do you remember the first webpages i built?
2 min read

do you remember the first webpages i built?

they were "help" pages for LiveMath and i learned the valuable lesson that local fonts are useless on the web. i remember my boss taking one look at it on his computer and my jaw dropping to see the hours i put in turn into nothing. i was supposed to have created a "key stroke" shortcut reference guide. i found a free font with keyboard buttons, downloaded the font and got to work!

lesson learned, i had to go back and create images of each combo in Photoshop, export and embed each into the page. uuuugh! (we were called "WebPrimitives" and – "ugh" was our mascot and motto).

all my boss had asked me was "do you want to learn how to make a webpage?" and that was the beginning of my career in web design. the company couldn't hold on to a graphic artist, so eventually my boss asked me (the only person on staff with any artistic sense) if i wanted to do it. i of course agreed, having no training and/or experience and i got along ok.

i learned Photoshop, Quark(!), HTML, PHP, a little Flash and CSS (which was still new) and i built a lot of things while building my chops. i had a band, i made us a website. i had friends who were musicians and they needed websites. everything was built in tables, nothing had alt text, everything needed meta tags, there was no social media or sharing and "analytics" was a free counter at the bottom of the page. rollover images were new and i used them for every navigation option i could. i never thought of contrast or other devices. i 'streamed' audio using real media player and everything special on the internet required a plugin, including our math software, which was built to share math on the internet and make it interactive. it was cool – you could create a "notebook" and upload it/embed it in a webpage and then users with the free plugin could play with your notebook - no paid software required.

but the Flash plugin was necessary for a lot of sites. and folks made Flash content/cartoons especially like mad. Homestar Runner was a constant source of laughter and inspiration. i look at it now and think "how did they do all that for FREE?" servers cost money to run (even then) and this is well before ad services figured out there was gold in them thar hills and sites like this could get sponsorship in the sidebars and get paid per hit.

no one ran a blog yet. no one shared a site with any followers. word of mouth was actual word of mouth. the internet was fast. we had a T1 line at work and at school and i could have had one at home if i wanted. downloading songs on napster was a breeze. i lived on the campus where it was developed, across the street from his dorm and i quickly (and all night) was obsessed with the platform. until it was so rudely shut down by those Metalicca douchebags. that year, i was taking a course called "Computers and Society" and wrote my final paper on Napster. that professor was the best. we never touched code in that class and i still think about it all the time. i'd teach a course like that now if i could.

society and computers have changed so much since then. as an older "milennial" i feel the need to keep the younger gens linked to the past – a time before everyone had a super computer in their pocket, had to think about how spell something, had to use their voice to communicate with other humans and didn't walk around with their heads burried in a screen.

was it better? i think so.

it was a sweet spot when we didn't know how good we had it.