//: FRESH - THE INTERNET IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM

08 November 2006
IdN Magazine
IdN Magazine

In the first of a new IdN series for the new millennium focusing on the Internet, we asked several web-development companies to give us their thoughts about the Internet and where it may be going. We encouraged them, after telling us a little about themselves, to be as free as they felt like being with their opinions - on technology, services or concepts. We're looking for "fresh" input - no matter how apparently crazy or even impossible.

EXTRA DESIGNS
Founded in 1997, Extra Designs does a wide range of graphic work, from printing to the web. Many of these works can be seen on its website. Extra has collaborated with some foreign designers such as Fountain and a Danish magazine, Virus. Nobutaka Sato and Shin Sasaki answered our questions on behalf of Extra.

Based on your professional experience and vision, what do you think will be happening in the Internet world in the new millennium?

Nobutaka: Millions of sites will be on the web. Too many sites will be searched when you use search engines, so you won't be able to find what you want.

Sasaki: The world is getting smaller and smaller because of the Internet and this situation must go on. Designers will work together across the borders.

Which project is the company most proud of?
Nobutaka: goo (www.goo.ne.jp)

Sasaki: It's difficult to answer. At present, I like MONO*crafts www.yugop.com the best.

Does the new millennium hold any special meaning for you?
Nobutaka: Nothing. It's just easy to remember. I hear the word "millennium" all the time, everywhere, in Japan. It's just stupid.

Sasaki: Nothing, really.

E-commerce and e-business are the hottest topics on the web right now; what do you think of them?
Nobutaka: I'm not interested in them so much.

Sasaki: I think I'm using the Internet in a different way to people who are involved in e-commerce and e-business.

Are you interested in Internet shopping? And will you actually purchase merchandise through the Internet?
Nobutaka: I won't purchase anything as I don't own any credit cards.

Sasaki: I love walking around town looking for something new. I prefer going shopping to getting something thorough the Internet. But import duties are just terrible, actually, they double the price of things. So if the Internet solves that problem, I'll gladly purchase through it.

Which Internet browser you prefer? Netscape or Internet Explorer - or some-thing else?
Nobutaka: Netscape. But I've just realized that Internet Explorer is good.

Sasaki: Netscape.

What is your ideal browser? What elements do you think should be included in a browser?
Nobutaka: It would be great if there was no waiting time to see the next page, just like a book.

Sasaki: An automatic translation system.


PHILLIP DWYER, APT 13
He started doing things under the name apt13 in the summer of 1996, while still in university. He began by doing album covers for his band and some friends' bands, along with flyers for their shows. He needed a little tag name to put on the work, and since the apartment he was living in at the time was #13, he thought it seemed appropriate. He has just finished an interactive piece for the CodexSeries02 CD-ROM project that will be out in the summer, and an upcoming issue of K10K.

Based on your professional experience and vision, what do you think will be happening in the Internet world in the new millennium?
I think the Internet, or the computer in general, will become joined with television and gaming machines to be the be-all and end-all of home entertainment, all packaged into one easy-to-use console. On the downside, it will also become our number one source for education and news. I think that's a scary thought, especially with how commercialized the Internet has become in the past year.

What kind of technology do you expect to find on the Internet in the future?
As I said above, I think there will be a melding of different consumer technologies into one "console." The sad thing is that the Internet will become more involved with people's everyday lives, not only as a form of communication, but as a way to control our surroundings. It will turn on our lights, pay our bills, walk our dogs and eventually take the place of our partners. I think it's a scary idea, but you can already see it happening today.

Which project is the company most proud of?
Whoever invented the ability to show movie times on the Internet is a fine man. I honestly have little interest in the Internet. I use it to communicate with people and check movie times, that's about it.

Does the new millennium hold any special meaning for you?
There is no special meaning for me. The year 2000 is just another year. I still have to work to pay the bills. Nothing has changed, and I seriously don't see it being any different for quite some time.

