The Awakening Web

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.”

– Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, p.21

Many people I encounter think that being on the Web is the opposite of mindfulness. While I understand this belief (there is much stupidity — and worse — on the Web), even so it breaks my heart.

For me, the Web is a limitless source of wonder — rich with resources and tools to foster not just mindfulness, but also what I loosely think of as “awakening.” It’s loving awareness, presence, tapping into life energy, happiness. . . .

In the aggregate, I think of these amazing resources and tools as “The Awakening Web.”

This doesn’t encompass everything on the Web. Of course not. Also, to state another obvious: mindfulness is not what; it’s how. Thus it’s the way that you approach the Web.

In my experience, all of us approach at least a few sites in this spirit of openness, receptivity, spaciousness. I’m talking about those sites that make you come alive — even for just a minute or two.

However, as a Web developer, there’s another aspect to this “awakening.” It’s how we, the builders and authors of the Web, create our sites.

It reminds me a bit of cooking. Alas, I rarely cook mindfully. And then, every once in a while, it actually does happen. On those rare occasions, the food I create probably doesn’t taste any better. But when I serve it, there’s a happiness I can tell that others pick up (that mirror neuron magic) — and thus, in some measure, it’s a better experience for everyone.

Then why, you might ask, don’t I cook mindfully more often? Simple. I’d prefer to be building websites. So now, with this redesign, I aspire to build the Web mindfully — and from my own tiny corner of the universe to nourish this Awakening Web.

On good days, my luminaries aren’t the creators of the “best” websites. Those are fellow craftsmen — mentors at most.

Rather my luminaries are artists who express themselves through religion. I think particularly of the anonymous artists from sites like Dunhuang and the Ajanta Caves. I often imagine those nameless ones taking what they learned in meditation and expressing it via their hands.

I have almost no idea of what this means. But I hope it’s akin to beginner’s mind. Perhaps it’s an act of faith.

If so, an act of faith is the image that you may have clicked on to find this page. It’s my latest representation of the Awakening Web.

It blends a few things that seem to me a match….
The Awakening Web represented in SVG as an opaque geometric rainbow burst

  • It uses a wide spectrum of colors for our incredible diversity.
  • The colors are slightly opaque, because really we’re all interconnected, not self-enclosed or finite.
  • It’s geometric, for balance.
  • It scales easily — built with my favorite image format, Scalable Vector Graphic (SVG). SVGs render better than any other format across the modern Web. They’re made up of math formulas, not pixels, so, with no loss in quality, they grow and shrink — to any size — from the smallest phone to the largest projector screen.

And Then There’s the Redesign

I launched a new WordPress theme for this site just over a week ago. It’s a thorough redesign — also inspired by the Awakening Web and this goal of honoring it. I explained how I did this on my first post after the redesign. It’s in how I coded the concept — playing with the golden ratio, using lean, modern practices, and keeping the code as clean as I can.

If you spot any glitches please let me know. I keep running across them here and there. It’s the danger of going live with more edgy, modern code — especially given the diversity of ways one can look at the site.

Finally, a word of thanks to the many who have supported me directly and indirectly in this redesign that aspires to honor the Awakening Web. I can’t begin to name all of you, but a few that spring to mind are Chris Coyier, Bryan Jones, Veerle, the W3C’s EOWG, the Make WordPress Accessible Group, NVC Nashville, Patty and Treeman, Daisy Belle, Jim Key, Denise Rimes, the Rev. Gail Seavey, fellow-diva the Rev. Jason Shelton, the Rev. Bruce Rogers-Vaughn, my amazing children, including a kindred Web enthusiast, and most of all, Alan, AKA Mr. Web Diva.

2 Comments

  1. no one will ever believe that I inspired (however indirectly) any kind of web. shows the infinite power of the creative spirit flowing through those who pay attention! with faith and love,

  2. Thanks so much, Gail. And I love it that you have the chutzpah to do a blog comment! Last I knew you were saying you’re a digital immigrant with a thick accent. And now you not only text with aplomb, but you can navigate blogs. You go! One of the many ways you inspire me.

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