the web as performance art

by williamldennis

Fred Wilson mentioned in a post how one of his portfolio entrepreneurs equated himself to an artist, and the web as the most powerful artistic tool of our generation. While an appealing thought, it’s a stretch. Releasing V1 of a site is a far cry from releasing a song or putting down the brush on a canvas. When conventional artists “ship,” it’s over, it’s out of their hands. The public has it now.

But you can never really finish a website. The potential for “better” UI and sustainable competitive advantage are just around the corner with the new feature set. Things can load a little faster, be a little easier to navigate, look better on mobile. With web, what takes a few weeks to build then takes years to improve and refine, all while in the public’s eye.

There are just a few sites like hacker news and google’s homepage that have remained relatively the same of the past few years. Are these sites just good enough or perfect from day one? Would an updated UI or a change in layout be beneficial? You could make the argument for either, but their compelling commitment to simplicity is the exception rather than the rule.

In tech I think there is a constant belief that things can always be better. There is an innate drive for progress. From broad political systems to industry to pixels on a web page, an answer lies is tech. There is the belief that if we just work a little harder and think and create a little more we’ll make a dent in something.

Maybe the web is indeed art. A type of performance art set in the struggle for relevance and constant improvement. If art is supposed to represent something within the human experience, I guess creating a website actually seems pretty appropriate.