E-commerce and e-business are the hottest topics on the web right now; what do you think of them?
I think it's pretty disgusting. Using the Internet as any sort of educational machine has become severely compromised by big business and blatant commercialism. But at the same time, I'm not surprised, nor do I blame big business. They just go where the money is, and at the moment the Internet is where all the money is. Businesses understand that in the near future everyone will be online, and in turn downloading their latest ad campaigns. I've always enjoyed the more personal aspect of the Internet. I get a lot more out of people doing things on their own, without the constraints of trying to please someone else or trying to sell something. It's much more a form of artwork in that aspect. It will always be there, but it is constantly being swept further and further under the rug and much harder to find.

Are you interested in Internet shopping? And will you actually purchase merchandise through the Internet?
I wouldn't necessarily say I'm "interested" in Internet shopping. Sure, I have done it before, but only with items I couldn't readily get at a store in person. I know it's kind of a hard concept to grasp, but I do actually enjoy going outside as often as possible, and most of the time I much prefer interacting with a person face-to-face rather than typing in my credit-card number on the computer.

Which Internet browser do you prefer? Netscape or Interent Explorer - or something else?
I'm sure they are all good for various reasons, but I use and enjoy Netscape. For some reason I just don't feel comfortable with Internet Explorer (or any Microsoft products for that matter). Plus, I can't get my own website (www.apt13.com) to even work in IE. If I can't even get it to work right, I'm not going to use it.

What is your ideal browser? What elements do you think should be included in a browser?
Just as long as it does what it's supposed to, I'm happy. If it comes with all the necessary plug-ins, or has easy access to them, it's fine with me. I want to look at any kind of site and not have to worry about my system crashing. I want to be able to check my e-mail and check for movie times. As long as it works the way it's supposed to, it's good.

FUTUREFARMERS
Futurefarmers is a New Media construct specializing in data visualization via 3D animation, web design, interface design, print, games, motion graphics and environmental design. Equally comfortable in new and traditional media, Futurefarmers has completed distinctive print and electronic assignments for major clients including The New York Times, G-Shock, Levi's, Autodesk, Nike, NEC and MSNBC.

Based on your professional experience and vision, what do you think will be happening in the Internet world in the new millennium?
The Internet will become less and less visible. It will be able to do work for you without having to interface with a browser or graphics. It will become much more personal.

What kind of technology do you expect there to be on the Internet in the future?
I expect artificial intelligence will grow in the next few years.

Which project is the company most proud of?
Ken Goldberg's telegarden is a good example of the kinds of uses the Internet will be entering into.

Does the new millennium hold any special meaning for you?
I hope that the our consciousness as a planet will increase. As we become connected by the Internet, I suspect communities will sprout up with common interests and at some point will want to meet in the real world. I hope that the Internet will inspire like minds to collaborate and band together to create a snowball effect of positive projects. I feel I have a lot of work to do this millennium.

E-commerce and e-business are the hottest topics on the web right now; what do you think of them?
Yes. Yes. Eeeee. Ouch. I think it is a wonderful aspect of the web. If commerce and business can reside in a virtual space, it leaves more room in the real world for activities outside of these realms. Ultimately, I think it can be a positive thing for the environment. If fewer people are on the roads, I will be happy.

Are you interested in Internet shopping? And will you actually purchase merchandise through the Internet?
Again, I think Internet shopping is wonderful. Personally, I am not a shopper. I only shop when I have to for necessities. I appreciate the ability to go online and order basic products - office goods, house products, etc. I don't have to stand in line, I don't have to haul it all around to and from the store and I don't have to drive. I fear that the lack of human contact will begin to have a huge effect on our culture. For instance, living in San Francisco, it is more often than not that I bump into an acquaintance at the grocery store or the post office. I often make plans to spend further time with these people or sometimes a job comes of this encounter. We can build this feature into e-commerce sites, but the physical experience is priceless.

Which Internet browser do you prefer? Netscape or Interent Explorer - or something else?
Netscape.

What is your ideal browser? What elements do you think should be included in browser?
I want my e-mail in my browser. I want my browser to notify me of messages.

LESS RAIN
Less Rain is a multimedia collective based in the heart of the new media community, Hoxton in London, England. Drawing on a pool of talent from photography, copy writing, illustration, concept, music and programming, it works across all platforms (web, CD-ROM, kiosks, print) to create intuitive user interfaces, organic environments, dynamic simulations, interactive sound, non-linear narrative and typography.

