Good vs. bad limitations; technology and content.

Good vs. bad limitations; technology and content.

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Good vs. bad limitations; technology and content.

“I’d just as soon play tennis with the net down” – Robert Frost

I might have argued, a few years back, that the technology used to create/present content should be invisible.  And, by and large, I still believe that’s an important goal to reach — at least, for the content creator, we don’t want to face limitatons based on the technology.  We don’t want to be stuck creating our content in a specific way because that’s what the computer needs us to do. 

Of course, that hasn’t always been the case.  The original QWERTY keyboards were created to solve techological problems — key jams. And that’s not the first or last time.  But, so much as it’s possible, we don’t want to be caught in a place where the technology we are using dictates specific things about our content. 

And yet . . . .

Twitter turned 4 over the weekend, and it’s the most obvious modern example of an artificial limitation that has created a huge flood of creativity and interest — all over a hard limit on the number of characters a user can use in their microblog post. Like a modern version of haiku, twitter is blowing the doors off other social media options (with the exception of Facebook) and is at the heart of a revolution in marketing and business online. 

So, is that a good limitation or a bad limitation? Poets have voluntarily accepted limitations and artificial stucture in the form of rhyme and meter for poetry — and most forms of art have their own accepted rules and structures.  The Robert Frost quote above was Frost’s response to the idea of writing free verse — poetry without (conventional) rhyme or meter.  

Creativity can be supported and structured by limitations . . . so how does that apply to web design?  I am not sure, honestly.  I don’t know anymore than limitations are necessarily bad . . . but I still don’t want to use this argument as a crutch to accept that I’m not finding a way to provide the sort of user experience my users/customers want from a web site. 

What do YOU think?

(photo: / CC BY 2.0)

Image of The Poetry of Robert Frost: The Collected Poems, Complete and Unabridged


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