a bunch of random thoughts that i've been having
21st september 2020
moved to my dorm room a couple of days ago, and i've realised that my course actually starts next week, so i'm kinda in a limbo at the moment, do i stay put or do i go back home for the week? by the looks of it, this room that i'm staying in this time is much better than the ones that i stayed in last year since it's bigger than i expected and is actually modern (although i swore that i'd never touch it with a barge pole, i'm actually beginning to adopt the minimalist aesthetic a bit since i want my dorm room to be a good place to be since most of my sessions will be online until (hopefully) the end of 2020, which means that i'll be in my room a lot more, and not to repeat last year where i tried to avoid being in there as much as possible since it made me want to jump out of my own skin, not to mention that those rooms looked like they were from the 80's, but not in a good way). i've met everyone else in the flat and they all seem nice, so we'll all probably get along once we fully get to know each other after a while. the internet is a bit spotty, which is both a blessing and a curse since i'm forced to spend time offline to do other things, but won't be great when i'm in the middle of an online class and get cut off from calls because of it.
as for the social media thing, i've pretty much forgotten about it, which is a good thing and hopefully i continue to forget about them and forget that i even have social media accounts, but i'm also gravitating towards new ways to waste time, such as going down youtube rabbit holes and reading pointless articles on the internet, and honestly i don't want that. i actually want to be productive but i have no idea where to start or how to go about it. i guess i could always start off small by creating something rather than consuming something, but that's easier said than done since i need some form of inspiration or starting point, and not too much inspiration to the point where i don't end up doing the thing because i'll end up doing it wrong. as for now, i've hard blocked all the addictive sites on my devices and i don't really think about them unless i'm super bored and have nothing else to do, which is unfortunately most of the time. i wish that my university started earlier (today at least) just so that i can actually get on with the course (i mean, why else am i dropping 9k on just the course each year?) and do the assignments, not to mention that it doesn't help that my course is so open ended yet we're supposed to have our studio practices set in stone by now (which, for me, is like trying to draw blood from that stone). sometimes i wish that i chose a more practical course (such as computer science since i'm intrigued by that subject matter and is something that i'd want to look into in more detail) since i'd actually be able to do some decent research and actually have skills to apply to in real life (the most i can do for now is to use technology as a creative medium, which at the moment is super hard to explain as well as to define, and write a couple of essays about it, all whilst trying to avoid being swayed and sidetracked by literally everything else), and why i chose to do art, i'm not entirely sure, it seemed like a good idea at the time (i originally planned on studying illustration, but the course i'm on, despite being a combined course, heavily focuses on fine art, which is pretty much pointless in the grand scheme of things, not to mention that we barely get to be in the studio for the foreseeable future, and if i'd have known that covid was a thing that would be affecting a decent piece of my university education, i would have thought twice about all of this). i guess i'm being a tad bit too cynical at the moment since i'm at university but can't be on campus unless i have a session that requires me to be there, but i'll get used to it, and hopefully everything goes back to normal.
16th september 2020
life without social media is nice and all, but the worst withdrawl symptoms are here since my fingers are itching to scroll through instagram (which i deactivated yesterday and kinda regret doing, but i guess my mind's lying to me, trying to convince me to go back on to it), and now i need to curb mindlessly browsing the internet as well since i'll be going nowhere fast otherwise. on top of that, it feels like i'm out of the loop and that i'm missing out on some very important things, but i know that in the grand scheme of things, they aren't that important and it's nothing that i should really worry about. must. fight. that. urge. though.