Based on your professional experience and vision, what do you think will happen in the world of the Internet in the new millennium?
Vassilios: Well, things are generally going towards e-everything and this is going to keep up until there is nothing left that you cannot do on the Internet. The entertainment industry is going to be another key source of content on the net, using broadband, ADSL, broadcasting and whatever else it takes to solve the bandwidth problem.

Lars: There will be more of everything - more video, more shops, more people, more bandwidth, more crap and, hopefully, more variety and brain as well.

Stine: More content.

What kind of technology do you expect there to be on the Internet in the future?
Lars: Anything that will make the web look more unlike print. I expect there to be more use of dhtml, and technologies like Flash, which will make the web more like TV and cinema, but I guess this is nothing new.

Vassilios: A technology that allows us to create interesting interactive content. Maybe incorporating the Shockwave plug-in in Netscape and Explorer.

Stine: Technology does not really bother me too much, it's what you do with it that matters.

Which project is the company most proud of?
Vassilios: It is very difficult to say. I am a big fan of John Maeda, so I like the books/disks he published in the mid-nineties (Flying Letters and Tap, Type, Write by Digitalogue). As far as Internet projects are concerned, I guess www.antirom.com/antirom01 back in 1996 was the project that got me into funky interactive web thingies and gave me hope.

Lars: I really appreciated projects like www.backspace.org, which offered a forum or platform for creative and conceptually interesting ideas. Now there are quite a lot of them around (such as the remedy project, fabrica, etc.).

Stine: The best? Hmm, it would have to be a project that experiments .... and pushes the borders of what I expect to see. The e13 site (www.e13.com) does this, but to pin down one project really is very difficult.

Does the new millennium hold any special meaning for you?
Vassilios: Not really.

Lars: There seems to be as much or as less meaning as before.

E-commerce and e-business are the hottest topics on the web right now; what do you think of them?
Vassilios: Unfortunately, we cannot avoid them. At least, the competitiveness of the net now helps us to get away with bolder ideas because everybody wants to be one step ahead of the crowd.

Lars: I just hope that they won't dominate the web too much. Stories like the one about e-toys are alarming signs, but I'm quite optimistic because there is enough space for everybody.

Are you interested in Internet shopping? And will you actually purchase merchandise through the Internet?
Vassilios: I buy my CDs and books through the net, and concert and airline tickets. Let's just say that once you get into it, it's very difficult to turn back. After all, it is convenient to buy that stuff on the Internet!

Lars: I somehow believe in the concept of online shopping, but haven't purchased a single thing over the net so far. The majority of shops are really uninspiring. Even buying a burger at McDonald's seems to be more exciting than any online shopping facility.

Stine: For me, it's an easy way to get what I need, when I know exactly what I want, otherwise I like to see and feel what I buy.

Which Internet browser you prefer? Netscape or Internet Explorer - or something else?
Vassilios: It depends on the project and the technology we are using. I usually tend to support Netscape, although Explorer has become so good lately that I have to re-evaluate the situation.

Lars: I seem to have more and more of those Explorer days. I am really sick of the fact that there is more than one browser. Everyone working on the net knows how exciting and creative it is to create various versions of a project for all those different specifications. Just imagine if people could spend all that time thinking about the quality of the contents. Or maybe go to the beach instead.

What is your ideal browser? What elements you think should be included in a browser?
Vassilios: I like browsers really stripped, taking as little space as possible on screen. I would really like to have alternative ways of navigating through sites, more visual ways of recording your trip so that you could trace things back easily. Including basic functionality like video, Shockwave or Beatnik would not hurt either.

Lars: The one that would work like my Macintosh interface, with a huge wastebasket in one corner of the screen.

Stine: For me, the browser is just a tool to see a site through, and I really prefer to use the navigation that the site provides rather than the browser facilities. However, I tend to use Netscape.



AGENCY.COM
Agency.com is an industry leader with offices strategically located throughout the world. But it is also young and energized with all the excitement of a new industry. And, of course, it is growing - with new hirings, mergers and acquisitions. And it is engaged in long-term partnerships with companies such as British Airways, Compaq, Sprint, Texaco and Unilever.

