Web World

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Traditional creatives who've spent six years not getting the web may feel vindicated by the current dot-com implosion (www.alistapart.com/stories/decline/). Surely no sentient being will mourn the passing of wedelivertoothpaste.com, or empathize with agencies that staffed up to support such obviously inane businesses. But the "market correction," as it's optimistically glossed, is killing good companies along with the bad. And massive layoffs bode ill for the entire economy, not simply the thousands of pixel wranglers and code slingers who are the first to feel the pinch .

Some say folks who understand the web will find jobs again; that ultimately, only those who didn't get it to begin with will be forced into other lines of work. After all, aren't they partly to blame for the current woes? But we've lived and worked too long to believe that idiots don't bounce back.

It's also argued that when the dust clears, traditional media will finally grasp the web's true value. That the web is and always was about creativity and community (www.fray.com). That get-rich-quick schemes and fawning press coverage obscured the medium's deeper identity, as gaudy makeup mars a pretty face. Now that no reporter is likely to gush over a 23-year-old CEO's Fifth Avenue penthouse, "web coverage" may actually cover the web instead of its tangential excesses. Or so the theory goes.

But we've cancelled too many subscriptions to subscribe to this notion, either. We think those who already got the web will continue to get it, while those who focused on glitzy tangents will now avert their gaze. And maybe that's OK. Maybe now that the Gold Rush is over and the prospectors have saddled their mules and ridden off (if they haven't had to hock their saddles), the web's vital personal, creative and business aspects will finally be allowed to evolve more organically.

Or maybe we're all just hosed.

Jeffrey Zeldman (www.zeldman.com) is creative director of A List Apart (www.alistapart.com) and co-founder of The Web Standards Project (www.webstandards.org).

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