Fifteen Years of Dao

A List Apart is celebrating the fifteenth (!) anniversary of John Allsopp’s formative column “A Dao of Web Design.”

John’s column outlined a framework for understanding the Web on its own terms back when that wasn’t popular or self-evident; when we still leaned on metaphors borrowed at high interest from other mediums, namely print.

But Allsopp set the stage for a Web mindset distinctly its own. One that recognized it as readily adaptable, highly communicable, and bounded by rules of information flow instead of physicality. It helped shepherd designers from a mindset of “controllers” to adapters and, ultimately, enablers. We still have a way to go to realize its full potential, but with Responsive Web Design (which is having an anniversary of its own) and the ever-expanding universe of devices, we’re already living the future it pointed to.

In my own work, I’ve emphasized the inherent flexibility of the Web as a virtue, not a hindrance. That line of thought owes a heavy debt to what John first outlined.

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