I’m all for creating a new myth of the webmaster

You know, for a guy who claims to hate labels and being labelled, I spend an awful lot of time conjuring up new labels for myself. As much as I hate labels, I know they are necessary because that’s how humans relate to each other—identify, clarify, and classify is their default setting. But the danger with labels is that they come with preconceived notions and emotional baggage. The label carries its own meaning, separate from the person wearing it.

I’ve been rummaging through some of my old labels, looking for inspiration. Webmaster, of all things, came to mind. Remember the webmaster—the oracle of cyberspace, and once a guardian at the gates of the online world? That was when cyberspace was less automated and more personal. The webmaster was not just a role but an embodiment of early internet culture, an era marked by blinking HTML and the wild frontier of GeoCities, where every pixel seemed soaked in possibility.

I know I’m probably being a little bit overly nostalgic, but the missing figure of the webmaster casts a long shadow over today’s internet. There was a time when to create a website was to craft a digital homestead, with each line of code a furrow in the cybernetic soil. The webmaster managed to conjure order out of chaos, wielding raw code like an artist handles the paintbrush—intimately and deliberately. They were the guardians of our online odysseys, tending to server-side issues and broken links with a craftsman’s care.

Now, artificial intelligence, algorithms, and cookie-cutter platforms have dispersed the fog where webmasters once stood watch. The personal touch, the idiosyncratic charm of a hand-coded website, has largely faded into sleek uniformity. Few dare to be different.

My fear is that in this evolution, we’ve lost something vital—a connection to the mythic dimension of creation, where every act of making is also an act of self-expression and meaning.

Me missing the webmaster is perhaps a longing for a return to a more enchanted interface where the digital and mythic realms were knitted closer together. Each click and scroll was a step deeper into someone else’s psyche, a small act of entering a narrative woven with personal myths and symbols, rather than merely navigating through the sanitised corridors of mega-corporate designs.

Imagine how different the experience of the web might be if each interaction still carried the mark of an individual creator, their unique digital brushstrokes shaping our perceptions of their space. In such a world, we could resurrect the webmaster’s role as digital shaman or bard, a keeper of stories and a guide through the unseen, whose sacred duty it would be to ensure the spirit of the machine harmonises with the human pulse.

Let’s all be masters of our own digital domains, and instead of being users, be creators, storytellers, and custodians of our online existence. Let’s all create spaces that reflect the depths of our individual and collective imaginations.

I’m all for creating a new myth of the webmaster.

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