Based on your professional experience and vision, what do you think will be happening in the Internet world in the new millennium?
In the near short-term (a couple of years?) - robotic pets. Technology with personality. Tail-wagging, ball-catching things that not only sit on your lap and purr but kick your ass at playstation, program your VCR, order the catfood from pets.com, and chew on your slippers when you're not watching. Interaction between soap operas and soap, between sitcoms and T-shirt buying. You're on the couch and a particularly fetching sofa appears on your favorite half-hour show. You stop the show (even though it's putatively on a "schedule"), mouse over the sofa and click. Info on brand, costs, materials appear. Along with a story as to how your favorite characters on your favorite show bought the sofa in an hilarious adventure. Would you like to watch this story? Buy the sofa? Store the sofa in your universal shopping basket?

In the next year - more examples, like levis.com, of visible consumer brands deciding that a go-it-alone web store isn't in the cards. More templated interface design. Interface gets amazoned. Check out the big sites for toys for the best examples: www.amazon.com/toyswww.etoys.comwww.kbkids.comwww.toysrus.com. More cartoons online that tell great stories and make us laugh. Some experimentation with user interaction with narrative in cartoons. More math in web-based development applications.

What kind of technology do you expect there to be on the Internet in the future?
Over the next year, XML - particularly the Scalable Vector Graphics specification - will open new design and animation possibilities. It'll allow design experimentation as design and data merge. And, of course, XML is platform agnostic, which will spur interactive design on different platforms (PCs, TVs, cell phones, PDAs, fishtanks). And AI - sooner rather than later these darn machines are going to get real smart. Not just chess smart, but smart the way your mum was when she knew you'd been up to no good.

Which project is the company most proud of?
As far as big, high-profile projects are concerned, there's really very little that you can point at when you look at the Internet and say, 'That's unique. That's different. That only happens online.' Most consumer-based e-commerce is a more sophisticated rehash of catalogue shopping. Most business-to-business e-commerce is EDS-style communication on steroids.

AOL, however, has created something different. You could make the argument that online chat, e-mail and instant messaging are simply online versions of real-life conversations either face to face or on the phone. But they're not. Online, you're not visible; you're reflective; you speak a different language; you're multi-tasking; you're more likely to speak exactly what's on your mind; you're 'talking' with a mass of folks all around the world at any one time; you can create your own identity. It's not the same as real life. But the power of AOL, and other companies that offer similar services, is that they are bringing people closer to other people (and people, even in this media-saturated society, are by far more interesting and interactive than movies, TV or video games) in a way that's never been done before. When it comes to small, low-profile, projects - www.desires.comwww.dhky.comwww.volumeone.com. Can art live online? Tired of interacting with data instead of ideas? Check out these sites to find young designers passionately poking holes in the status quo.

Does the new millennium hold any special meaning for you?
No. I'm getting older. The TV show Space 1999 didn't come anywhere near being true. Which is a bummer. I think living on the moon would be kinda cool, especially if Martin Landau was your boss.

E-commerce and e-business is the hottest topics on the web right now. What do you think of them?
Fast Company. IPO. MBA. Portfolio. Dow 13000. Business is the cultural zeitgeist. It's our "roaring twenties", "depressed thirties", "conformist fifties", "rebellious sixties", "greedy eighties". Business interest will define our generation. Whether you like it or not, it will.

Business today represents personal expression. It's an art form, a religion, an opportunity to make a difference. Start your own business and you now have the perfect forum to reject the ways of your father, the bureaucracy, two-martini lunches, gas-guzzling cars, middle-management, nepotism, sexism, homophobia. Start your own business and you become an architect for our times. It doesn't matter what business you're in. You're in the business of culture creation. The "e" in front of the two words above isn't the foundation of this generational fascination. Instead, it's a catalyst. It's probably easier to start a business today than at any other time. The question really should be: "What's all this leading to?" Growth is such a valued activity. How do we keep growing and growing and growing? Faster, faster, faster? Without destroying all the other values?

