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2 steps forward , three steps back

2 steps forward , three steps back

The beauty of the web is in its participatory nature, unfortunately this can also be its most significant weakness.

Users of the internet have become empowered by participating in the online environment. The open, collaborative activity of the web has enabled those historically without the means to become publishers of content (i.e. through blogging sites), sell goods (through online storefronts), and reach wide audiences (email + viral marketing) without the considerable capital and resources that may have been required in previous generations.


In 2006, Time Magazine expressed this newfound empowerment by declaring the person of the year as “You”. Time magazine wrote: “It’s a story about community and collaboration on a scale never seen before. It’s about the cosmic compendium of knowledge Wikipedia and the million-channel people’s network YouTube and the online metropolis MySpace. It’s about the many wresting power from the few and helping one another for nothing and how that will not only change the world, but also change the way the world changes.”

While users have well and truly gained from the web and the online environment’s participatory nature, some basic technological advancements are hindered by conflicting and poor contributions from major players on the web.

Have you ever noticed that fonts on the web appear to lack diversity? This is because native support for fonts is restricted due to legal issues with the major font owners. Although there is some very clever solutions involving client side scripting and flash technology available – and some projects addressing this issue in the pipeline – it still remains that in 2009 we still can not legally use a font that is not already on the users computer without resorting to hacks.

Have you noticed that emails look terrible compared to websites? Thanks to the brilliant minds at Microsoft, in Outlook 2007 we cannot even place text above an image as background-images are not supported. As Outlook enjoys such an undeserving dominant market-share, this effects all email marketing, effectively putting emails back 10 years.

When key stakeholders bring crumbs to the table, such as browser and email client providers, we all go hungry because the web relies on their contributions.

Yours in design,

Belinda Vesey-Brown About the author
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