the Robertorium

a new web-1.0 look for my site

I’ve gone back in time!

In the heady days of Geocities, Tripod, Angelfire, AOL, and Neopets, the web was a place for self-starters to express themselves as they saw fit, to live their dreams of publishing their ideas and passions worldwide, or to make a scrappy start with a small business online, making it all from scratch and experimenting with their own format and aesthetic.

Sometimes the results were elegant.

screen shot of, a website about Basque history and language

screen shot of, the personal website of an electrical engineer

screen shot of, a website about… well, geology

Sometimes the results were garish and silly.

screen shot of, the website of an IT contractor

screen shot of, a personal website

screen shot of, a personal website

You may have noticed that some of those websites were updated recently. The style is having a resurgence, and I am thrilled. I’m quite nostalgic for it. I too had a Tripod web page with a visitor counter, a colourful tiled background, funky fonts, and some kind of inanity about my prepubescent suburban life (probably observations about the butterflies of Colorado or my inventions that belonged in a late-night infomercial).

Until recently, my current website epitomised today’s web — obese and corporate-smelling, with an over-engineered, script-laden, “responsive” layout that tried to look like a mobile app instead of a self-managed casual publication.

screen shot of my old site

I had a full content-management system, and for what? To fling some text into the online void? I’m not a brand. I’m not a sterile corporation.

screen shot of the new site

So I changed it. It’s now a very simply styled and technically simple static site. I suppose it’s “web 1.0”. (If you’re too young to remember when “web 2.0” was considered revolutionary, you missed a good time.)

Maybe some day I’ll evolve its aesthetic to have more personality. I’m picturing a tiled brick background and a badly antialiased GIF of a spinning globe. And maybe having a site I can customise more easily will inspire me to work on it more often.

By the way, if you’re interested in making a simple website backed by Git and Markdown, check out Hugo (my page generator), Hugo Bear Blog (the theme I started with), and Render (my web host). Neocities is a great place to start, too.

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