Some notes on surfing waves and web documents

Konstantinos Chorianopoulos
June 23, 2020


I provide a brief overview of surfing on waves and on web documents, during the last fifty years. There are some notable parallels between the evolution of surfing on waves and on web documents, which overemphasize particular technologies rather than the actual human spirit and activity.

In the beginning, the personal computer was promoted for crafting and printing pages. Soon after, the metaphor of paper was also copied in the case of the world wide web. During that same period, surfing on waves has quickly evolved from longboards to shortboards. In this way, the spirit and style of surfing has been defined by the size of your board rather than the essense of your wave riding.

Our ordinary conceptual system, in terms of which we both think and act, is fundamentally metaphorical in nature. — George Lakoff, Metaphors We Live By

This web document has been typeset with a LaTeX CSS style1, which is a computer program that supports the production of paper documents. In this web document, I am using a style that was meant for paper documents. Of course, there is nothing wrong in repurposing and suffling together styles and technologies, but one wonders whether we could be more creative with our mediums (computers or surfboards).

Old school longbard was really looooong and required a real master to handle2

In the past, a beginner surfer would start on a 7-8ft longboard and then progress towards bigger longboards 9-11ft, depending on height, weight, and skills. Nowadays, almost everyone defines progressing as going towards shorter boards, which should be about your heigh.

Similarly, nowadays a personal computer user should start on tablet and then progress to a smart-phone, which is a kind of shortboard that imposes a particular way of using it. Instead, in the past, a computer user would start by writing programs on a small 8bit personal computer, before moving to larger and more complex multi-user computer systems.

Biographical note

I am maintaining a website about a collection of classic interactive systems. Some, call those systems retro but I think they are timely. Find out more on my surfing and scholar pages.

1. From

2. Duke Kahanamoku entry in wikipedia, Accessed 23 June. 2020.