Internet, Spread your Wings and Fly

I recently commented on Lorelle’s post about Help pages on blogs. My answer got me thinking about an excellent Internet analogy.

I maintained a “Help” page on my personal blog for a long while. It was a practice in earnest to fight the good fight. I tested browser compatibility and noted errors with specific browsers. It helped me…never my audience. I think I gave up after reading “Don’t Make Me Think.” Ultimately, that is really the mindset and the answer. If I have to provide a help page, perhaps I’m doing something wrong. Perhaps I’m not making that personal connection with people because I’m ostracizing them through some personal elitism. I remember when DHTML was really cool and working with the DOM in unique, arcane methods was more a resemblance to the occult than anything Web 2.0 represents today. We’ve all grown up on this stuff. Internet adolescence is over and it’s time to get a real job; move out of your parent’s basement (no offense to you 30-somethings living in your parent’s basement). So I don’t have a “Help” page anymore. I try to offer help in more constructive ways – ways that a “Help” page can only make excuses for. Besides – who actually takes the time to read a manual, let alone my blog manual?

In many ways, the Internet is like a beloved child which the world is rearing. Sometimes carefully, sometimes irresponsibly. This child of ours is also, at times, a bit unruly. I could dig that further into boredom, but I think you can continue the similes on your own. At any rate, it’s an apt comparison when speaking of the web development practices used on the Internet over time. I used to be one of those elitist programmers that sought out the most obscure uses of the DOM or unknown HTML tags. Hell, I used to only use VBScript, and throw out angry comparisons of my pure VBScript solution to a JavaScript one. I’ve also visited sites where you are completely stumped as to how to use it. You have to mouse over a bunch of slick graphics in order to find out where they go. So you can understand my conclusion that the Internet’s adolescence has come and gone. We all had fun, now it’s time to get serious about [Internet] life and create things that matter. Things that provide value. Things that don’t make other people feel stupid.