In the beginning, times were simple. Computers were owned by the rich and the nerdy — the programs created by the select few who had the privilege and the time to spend on the magic box that we call a desktop. The Web was a vast and empty wasteland full of uncertain companies, university students sharing research, and the most sincere of all Web expression: Net Art. The combination of a dial–up connection, no standardised fonts, screens smaller than a sheet of paper, 256 colours, and computers where the "gigabyte" was the terabyte of the 90s made a generation of happy hackers with no experience… but a whole lot of love.
The Web, so full of content and yet devoid of any meaning, has lost touch with these traditions — these victims of circumstance, sensible though unappreciated, were seen as a requirement rather than the reward reaped through a hard day's labour of making bad code good, and good code better. Web pages which were once prized for being a shameless product of their time fell under the inevitable shadow of Web 2.0, and the marching army of technology allowing even a poor man to have an acceptable workstation. Gone were the limitations of the era, and born was the privilege to ignore them.
No longer were Web sites expressions of the owner, but instead brands used to further their cause. The pockets of creativity that survived through DeviantART, Neopets, Fur Affinity, 4chan, and Second Life were the cringey counterparts to the faceless, nameless builders of the Web's new identity. Titans like Google and Microsoft patrolled the world in an effort to convince you they were your friends. The Web dwellers who skittered through IRC and Usenet, downloading the newest Nine Inch Nails releases off of their private torrent trackers… they lied dormant amongst this.
The world changed, and so did the people. The socially awkward teenagers who grew up with computers were now the perfectly normal adults who ran the world, seeing technology as an essential part of their lives rather than a novelty. Like science was the fascination of the 50s, and pop culture was the fascination of the 80s, the 2000s were dominated by an excitement for computers, video games, and mobile devices like never before. The pipe dream waned, and those kids who grew up with a Nintendo 64 went forward to create their own virtual worlds. Online friends stopped being just online, because everyone was online. The next logical step was to bring everything online, too.
Though we are living in the 2015s, just a decade after the Web started to matter, we are already seeing the consequences of a changed world. What was once an innocent and carefree land turned into a hotspot for scum to feast on, where the hacker wars, once a legend of BBS, turned into something anybody could be a part of, thanks in part to LulzSec and Anonymous giving it a glamorous name. "Encryption" and "free software" were only spoken of in mailing lists amongst other geeks. In 2013, in the post–Snowden world, all of that changed. The Internet became serious business; the decade old meme became true, and art imitated life, once again.
Now the Web is facing an uncertain future. At the same time that governments are watching us, the people are watching them; it is impossible to control three billion Netizens, and impossible for the law to try. The DeviantART traditions are giving way to the Tumblr and Pixiv ones, where foreign nations, especially Japan, have more influence than ever on the culture of the Western World. Web design is a wasteland of bland design obscuring awful code, where computers that would have cost a million dollars ten years ago can now fit in your pocket, and programmers are faced with the contradictory goals of making websites that work on absolutely everything, and still being "intuitive" while doing so. We have more freedom than ever to do whatever we want in the happy anarchy that is the Internet… but with freedom comes bad decisions and even worse intentions.
The culture is getting lighter, softer, and more kawaii at the same time it crashes with the unintuitive reality of the real world. While the teenagers on Tumblr get to share avant–garde memes and liberal propaganda, that same propaganda is used to further political lies and fascist ideologies. Social networks are the news stations of the new world, controlling access to information and the means to distribute it, creating niches of people whose opinions never have to be challenged if they don't want to. When a reality television star is elected the United States president, only then do you understand the sheer impact that the Web has on us today.
The world is as confusing as it is beautiful. To dive deep into the Web, where there still exists pockets of innocent people who are aware of the harsh realities of it, and yet choose to ignore it to make a softer world, shows that even in the midst of chaos, there is the certainty that, on the whole, life gets a little bit better every day. The goal of living was never to create a divine beauty in the world, to find a meaning to life that is as profound as it is simple. The goal is to appreciate the beauty that already exists. And the Web is that — a beautiful, beautiful place, hidden in places that so few people get to explore.
That's why I made this website. To hark back to a time and place where people may forget their troubles and appreciate that, even though everything seems to be going wrong, there is the permanent pleasure of indulging in the arts that make us feel human. To go back to a world where people saw the Web as a magical thing, and not just the source of all the world's drama, is to appreciate just how far we've come from the Web's awkward years. It's called legacy. You learn from others to create work that nobody has ever seen before.
We live in a world where you can have any piece of media that has ever existed and have it be proliferated infinitely through the Internet at no cost to you, and there are people who want to take that away from us by using the blunt weapon that is copyright to tell us that we cannot indulge in our fundamental right to human culture. By taking the works of other artists, by using the legacy that they are laying out for us, it's demonstrating just a small sampling of the things of beauty that the Web can be used for. The law says I can't use the works of other artists, but the Internet doesn't care about the law. It's bringing the death of copyright. There is nothing that anybody can ever do about that.
Few are the websites that respect the user enough to make it actually intuitive, actually easy–to–use and easy to access, and have that philosophy built into the core of its being. I made this website using the bread–and–butter markup languages of the Web, and that's it. I compress the images so that anybody can access them on any connection. I create beautiful, verifiable code, because this webpage is more than just a vehicle to deliver content on as soullessly and dispassionately as it can. It's a living, breathing, constantly–evolving entity, and the code is the sole reason it exists. I pay my respects by giving it the dignity it deserves. I respect my audience enough to give them the way a website should be built.
The Web, at one point in time a novelty, is now the most important force for all humanity. Old trends died, were embedded into the mainstream, and gave way to new trends that are happening right now. As we get away from tradition, we gain equal parts awfulness and brilliance, and this website seeks to showcase the brilliant and disparage the awful. All websites are the product of their time, but so few as a product of somebody who actually loves their audience. I will be the first creator of any website I've ever seen to state that I do love you. And just as this website is a reflection of that love, I pray you use this website and fall in love, too.