This was originally a Thought, then a Thing, and then it ended up coming here. That does seem to be the general lifecycle for ideas that become main topics, though. This one just happened to bloom rather quickly.

It looks like one of our saved links broke. That's unfortunate, but it happens. It evidently wasn't important enough to us for it to be worth downloading and shuffling away in our folders. The website the page was hosted on still brings up the link in its search results but the page itself is gone. There's a web archive copy, though.

While we revisit it, we might as well write some thoughts about it. The article explains that personal websites that don't depend on social media are important and attempts to showcase how limitless websites can be through listing various (vague but intriguing) metaphors for website creation. Naturally, we read this article when we started out on Neocities.

We found the (broken) link in our notes while searching for something else, actually. Someone else wrote a blog post (or at least we assume it was a blog post) about growing a blog and the website it's on like a garden. This article isn't about that specific way of thinking but it does bring up and describe it. While we didn't quite connect with any of these ideas at the beginning, we understand the perspective much more now.

In the beginning, the website felt highly limited by our abilities and ideas. The philophies for website creation that we read about weren't as applicable because we were starting with a need for simple structure. The different ways of growing a website felt more like masks we could take on and off to find a perspective that might give us some more ideas on what we could add. It was an informative experience, and it did help us create the website, but it wasn't the experience that was actually being described.

The article starts off by explaining this. There's a difference between making a website, a functioning file or set of files that can be opened by a browser and understood by a viewer, and making that website into something. Something that means something, a site that's personal and full of things to see. When you have an HTML file with all the right parts but no content to hold, it doesn't feel like anything that really needs an encompassing metaphor besides maybe a design philosophy to add a few divs with. When you walk into a new, empty building, you may be able to imagine how it could be furnished and decorated as a house but, if you're there for a home, it probably doesn't feel alive.

In our experience, it's hard to plan something personal. You can plan something for someone else, for some functional purpose, or possibly for a theoretical audience. On the other hand, something feels personal when it's built on layers and layers of the residue you leave by being you. The space one section has to have blank because of an odd habit about what size images you use, the clashing kinds of visual themes you're drawn to that slowly get closer as you pile more on, words you wrote because they're what you think about and not because someone else wrote a list of things to say (and it's only a few words but every once in a while you add some more until you have to make a new page), things build on each other and replace each other the same way they do in a person. That's what makes those website philosophies feel real.

What kind of room is a website? Or is a website more like a house? A boat? A cloud? A garden? A puddle? Whatever it is, there’s potential for a self-reflexive feedback loop: when you put energy into a website, in turn the website helps form your own identity.

When we first read that article or the somewhat similar blog post, we had no clue what it meant to grow a website like a garden. We learned that it could feel that way, and that it was something we could possibly lean into if it helped. Eventually though, the understanding came as a sudden revelation that we just happened to have already known the words for.

This website is, currently, a garden to us. There are separate sections that grow in their own ways and tend to find ways to mix even when they aren't supposed to, the plants get more dense over time as more things sprout and grow, sometimes we get seeds from another person's garden that we plant because we liked the look of the grown plant, and sometimes we grabbed it just to have a challenge. Sometimes we find seeds that aren't what we want but they're still interesting enough for us to want to pass them on.

Maybe, someone will find some seeds they like in our garden, too. New seeds that are scattered enough to see the possibilities and be easily picked up, or a seed of something old that we've forgotten not everyone has lying around but it's just the thing someone else wanted to pick up. They could plant it in their own garden, or let it take the form of something more fitting for whatever kind of website they have. Neocities makes that kind of inspiration-searching very easy. It's much easier to find inspiration for a whole website on Neocities than it is on social media. We've gotten some ideas from Tumblr and Dreamwidth themes but growing a social media page is different from growing a website. Having a website philosophy surely isn't for everyone, but it's not a bad thing to have in the toolbox, either.

My favorite aspect of websites is their duality: they’re both subject and object at once. In other words, a website creator becomes both author and architect simultaneously. There are endless possibilities as to what a website could be.



Here's a few fictional stories recommended by Rocky.