Are you interested in Internet shopping? And will you actually purchase merchandise through the Internet?
Yes and yes. Mostly, because I'm lazy. I hate carrying cat-litter boxes. I have two cats and they pee and crap a lot. So, I find myself buying cartons of cat litter. And that stuff is heavy as get out. But now, I can go online and have pet sites fight over themselves to deliver to my door the heavy cartons of cat litter! And because I live in New York city, I'm getting shafted by the price of cat litter at my neighborhood pet store. It's something like US$45 for a big thing of dry cat food. Big, heavy thing, remember. Online, they charge $25! I don't know if they can go on like this indefinitely. Making no money and delivering everything for free. But as long as it goes on, I'm happy. And so are my cats.

Which Internet browser do you prefer? Netscape or Explorer - or something else?
Netscape completely fell asleep at the wheel. As a result, IE5 is much faster, more refined, and more flexible than Netscape has ever been (and the Mac version is slick, too).

What is your ideal browser? What elements do you think shuld be included in a browser?
One that allows chunks of media of any media (text, graphics, video, plug-ins, etc.) to be embedded, stacked and scripted to interact with other chunks. Oh, and one that does that without bugs. Across platforms. And everyone has it.


TREE-AXIS
A web-design company that also has strengths in CD-ROM and print design. Formed by Stella Lai and Krister Olsson in October 1998, its client list includes large corporations as well as small, non-profit concerns.

Based on your professional experience and vision, what do you think will be happening in the Interent world in the new millennium?
On the technology front, we think things will pretty much progress as they have been doing. Computers and Internet connections will continue to become both faster and more ubiquitous. The real concern is whether or not the actual Internet infrastructure will evolve and scale to meet demand. As things speed up, the web will feel less like a collection of static pages and more like a collection of networked applications. We are looking at consumer appliances (particularly cell phones and new all-in-one PDA/cell phone/MP3/stapler/neckties) as being the next great web platforms. San Francisco dot.com mania will spread like a virus throughout the rest of the world, making everyone a little excited, but also somewhat queasy.

What kind of technology do you expect to find on the Internet in the future?
3D on the web will eventually come of age, thanks to fast computers and fast connections. We expect to see some incredibly outlandish worlds, the products of warped minds who grew up playing Doom and Quake. Also, see the answers to the previous question!

Which project is the company most proud of?
This question is a little vague. There's a lot of interesting Internet work out there.

Does the new millennium hold any special meaning for you?
The millennium itself doesn't really hold any special meaning, but because there has been so much noise made about it, it has been more of a time for reflection. The rate of human invention has been accelerating pretty incredibly, particularly since the 1970s (when most of us were born!). It will be interesting to see what the world will be like in the next decade, century, millennium.

E-commerce and e-business are the hottest topics on the web right now; what are your thoughts on them?
There's so much to talk about e-commerce ... B2B is all the rage right now, but B2C businesses are really interesting because the industry is in such a state of tumult. A few points: We find it interesting that a new economy is developing on the Internet. People are making real livings from trading on e-bay. Also, new forms of currency (such as airline mileage) that exist outside the traditional currency markets are becoming more and more popular.

The Internet was supposed to make it easier and cheaper to both shop and set up shop. But even with traditional middlemen removed from the picture, storefront sprawl on the Internet has spawned a new type of virtual middleman: the company that specializes in comparison shopping. People love to browse ... for books, CDs, clothes, whatever. And while future technologies might make it easier for people to visualize what they are purchasing online, bricks-and-mortar stores will always be important. People want to be able to touch and feel what they are buying.

Are you interested in Interent shopping? And will you actually purchase merchandise through the Internet?
We've been buying stuff online for years. Krister started buying CDs online from a store that sold them through a telnet interface (pre-browser!) several years ago. Stella buys everything that way, from CDs and books to bargain clothing and cosmetics. She finds it really convenient to buy gifts for friends overseas because she doesn't have to deal with shipping. If she bought something at a bricks-and-mortar store and had to mail it to someone overseas, it would probably sit in her closet for months.

Which Internet browser do you prefer? Netscape or Internet Explorer - or something else?
We've been using Netscape out of habit, but honestly, it has been really stagnating for the past few years. Being a primarily Mac shop, however, we can't really go the Internet Explorer route, as the page rendering on IE 4.5 for the Mac is very buggy. We're looking forward to the release of IE 5 for the Mac, as we run it on our PCs and we have to say it is very, very fast. On our Mac OS X box we run OmniWeb, and it is quite fast as well, though a bit lacking (no Shockwave!). We've also played with iCab, but it's not quite there yet.

