Yurou Zeng

When did coding become a privilege instead of a right?

Coding is hard, no doubt about that. Learning a new programming language can be a long process, but as a skill that’s revered in this new age, should it not be accessible? I had read an article by Jarred Sumner on MySpace and why the internet is no longer as fun and weird as it used to be. The part about users being able to customize their profile on MySpace to their liking using code really stuck out to me. It got me thinking: there was once a time where there wasn’t a graphical interface, and everything ran on code.

As the web developed, we started to hide the complex back-end behind navigable visuals. Of course I’m not advocating for the internet to become a place exclusively for those who can code and navigate it, I’m vouching for the opposite, we as users need to take back control, to start breaking and reinventing our version of the internet.

Why is it that we advertise “no coding necessary” and these “easy-to-use templates” that turn our internet into a fast fashion retailer rather than the one-of-a-kind independently owned boutique that it is? The problem does have to do with a certain kind of distrust of people and aversion of imperfect on the web. We’ve made sure that every website that exists is “well-designed” with these templates, discouraging experimentation and true personalization. When are we going to stop being so afraid of what’s different, of discomfort, of ugly design? When are we going to move towards a more customizable, weird and human web?

This topic, of course, wields a double edged sword. What of accessibility? Of good navigation and working products? Web trends and standards ensure the usability of many websites, making sure that the internet is an open and familiar place for all its users. I can’t say that I have a solution for this issue, but once upon a time we made it work, so let’s bookmark a page on web 1.0, stop being afraid and see where we go from there.

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