Volume 12 • Number 1 • March 2019
by Huntington Witherill
“We live in a moment of history where change is so speeded up that we begin to see the present only when it is already disappearing.” — R. D. Laing
Well… it was fun while it lasted. From an article titled: How Traditional Websites Could Become Obsolete By 2020 I have recently learned that "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." (The original article can be found here.)
Needless to say, the above quoted revelation caught my attention because the bulk of my photography business is conducted through a traditional website. And yes, I know. I’m a bit slow on the uptake, here. The article from which the aforementioned prophecy has been extracted was originally posted on websitemagazine.com back in August of 2015. However, that’s one of the things about the Internet. Once posted online, our words tend to remain fixed in perpetuity. And of course, the prediction being explored in this instance continues to be subject to inquiry given the fact that (as of the date of this writing) its target date is still a year or more away.
The article’s author (Larry Alton) cites reasons for the pending cultural shift to be due, at least in part, to the way in which search engines are increasingly forcing a decline in traffic to traditional websites. Though I remain uncertain as to why any search engine would be configured to direct Internet traffic away from an individual's chosen search criteria – the seemingly Orwellian overtones of such oversight should probably not be taken lightly. And, in this case, Mr. Alton may well be on to something as I continue to run across an increasing number of articles and news reports related to politically and financially motivated censorship on the world wide web that is being facilitated through (among other things) the covert manipulation of search results – Google being a prime example of such nefarious behavior, as alleged here.
Regardless, most working photographers that I know of continue to maintain a traditional website as the predominant means by which to present and distribute their work to the public. I wonder… are we photographers (together with our shared online presence) about to be summarily remanded to some lowly outpost in deep cyberspace? And more importantly, am I always the last one to know?
Now of course, not all photographers confine their online presence to a traditional website as I do. Many also make use of social media outlets (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and the like) in order to help get their message out. Yet, despite its immense popularity, I’ve never really warmed up to the social media phenomenon. Doubtless I’m missing opportunities by electing to avoid social media, altogether. At the same time, with so many security breaches and other types of ongoing privacy concerns being associated with social media use (as reported here, here, and/or here) I can’t say that I regret my decision to stick with a traditional website. And after all, if people really want to find me, all they have to do is type my name into a search engine. Seems pretty simple and straightforward.
Speaking of typing names into a search engine (and with apologies for wandering a bit off topic, here) I've often lamented that my own given name (Huntington Witherill) is just long enough, and sufficiently uncommon enough, to be a relatively difficult moniker to initially grasp. As a result, I have a name that is quite often misspelled and/or mispronounced. Yet, when it comes to an Internet search, having a unique name like Huntington Witherill definitely has some advantages. Seems there just aren't many other Huntington Witherill's out there.
So, in this instance I'm naturally curious to speculate about what search results might arise through a post 2020 search of the name: “Huntington Witherill.” Once my website has become obsolete, what might a subsequent search of my name actually produce? [Sorry, the search terms you have entered are no longer culturally relevant. Did you mean: “Hunting for a thrill?”]
Mind you, I’m not worried about whether or not my website will become obsolete. If push comes to shove, I can always set up a “lemonade stand” type of arrangement out at the end of my driveway. I get nearly fifty cars a day driving by my house. Surely at least a few of those who are passing by will be in need of a fine art photograph. Still and all (and kidding aside) it's difficult to imagine that so many traditional websites will be so rapidly disappearing from our culture. Does anything last for more than 15-minutes in this day and age?
(Article continued below... please scroll down)
Newly Posted in the Recent Work Gallery
Owing to the fact that I’ve not picked up a camera since the previous issue of this newsletter was posted back in November, 2018 (shame on me!) I have, instead, chosen to feature some older works that have not previously appeared on the website. Some of the images date back to the mid 1970s and cover a variety of subject matter.
To view the previously unseen work simply click the link below (or either image, above).
Witherill Article and Images Featured on the Outdoor Photographer Website
If you by chance missed the November, 2018 issue of Outdoor Photographer Magazine, an article and several of my photographs were featured in a special Black & White issue of the iconic magazine. That content has recently been posted on the Outdoor Photographer Website where it can now be freely accessed, online.
OutdoorPhotographer,com (which is normally a subscription-based website containing a wealth of membership benefits) has graciously agreed to host the article as one of those that can be fully accessed by the public, for free. As such, you need not be a member in order to access Witherill’s article at the Outdoor Photographer Website. Many thanks to Editor, Wes Pitts, for making the article available to everyone.
To view the online posting, simply click the link, below (or the image, above).
Introductory Print Specials!
Don't miss the latest Introductory Print Specials!
