Above: The very first site (in alphabetical order) linked to our Newsstand pages, Annabelle from Switzerland, with a big lead image and smaller subsidiaries.

I took a look at LucireKiosk reviews tonight. This section is a relic from the early days of dot-com which Lucire comes (in the 1990s), when people exchanged links with each other to help them rank in search engines, and to make the sections look legitimate, you put your favorite websites there as well. When it came to Lucire, of course, we have included our competitors as a resource for readers. I must say that we were quite demanding.
Every time I review the list, which is probably every two years, I delete sites. Many have gone down the drain in the past 23 years, and some that we link have frozen content in the mid-2010s. They’re still good resources, so they stay. They might even be good read for countries that still deal with COVID-19 cases in a very real and confrontational way.
What I have deleted throughout the three pages of reviews, however, are the ratings. We used to rate a number of sites on content and design because when we first started there was a lot of variety. It was a relatively new medium, so people were still experimenting. He was a guide, nothing major – although I still remember a New Yorker so upset that, if I remember correctly, he felt he had to retaliate by linking Lucire with a negative opinion. (Part of the low score came from the homepage art which was only tested on certain monitors, and on high-resolution monitors, its elements did not line up, with appalling results. Cutting the images and reassembling them on the screen was something we did at the time, to cope with slow download speeds.) I suspect all that did was send its readers intrigued by our alleged terrible, who would then have found his review somewhat childish and unreliable, since we win awards for the edition line of Lucire. Aside from that small, humorous air of narrow-mindedness – which I guess underlines just how much elements of New York Trumpism were present long before the real estate mogul ran for president – the notes were an accepted feature of pages for many years.
The reason for their removal is, unfortunately, the lack of creativity in website design these days. I’m not saying we innovate ourselves, although what you see here has always been designed by a member of our team and is not part of a template that comes with a webpage service. And don’t get me wrong either: some of these models are really, really good.
But we’ve settled into a certain acceptable aspect of the web, including mobile devices (which have limited creativity in publishing). As browsers and computers have become more powerful, publishing packages have made more use of their capabilities. This is also a good thing, because it allows more people to build websites. However, that does mean there is less need for someone to tinker with and create something from scratch, as there are some great programs that have done more than half of the legwork. Then there are these development models for these software packages, linked somewhat by the functionalities that form their basis. This has led to standardization because, like it or not, there are certain things you need to do in order for a site to work for the range of devices that will be pointed at it these days.
Notes, then, no longer make sense, if so many of the sites reviewed have a similar design concept: large main image, smaller on the homepage pointing to important posts, similarly sized text (and, in many cases, quite large text), etc. With fonts now transmitting with web pages, it is no longer special for a website to have custom typography. And with so many fonts available, many have chosen to get creative with their typographic choices, which could give us a basis for separating the good from the good, but outside of the design world that seems like an unfair yardstick on which to judge.
We could still rate the content, but to access the directory, the content had to be reasonably decent to begin with.
Although there is large print on the web, the print trend seems to be a very small body, so small that it is uncomfortable to read. I don’t know what motivated this, as the physiology of the human eye and the dot sizes that we find readable and readable have not changed, but needless to say, this is not the one that Lucire in the press has, or will follow. On the trend side, I hope we can find a more reasonable balance.


Above: A spread of Rolling stone, November 2020, showing the small print now seen in print.

Right now, the mobile space is receiving all the love, hence this standardization, even though I’ve had enough of these devices for a few years now. We predicted the tide would turn with Facebook and have removed all gadgets from this site before The observer broke the Cambridge Analytica story. I’m sick of the privacy intrusions of some Big Tech websites, even though I have an Android phone without Google; and I’m fed up with tiny keyboards and totally inefficient ways of typing words on phones, and that includes voice recognition. Technology is there to serve us, not the other way around.
Therefore, I’m not sure that bending to the limits of the smaller screen is the right thing to do, which I do know given the amount of time people spend on their devices in 2021 could be a poor decision. But maybe some of us need to take those first steps and say, there are better things to do with your day, and better ways of reading that won’t strain your eyes. Search from your devices. Enjoy life. Find the support where your posture is not compromised. Even though the tendency is to stare at your phones and strain your eyes, then make your life difficult by printed with tiny characters that strain your eyes even more. We want to be human, to participate in the improvement of your life and not hang on for every possible moment.
Another reason this site doesn’t get as much mobile support as others – a reason to lower our own design score – is that every time we create a version for portable devices (at the turn of the century, you could download Lucire on PDAs like the Newtons), technology is quickly made obsolete: either programs are invented that distill the large images and web page layouts into something that devices can handle, or resolutions improve, or browsers offer text-only mode. Worryingly, ways to have smaller devices capable of handling traditional web pages have not emerged so quickly this time around, which may indicate a dearth of innovation in the Western online space in the 21st century.
This is what you get when the tech space is dominated by giants because it leads to the suppression of innovation, something that does not serve humanity at all. Standardization hasn’t just happened because we’re all settling in: smart inventions don’t come out because the barriers to entry are high. Big Tech isn’t just about suppressing talk and getting political – it affects our daily enjoyment and appreciation of online media. YouTube and others have “exit pages” that prevent us from leaving their sites, in an attempt to prevent us from leaving. and get an extra pageviews that they can save (if we, the people, do that, the search engines will penalize us). They want to keep us where they or they can watch we, Not the opposite.
I would love to see this ‘old school’ innovation come back, with some great websites blowing us away, again getting 10 for content and 10 for design. I’m sure there are some smart people going against the trend, and we would love to hear from them. With all the sites available, discovering them is more difficult than ever, with search engines like Google potentially less reliable because their algorithms feed us content that might hook us more than help us, such as giving us new policies that appeal to our own biases rather than helping us make us more balanced people.
It’s really up to us to make the big sites, companies and organizations known. I realize that most of us can only do this through the services provided by Big Tech. You’re probably on this page because you followed a search engine result or social media referral. But if we want to free ourselves from it, if we want to see the big sites and innovation come back, then everyone must do their part, by freeing themselves from the dominant players who are slowing things down. Get this research from duck duck go, where they are less biased. Ask yourself if it is this essential to share this Tweet, this Facebook post, this Instagram photo or this comment on social networks. And, I say this without irony, let us know in the comments of some of these great online destinations that you think deserve to be linked. –Jack Yan, Founder and Publisher

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