Justin Skolnick lives and works in Portland.


Originally posted to justin.revision8.com on in Waverly, Iowa

in the summer of 1994 my dad bought a Macintosh Quadra 650.
then Macs did not come with pre-installed programs
other than SimpleText, of course.
but then it was called TeachText and could do even less than SimpleText.
(Windows users: SimpleText is like Notepad)
I said, “all I want is a drawing program”
and maybe solitare, too.
we bought Aldus SuperPaint in December.
Adobe bought Aldus.
Paint was pixel-based. Draw used bezier curves.
never figured out how to use both together. successfully, at least.
but I did learn about gradients and the basics of computer art.
it was good PhotoShop prep.
dad got Photoshop, Illustrator and QuarkXPress.
Photoshop was easy. Illustrator took awhile to learn.
Quark wasn’t too bad, but I had little use for it.
eventually I was good enough to apply for an ad design job
with the local weekly newspaper.
my dad knew one of the founders/co-owners.
I interviewed and was hired based on my portfolio.
it was a collection of computer-generated drawings.
I have always been an artist.
art is more important than computer art

I was excited. it was my first job. I interviewed without dressing up.
never liked dressing up. still prefer jeans and a tshirt.
haven’t had any problems yet. my goal in life: never wear a business suit.
in mid 1997 the office was online with a speedy 28.8 modem.
my first experience with the web involved Yahoo and a search for JS Bach.
then came the home page of Mike Keneally, a former Zappa henchman.
I printed the source code, came home, installed Netscape on the Quadra
(offline until 1998)
and retyped the source. then I changed a number or a word.
(enter html coding.)
then I changed some images, learned gif and jpeg
and eventually convinced the newspaper to start a web site.
I didn’t make the first or second incarnations, but I updated the second.
the third was my frames-based creation. my first real web site.
needless to say, I was thrilled.
it was a good job.
somewhere in late 1997 or early 1998 I broke down, disgusted with advertising,
convinced it was the tool of the devil, and vowed never to do it again.
(I no longer believe in the existence of the devil or Satan as an entity,
but rather anything that threatens to pull us from God)
(or, if you don’t believe in the existence of God, whatever God may be,
anything that pulls us away from… I don’t know… ourselves? love?
our “true interests,” if such things exist. you get the idea.)
(essentially, something non-essential and ultimately unsatisfying and destructive)
(advertisting still fits the description)
I hate advertising. I have firsthand knowledge of the industry.
the goal is this: convince people they can’t live without [insert item or service]
I cannot live with that.
advertising is the devil

I loved the Internet when it was new. it was big, it was fresh and continual
and dynamic
and computers were exciting; colorful and neat.
I’m still childishly impressed with a cool gui.
and the ability to finally publish something
instantaneously and globally
I could not pass up.
(this is the first time I have any real content.)
before, it was all design.
the web used to be about free speech and idealism and personal home pages
but now it is all about money
and is rarely exciting anymore.
how can I make web sites (for a living)
or design anything commercial with a clear conscience?
commercialism is a sickness. things do not make us happy.
we don’t need most of what we buy. I don’t need a computer.
or a car or a tv.
but it is nearly impossible to live without these things anymore.
I don’t like this at all.
we rely far too much on “technology”

what about Bill Gates? he is but a boy
he stole the gui idea from a stubborn Apple (who bought it from Xerox)
bought what he could not steal, and bought everything else
slapped “Microsoft” on his visually inconsistent and unattractive
often internally conflicting collection
and cried like a spoiled little brat when the DOJ decided
he wasn’t playing fair.
“freedom to innovate” my ass
he is a thief and a true capitalist
Bill Gates is not my hero.
fellow students:
wealth and “prosperity” are impermanent and unsatisfying

a politician I met in Denver chanted the word “technology”
among the other things politicians like to say.
“diversity” is another biggie. numbers are the key to “diversity”
I doubt she knew what “technology” means.
right now it means computers and cell phones.
her knowledge is probably limited to Microsoft Word and Explorer
probably Outlook. maybe even Excel or PowerPoint.
(I know… I shouldn’t assume.)
but the word simply means, says Webster, “applied science”
(and “diversity,” for that matter)
say “computer” say “Internet” say “cell phone”
say “wireless technology” say “print technology”
but do not simply chant the word
be specific. the word “technology” no longer means anything.
(the word “diversity” translates into numbers)
printed books are technological. my plastic water bottle is technological.
a fertilized cornfield is technological.
saying “technology of [insert here]” is fine.
it smells the same sour way political correctness does.
in our effort to avoid offending people we have generalized our thought
and speech so that we are saying nothing at all.
“crippled” > “disabled” > “differently abled” > “definitely abled”
I heard the last one at an ELCA youth gathering.
I am “definitely abled.”
I’m not mocking those with disabilities. they are amazing.
but our term for the physically disabled is little more than inspirational.
it’s a feel-good word.
it doesn’t mean anything.
we must be specific with our words, even though they may not mean anything at all

and that is the extent of my ranting for today. more to come.