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Friday, February 03, 2006

Whither Website?

I was looking for something on the UA Computer Science Department website this week, when I noticed that my account on the department server is finally gone. That really marks the end of an era, since that was my last UA computer account.

It also happened to be the last online copy of my first (and only) homepage, although it's still available via the Wayback Machine.

So, why don't I have a decent website anymore? After all, my wife was able to put together a pretty nice website with just a couple of weeks of work. Why haven't I built one, even after several years of effort? It's not as if web design is really hard or anything, especially with modern tools. In fact, I've long thought that was the reason: web design is a solved problem. It's not novel or challenging or interesting to me, so I just prefer to do other things. I still think that's true to some extent, but now I'm thinking that there's something more.

I think my own expectations are intimidating. It makes sense, now that I think about it. For one thing, being a computer geek, I feel like I'd darn well better have a really nice website. However, that requires a considerable degree of effort and expertise, probably more than I care to develop in an area that doesn't particularly interest me. So, to some degree, having no website at all is preferable to having a lame one.

The geekily-acceptable alternative to an incredibly cool website is a super-simple one. To pull that off, though, you really need to be an uber-geek. You need to have enough "geek cred" that your skills are absolutely beyond doubt. Check out Larry Wall's or John McCarthy's websites. Yeah, they're not much to look at, but anybody who knows what they've done will have no doubt that they could do far, far better if they really wanted to. Kind of a zen master approach.

Being neither a web guru nor a recognized genius, that leaves me with only the alternative of throwing up YALMW -- Yet Another Lame, Mediocre Website. Realizing this, though, leads me to the conclusion that this is only a perceived alternative. It's really a decision to remain with those "cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat," at least online.

The other liberating realization was that I am neither a Wall nor a McCarthy, and that precious few people will care in the least what any website I have is like. So, armed with my new understanding, I'm now more determined than ever to re-establish a personal web presence beyond my blog.

Who knows? Maybe I'll actually do it this time! ;-)

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