Reflections of a ModemJunkie

December, 1997

The Quest

by Leonard Grossman

I need your help. Let me explain why.

A few weeks ago I came across something I had begun to think was an endangered species: A website that delighted me. It challenged and engaged my intelligence. It drew me back again and again to follow one more link - to explore one more level of the ingenuity of its creator. The site did not depend on Java, or plugins, or frames or any of the recent fads in web development. The site: The Techno - Impressionist Museum (hereinafter the "T-I Museum" or the "museum").

I confess I don't spend nearly as much time looking for new websites as I used to. I still spend way too much time on line. But my time is spent returning to favorite sites, reading foreign newspapers to feel in touch with my daughter who is studying overseas, reading Usenet newsgroups on topics of interest. I simply haven't enjoyed what I was finding on the popular hotlists: Sites which hit you up front with huge graphics, technical limitations, garish graphics, illegible text against incomprehensible backgrounds, sound I don't want to hear, blinking, scrolling, rotating, advertising, impossible navigation schemes and ... and...

When I do want to surf, I use the newsgroup comp.infosystems.www.announce as my source. For some reason, even though that newsgroup, gently moderated by Kate McDonnel, is uncensored and unfiltered by anyone's sensibility, except to exclude commercial sites, I find it a much more interesting and useful hotlist than any of the more popular sites. CIWA is available on the web at What's New from CIWA, an online archive. It was there that I found the T-I Museum during a recent bout with insomnia.

I don't want to go into too much detail describing the T-I Museum. Part of my delight in visiting the site for the first time was the discovering what it was about for myself. The site is not just a one-shot flash in the pan. As the content has grown since it's inception, its authors have sustained a thread almost beyond belief. But every new gallery, every new essay is worth exploring.

If I have any complaints at all, it is that the image tags used in creating the galleries do not contain "ALT tags making the site difficult to navigate with Lynx or with graphics turned off. There are a few additional barriers to speech technology. It is a shame that the many articles and essays are not available to that additional audience. But that is not entirely unreasonable in a site that is an art gallery. Although I have asked the "curator" Tony Karp, to make them independently accessible, it could be a daunting task in so comprehensive a site.
(Note to web developers: Think of these things before it is too late to go back. I have some pages of my own that I should revise, but probably never will.)

What's a museum without a gift shop? Every great museum has one. The T-I Museum does as well. But with a difference. Instead of posters, their wallpaper brings art directly to your desktop. And their 1998 calendars will add artistic class to your surroundings. Best of all, everything in the gift shop is free! (Or I probably wouldn't be mentioning it here.)

No hype, no marketing, even the gift shop is another extension of the general philosophy of the Museum.

Late update: I have just learned that as of November 27, the T-I Museum is the first on line museum with restrooms. Caution, however, there may be a virtual line.

By suggesting this site, I am not offering a critique of any of the art, whether in the special exhibitions or any of the 35 "galleries." I leave that to you and the art critics. While I found the images interesting, I am much more fascinated with the concept and the textual content of the site. De gustabus non es disputandem. (sp?)


I began by saying I need your help. What do I want?

I came upon the museum serendipitously. Sites that engage and challenge my mind and make me smile are few and far between. Now that everyone and her aunt has his or her own web page it is even harder to separate the wheat from the chaff. Help me find such sites. If you will send me your recommendations, I will report back with my own idiosyncratic choices of the best of your suggestions and, if there are enough such sites, I will create a website dedicated to such excellence.

What are the criteria? Each site recommended must:

Please send your recommendations together with your comments and reasons for the nominations to . I will be the sole judge of the nominations.

There will be no prizes other than ego gratification for the page authors and they might not even care. (Which reminds me: Please don't recommend your own site. I know you enjoy staring at your own navel. My stats show I do the same. I am interested in sites you have come across, not ones you have created. ;-)

I am writing this article on Thanksgiving Day. Thanks to the T-I Museum for just one more thing to be thankful for. And thanks to you, dear reader, without whom there would be no purpose at all to this exercise.

Copyright 1997 Leonard Grossman

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