Why an Independent Web Matters — Part Two

Making the Case for an Independent Web

Part Two of Two

Last week, I was lucky enough to see Amy Goodman speak at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She and the other speakers made an impassioned case for the importance of independent media: film, radio, books, and other forms of journalistic storytelling. What is interesting is that the open source and free software movements share very similar goals and ideologies to independent media creators, but their points of intersection are few. When tech and indie media do come together, it tends to happen because a particular talented individual possesses multiple sets of skills (for instance, is both a musician and a programmer) and not because there are formal or informal communities organized to facilitate these interactions.

Gutenberg Printing Press

Gutenberg Printing Press –  Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Our sponsoring organization, 119 Gallery of Lowell, MA, provides a place-based, experiential model for bridging this divide.

My company, Yes Exactly experiences the divide somewhat differently — in the form of artists, journalists, and other independent culture creators coming to us in search of affordable, professional websites. In our first years of operation, this was pretty much our niche. I was able to create a simple framework that worked to create  unique, aesthetically pleasing sites that did not require a lot of custom programming — however, as we grew, I found that designers who were not themselves programmers required more structure and better ability to preview their work. Hence, the Thematizer.


Our company was built on open-source technology (primarily WordPress and Drupal), so we felt it was time to give something back. We decided to go ahead and build something that would make the web a more interesting, aesthetically pleasing, and usable place. Something that would make it just as easy to create a custom design using open-source platforms as using corporate, proprietary software. Something that would give independent artists and businesses a vital tool to compete and communicate in the online world — even against much bigger, better-funded players.

If we’re successful, our competition will be using this tool too. And we’re fine with that. In fact, it’s a benchmark of our success.

Tess Gadwa

CEO and Founder
Yes Exactly, Inc.