2020 has shown us that The Internet can be utter shit. It's awful. It's full of depressing news, racism and people without medical degrees thinking their opinion is as valid as a Doctor.
But 2020 has also shown us that the Internet can be amazing. It kept us together and in touch when we couldn't do it in real life. It allowed for so much creativity, interaction and communication in this fucking terrible year. So many people out there are making cool things but we don't see it because we get bogged down hating all of the terrible shit.
Remember when people had blogs? And they wrote things? Everyone had their little corner of The Internet. Now we write them in 35 part Twitter threads. Or even worse, Medium articles. You want me to make an account on Medium just so I can read more than 3 articles a month? Oh and if you're trying to browse them on mobile, I hope you have an iPhone 12 Pro Max because otherwise you'll not be seeing the article when the page loads.
Both of those are terrible ways for us to create and share things.
Even with all of that stuff making the Internet worse, people are still making fun and cool things on The Internet.
Here are a few things I enjoyed in 2020:
- 🍹 Poolside - ultra vibey website and app that brings a pool party to your internet communication device.
- 🌊 Jon's experiments with three.js shaders.
- 🎥 Jonty's camjam - watch a feed from a selection of random TFL CCTV cameras.
- 🗑 govbins - I helped Harry rebuild govbins this year, but even with my obvious bias I've enjoyed the abusurdity of people taking photos of wheelie bins.
- 👁 it is what it is - an injoke taken to an extreme but then used to raise awareness about systemic racism.
- 💎 Sketch's article about native being better - regardless of weather or not you agree with their point, you have to agree that it looks absolutely gorgeous.
- 🎙 Clubhouse - drop in audio chat that replaced office shit chatting for me and kept me slightly more sane whilst working from home.
- 🚗 Ogmios' School of Zen Motoring - drives through North East London with a soothing narration.
- 📝 I Thought About That A Lot - a series of essays which includes a really touching story about disposing of a body and thoughts on Caroline Quentin's career.
- 🎧 Many Twitch DJ streams from my friends, with a simultaneous Zoom call to chat and see familiar faces.
A while ago I'd decided to start blogging again in 2021, but I didn't really know what to write about first. Before my thoughts started to coalesce, I read this great blog post from Simon Collinson and suddenly it all made sense to me.
He talks about two things I want to call out here:
Admittedly, most company or client work tackles real issues for real people; it’s rarely a sandbox for us to climb into and make mad shit.
He's absolutely right on this point. Even as someone doing more development than design, I have ideas of fun things to build or fun ways to build them that I just don't get to do. Why don't I do that? I should do that!
...just because GOV.UK does an excellent job of helping you pay your car tax doesn’t mean your own playground should look like it’s been built with a government design system.
Although we should make sure our own spaces work for everyone we think will use them, if you want to do something weird with your own site, go ahead! Why not? Nobody is going to tell you it impacted conversion or a client didn't like it.
Like most people in 2020 I also watched The Social Dilemma, though I watched it later than most on 1st January 2021. Something stuck out to me near the end, when Bailey Richardson described The Internet now as being like a mall and that she remembered when The Internet was full of creativity.
I want more art galleries and less malls.
We used to have fun on the Internet.
We used to make mad shit.
I'm going to do that again in 2021.