The Web That Was

I’m really into seeking out and reading the ‘old web’ at the moment.

6 minutes

I’m really into seeking out and reading the ‘old web’ at the moment.

Old 1990’s writing about the early Internet. It gets bonus points if it’s still online and untouched since it was published. Like this 1991 essay The Grotesque Corpus: Medium as Meat I quoted in a podcast last year.

Following a call with Paul Czege this week, I’ve been reading old posts from the infamous RPG design forum The Forge. I remember lurking on the Forge forums around ’03 or ’04, interested in the subject matter, but too scared to post. These days however, I arrive in to new Discords like the Kool-Aid guy meme.

To be honest seeing any phpBBs forum gives me a great deal of nostalgia for the web community I was an admin on at the age of 15. That was ‘the web that was’ and the web that could have been. Chatting with a friend they said “wonder if there was really a path that could have lead away from total financial mediation of the web”, me too. This old essay on the forge site ‘System Does Matter’ is fantastic and still very relevant to games design today.

What strikes most beyond the content of that essay is the page aesthetics! This is the web I was browsing at University in the early 2000’s.

I’m not fully overtaken with old web nostalgia – I just like hanging out there. The web was ‘for’ something quite different back then. Compared to the platform capture of todays web.

Blogging is one of those bridging practices that spans web 1 – web 2.

In 2021 deciding how you want to use the web, and where do you want to spend your time is really important. Where do you want to put your effort and attention.

Robin Sloan and JDO both had some interesting thoughts on this during the week. I’m linking to them because they are interesting – and not just because JDO said nice things about my work.

Sloan wrote about the cross conversation that happened between blogs and how one person picks up and idea and then its passed off for further elaboration by someone else, and JDO wrote about blogs as hubs, multi-faceted centers of a spider diagram, the web spreading out and offering smaller and smaller webs still.

The old web I fell in love with and where we ended up today might become a bit more of a theme here in the coming months. I dunno. I’m still going to be looking for old 90’s writing thats for sure.

Anyways, speaking of the old web….

One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age

Let me point you toward the project One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age project. Olia Lialina and Dragan Espenschied have been digging though the 2TB Geocities torrent for years. A treasure trove of Web 1.0.

The Tumblr is a great. Well worth adding to your RSS. Posting images of people homepages and listing when they were last updated. Here’s two recent favs

Permanently Moved

The Puppets in the Drama House

I just read a book about Tholpavakoothu. A traditional form of folk shadow puppetry practiced in Kerala, South India. 

The Ministry Of My Own Labour

  • DAO project write-up began in earnest
  • Social strategy delivered for a prospective project
  • Emails with film makers
  • Did an interview over email about an old blog post
  • Zoom interview with Paul Czege for my Worldrunning research project
  • Loadsa small things on-going

Dipping the Stacks

How Leonora Carrington Used Tarot to Reach Self-Enlightenment β€Ή Literary Hub

This was how she trod between her conscious inquiry that encompassed multiple tarot books, and the releasing of her unconscious creative persona. She contacted what Breton might once have called β€œconvulsive beauty”.

Everything You Hate About Clubhouse Is Why It Will Win

The original title of this post was “Everything Clubhouse Did Right β€” and Why It Will Fail Anyway”. The exercise forced me to list the reasons why it wasn’t worth $1 billion – why live conference calls are inferior to existing formats like podcasts and Discord.

How the New York Times A/B tests their headlines – TJCX

The only reason to make this kind of change is if you’re trying to boost engagement. And it worked! This article broke into the β€œmost viewed” list a few hours after the headline swap.

The Afroasiatic Languages and the Green Sahara, 10,000 Years Ago – Perspectives: Past, Present, and Future, by Patrick Wyman

It’s impossible to tell exactly how old Proto-Afroasiatic is, or where it was spoken, but there are a few ideas. 

Long Live Rancho Gordo’s Steve Sando, the King of Beans! 

Twenty years ago, Steve Sando stashed away his former life as a web designer and clothing wholesaler, feeling burnt out and in search of a future rooted in something more tangible β€” quite literally, in fact. β€œAll I knew was that if I had a garden, things could turn out okay,”


I finished the puppet book, and as you may have noticed I did a podcast about it.

I’m listening to Penitent by Dan Abnett, the sequel to Pariah I finished last week.

Still reading The Way Of A Pilgrim, mainly before bed. Some sections I’m going back and re-reading as its so insightful. No wonder this book as changed so many peoples lives.

Music Spotify Playlist 

EYEHATEGOD – A History of Nomadic Behavior

Hot damn! Eyehategod’s first album in 7 years and only their third since 2000.

I put the album on my fav pair of headphones and went for a walk. It’s a worthy addition to their discography. A History of Nomadic Behavior sits firmly within the genre that EHG helped create. This album sounds like its from the swamp. As with all EHG records, there’s moments where they transcend up into sabbath etc. I should also note that this album is very well recorded, you can feel the relationship between guitarist, guitar, and amp settings from track to track. The changes in tone are subtle but you can hear the decisions being made.

The attitude on every EHG record since 1988 has been ‘everything is corrupt and fucked up‘. But this time around it seems like there’s a more focused target for their anger. Mike Williams (I presume) must be clean in his old age. Resulting in some moments of cold lyrical clarity screamed in amongst the distortion. “Kill your boss/ Everything, Everyday“, “Hang the lawyers”, “Scorch factory doors to ash“, “All streets, fake peace“. And finally another line that made me gasp out-loud during my first listen: “I’d rather be a corpse than a coward”.

Smashing though the album twice this week has reminded me why 14/5 year old me fell in love with sludge mental and doom in the first place. Love it.

Remember Kids

Prefer Email? πŸ“¨

Join 4,519 other subscribers.

Or subscribe to my physical zine mailing list from Β£5 a month

Leave a Comment πŸ’¬

Click to Expand

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *