In my presentation on “McLuhan and the Tactile Web” at HighEdWeb 2012 last month, I noted that one of my reasons for submitting the proposal in the first place was a desire to see higher ed web professionals (and web professionals in general) take a step back from the minutiae of our day-to-day work to engage with some of the “big ideas” discussed in the theory and criticism produced by academic fields like media studies. The technology within which we web monkeys live and breathe moves so quickly, and is so detail-oriented, that in the nitty-gritty of our day-to-day work we rarely have the opportunity to switch our focus to the sort of big picture thinking that theorists like McLuhan engage in. Making the effort to do this — to inform our practice with theory — would, I think, make us better at our craft and result in better experiences for our users.
While there currently exist a number of great sites for web practitioners (like A List Apart) as well as a few–though surprisingly few, really–fascinating journals (like Fibreculture) aimed at scholars studying the web and related technologies, I see an opening for a site that could serve as a meeting place for both. As I’m envisioning it, this site would serve as a place for those who actually build the web as well as those who spend their time thinking about the high-level, big picture concepts to mingle, to share ideas and experiences. This would give theorists a real chance to shape the web of the future, and provide practitioners the chance to think deeply and constructively about the medium within which we work.
Such an undertaking would, of course, only be possible as a collaborative effort. So I turn to you, dear readers: would such a site be worth the effort? Is there something out there of which I am unaware that is already filling this niche? What would you like such a resource to enable you to do? What challenges would you foresee arising in such an undertaking?