Why This Place Exists
These days all I find myself doing is flicking between Twitter, Reddit, Discord and YouTube. The same four sites all day every day with very little to discover, places where you're encouraged and incentivised to follow trends and engage in drama, places that often times bleed your soul so that someone in a large corporation can make a few more bucks they don't need. It can get tiring quickly as you're constantly bombarded with bad news, people airing their private disputes for the world to see for the sake of 'engagement', and assholes giving their unwanted and awful opinions on LGBT people or POC as though our lives are just up for debate. But it wasn't always this way.
I grew up alongside the internet. When I was younger the web was little more than simple pages of text and sometimes a picture or two which were usually very low-res and took minutes to load. This was the reality for most people as we were confined to 56k modems, simple things that ran over telephone exchanges and gave us speeds of up to 7kBps. For comparison my connection speed now is 100mbps. That's literally 1700x faster!
The internet had to make use of the limited speeds we had at the time. There were very few fancy graphics, tiny images and you can forget about videos. The content of a webpage was the bare minimum, only what was needed. This was also a time without social media, no Twitter, Facebook or anything like that so your socialising would be done through forums, chatrooms and, if you really liked someone, you'd add them to your MSN, AIM or ICQ for instant private chatting.
I'm sure some people are probably thinking right now "Nemissa, this sounds terrible. Why would you want to return to such a primitive time?"
It's simple. This time on the internet was special precisely because of how limited it was. Webpages were the bare minimum, containing only the information necessary. Despite connections getting 1000x faster, do pages load 1000x faster? No, they don't because they're bloated messes of code and fancy effects, tons of images and auto-playing videos. There's scripts running in the background designed to scrape your data and sell it to whoever wants it, trackers that observe what else you look at to more precisely target ads at you and all kinds of other things hostile to the user. Things that would be considered malware when I was younger are now just part and parcel of the internet. The internet has just become yet another way for the wealthy to become richer at the expense of those who use it.
Nothing exemplifies this better than the recent trend of cryptocurrencies and NFTs. Perversions of the beauty of the internet. As a teenager, I would often see things like Digital Rights Management or paygates on sites and content and scoff, wondering how someone had so woefully missed the point. Information wants to be free and it would find a way. Games were cracked, webpages were downloaded and archived, content rehosted elsewhere for free. We had hoped these people would learn their lesson but instead they doubled down, finding new ways to make the internet worse. Now it's reached its nadir.
NFTs are the latest online scam. Simply JPGs with a serial number attached, verified by a database and costing thousands of dollars for some hideous artwork. People mock these terrible things for being aesthetically displeasing but the problem runs deeper than that. The art is not the point, the owners don't care about that. They care that the number attached to it is unique and that it is theirs, only they own this number. The art is incidental, that's why so many ugly things generated by an AI sell for so much money. It has nothing to do with an appreciation of art, merely a desire to own this number and hope that someone else will buy the number for a higher price. Stripped to its core, it is nothing more than a stock market where people buy numbers and try to sell those numbers to people who in turn hope to make more money off those numbers. It's a playground for the rich and it incentivises and rewards greed. This is to say nothing of the environmental impact as the amount of electricity required per year to run this entire scam is more than the entirety of Pakistan uses per year on average.
Another reason it was better was curation of what you saw. Most of the time if you didn't want to see racism, sexism or queerphobia, you didn't have to. Aside from web forums, there weren't many ways of interacting with people directly. You could find sites you liked and browse them instead, you could avoid sites that spread hate. Forums were a different beast owing to their nature as a way of communicating with a large group of people but a forum with a good moderation team could stamp that out far quicker and easier than a site like Twitter can or will. Now anyone with an opinion can voice it to you whether you want it or not.
I'm not going to pretend this time of the internet was perfect and I'm not going to pretend that the internet in its current state is without merit. The internet back then was pretty unsafe, a veritable wild west. By comparison the internet these days can be a lot safer to use. But there is no reason we can't have both. The fusion of safety and security of the modern internet and the freedom of the old days.
I miss going to someone's personal website and reading their thoughts on a page they made themselves, where all the HTML and CSS were handcrafted. I miss seeing guestbooks and webrings. I miss finding shrines to games that I also loved. I miss discovering new things by stumbling on the webpages of someone who was obssesssed with that thing.
So I decided that I'm going back to that. I'm making my own site, a site that 13 year old me would have loved, a site that is mine and mine alone. This place belongs to me and there's nothing scraping your data, nothing tracking you, no asking for money to see anything I put on here. It's how the internet was and how it always should have been.
Fuck Web3. Fuck Metaverse. Fuck Crypto.
Here it's always 1999 and the internet is fun again.