lilibyte

Hello Web: An Introduction
2020-12-01 (2020-12-06)
cyberspace

I've put off creating a website for a pretty long time now. Every time I've started on one it seems to quickly develop some kind of identity crisis and I'm unsure of what the intended purpose would be or if I'd actually end up using it. How can I make a website that accomplishes being a serious place to go for my projects, being the hub of contact information and details about my professional pursuit, as well as being where I can unapologetically share the things I believe in, or that interest me enough for me to deem them worthy of being shouted into the digital void?

This site, as it exists today, aims to accomplish these goals, while also maintaining practical minimalism, by separating each piece of content I post into categories that I'm calling "parameters". Each parameter can be toggled on or off whether or not you are broadly interested in the posts (or "nodes" as I'm calling them) within them.

The current design is based on the layout of imageboard home pages, but is subject to change over time. I originally wanted to go with something more plain for practicality, but every time I looked at other websites that are made with similar intentions by like-minded people, but are more directly inspired (or even unchanged from!) the lovely design clusterfuck of the 1990s to early 2000s I began to desire something with more soul. When you begin to make a site of your own it is immediately made clear that the amount of effort it takes to create something that is old Web inspired, visually noisy, or "glitchy" is actually substantial and it's made me appreciate even more how each site is a representation of oneself and is itself an expression of art. For this reason I now intend on the design and purpose of my site to evolve over time with me.

While JavaScript is ultimately behind just about everything that I don't like about the current state of the Web, I do use a custom script on the node list that allows you toggle node parameters, as mentioned above. The page functions without JavaScript enabled by making use of <noscript> tags and a database query-based alternative to parameter toggling. This can also be used if you just wanted to save a URL of the parameters that interest you, so you don't have to deselect a number of them on every page load.

I've chosen Django as my backend, because I am pretty comfortable writing Python and have limited, but prior experience playing with Django. At a glance, Django might seem to be bloated, and while it certainly is compared to some proper micro framework solutions, it's really only ever as bloated as you choose to maintain it. If you are curious, I invite you to listen to the DjangoCon 2019 talk "Using Django as a Micro-Framework". Django has allowed me to create a site that is (in theory) more functional and secure than the simplistic design would lead you to believe.

I write my nodes in markdown, and they are converted to HTML automatically by my backend. This also allows me to write them in a text editor and archive the original data before it's converted to HTML. It may also be worth noting that the node list is sorted by descending updated date. If a node is updated in any way it will be bumped to the top of the page. Updated dates can be viewed either by hovering over the created date on the node list, or under the title and in between parentheses to the right of the created date in a detail view.

Lastly, I'll give you a brief overview of the content that may appear on here: "ART" nodes may either be about art conceptually, my personal art studies, art supplies, and maybe music in the future. "FOOD" nodes are simply focused on food and drink. "MEATSPACE" nodes are focused on personal events that exist outside the digital space, but is where I will put any personal writings. "CYBERSPACE" nodes, contrarily, pertain to that digital space. Meta posts (such as this one) will also appear there. "PROJECT" nodes are reserved for information about all of my projects, most likely programs. "SOFTWARE" and "HARDWARE" should be self evident. "SECURITY" nodes focus on my studies, and interest in cyber security broadly. Note that nodes may have more than one parameter that they belong to, and I may or may not rename, delete, or add more parameters in the future.

Since I'm launching my site at the beginning of the Christmas season, I have some cute Shift_JIS art on the homepage. I am referring to these temporary homepage additions as "blurbs", and am archiving them at /blurbs.

I hope that if you are reading this that you find something after looking around that was interesting enough to consider the minutes spent doing so not completely wasted. (* ^ ω ^)