14th september 2020
took a much needed break from social media (pretty much the big web), and now it feels like i have more time to do things rather than having to scroll over a bunch of different apps with glazed eyes and feeling as though i have to half-heartedly "like" things to kinda prove that i've seen them at some point before. i've tried taking some breaks in the recent past, but i've given up after a day or two by helplessly giving in to those withdrawl symptoms and entering that endless cycle again. i think that starting to change your habits is the hard part, but once you start changing them for a couple of days, you get used to it and realise that, yes, you can actually live without instagram without it feeling like the grown up's version of a blanket that you have with you at all times, and to be honest, i don't really miss it at all since it's like a swarm of bees as i'm suddenly bombarded by posts from at least 700 people (that's just from the people that i follow alone), and suddenly tons more from literally everyone else. on top of that, i feel like i've lost my sense of self by accidentally scrolling through instagram (and other sites, but insta's the biggest one for me) for hours on end, and have ended up having an ongoing existential crisis that i'm slowly trying to get out of since i've seen countless posts of strangers living out fake perfect lives, and seeing different kinds of shallow successes to the point that i don't know what to do with myself or what i want to do, who i want to be. i actually feel lighter and calmer (something that i haven't really felt in a long time) without it, and i don't really feel convinced to go back to it since i've found other things to fill my time with, not to mention that i start my second year of university in about a week's time, which means that i'll be busy with that as well as also actually trying to be actively social (well, social enough for an introvert in order to avoid getting burnt out) rather than passively viewing acquaintences' perfect lives through a screen and getting mad that they're doing things without me (i did this last year when i thought it was a wise decision to follow my now ex-ex-flatmates, and it seriously harmed my mental health, not to mention that i actually lived with them for about 2 months, which didn't help when i moved since i would constantly have them on my mind, even if i didn't want to think about them). i seriously should have social distanced from social media at the start of lockdown, but i guess it's better late than never (i guess i could always go old school and exchange numbers with people that i occasionally befriend), and at least i don't spend an ungodly amount of time on some app that makes me feel inadequate anymore.
10th september 2020
whilst the things i talked about in my last post seem like a really good idea in theory, it seems a tad bit unrealistic in real life since switching to those ideals yourself is the easy part, convincing everyone else to get on board is the hard part, especially if you suck at convincing people to do things, not to mention that the post itself seems too salesy (which is a bit ironic since i'm not a salesperson at all). i think it's too big of a change for me at the moment and i was being overdramatic, but hey i guess that's life and those moments do happen, so i'll leave it at that and probably do a bit more research into it.
7th september 2020
i've come across a thing/concept called the indieweb, where according to the official indie web camp website is "a people-focused alternative to the coporate web [where] your content is yours", which means that all of your content is all yours and won't be sold to any advertisers and whatnot. this whole concept of the indieweb plays nicely with the art of no likes, and both essentially go hand in hand with each other since it forces people (not users, which is a term that the "corporate web" (i.e. facebook, twitter etc) uses a lot) to become creators rather than consumers who have an endless amount of things to consume (ever accidentally spend 5 hours on insta, anyone?), and always wanting more of everything, which essentially traps them in a hamster wheel, where they're seemingly doing a lot of things but going nowhere fast. i'm slowly trying to break free from this corporate web (i also downloaded a massive zip file of my data from my old fb account before i deleted it, and seeing that it knew what sites i used, what my interests were, as well as showing me that most of my data was sold to a bunch of sites/advertisers that i'd never even heard of, and the overall fact that it knew more than i did creeped me out to the point that i just straight up deleted the entire zip file because i kinda knew that i was going to be in for a very hauntingly nasty surprise) because deep down, the big, ugly, corporate web is really creepy, although it's hard to escape when you know it's something that practically everyone uses, and this is also one reason why i eventually want to do away with instagram, knowing that it's owned by facebook, which makes things even worse since my content no longer becomes mine and becomes an exploitable piece of information, where i'm just another user of a service that has at least 1 billion people on it, not to mention the fact that barely 1% of my almost 500 followers even interact with my posts at all, let alone even come across them, and at this point, i might as well have 5 followers, since it won't make that big of a difference. on top of that, it's all so incredibly fast-paced and has become overwhelming over time by throwing in features that literally nobody asked for, and by essentially turning a nice and simple thing into a big money hungry monster that has lost control of itself but controls everyone, whereas the indieweb focuses on the people and their content, nothing else, and goes at a slower pace, where there are no algorithms, no likes, no other stats hidden in plain sight.
