…[just] because the operating system is pushed down the stack, doesn’t mean what replaces it is an operating system…Web applications have made it acceptable for user-experience to vary widely between applications…”
From a design perspective, this is the first version of the “future of web apps” story that I can agree on. Bravo, Joyent.
But let’s take a moment to delve at it deeper. Notice the second part of the quote? Hmm… Doesn’t that bit sounded familiar to you designers and typographers? Let me tell you a story.
A long time ago, design were an obscure field, and those who practices it were either a) the freak of society, or b) white men and women with an alluring fashion sensibility and an eloquent ways with words. However, the late 80’s to early 90’s brought affordable Mac computers. And suddenly, everyday people who have affinities to typography and design (or simply like type and beautiful stuff for its own sake) can be type and graphic designers. Then design became hip. Very hip. Back then, it was cool to work in the field of design, and everyone wanted to be one. Heck, “design” was a buzzword for everything that’s beautiful and well-thought of. Noble men and women who were christened as “pioneer designer” were celebrities. Then design became highly criticized as designers, who naturally have big egos, wanted his/her philosophy/aesthetic/practice to be “the right way.” Of course, they we wrong. They were all wrong. People were starting to get tired with “design”,—because, first of all, it was an overused buzzword and synonym for “I love to make beautiful things”—and they started to adopt un-design (or “Anti-Design”, or “zine”, or “Adbusters”) as a way of life. Then it was cool to look like you’re un-designed. Then all hip designers wanted their pieces to look as if they were un-designed. Then, more criticism. Speak Up. Tons of design blogs. You name it. All these, and so much more things that I can’t over-generalize in a paragraph, happen while Design left Postmodernism and continue its journey to who-knows-what.
See a connection?
Well, the situation that David Young described in the manifesto mirrors exactly what the field of design had when it transitioned from Modernism/Traditionalism to Postmodernism. Why did I came to that conclusion? Well, to over-generalize things one more time, Ruby is to web apps development like Macs were to early digital typefounding and graphic design, in that it allows laymen (white-belt developers or people who are simply interested in web apps) to put, test and present something out to the world relatively quick and inexpensively.
The history of Graphic Design is repeating itself in the field of Software Development. You already have democratization of access (almost everyone, with a little proper training, can be a developer), abundance of audience (who doesn’t use the internet?) and a school of thought that “web app 2.0 is hot.”
I personally welcome you to Postmodernism, developers. Enjoy your stay.