I thought for my opening salvo on kent.ly I'd just sabotage the whole thing by saying that I don't like making websites. At least, I don't like making them nearly as much as I like making books.
Books became a bit of a thing for me while I worked at Blurb. It's what Blurb does, and I quickly succumbed to the magic of it. Books have been our primary way of organizing and disseminating information for the past 600 years. Websites have been with us for about 25. Books I read and collected and cradled in my arms as a child. Websites appeared to me in my teens—they were slow loading and ugly, but hey, they've improved. Even when I've fallen asleep with my phone in my hand, I've never really held a website.
But it's more than legacy, sentimentality, and tactile fetishism that draws me to books. It's about construction and purpose. I've made about 30 books, most print-on-demand but also the handmade variety. They have a mechanical structure and a sequential order (though that's open to experimentation). There's no code, no standards, no widgets, no browser dependencies. The size of the page will not change based on who reads it. But more than that, when I make a book it is a discreet package of information, whether verbal or visual. I make a book about baseball, another about my pop art, still another (four or five) about Chicago. They amount to a small library and each is part and parcel me.
Websites, like this one, are a visual and verbal soup stuck in a bifurcating ontological tree. I can't control how you go through it, or what you get out of it, any more than I can with a book. But websites have to be organized top down, like a convenience store. They are open to experimentation, but people get impatient if they can't navigate. But most of all, a website compresses. In this case it compresses me: Here is everything represented, a sampler platter.
I could make a library of websites. And I suppose I should—After all it's easier to send someone to a website then to get them to buy a book. But I'm not likely to. There's not the same joy in it for me. Because in my heart of hearts I know this: Websites inform, but books express.