For a limited time only, 11"x14" prints of the pigment ink editions shown above are available for only $170 each. That's more than 50% below the retail price. And, as with any print purchased through this website, free shipping is included!
What are Introductory Print Specials?
Available for U.S.A. delivery, only, Introductory Print Specials (IPS prints) feature an ongoing program of selected pigment ink print editions being offered exclusively through the HuntingtonWitherill.com website 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 overmatted. Each loose print is rolled and packaged in a sturdy mailing tube, and free shipping is included.
This special offer applies only to the two images displayed immediately above. 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.
Photo Synthesis - New Softcover Edition
Witherill’s popular book of abstract color botanical images: Photo Synthesis is now available in a softcover edition.
Priced at only $29.95, the softcover edition is (with the exception of its cover and price) identical to the hardcover edition. Both books contain 120 pages and more than 80 color reproductions from Witherill's series: Photo Synthesis. An Introduction by the photographer, together with a 16-page section containing a detailed working process description, and several "before" and "after" examples are also included. Book Dimensions: 9.50” x 12.25.”
For additional information and purchase options, click the link, below (or image, above).
Please Note- Products sold through this website are available for U.S.A delivery, only. A detailed explanation can be found here.
(Continued from above)
Will the Internet (together with its wealth of traditional websites) somehow reinvent itself over the coming months in order to usher in an entirely new paradigm? I seriously doubt it. I could certainly imagine (though would hardly welcome) yet another shift in the way traditional websites are coded, constructed, and maintained. The development of this very website was precipitated less than 14 months ago because changes in coding standards had caused my older site to become functionally unmanageable. And of course, regular readers of this newsletter will doubtless be familiar with my surly attitude toward the incessant upgrading associated with a high-tech lifestyle.
Nevertheless, the overall cultural disappearance of traditional websites – speculated to be upon us in less than a year – that seems a stretch. According to Internet Live Stats there are currently more than 1.6 billion websites on the world wide web. Assuming all of those websites will soon be disappearing, where in the world do you suppose they will be going? Maybe we could make arrangements for them to be acquired, in bulk, by the Museum of Obsolete Media. If not… I think we’re going to need a bigger dumpster.
As I reflect upon the questionable future of my own online presence, I can’t help but wonder if a more applicable premonition might be to suggest that… rather than traditional websites marching toward cultural obsolescence, we instead consider that the Internet itself (being the very foundation to which all of these countless websites are inextricably cemented) remains – at all times and under nearly all circumstances – subject to what could best be described as: instantaneous functional termination.
Truth be told, I've never completely trusted the Internet. To me, it seems not unlike a virtual house of cards. At its core, the Internet is essentially an electronic edifice. As such, it’s really nothing more than a bunch of ones and zeros parading around an electrical grid. There's not much in the way of innate physical structure to insure its immutability. Yes, there is a lot of redundancy built into lots and lots of physical servers located all over the planet. Yet, take just a moment and walk over to your main electrical panel and flip (to the "off" position) a few of those odd-looking breaker switches. Viola! No electricity... No Internet! For all I know, there's some guy sitting in a darkened room somewhere just waiting for the opportune moment to flip that “Master Kill” switch, immediately after which the entire Internet becomes a figment of our collective imagination. OK, it's admittedly a pretty loopy scenario.
I guess we just have to take it on faith that the Internet will always be there. I certainly hope it will be there. I find it to be a remarkable tool, despite the vast array of nonsense that comprises a good portion of its content. The Internet seems to be one of those things that – by virtue of its own momentum and redundancy – is unlikely to disappear any time soon. As for the traditional website, itself, I can only hope that this particular website will retain its viability (and at least a shred of cultural relevance) in and among that elite group of 1.6 billion… for at least a few more years, anyway.
When all is said and done, I do realize that nothing lasts forever. Yet, the notion that billions of traditional websites are destined to become obsolete by this time next year – I wonder… should we be stockpiling web searches, now, so as to avoid the inevitable rush as the zero hour approaches? No matter. I should probably get this tome wrapped up and posted… as soon as possible.
If you are interested to explore previous issues of this newsletter, an extensive collection of articles from past issues of the eMusings Newsletter can be found through the following link: eMusings Archive.
Subscribe to the eMusings Newsletter and Receive Future Email Announcements
Would you like to receive email notification of upcoming issues of the e•Musings Newsletter, together with occasional announcements of future exhibitions, workshops, and other special events? If so, don't hesitate to click the link below and signup. The subscription is free and you can cancel at any time. Announcements are sent no more than 4-5 times each year, and your contact information will not be shared, with anyone.
Please Note: Once you've signed up through the link below (and assuming you don't change your email address, or unsubscribe) you will continue to receive the occasional announcements without the need to re-signup.