There are some nice parallels between classical artists and web page designers. For many centuries painters have experimented with pigments, solvents, binders, carriers, canvases, papers, woods, brushes, and just about every other aspect of capturing images on surfaces. They've tried the most bizarre chemical concoctions imaginable (and in some cases, unmentionable). They've varied the physical processes of drawing and painting, and have explored countless possibilities for how to treat their works to preserve them when finished.

And, like mutations in genes, most artistic experiments are failures. Colors fade; layers crack and peel off; lacquers become opaque; mold, mildew, and insects chew into materials. Catastrophic deterioration sometimes becomes apparent within a few years, in other cases only after decades have passed.

Just so, the results of hyper-customization in web page creation. A designer can craft a lovely layout, with meticulous control of font and color — and it only works with a particular browser, on a particular display size and resolution, under a particular operating system. Try to see it with a different configuration, and it's ugly or even unreadable.

And just wait until next year's "upgrade" to see how ephemeral and short-lived are style-sheet-nazi attempts to dictate the viewer's experience ....

(note JonathanSturm's comments on this and related themes in his Ephemerides (early 2003 at; see also SomethingToSay (13 Apr 2002), ...)

TopicArt - TopicProgramming - 2003-01-18

(correlates: SirJonathan, WikiCss, Comments on Nobel Neutrinos, ...)