Celebrating ten years on the web

It just dawned on me, I’ve had a website on the World Wide Web pretty much continuously starting from 1997 (when I was in sixth grade). Nowadays that doesn’t sound so special, because most middle schoolers use instant messaging and email and have MySpace pages and whatever, but dammit, ten years ago, that meant something. Most of my schoolmates didn’t even have Internet connections at their homes yet, and so the computer labs at school provided a continuing sense of wonder.

Luckily, I use the squirrel-like archiving system, meaning it may take me awhile to find anything from awhile ago, but by God, I still have it somewhere. And so I’ve been able to dig up every webpage I ever wrote and post it on this server. Yup, really. My most recent website from before university was called Fyre’s Domain. I admit I don’t quite understand the name of the website, because while my server was indeed named Fyre, I never went by that name myself. Fyre’s Domain was also the first website I hosted on my own server, rather than using the web hosting of my ISP.

Fyre’s Domain was actually a bit of a programming project for me. Basically I wanted to write a blog (a format that I used in most of my previous sites before the name itself existed), but no widespread blogging software existed yet. So I wrote my own. In C++. It parsed text that I wrote directly into text files (yes, that’s how I updated the site) and wrote it into proper HTML, making a top page that had the five most recent entries and then a deep archive page. The program didn’t have any incremental updating or dynamic accessing, so every time I fixed even a single typo in one of the text files I had to re-run the program, which would read all of the text files and write out all of the static HTML files again. Hey, I didn’t say it was any good!

As part of my work on Fyre’s Domain, I also compiled archives of all of my older websites, themselves rescued from old archives on one of our old Windows desktops (the chain of custody is now about five computers long). Apparently I wrote four major revisions of a site called Bigmack’s World. This is also strange, as I never went by the online handle Bigmack; that was my dad’s. But we did share a dial-up account, and the site was hosted at something like http://www.erols.com/~bigmack/, so I suppose it makes a bit of sense. Bigmack’s World V1 is a blast to the past, replete with background MIDI music, annoying animated GIFs lifted from other websites, and the main navigation system is an image map! How’s this for an unreadable Web 0.5 background? I made it myself! What’s sad is how many of the links on that site are broken, but it’s also interesting that a fair number of them are still alive, essentially unchanged from ten years ago.

So, pardon my reminiscing. I hope you agree with my assessment that my websites have steadily increased in quality over time, though I don’t profess to be a web design guru by any means. I just don’t like information rot, and as long as I still have the files for all of my old sites, I like to keep hosting them.

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