Welcome to Leigh's tilde.club homepage!

Hello! Welcome to my tilde.club page.

Its funny how I've suddenly found time to create this homepage using HTML 2.0, but I can rarely be bothered to update my actual homepage.

In fact the last time I updated that page, which you can see here, I basically just updated the list of other places where you are more likely to see aspects of me surfacing on the internet. As I said there:

It used to be that a homepage on the web was a good place to introduce yourself to people. But there's arguably better places to do that now.

Which is mostly true, I think. Homepages were places to introduce yourself. But now that I read that back I'm not entirely sure that there are better places to do that now.

People don't seem to have homepages any more, just streams of posts and profiles. But these tend to be places where we plug in little bits of our content into someone else's design. Or, increasingly, just push someone else's content around the web from one site to another.

There's not as much of the weird and wonderful when it comes to our personal parts of the web these days.

And google ads now occupy the space where we might have proudly displayed a link to a web ring.

A navel-gazer from wayback

Thinking about what to put on this page, I looked up my homepages on the Wayback Machine. My first website was also a tilde site: http://www.bath.ac.uk/~ccslrd. Working at a startup spun out from Bath University I qualified as a staff member so was able to get some web space of my own.

The earliest snapshot that the Internet Archive have is from November 2000. And just look at it! Obligatory "under construction" notes, a lovely table based layout, and a latin quote to make me look clever. Also a copyright notice although I didn't really understand what copyright was, or why giving content away is better. But I needed something to go in the footer.

The site was available from ldodds.com (Or ldodds.COM as the page header states: that emphasis was clearly important for some reason.) The domain hosting was managed through a frame based forward which was how we parked our vanity domains on free web hosting in those days. Before github pages and CNAME files were a thing.

I moved the site to my own server in the summer of 2001 where it became even more basic and apologetic.

But look at the navigation links on the original! Instead of "about", "feedback" and "links" I had "me", "you" and "them". How cleverly I'd subverted the usual website layout! I clearly knew how this web stuff was supposed to work.

All of the punctuation

That was because I'd had websites up before then. I'd been round the block a few times. I'd I had a few pages hosted by my ISP, now happily lost to the mists of time. Published by FTP, I'm pretty sure it featured a terrible tiled background courtesy of the HTML 3.0 BACKGROUND attribute. And possibly some greek lettering.

But the earliest thing I can find in the wayback machine though was this Quake modding and tool project from 1998 (http://www.openquake.org/jquake/). Someone did the page design for me, which is why it has an image and more than one colour on it. But it was clearly a proper project as we had a "staff" page. And look I was a member of the "Open Quake Coalition"! That kind of professionalism was warranted by a "top-level slash" website.

As an aside, the project started when I rewrote some Java code that John Carmack published to read Quake PAK files. I didn't like how he'd done it so I rewrote it to be more object oriented because that was better, obviously. The hubris of that takes my breath away. Still it was my first taste of giving away code on the web which turned out to be a lot of fun.

In 1999 I had another site on the go. Not with a tilde or a slash, but a dollar this time: http://my.userland.com/viewChannel$1079. An actual blog, hosted by Dave Winer. I pissed Dave off somewhere around the time I was cheerfully helping out with RSS 1.0, but I'm still grateful for him hosting that site.

The URL eventually changed (http://weblogs.userland.com/eclectic/) and the earliest page captured by the Wayback Machine still makes me smile.

Rose tint

But now that I look back I can see the rosy tint to my recollections. Right from the start I was using free hosting, other people's templates and early blogging tools. It would seem that personally I couldn't get away from all of that FTP and manual HTML editing fast enough. Perhaps we've actually done well to get shut of the all those faux vellum web page backgrounds?

Like any medium the web evolves as we learn to use it in new and surprising ways. But as we do that we need to be careful not to completely lose or overwrite what came before. Specifically we need to be careful not to lose the ability for tools like the Wayback Machine to record how we weave ourselves into the web.

If you'd like to, you can donate to the Internet Archive here.

This document is valid HTML 2.0