About Damien's webpages

13 March 2006

"The point of the Web is not to include pictures and sound with text. The point of the Web is hypertext. And the meaning of hypertext is that when you click somewhere in a document you easily go to another document."
Best viewed with any browser.
I got into the web at Caltech back in the days of NCSA Mosaic, before Netscape. I don't seem to have any record of my earliest pages, but I cleverly put "created" dates in my Vinge and Brust pages, and those are 9 March 1995. So it's been a while. I've always been into the "look decent on as many browsers as possible, including text-based ones" thing, and back in the day even tables were risky business, so my pages have always used an austere subset of HTML, with lists, paragraphs, and horizontal rules as my main organization tools. Pictures are never used for navigation, just decoration or real information. CGI was used for random fortune quotes but is defunct; Javascript would be used for a calculator or maybe form verification or something, not navigation bells and whistles. By now I suppose it all looks terribly old school but I like it, and I know it. And these days people are looking at webpages from cell phones or PDAs -- I bet my pages come through okay! Relative URLs were another long-standing practice which has served me well when I move whole trees around between sites, which I fortunately do more often than re-arranging the trees. Another policy has been "no broken links"; anything someone might have linked to tends to still be valid.

CSS to play with styles is starting to tempt me, though. Hofstadter talks a lot about form and content. Mostly I'm lazy and focus on the content, with minimalist form, but I do admire good form.

At some point I grew dissatisfied with my original site, pushed it down, and started afresh with the current site, which as you can see has been converging toward something like the original, not that it ever got too far away from the basic scheme of pretty picture on top, list of major webpages (mostly fansites), and less important stuff below. Along the way I went to Indiana University and got to try to figure out what to do with my web capacity there, and how to relate it to my old pages. Version one was bloggish, version two was a pile of links and quotes, and the third version had more structure which has been surviving. Well, all three had research text on top, that being the main point, but version three had a list of written stuff, then Bloomington-local stuff, and then... a pile of links and quotations. Those and a lot of the writings have been sucked into mindstalk, leaving the research, class papers, and local information.

There's also how my original Caltech pages started moving to OFB, then chickend out, but left the McKinley pages because they exceeded my Caltech quota, and then I finally started actually using my mindstalk.net domain name, which happens to be living on OFB, but you probably don't care.

Oh yeah. When I got to Caltech I suddenly became really into phoenix symbolism -- resurrection, firebird... mostly resurrection. Thus my username, and some of the pictures. But four years later, when I was writing half-assed columns for the student paper and needing a column, I hit upon Mindstalk. Editor Autumn kindly found me someone able to imitate the font of the Berkeley 1983 cover of God Stalk, thus the picture of my main page.

Back to the main page. Another motif of mine -- there may not be a lot of navigation links in my pages, but there should always be a link to something central, or at least out.