with the indieweb, you pretty much own everything (you can also own your own server if you want), and (hopefully) won't be trapped on a hamster wheel of endless consumption, but focusing on consuming decent content here and there (without it taking over your whole entire life), and not having to worry about meaningless things such as the number of likes you get on each and every post (this practically determines how well it does and pretty much shapes your opinion on your own content, but not in a good way either). the idea of being a person on the indieweb seems more appealing by the day, knowing that i can well and truly be myself without being bombarded by fake perfect online personae from strangers that i'll probably never encounter in real life, rather than being viewed as a user that gets used purely for advertising and surveillance purposes, and to be honest, i remember more about the content that i've actively gone out and looked for (i.e. by seeing an article written by an individual and looking at their site if i want), rather than all of the posts that i've scrolled through on instagram, mechanically double-tapping each post (almost as though it's become a ritual) to say to someone or something that i've looked at it, and trying to search for yet even more content to consume, even if it's something that i don't personally like or agree with.
whilst the idea of the indieweb seems appealing, it will take a while to get used to since i've pretty much spent my youth (roughly from the age of 12 to about now) on the big, corporate web since that's all i've known until now, and it will take a while to wean myself off from the major sites that everyone's on, and get used to my own company (pun intended) by eventually spinning up an instance-of-one and having a personal site that i 100% own. at the moment, i'd say i own about 50% of this site, since neocities deals with the backend, server side of things, but it's a start, and it's something that most people wouldn't dare to dream of doing.
5th september 2020
there's something freeing about the art of no likes, knowing that isn't the end of the world, especially if likes aren't an option at all. i think that everyone has started to obsess about getting likes a bit too much, as well as other stats, and eventually start to base their worth about them, which i think is silly, almost basing your worth on something that you can't control, such as your age and height (i'd also say weight, but that can be controlled if you exercise regualrly and have a decent diet going). those things are important, but they shouldn't completely define you, so you should probably let go of the idea of basing your worth on yet another bunch of numbers, if you haven't done that already, i highly recommend that you do. you'll feel a lot more freer, and you'll actually have the room and headspace to do the things that you want to do, instead of worrying whether it'll pop or flop. i've started doing it, not worrying about likes, but if you're constantly surrounded by them, it's gonna be hard to ignore when your content practically goes unseen, and your words essentially go unspoken. perhaps if all the major social media outlets simply hid the stats from plain view (the number of followers, likes, and comments) from the start, the web would have been a different place by now, and folks would have focused more on creating for themselves and showing it to the world rather than to create for the world, and not personally vibing with the work they've created. perhaps everyone wouldn't seem so greedy, constantly begging for attention from others (but i guess that for the most part, that's just one of their traits) and dreaming of becoming the next big thing/influencer/whatever, but rather, focusing on honing in on their skills and craft, adding new ones into the mix and combining them in order to create a new skillset rather than to force themselves to fit the mold that probably won't feel comfortable for them.
however, it's all too easy to get caught up in the game of likes, and as for now, there's not much that you can do about them, other than to try to ignore them and get about your day, but there's an ongoing critical investigation that pretty much focuses on the standardisation of social media, and how it warps us (this is something that i'd want to look into a bit more, and perhaps do some in depth research about it). the webring that i'm a part of is also a part of this investigation/exhibiton that focuses on the actual content rather than the amount of likes, in an attempt to revive the spirit of the 90's web, back when likes weren't that big a deal (if they were even a thing back then) and everyone focused on actually creating content, but most importantly, in their own way for the world to see.
this is something that i'm planning on doing, and i guess i'm halfway there already by creating content for myself, but it's no easy road, especially if you've practically grown up in the ongoing era of likes and have to unlearn a great deal of things in order for it to actually be effective (if any big social media platform somehow comes across this, please consider hiding your likes etc from plain view).