What is your ideal browser? What elements do you think should be included in a browser?
Our ideal browser is simply a window to the Internet. No other functionality. Minimal auxiliary navigation (we'd like to get rid of the traditional home/back/forward/stop/etc. buttons, but they'd probably have to keep them so that people wouldn't freak out!). It would be very fast, and support all media types via plug-ins, which would be auto-updating. All the other browser clutter (bookmarks, form auto-fill, etc.) would be removed from the core browser and rewritten as stand-alone applications. There would be only one base browser application, but individuals could buy/download different plug-ins and add-ons.

Can you think of a new name, rough logo and rough interface for your ideal browser?
Our browser concept is visually quite simple. A static design wouldn't really do it justice!


JUSTIN FOX, DFM

DesignFix Media caters for a vast array of clients. The leading Australian design companies, communication companies and advertising agencies contract us to design the Some of their industry-related contractor/clients include: Hothouse Productions, Radiant Productions, Brand Dialogue, Australian Business Theatre, Capital Public Relations, Rochfort Thomas Mackintosh, Atomic Communications, Bold Entertainment Technologies and New Toys Multimedia.

Based on your professional experience and vision, what do you think will be happening in the Internet world in the new millennium?
There will most likely be more e-commerce activities and more and more people making transactions online and getting comfortable with the new medium. Design-wise, I feel that there will initially be a kickback against complex, database-driven design (e.g. portal sites, sites with hundreds of links off the home page) as well as multimedia-rich sites with a lot of Shockwave and/or Flash, and the move will be towards cleaner, more functional, faster-to-view websites that will be better designed and become more timeless as a result. As we can already see, there is a movement towards online collaboration and communication on the web (chat, icq, etc.) Multiplayer online gaming and virtual worlds will also rise.

What kind of technology do you expect there to be on the Internet in the future?
Technology advances in the computer world will affect where the Internet goes from here. More data-transfer standards, which may lead to integration of media and hardware (TV, radio, Internet, palm pilot, laptop, computer, mobile phone), may lead to wearable computers and public computer stations.

What is the best project to have come out of the Internet so far?
I think the best projects are still to come. We have tried to do so much with the Internet as it is, but speed has been a major problem. Once we have blinding speed (more bandwidth) we will see amazing projects. The best projects to date I feel have been the collaborative ones. The Internet to me is all about collaboration and communication. I have been collaborating on design and artworks on the web with international designers and artists for a few years now. And I never cease to find it nothing short of amazing.

Does the new millennium hold any special meaning for you?
Yes. It's time to drop our paranoias and get on with life! And break down monopolies and create better standards. Look at the New Year's predictions for an example of our paranoia. The media stuffed our brains with thoughts of the end of the world, tsunamis, hail storms, Nostradamus, the millennium bug, airplanes falling out of the sky, no electricity, riots. All of which didn't come true.

E-commerce and e-business are the hottest topics on the web right now; what do you think of them?
I like the idea of a small business having a chance to make it on the web. Renting commercial property to start a business is very expensive as opposed to an Internet-based shop. This will hopefully help to break the monopolies. They just have to make sure that e-commerce and e-business are accessible to small businesses, not only the big companies.

Are you interested in Internet shopping? And will you actually purchase merchandise through the Internet?
I think it's great. I enjoy paying my bills online (but don't enjoy receiving them!) and doing my banking online. I am looking into food shopping online, too.

Which Internet browser do you prefer? Netscape or Internet Explorer - or something else?
I prefer Netscape, but hate both of them.

What is your ideal browser? What elements do you think should be included in a browser?
I think in order to get the browser right, we have to get the operating system right. Sure, the desktop analogy/metaphor was great to get people into computers. The idea of a desk and a trash can and folders all seems logical, but a computer is so much more than a desk! Basically, I feel a desktop metaphor for an OS is severely limiting. I think one obvious thing I would like to see in both dominating browsers is standards as well as WYSIWYG.



About this article

This article was prepared and compiled by the editorial team of the International designers Network (IdN). It appears here with permission. © 2000 IdN.

About IdN Magazine
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