Pete’s post got me thinking a lot lately about my first experiences with the web as both a consumer and a producer (it also renewed my interest in blogging but I’ll leave that discussion for another time). I honestly can’t remember the first time I used the web but I can remember the first website I created, I called it “Bachelor Pad Online”.
It’s hard to say exactly when I made this site but it had to be before 1997, it was right around the time I was getting into lounge music (hence the theme for the site, inspired almost entirely by the Ultra-Lounge compilation album “ Bachelor Pad Royale “). This was when I taught myself HTML, and I distinctly remember printing off the entire W3C specification on a surprisingly small number of pages and binding it in a thin red binder (I believe the most recent addition to the specification was “frames”…oh my yes…).
The site was hand-coded HTML of course and edited in “SaintEdit” on my PowerBook 5300 . Images were created care of “ColorIt!” (an ironic choice in light of the 5300’s greyscale display…) and the site was hosted by my Madison-based ISP “IntraNet” (a name that has always perplexed me). At the height of the sites sophistication it even sported a Java-applet-based chat room (dubbed “The Viper Lounge”) which had a few regular visitors but more often than not an endless stream of confused surfers who thought the sites black & white nature was a problem with their monitor.
Unfortunately no remnants of this early example of my web handiwork remain (that I am aware of). The last physical copy existed on a 1.44MB floppy disk which has long been lost and even if I still had it I’m not sure what I’d read it with. I have attempted to locate the site in the Wayback Machine but to no avail.
Since that time I’ve built several “personal” sites, hosted my own servers in- house (even a gopher server for a brief time) during the beginning of the “home broadband age” and like everyone else have used countless third-party services to publish to the web. More recently I have been relying on these third-party services for most of the information sharing that I take part in but based on Pete’s post (and the conversations he links to) as well as some encouragement by recent failures and shortcomings in these services I’m in the process of returning to systems I have built myself, whose code I control and whose data I can easily move from place-to-place if need be. I’ll be sharing more about these changes in future posts but in the meantime consider what you are doing with the content you create and share and think about where it lives, who owns it and what might happen if there were a sudden change in the companies you currently rely on to share your information.