Web Zen


If you’ve caught the ads for this summer’s inevitable Adam Sandler vehicle Click (“What if you had a universal remote . . . that controlled your universe?”), you’re aware that only weeks remain before the subtle, underrecognized connection between the act of pointing-and-clicking and the fantasy of world domination becomes an official 21st-century cliché. Perhaps now would be the moment then to spend a little time at, the Institute for Interactive Research’s strangely appealing fantasy of an online world freed from the domination of the mouse click. “[P]repare yourself mentally for the new situation and click here for the last time,” advises a mildly Orwellian intro before you’re ushered into’s button-free zone, where a clever, gorgeous Flash overlay makes a tidy package of blobjects, factoids, and mini-essays about the mouse click accessible entirely at the brush of a cursor.

Could this be the Web interface of the future? Probably not, but that appears to be beside the point. Navigating the structure of the site—from its “Mousecamp” section, where mini-games train you to resist the urge to click, to the “Experiments” in clickless Web design—has a fluid, restful quality to it, but as with the Zen meditation it sort of resembles, the effect isn’t so much to show you a better way to move through the world as to make you more mindful of the ways you already do. After a few minutes swimming around in’s domain, you can’t help noticing the stark, staccato rhythms of the point-and-click routine—or feeling just a little less committed to its bifurcated worldview. You move, you click, you move, you click, and sure, it’s a handy way to keep control. But every now and then it doesn’t hurt to take your finger off that button and feel the oneness of the interface.