Lucky Letter #07: Evolve out in the open
The problem with 90s-era web Under Construction and jobsite "Forgive our appearance" signs. Plus, Roberts' Green Letter takes its own medicine and evolves in public.
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Dear friends and colleagues,
Thanks to our growing membership (welcome Jason! welcome Wendy!), we have been funded today for an important public service.
In addition to supporting my need for Pokémon booster packs, you have been deputized as an outlet for my 1990s nostalgia.
My family thanks you very much for providing this service outside of the home.
When people say that growing old is no fun, they must be leaving out nostalgia. Nostalgia is like being tickled on the neck by Father Time, if Father Time was being impersonated by Joe Biden.
Now that my son launched his own YouTube channel, my tall tales of the 1990s “World Wide Web” feel of a perfect vintage to share more often.
In 2022, if you need a website you build it in half an hour on Wix or Squarespace, launch, and then keep improving. You launch your YouTube channel at age 10, with no apologies for any part of it that’s done your own weird way. My son doesn’t mind having “only” three subscribers. He’s giving it time to grow. (Please do check it out and share it with your kids or grandkids. It’s quirky fun.)
In the 1990s, you would start your website with a simple page on GeoCities. You’d put a few basics on the page like your business address and the email address for the “webmaster.” (An early clue that the Internet would not be any less patriarchal than the culture that made it.)
Everything else about building a website being somewhat difficult, you would paste this GIF on it and walk away:
The “Under Construction” web sign did two things for you:
apologized for boo-boos people might find on your site
told people to go away till you could get your work done
What I don’t like about putting up “Under Construction” signs, and their kin (“Coming soon,” “Launching next month,” etc.), is how they can let the public or your customers in your process, but not in the way you intended.
Because of how they were used, the 1990s “Under Construction” signs broadcast:
“Our website is broken and we have no idea when it will be fixed.”
When I was in charge of marketing at a previous employer, I had a personnel policy not to talk about
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