the death of webmonkey

Webmonkey, RIP: 1996 ? 2004

here’s the complete text of my email to Paul Boutin, in response to his blog post:

When I first started doing Web stuff (c. 1999), Webmonkey was my constant guide and companion.

Tables gave me fits to start with; Webmonkey’s analogy of the divided picnic plate got me to the point where I understood the concept, particularly the rowspan/colspan thing that was so key to the old-school table-based layouts. [ack! that was really an article about frames, which he gracefully corrected. of course, frames gave me fits too, maybe even more than tables. ah, those were the days, when every damn thing I learned was something blindly new to me.]

And I actually printed and spiral-bound their original guide to CSS; kept it at my desk when my old employer added our Web site to my job. I think I still have it someplace in my home office, because I was too nostalgic to recycle it the last time I cleaned out my personal library.

I read lots of other stories, but those are the two that I remember vividly, and they sum up what Webmonkey was to me back then. I fell in love with the Web almost instantly; Webmonkey’s articles helped me figure out how to translate that vague emotion into specific work.

In retrospect, it feels intimately tied up with the way of the Web back then, like A List Apart: a central repository with clever writing, some useful techniques, some “cool” stuff that I’d never use. But ALA seems to have kept moving with the design community, and I don’t think Webmonkey did.

Where before there were just a couple of sites that I read all the time to keep up, centralized like magazines, now the pool of Web design/development knowledge seems to have diffused itself out among the vast conglomeration of weblogs: I read articles/posts scattered across dozens of blogs every week, with a handful that I check religiously every day.

Thanks for the opportunity to share a few memories and to randomly philosophize. 🙂

[address block]

and I remembered in an e-mail to someone else that it was Webmonkey that Tom sent me to lo these many years ago when I first wanted to learn how to make Web pages. sigh…