The Web is an inspiration. Whether you come to it, or are born to it, you become entranced by the Web’s beauty, the opportunity it affords, and the independent spirit of it's citizens.
You and I shouldn't claim we love the Web more than anyone else, but that we love the Web as much as anyone. Our thoughts today, and our deliberations to come, must spring from our determination to keep the Web lovable and to make it even more livable.
That's why we're thrilled to have the honor to welcome you to the first ever Web 1.0 Conference. When we decided to put this conference on, we were worried that nobody would care about what has quickly become our Web past. Instead we saw great interest in this conference, despite the very short notice, and without much context for why we were doing it.
Perhaps because it's already obvious to you that it remains to be decided what this conference is about. At this conference, we will each decide. Not as a group mangling competing interests into a false consensus that works for nobody, but as the creative, free-thinking individuals we truly are.
After all, why do we say with pride that we're Web 1.0? Is this merely an anachronistic celebration of a dead asthetic, driven by lack of previous limitations in web site design? Is it an attempt to return to the similicity and longevity of static HTML, to free web sites from their oppressive backends? Is it a call to de-couple our entanglements with highly centralized systems that have injected themselves between us and our loved ones in ways Orwell couldn't even imagine? I'm not entirely sure. I think everyone that attends the conference will have different motivations, perhaps ones I haven't even considered, and that's okay. But I will try to describe our feelings for the conference, and why we have decided to put it on.
The past is a lamp that shines a light into the darkness of our future. Without understanding the failings and successes of the past, without that ability, it's very hard for us understand how to move forward.
But the web we have today moves really fast. It moves too fast. It moves faster than our ability to introspect as to whether the changes introduced are better or worse. And for that reason, we throw away a lot of things. Things that mattered. Things that were important. Like replacing quiet introspection with the constant prattlings of endless change, pushed to our phones without pause, wherever we are. Like replacing web creativity and expression with uniformity and constraint. This isn't an opinion, it's a fact. We did this. Perhaps now it's time to pause and ponder the implications.
That's our true ambition for the conference. We think it's time to look back at what we've gained and what we've lost. We want to learn not just what was good about the "old web", but what was bad. And what was so good, that we would be foolish to not try to bring it back.
But technological limitations aside, there is one thing I truly miss about the old web: the focus on the web site, and the focus on the individual. People creating portals of creativity and expression. Not just personal sites, but resource sites full of wonderful information; Poetic, artistic, deeply moving, or just plain stupid. Sure, some of the web sites were awful. But they were all quirky, and most interesting. We used to call it web surfing, and we had a lot of fun doing it. Does it make sense that we've replaced this wonderful world with text boxes? That we've handed off our friendships to algorithms and middlemen? Can we finally get a chance to explore these questions without being written off as the geezers of the modern web?
These and many other questions like this are what we hope to discuss at this conference. And what better way to start than by exploring the original medium of expression on the web: the individual web site.
That's what we're going to do. Be prepared to make an awesome web creation. Let's explore what it means to be Web 1.0. Together, but separately.
Now, for some logistics. We will start today (Friday), 5:30PM at the Vadio offices in downtown Portland. The address is 919 SW Taylor Street. Punch it into your phone, or ask around for directions. Either way, we're looking forward to seeing you there. Pizza and drinks will be served.
During the Friday festivities, we will do an optional domain name raffle. If you have a domain name you bought a while ago you're never actually going to use, you can add it to the raffle. At the end, we will mix up the domains and give one to each person that joined the raffle. You will then need to work with the owner to transfer the domain to you.
Friday festivites will end at 9PM. We will regroup at Vadio Saturday at 9AM, where breakfast will be served. Following breakfast, we'll have a few short talks, and then we'll all begin building web sites. The premise is simple: Spend a day building your own awesome web site. You can use any web hosting provider you'd like, but free Neocities (a web site community) accounts will be available for everyone that attends.
Lunch will be served at 12:30PM. The rest of the day will be devoted to web site building, only interrupted by a Japanese tea ceremony at 3PM (and some snacks). Think of some interesting ideas for a web site before coming on Saturday. Maybe make a site about something interesting you love not a lot of people know about. Dig deep, be creative, take risks, and fear nothing.
We'll stop at 6PM, take a short break, and then everyone will show off their site for all the participants. There will be a single laptop used for the presentation, so make sure your site can be loaded from any browser on the web. After that, the conference will end, and we'll part ways, hopefully to see eachother again in the future - in cyberspace, or elsewhere.
On Sunday after 6PM, we'll be having an informal gathering at the Control-H hackerspace in North Portland. Attendance is not neccessary, but feel free to stop by if you're still in town. We'll just be there anyways, because Control-H is awesome. Control-H is located at 7608 N Interstate, and you can take the MAX Yellow Line all the way there.
Thank you again for joining us for this event. Together, let's make the web a better place to live.
“I am just...wondering, where is the glow of yesteryear? I’m wondering where the heroes went. Gosh, I don’t know how long ago they left. Heroes are not giant statues framed against a red sky. They are people who say: This is my community, and it is my responsibility to make it better. Interweave all these communities, and you really have a Web that is back on its feet, a comfortable cyberspace to live in again. I really think we’re gonna have to reassess what constitutes a hero.”