'll all have children to initiate them to the Web as well. It's really a shame. Writers and poets succeed in taking the feelings we can't describe and writing them in such a way that we understand our feelings clearly and affectionately. They grab what lurks in our souls and form it into a material being. That's exactly what personal sites need. Content that is more universal. Content that you can jump into and understand immediately. I'd link to Alexis's personal writings, since I think she's getting it right these days, but she wants her section to remain somewhat private. Like my site's just booming with interested visitors...

And until things change and writers see the Internet as something very beneficial to them, we're going to be stuck with half-rate designers and Web addicts who maybe got a few writing courses in college. Sigh.

I won't give in to the first signs of conformity of personal sites on the Web. I just won't. I'm going to stick it out and wait, and maybe one day the good sites will start to creep in and personal sites will once again mean something, and not just be marked up resumes for companies looking for web designers.

You know what they are? They're the scorned pages and pages of links of the past, except they have high-quality Photoshop images slapped on them... The more things fucking change, the more they stay the same.

I'm just glad I have mine Anna, who is so complete, or else I may not be so patient and...<ahem>...optimistic.

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