Volume 11 • Number 2  •  March, 2018

Sunset, Bandon Beach, OR, 2017
Clearing Storm, Lone Ranch Beach, OR, 2017

Disappearing Act

If we don't record our own history on the Net, it will disappear.  —Beeban Kidron (British Film Director)

According to websitemagazine.com administrator, Larry Alton – in an article titled: How Traditional Websites Could Become Obsolete By 2020 (here) – "the traditional website as we know it is gradually marching toward obsolescence, and if trends continue accelerating the way they have, we can expect them to disappear from our culture as early as 2020."

Needless to say, this particular news item has piqued my interest because, as a working photographer, the bulk of my business is conducted through what Mr. Alton has appropriately characterized as a traditional website.

The article's author speculates the reasons for the demise to be due, at least in part, to the way in which search engines are progressively forcing a decline in traffic to traditional websites. While I remain, admittedly, somewhat unsure about exactly why  search engines would be disposed to forcing Internet traffic away from any individual's chosen search criteria, the seemingly Orwellian overtones of this particular prediction should probably not be taken lightly. As most photographers (that I know of) continue to maintain traditional websites as the predominate means by which to present and distribute their work, I wonder: is this something that we photographers ought to be concerned about?

I suppose, if I lived in North Korea, my traditional website would not only be considerably more obscure than it already is, a State regulated search engine (assuming that web-based search engines even exist in North Korea) would most definitely be forcing traffic away from my website, in its entirety. Oh, who am I kidding, here? Under those circumstances this website would be... nonexistent! Yet, being fortunate enough to live in the United States, I'm afforded the freedom and opportunity to construct and maintain a personal website. And further, when I type most any other photographer's name into a web-related search engine, that photographer's website usually appears at the top of the list, just like mine does. Of course, that top-of-the-list notion can become a bit more tenuous if the photographer's name happens to be: "John Smith").

As an aside, I've often lamented that my own given name is just long enough – and uncommon enough – to be a relatively difficult one to absorb, as far as names go. I find my name to be too easily and too often misspelled and/or mispronounced. Yet, when it comes to an Internet search, having a name like: "Huntington Witherill" (provided the name has been spelled with a modicum of accuracy) definitely has its own advantages. Seems there just aren't any other Huntington Witherill's out there (at least, not that I'm aware of).

So, in this instance I'm naturally curious to speculate about what search results might actually arise through a post 2020 web-based search of the name: Huntington Witherill. [Sorry, the search criteria you have entered is no longer available. Please try again.]

It's hard to imagine where all of those billions upon billions of links are going to disappear to. Maybe the Internet will completely reinvent itself by 2020 and an entirely new paradigm will emerge. I could certainly see a shift in the current way in which websites are functionally coded, constructed, and maintained over time. I just built this relatively new website after my less than seven-year old prior site had become increasingly obsolete and unmanageable due to so many intervening changes to the codes and standards, themselves. (It seems to be the inevitable nature of computers and software.) Yet, an entirely new Internet paradigm – speculated to be upon us in less than two years time – that seems unlikely. According to Internet Live Stats (here) there are currently more than 1.3 billion websites operating on the World Wide Web. Where in the world will all those websites be going? Will they all simply vanish into deep cyberspace? (Or, will they simply be hiding on page 697 of those "new and improved" search results?)

Truth be told, I've occasionally thought of the Internet, itself, as being not unlike a virtual "house-of-cards." It's an entirely electronic entity, after all. At it most basic, the Internet is nothing more than a infinite number of ones and zeros parading around the electrical grid. There's really not much in the way of hard infrastructure to actually keep it all together and, more or less, completely invulnerable to malicious tampering. Yes, there's a lot of redundancy built into lots and lots of physical servers located all over the planet. However, take just a moment and walk over to your main breaker panel and flip a few of those odd looking switches to the "off" position. Viola! No electricity... no Internet! For all I know, there's some guy sitting in a room somewhere, just waiting for the opportune moment to flip that "Master WWW Kill switch", immediately after which the entire thing will come crashing down. OK, I admit, it's a completely loopy scenario.

I guess we just have to take it on faith that the Internet will always be there. I certainly hope that it will be there. I find it to be a remarkably useful tool. And much like the Sun – around which we continue to travel – the Internet seems to be one of those things that, by virtue of its own momentum, is not likely to disappear any time soon.

Yet when all is said and done, I do fully realize that nothing lasts forever. (Not even the Sun!) The notion that my own web presence (along with nearly everyone else's) is destined to become obsolete by the year 2020 – I wonder if I should be stockpiling web searches, now, so as to avoid the inevitable rush as the zero hour approaches.

Come to think of it, with less than two years remaining before my traditional website is slated to become little more than a culturally obsolete cloud of cyber-dust, I best get this tomb wrapped up and posted – as soon as possible!

Huntington Witherill 

Current Introductory Print Specials

Don't miss the current Introductory Print Specials!

For a limited time only, 11"x14" prints of the pigment ink editions shown above will be available for only $170.00 each. That's more than 50% below the retail price. And, as with any print purchased through this website, FREE shipping is included!

Click either image above to take advantage of this limited time special offer.

What are Introductory Print Specials?

Introductory Print Specials (IPS prints) feature an ongoing program of selected pigment ink print editions being offered exclusively through the HuntingtonWitherill.com web site at more than 50% below the retail prices. Each signed and numbered IPS print is culled from the "Regular" limited edition and is printed on an oversized sheet. IPS prints are not mounted or over-matted. Each loose print is rolled and shipped in a sturdy mailing tube. And the $170.00 price includes free shipping within the USA.

This special offer applies only to the two images displayed within the most currently posted issue of the e•Musings Newsletter. Each IPS print offering will be available for a limited time only and there will never be more than two (2) editioned images available (as IPS prints) at any given time. Each time a new issue of the e•Musings Newsletter is posted, new IPS offerings will be posted (to replace the previous offerings). Once an image has been removed as an Introductory Print Specials offering, standard retail prices will be applied to any remaining prints available in that edition.

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