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Grit Meets Grout

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In: Columns > Pro Dot Con

By Peter Fielding

Published on June 14, 2001

Let's take a moment away from web design, shall we?

I see the geeks trying to bolt now. Sit your turtlenecked, bespectacled arses down a moment and read anyway, please.

We're taking a moment to veer away from design, and talk about..."why."

I used to be very proud when I'd equate myself with creating some of this medium. Giving to the "community" in my own miniscule way would make me smile enough to get through pages of code and cross browser checking. I'd make toys, widgets, graphics, art pieces....hell I even "blog." Yep, I created a little section of the net that was just for me...and a few thousand connected people who wanted to see with my eyes. Pride was an easy word.

I'm not so proud right now.

I don't feel like rehashing the pedantic argument over what happened last month. I've considered it again and again, and frankly, it's not any more tasteful or humorous to me than it was when I saw it happen. I've managed to see a remarkable low in the "community" that invigorated me so well. The fiasco that started out as the May 1st Reboot, and became the Party for Whining Children of the Web, was truly saddening. I always thought that the steps of a completed concept were:

Idea
Interest
Planning
Execution
Completion

Apparently I missed the part that includes the peanut gallery's jealous, embittered, scathing, pointless commentary. Was I cranky? Yeah, I thought so, but then I realized... I'm just sad.

You'll all be shocked to know that I have a lot of those opinions, too.

However, I can easily distinguish the difference between my opinions and the immensity of my ego. One is harmless by itself, but together they flare out of control, turning me into a petulant child who rails in the supermarket, toppling cereal boxes over in an impotent display to make up for my lack of "power" or skill.

I'm nowhere near the best I am at what I choose to do. I am, however the best I am at doing the things "I do." I choose to use myself as my measuring stick of progress, looking to others for knowledge and inspiration. That's why I'm involved with this site.

At the same time, I get nothing from the failures of others. I don't stand on the throats of other people so that I can inflate my "worth." Those things have been done to me, and it wasn't a pleasurable experience.

It doesn't matter where you stood in that whole debate, and it doesn't matter what you said. The damage is done. "After such knowledge, what forgiveness?" When I saw what was going on, I was ashamed of belonging to a group that I'd seen before with such wide eyed optimism. I've calmed down since then, because a lot of people have joined me in the practice of being sensible. I still have to wonder though, what was actually accomplished? We were all our own gods, connecting, communicating, flowing. And we failed.

I might sound like I'm preaching, but what I really want to do is point out the goodness of what we've got. There is an infrastructure of amazingly talented and giving minds in this community. There are countless good and wonderful people who donate their time and their talents, without any intent to be compensated financially. They comprise the backbone of what made me grin when telling selfish people what I was involved in. These people continue to give, even through the ugliness and the lack of hope.

Despite that, we failed because for the most part, we just stood around and watched while some let their egos spin out of control.

The good news is that we can still succeed.

CoolingTrend is a site built for sharing. Sure, it highlights competitions, with prizes no less, but only for incentive amongst the scared. A way of sharing with each other, no matter what the "clique," and possibly breaking barriers while we all learn from one another's work. Ain't that somethin'?

Independents Day is a very pure concept, incubated by a bunch of well-thinking people that I have come to respect, and love. Their ideas live inside my mind while I create. One brings me humour, and dental advice. One gives me inspiration, and hubris. One gives me love, and adrenaline. None of them are getting paid (and if you think I am, I'd scan my pocketbook but I had to pawn it for a bag of tortilla chips). They've given birth to an idea. The idea became a concept. The concept has bloomed into an opportunity.

Out of the ashes of pointless criticism, the conflagration of last month's events becomes a story of hope. I think we can all be honest and connected. Our goal is to communicate through design and content, to be greater than the sum of our parts.

What can I contribute?

...Myself.

Hi. I'm Peter, a linkwhoring graphics geek who can just code enough to get by, making my layouts support a ragtag band of designers, writers, and creators. I'm most often found amidst a desk strewn with ashtrays, coffee cups, and the occasional can of Jolt™. I know my own worth without looking to others for reflections first. I'm a creator, and that's what makes me smile.

I don't do it for glory. There's precious little to be had. I don't do it for traffic. My host hates me enough already. I do it all to connect. I do it for me...you...and us.

You won't see my face on the cover of Rolling Stone, but if you think that you should see yours there... then I'm sorry, but there's a good chance that we've both just wasted a lot of time while you read this.

Hi, I'm Peter and these are my hands supporting a cracked foundation. Could you pass the concrete patch?

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Peter Fielding makes the pretty things for Pixelflo.com, while he hunkers down in the frozen tundra of western Canada. Receiving his email by data dog sled, he is most often found lighting miniature garbage can fires for the homeless baby seals that power his cpu, and lobbying for the inclusion of Full Contact Page Design in the next Winter Olympics.

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