Over the last few months, Kent and I discussed at length the concept of 'online villages', web design as architecture, internet architecture and corporations dominating the internet. For ages, I've been looking for a phrase or a title to somehow group these concepts together, but it's hard to come up with a kind of umbrella term that describes what I really want to call it.
I've been thinking of the internet as a kind of online city, where ordinary life takes place - working, dating, exercising, studying, designing, except it's all behind our computer screens. This, incorporated with elements such as web design, online architecture and personal websites being like our homes has fascinated me for weeks. I really want to write an essay, long-form, that discusses all of this at length - but I'm still at a loss as to what I want to achieve with it. What would my conclusion be? Would it be a critique or simply an investigation?
Anyhow, I thought for today that I'd explain some of these concepts. Let's start with the topic of websites being buildings, where web designers ultimately are the same as architects. A risky comparison, but it makes so much sense when you compare the two!
"In the last two months, I have moved to a new village. It’s a small village. Maybe a couple of 1000 people live there.
Most people know each other.
It’s easy to meet each other online.
Personal websites function as digital homes.
Twitter functions as a nightclub. It’s easy to meet new people."
Websites as buildings
Buildings can also be websites. Architects (web designers) design the scale, the function, the ins and outs of the website much like a physical architect. The physical buildings house function, design for a reason, rooms that have individual purposes.
A website has the same functions as a building. It has a landing page, which could be equated to a foyer or front hall in the house or an office building. Imagine walking into somebody's house and seeing photos of say, their family or friends, instantly seeing flowers or a welcome mat. Whatever greeting you experience when you walk into somebody's house, that is what you will experience when you arrive on a landing page of somebody's website. You are shown doors leading off to the sides which count as pages on a website.
Similarities of architects and designers
The foundations of the home are built on concrete, by bricks and mortar. This is the same for any website - the code builds the site from the ground up, and any bugs or glitches that could hinder a site's performance can easily be compared to a crack in the foundations or a plumbing issue. The architect or web designer then must go into the foundations or the code and find the problem, assess it and solve it to avoid any future mishaps.
Digital architecture from earlier days
When we were kids, at least in my generation, we played games such as Rollercoaster Tycoon, The Sims and Second Life. The hours we would spend designing and planning out our mansion in the Sims so it could be the biggest, the best - we were designers in our early teens. How has this evolved into us as designers nowadays? Are we more aware of our online spaces and presence because of these games as youngsters?
With these points made, I hope to delve into the similarities and differences between real-life design and architecture and web design in itself. For the essay in the future, I'd want to include a structure from the ground up: so, architecture and building, to occupying the internet space, to real-life online presence.
I'm super excited to go down this rabbit hole - hey, it may not be Avril Lavigne conspiracy theories, but it's probably better for my sanity in the long term.