1st september 2020
the good ol' folio's gonna take a while to make, so i might as well remove it from the blog until i've actually got something up on there. as for everything else, i've got a guestbook now, and i'm a part of a webring that focuses on the art of no likes (the pop up thing on my homepage randomly suggests websites that are a part of the webring, encouraging you to go and check them out, focusing the actual content rather than on the number of likes, which i find to be pretty neat, so if you want to join it, you've got til the end of the month to join the webring). speaking of no likes, i'm better without having to worry about them, but i wish that neocities hid other stats as well for the True Experience, but hey, it's a start. when i look at everyone else's handmade sites, i don't focus on how many likes or followers they have, but rather on the actual content of the site itself, as it should be, and sometimes looking under the hood to see how they've done things, mainly for future reference. i know this is practically a load of waffle, but i'll probably bash out a more cohesive post about the art of no likes, and how that can positively effect everyone, as well as why it definitely needs to make a comeback in the age of likes.
30th august 2020
i've realised that i actually have to compress all of my images, and this is going to take a very long time. i think that creating a portfolio with everything that you've ever created is the most mundane task ever. why did i think that this was gonna be a good idea? i think i'll probably scrap the idea and create some net.art instead since i've been meaning to look into that genre of art for a while because i personally find it really intriguing, and i'm planning on spending my second year of uni (and beyond) looking into that a bit more and hopefully making it a part of my practice since portfolio building is NOT cutting it for me at all. but as for now, uploading a massive backlog of images from 2017 to just before lockdown irks me and i wish i didn't have to do it, but here we are. guess i'll just rebrand myself as a net.artist, creative coder and a new media artist for now (although i haven't created anything in those categories, but that's something that i really want to do) and call it a day.
29th august 2020
i'm currently working on my portfolio and getting roughly 3 years' worth of work on here, which is why i've been a tad bit quiet over the past couple of days. i personally find that uploading images is the hard bit since they're all really big for some reason, seeping in to the megabytes, not to mention that i have to practically upload them ONE BY ONE, which will take forever. i need a practical way to build my portfolio (because at the moment, you'll get 404'd). idk why it seems to be mission impossible (to the point where learning how to code and how to do a tad bit of maths seems objectively easier to do) when it's literally just uploading a bunch of pictures, which is what i do all the time on insta (theoretically, that practically is my portfolio at the moment), but i'll get there eventually and put them on this site so that you can view them in all their glory. i'll find a decentish way to do this really overwhelming but very important task at some point, but i'm putting it on the backburner for a while since that's all i've been thinking about lately, and (obviously) drag and drop website builders won't cut it because technically, the company owns your content (i know insta falls into that category, so i'd do away with it at some point and focus on having a personal site instead, where it's actually personal and not just a generic cookie cutter one with my name and stuff slapped on to it, which is what everyone seems to have these days), and i don't want that tbh.
anyway, enough from me today (and probably for the time being), i've gotta find the most effective way to upload hundreds, if not thousands (yes literal thousands) of images that i've created in the past couple of years, and slap 'em all on to this wee little site of mine.
23rd august 2020
whilst i spent most of yesterday complaining about e.gg (facebook's pathetic attempt at recreating the 90's web), i discovered a really cool app that allows you to send 90's themed emails to anyone ever. it's called "56k email" (only available on ios, unfortunately :/) and pretty much lets you use email as an art form (which i find is really cool since it's pretty much the geo/neocities of email). it's slow on purpose since it mimics the average internet speed from the 90's (i'll assume it wasn't that brilliant), but also welcomes you to take a break from the fast-paced internet that we have today. unlike e.gg, this app doesn't claim to be the next big thing, and to me, it feels authentic and not too forced (about trying to hold on to the early internet era).
anyway, you can drop me a line at email@example.com (managed to grab that username before anyone else did, so that's a win win) and you can check out my profile over here and i'll get back to you whenever.
