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The Three B's

Steve Dietz, 1998
One of the most common proofs of the ultimately "uncivilized" nature of screen-displayed, computer-based work, usually stated with an air of irrefutable smugness, is that you can't comfortably--or safely--read your computer at the beach, in the bathroom, or snuggled up in bed.

Like white noise canceling out utopian prognostications that computers will, in and of themselves, make the world a better--and safer--place, most facts about the physical characteristics of computability will prove wrong over time--including the ability to read your computer in "B" places. What we are left with, and what is less clear, is whether we will ever sit awake in bed, hours past the time we should be asleep, because we are so engrossed in what we are viewing on screen.

As its timeline and roster of artists makes clear, äda'web is a pioneering Web site of important works. As the essays by founder/curator Benjamin Weil and critic Robert Atkins make clear, äda'web has been influential. Almost everything that the artists and producers of äda'web tried set a standard--usually for what to strive for, sometimes for what to avoid. What can only be discovered, over time, is that as visionary and as maddening as äda'web can be, above all, it is endlessly engaging. Even though you can't--right now--you will want to take it with you to the beach, the bathroom, into bed.

Walker Art Center, 1998. First published by Gallery 9/Walker Art Center for äda 'web.