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Are personal web pages the new graffiti?

I always felt there was something solemnly sad about graffiti. As if it’s some lone cry of self-expression heard for a moment above the drone of anonymity. A visual plea saying little more than “I exist!” daubed in wet paint, dry marker pen or coloured aerosol. So could it be that personal web pages are the new graffiti?

MySpace personal pages are the seat of many a web joke. Not many people can claim to understand the subtleties of web design, or the many nuances of layout and design. But almost anyone can spot a MySpace personal page — usually identified by the total overuse of gaudy, high-contrast colours, hideous background pictures, insufferable, screeching songs and unreadable text.

Wayne woz ‘ere!

But when all is said & done, for the individual whose personal page that is, it’s their background picture, it’s a collection of songs they like, and words explaining things about them, their likes, dislikes and sometimes a mention or two of what they want from life. It’s their moment of “I exist!”

And this ‘blog is my moment, too — I exist. The only difference is, there’s probably more people know that I exist.

I’m probably less likely to hurt your eyes with blue text on a red background, or hurt your ears with teen-rock riffs — that’s what a design college education is for, right? But the fundamentals are almost the same.

For example, when we take a step back and look at ‘blogging, what we write about is our views on the world around us, writ large. Words and pictures that can be read almost anywhere on Earth, which transcends almost all other means of communication.

The writing’s on the wall

In the real world, street graffiti has been given a hero in form of Banksy, a ‘graffiti artist’ of some renown in London — who also has a website.

Any form of self-expression — be it music, art, dance — is a method of communication. All of those lone cries of self-expression heard for a moment above the drone of anonymity linger longer on the web.

As in the real world, how you choose to express yourself often aligns you with one clique or another, and in that sense, there’s a community where a clique of but two people could more than likely straddle continents and bestride time zones.

So it’s fitting then that in this digital age — one rich with communication — street walls and house ends give way to web pages, shared with friends, family and the world at large…

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By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

3 replies on “Are personal web pages the new graffiti?”

Good article, Wayne! There’s this web page, Caminando Bogotá dedicated to pictures and idiosyncracy of my city, Bogotá. It means “Walking Bogotá” and if you hit entrar, the first menu, you get to experience a bit of our city. One of the experiences is to draw virtual grafitis which you can share and that remain posted on the page.

You can check some of these grafitis by clicking the link galería grafitis at the right side of the page. It’s an urban experiment. Beware, it’s in Spanish. All the best, Carolina.

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