The unpolished web
The internet is fast becoming the world’s most effective, ubiquitous and well presented communication medium. As the web has grown, so has the expectation for high quality, intuitive interfaces and limited however albeit ‘perfectly catered’ personal pages across social media platforms. It was not so long ago that the opposite was standard.
The web hasn’t been a place of personal invention and discovery for a long time. Without realising, MySpace was the last platform to nurture a ‘web development’ spirit in youth. Signing up to MySpace gave you a personal profile. It was ugly, impersonal and lacked any creative flair. It was also extremely easy to customise, and due to extremely relaxed design security, it became common practise for anyone who had a profile to seek out ‘codes’ that customised your personal page. After a while, most people, without entirely understanding exactly what they were doing, could understand basic HTML & CSS syntax, at least to a very basic degree. This sense of ‘creating’ on the web is what web development is all about and whilst MySpace was the last to accidentally nurture this, the impact that it had on the average consumer at the time was immeasurable.
Web developers simply grew from average consumers as they used the web. The adrenalin, excitement and intrigue of putting your stamp on something that was seen by millions of people around the world was more than enough motivation for at least a healthy percentage of that group to pursue and delve deeper into web development becoming the passionate, curious and inventive developers we’ve grown accustomed to.
The organic web developer
As the web grew, so did a community centred around the cumulative development of the web. It didn’t feel like work- everyone felt like they were on the very edge of communication and technology, working towards a greater cause.
There is an unspoken expectation of the kind of culture a web developer exudes, the kind of person that they are and the way they approach their work. Now a reliable career, web development for most members of previous generations began as a hobby rather than a career path and was treated as such by those that engaged themselves in it. This care and passion fostered and inspired a unique discipline and attitude to the work, a culture that, due to the lack of support from the education industry is dwindling and will inevitably be lost.
The next generation
The web development climate is currently shifting on global scale. The work ethic of the stereotypical web developer today is a relic of old technology, born out of the fertile ground of the unpolished web, passionate and inherently curious. The web developers of tomorrow will share little in common with the latter type. Rather, this next generation will be much more career focused, more focused on the development of experiences and more enticed by the financial reward of their work. As education finally begins meeting the technology half way, more and more ‘academic’ developers will emerge. This may seem like an advantage overall however the expectations of these developers and their work ethic will need to shift accordingly in order not to alienate new developers. An Uncomfortable transition is coming but it’s one that needs to be met with care and understanding.