22nd august 2020
i feel that there's a right way to relive the garish and more creative version of the internet but to bring it up to modern standards, and a wrong way to relive the nostalgia of the 90's web. i've come across e.gg (i'm not even gonna link because i don't endorse it at all and i don't want to encourage anyone to sign up to that platform), and it is honestly SO cringy, that the overall atmosphere that site gives is too try hardy and extremely forced (almost as though fb is trying to gain internet points, like it doesn't have enough of those already). it's like having a corporate drone boomer trying to be down with the cool kids (cue the "how do you do, fellow kids?" meme) in order to make them seem cool, whereas in reality, they aren't that cool at all. if e.gg wasn't associated with fb at all, i might have actually given it a chance, but there is no way i'll ever go near it (i had to do it for ~research~ but that's about it really). however, neocities is pretty much the modern day version of geocities, but doesn't brag about it since it quietly gets on with it and does its job without trying to create an organised mess, which is something that e.gg does (i'm sorry, but skewing things at a canted angle won't cut it at all. no one actively does this on purpose), not to mention that it all seems too sanitised, almost as though there's something a bit off but you don't know what it is.
the layouts on e.gg are all pretty limited to the point where it seems a bit too structured for it to be even considered experimental, along with how it tries too hard to relive the 90's nostalgia in a cool and hip way (with making money of course), to the point where it's capitalising on the recklessness and nostalgia of the 90's web, not to mention that their about page (with its overly gentrified and too neat (to the point that it's almost soulless) egg icons in the back) make the situation a tad bit worse. don't even get me started on the copy (pretty much the words they spew out) of what they're about (and what they claim to be) since it has pretentious corporate jargon (with the first bit looking as though its a combination of a mission statement and the opening to a philosophical dissertation) thrown about left, right and center, not to mention that it has a dancing baby gif and looks a bit like the space jam website (one of my personal favourites). scroll down a bit and it tries to recreate the language of the 2010's youth (with me spending most of my teen years in that decade, so i can pretty much speak from experience), but in a (surprise, suprise!) very cringy way. honestly, you can read their about page if you want to because i literally can't even anymore. e.gg is cringy from head to toe, and if i point out all of its flaws, i'll be here for a very long time, and you'll be staring at a wall of text, so i best leave it at here. venture out into the corporate creative world (not a good mix, in my honest opinion) if you dare. you'll regret it :)
okay, my overall rating for e.gg is a strong 0/10 (if i could go lower than that, deeeeeep into the minuses, i absolutely definitely would). i do not recommend this at all since it tries too hard to be cool to the point that it's just straight up cringy. signing up is impossible (not that i'd want to sign up to it anyway), and it feels too corporate, stuffy and pretentious to actually relive the wild web. it's like having an instagram influencer (ugh, don't even get me started on those) posting a candid photo, but it's obviously staged enough to look candid enough, where they try too hard to not have a care in the world (whereas they most likely spent hours upon hours of planning it). honestly, e.gg is a no go since it's way too structured; their attempts at trying to create a cool 90's inspired website is laughable. maybe because it was created by professionals who want to be creative and come up with something new for once (trust me, the hobbyists on neocities with limited coding skills can do better than that since they focus on expressing themselves and actually genuinely experiment to figure things out). e.gg is literally the epitome of the saying "think outside of the box" (a phrase that i absolutely despise to the point where i ended up creating 2 complimentary illustrations (more on that later) to show my hatred for that phrase) whilst playing it really safe and blending in at the same time, which i don't think is a good mix at all.
