first post

Does anyone remember their first website? I know I was a nine-year-old with Microsoft Word and "Save as HTML", which seems like a decent reason to forget it, even if it was Pokemon-themed. Given my complete lack of gainful employment at the time, I took to website-making as if it were important, as if its utility would not soon be eclipsed by the simplicity afforded by services like Livejournal and Bebo[1]. I spent many hours refining and redefining my vision, a vision comprised mostly of iframes.

Here comes one now: The Only Thing We Know About Cyberspace Is That Its 640x480 (Olia Lialina @31C3)

This talk is largely about the GeoCities era of personal websites, which was already on the way out when I was getting started, but things were different in Ireland anyway. We had 'Ireland On-Line', which is now a five-line Wikipedia article, a legacy webmail service and a mausoleum of personal pages and auto-redirects.

Selected snippets:

optimised for Netscape 4.70 [source]

What's cool: Gameboy, playstation, me, Doom. [source]

While as yet, SnoopDos exists only on the Amiga, I'm happy to report that similar utilities have sprung up for DOS, Windows 3.1, Windows 95, and Windows NT. [source]

Divorce, in the Church's view, threatens to deconstruct the primary unit upon which the model for the Church is built. The battle for the retention of the form of the traditional family becomes the battle for the retention of a particular model of church organisation. This is why the debate is so fiercely fought.[2] [source]

"'Yo motherfucker,' Marx greeted. Proudhon was at a loss." [source] (somehow related to previous one)

The genesis of a new British police force can be seen in Mowlam's proposal to introduce the subtitle 'Northern Ireland Police Service' (NIPS) to the RUC.[3] [source]

Cutting that unexpectedly-engrossing tangent short, I'll clarify that this site is not a nostalgia trip. I will be keeping the animated gifs to a minimum (unless they come from David Whyte) and attempting to adhere to sane design principles. The talk I linked planted a seed of sorts in me, though. I can't argue that it caused this site, because it's been in the works for a while, but it catalysed me.

The seed is roughly this: In a time when one's internet presence was a deliberate act rather than a social necessity, making a website and appearing on cyberspace[4] was preceded by a question of surprisingly existential nature:

"What will I make my website about? What do I have to say?"

I believe that one's web presence today has similar associated questions (notably "what image do I wish to portray?"), but thanks to the existence of a set of well-established social norms, a person can largely ignore them. It is entirely possible to exist online without asking any existentalist questions. This is arguably great, because the internet is fantastic and should not be restricted to a set of people who find it necessary to frame their actions as manifestations of the struggle for self-definition, and/or people who know HTML.

I think I fall somewhere in the 'and' category.

So I'm making a website for a few reasons, which are secretly the same reason[5]. I like thinking about what I have to say. I think questions of that nature are interesting and can be quite personally fulfilling, even if the answer turns out to be 'mostly nothing'. I also like thinking about how to say things, which is part of the reason this entry has taken me far too long to finish[6].

There is also the careful deliberateness which goes into creating a website like this. My CSS was completely nonexistent when I started this a few weeks ago. I'd recommend against reading the source code if you are sensitive about CSS, because terrible, likely-forbidden things have happened and I am remorseless. Things will only get worse as I enact my weird design plans on other parts of the site[7]. I cannot wait.

So yeah, I could run a blog on an existing service, but where would be the fun in that?

[1] Bebo became extremely popular in Ireland when I was about 15, and suddenly using the internet became socially acceptable.

[2] I think this is particularly interesting, because Ireland finds itself (a mere 20 years later) on the precipice of another historic referendum (this time to legalise gay marriage), but the church makes the same old arguments. Society marches ever onwards, and the church is immobile.

[3] They went with PSNI in the end, presumably in deference to NIPS.

[4] Before it became infested with cybercriminals and c y b e r w a r f a r e.

[5] Proof left as exercise to the reader.

[6] Also fighting a losing battle against pre-ironic post-irony creeping into my tone.

[7] I intend to keep the blog as minimalist as is palatable.