Writing Too Much About iWeb

NetNewsWire ScreenshotThere’s a new post on SFist wherein I talk about how iWeb isn’t as cool as HyperCard.

And talk, and talk, and talk — I blame ecto. I liked it enough to pay for it, and now it means I don’t have to use web browser editors for my crucial blogging endeavors. Which means I’ve got even less restrictions on my natural inclination towards long-windedness. It turns out that living in fear of accidentally hitting the back button and losing everything was the only thing helping me towards succinctness.

My other discovery yesterday was RSS readers. I knew of them, of course; I’m not that far out of the loop. But I thought Safari was plenty sufficient — it tells you what sites have been updated, and then you can click on the links to see the full thing as it was intended to be presented.

After trying out the dedicated readers, though, I’m hooked. It actually makes what is essentially a time-wasting activity more efficient. You only see what’s updated, and it checks every site you’re interested in. I decided on NetNewsWire, but PulpFiction was almost as good. The only reason I didn’t choose that one is because it looks too much like Mail, which feels like work. NetNewsWire straddles the line between web browsing and efficiency, plus it just looks better.

This isn’t all just unfocused rambling, for once: the topics actually have something to do with each other. When I was setting up the different news readers, I could check out all the content from websites without ever visiting the page itself; some of the sites I’d never even heard of before. It only took a few minutes to come up with a NetNewsWire theme that I liked better than any of the defaults, and better than most of the source pages (including my own).

Which raises the question: does all the attention to CSS and webpage design even matter all that much anymore? Artistically-challenged people like myself should be excited at a world where substance is more important than style, and poor graphic design skillz aren’t a barrier to entry. But it’s kind of disappointing, too — there’s always the potential for a full website to have more functionality than a simple newsfeed, but I like the idea of a site’s just being attractive enough that you’re encouraged to see it, just for looks.

iWeb is on the other end of the spectrum from RSS feeds. It’s all about presentation, and the back-end support is pretty weak. It’s not even featured enough for a blog as simple as this one. But it makes it relatively easy to make a page that’s pretty damn slick; I imagine that people more artistically inclined could do really nice stuff with it. I just wonder if it’s doomed to irrelevance. Do people even care how a website looks anymore? Livejournal is one of the most popular blogging engines out there, and I’ve never seen a livejournal entry that didn’t look like ass.

I never thought I’d be arguing for style over substance, but there it is: I want the intarweb to look better. And before anyone points out that charity begins at home: I’m working on it.