18th august 2020
the professionals make everything seem impossible to do. maybe because i'm not on their level yet, maybe because i don't have plans to become a full on software engineer. i'd rather keep coding as a hobby, and make it as creative as i can, perhaps by using it as an art form rather than to create something functional, and i guess i'm halfway there by writing blogs using html rather than using an actual blogging platform (such as wordpress), because those platforms seem like a nightmare since you can't customise them much, not to mention that they all look more or less the same. however, on neocities (practically the modern day equivalent of geocities), everything seems more diverse because everyone can customise their site and they're in full control of it, which is what i like about this platform.
perhaps the professionals want to justify their jobs to everyone, perhaps make themselves the superior ones to the point where they're alienated from the public and vice versa, have an unrealistic entry level in order to put people off since it'll be really hard for them to actually get into that industry to begin with. ironically, the hobbyists (aka the ones who have hand coded sites) seem to be more creative when it comes to creating their site. that's what it should be about, right? they experiment with the tools they've got, play around with the colours and the layout a bit, perhaps turn it into an art piece (those sites are my favourite, and i'd want to research those a bit more, perhaps have a go at creating a piece of net.art (or internet art, literally just art that uses the internet itself as an art form) myself, overall having a bit of fun with it and seeing what i can do with knowing just a little bit of html and css), whereas the professionals stick to the tried and true way of building a site, implying (and also enforcing) that there's only one "correct" way to build a site; if you dare step out of line, your site's all wrong, no one will stick around and *gasp* your seo or whatever will go down the drain which means that you can't make any money whatsoever out of it. the professionals seem too pretentious, doing it to pay bills, not thinking outside the box although that's what they preach (gotta practice what you preach, eh?), and by turning a really simple thing (such as learning the basics of html and css, enough to build a couple of web pages with) into an extremely complicated thing.
anyway, that's my little rant done for today. in the meantime, i'll flock over to some of my sources of inspiration: (shameless plug) some of the sites on neocities, some sites that i've had to actively search for (i'll link 'em up once i come across them again) that made the search totally worth it, and brutalist websites, which is a really interesting site that features other sites that refuse to conform to the boringness and conformity of modern day web design (it's also got some interviews, where most of the sites are designed and coded by one person (usually the same person), which works well with the whole hand made diy attitude to building a site, but a tad bit more professional but not TOO professional). i've mainly used that site as my main source of inspiration, and discovering that site (probably after doing a google search moaning about why all sites look the same) has opened so many doors for me, by showing me that websites don't all have to look the same to do well, so i highly recommend that you check it out if you want to :)
15th august 2020
i want to recreate the garish look of web 1.0 since it seems much more interesting than the state of the web today, since everything looks the damn same these days and i'm honestly sick and tired of it. there's no fun to be had anymore, just a bunch of black text on a white background, premade templates so that you can just throw up your content on there and be done with it, which to me feels really soulless and corporate, especially since everyone and their dog want to make money from this thing that was once a novelty that's now a necessity, about as necessary as the air we breathe. i wish i was alive during the web 1.0 era, where everyone created their own sites, knew html like it was their mother tongue, and were actually creative on the internet instead of having *cough* *cough* an instagram account (a bit ironic since i have one) and a soulless but professional website to go with it, claiming to stand out from the crowd whilst also fitting in at the same time. i don't want that. i want the internet to be creative and diverse again.
i bet if was a teenager in the 90's, i would have been a pro at all of this by now, instead of breaking my brain by trying to learn some basic html and getting overwhelmed by the amount of courses out there, with most of them claiming to turn you into a full on web developer in the space of just a couple of months, as long you can cough up a couple hundred pounds/dollars/whatever and access to a macbook (it's always gotta be a macbook for some reason, although i can't really justify dropping 2k on a macbook to mainly use the internet and occasionally use the odd adobe program here and there, so i'll just stick to using my good old hp laptop that i got when i started my a levels back in 2017 until i can't use it anymore, which in that case, i'll just slap linux onto it, depending on how broke i am). i think that the vast amount of courses available on the internet is both a blessing and a curse, since you can do degrees online now (and since it's 2020, pretty much ALL degrees are online, even the fine art ones (aka the one that i'm doing), which will make me have to rethink my studio practice since we're gonna be using a virtual studio space from now), but at the same time, it's really overwhelming, because as a beginner, you have absolutely no idea where to start, but i guess you gotta start somewhere, and this is my starting point.