I give a seminar Traditions and Revolutions in Web Design this semester. On the first day we made our first pages by modifying the code of Univ.-Prof.i.R. Dr. sc. nat.Werner Römisch’s page. In spirit of 1993 and default tags.
His page is one of the brightest examples in my essay Prof.Dr.Style, that can be helpful if you want to know how did people make pages in 1993 and what did it mean for them and for the evolution of web design.

I’ve also suggested to the students to embed a Youtube video into their pages. There was no Youtube in 1993 of course, even EMBED tag was not invented yet, but I think pulling parts of a giant system into your modest page is a nice feeling and a healthy exercise.
Another historically incorrect element on this page is a web ring. That phenomenon appeared a year or two later, but it is important to get a feeling of linking to each other. You can check the webring and individual pages starting at https://webspace.merz-akademie.de/~olia.lialina/

Next time we moved to “1995”, or pure “html energy”. With pure I mean no CSS, no separation of content and presentation; holistic, convival HTML only.
Still surprised how much you can achieve with “table”,”hr”,”font”, …, and “marquee”!

Next (chrono)logical step was to dive into One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age archive and to dive out with a page to someone or something dear to you in the style and techniques usually reffered as “Geocities 1996”

And only after we turned to CSS.
To finish our excursus in pre-history or real history of web design, we explored the moment in the early 2000’s when CSS started to to take over the field. For me this turn is forever connected with CSS Zen Garden, the web site that glorified unlimited possibilities CSS could bring. The website itself was growing through contributions of many web designers who applied different styles to the given HTML file. It’s really sad that only a few of those experiments are still online.

BTW, in 2004 British musician and webmaster Bruce Lawson made an intervention, by applying what he called “Geocities 1996” style to Zen Garden’s HTML. I say intervention, because though he followed the logic of HTML/CSS separation, the page looked like there was none. The page looked eclectic, which was also against the drive behind other styles exhibited on the server: coherent look. His blog post about it and the reactions he got is still online. Important to remember that it is this page that gave the name to the look and feel of the web before platformization and style unifications — “Geocities 1996”. If Lawson would have chosen “Tripod 1995” or “Angelfire 1997” for his homage, we might end up with other tropes.

“Another passion (ok, obsession) of mine is computers. I bought my first 8 years ago for my son, but he had to fight with mom to get me off of it when he wanted to use it. I got my latest one last year and this one is MINE! Recently, I’ve been having a ball playing around with PaintShopPro and making graphics (ok, I’m obsessed with graphics, I made so many I now have a graphics site – Obsessive-Compulsive personality, maybe?)”
April 1999

I have been using your graphics and they have really helped my page look the way I want them to. Thank you so much for sharing your wonderful work. I have visited some other graphic sites and some of them were very good, but I haven’t found one as good s yours. Thanks again.
Vicki Jones,
August 2000

Earlier today a very significant screenshot appeared on One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age — the home page of Graphics by Shawna1. She moved into the SoHo neighborhood, Coffeehouse suburb, 5922 in September 1999 and last updated the home page on October 8, 2005.
I stumbled upon this site many times before I started to work with the GeoCities archive and maybe even before my Vernacular Web research took its shape. The reason is that Shawna’s designs, layouts, and graphics were very popular and since they were distributed as “linkware,” many people who used them put Shawna’s button in the bottom of their pages with a link back to her site.

Since 2011 there is one at the bottom of my own home page too. To express my respect and admiration to Shawna’s creations I used 3 of her sets at once. In 2017 her jeweled set “bluegem” became a motive for a Shawna dress and a Shawna skirt, garments of the Webmaster Summer collection.

A registered nurse, Shawna Kaye Green Hall (b.1951) belonged to the early webmasters who came to the web either shortly before or shortly after their retirement. In 1999 she mentions on her me.html that she will retire in 3 or 4 years. Contrary to the common belief that the amateur web was build by 13 year old boys, it were mostly much older people who took care about making, collecting, and organizing interface graphics, like back and home buttons, welcome signs, etc, as well as decorative elements, like bullets, rules, background images. Think of Lucy and Alan Richmond, who retired from NASA to start stars.com, where the first web developers could find tools and elements to make their pages; Royal Frazier, founder of the first GIF gallery; Randy D. Ralph who put together the Icon Bazar; not to mention Chuck Poynter; who we should thank for the Dancing girl and other early GIFs.
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  1. actually three screenshots in a row popped up in the timeline, because Graphics by Shawna existed under three addresses

“Thanks to Blingee I discovered who I am”

“2021.2.4 This can be my last blingee… Is too much hard making blingess since I can’t find too much stamps… I wanna thank you all for comments, votes, friendship, I love ya guys.. and thank you Blingee Team for making this site. This site gave me a lot fun. I’m sad it’s end… However still there inside of me, part of me feels that there is a some hope. Anyway thanks for these years here. I’m here almost 9 years, in next month will 9 year in 1st March. I never forget you all ♥ Thanks ♥ PS. on P****x also I am Klaudia1998, I hope you’ll found ;3”

OL: Klaudia (sorry if I assumed wrongly and it is not your real name!), I was very happy you reacted to my tweet about the Blingee community mourning the service and at the same time supporting each other in the hope that it is not the end!Thank you for agreeing to talk to me, and adding me to your circle.
I understood from your forum entries that Blingee.com was (or still is) a big part of your life. And that’s what I want to talk about with you. But let me start with something that puzzles right now.  How come  a few new blingees appeared in your profile 2 days ago? How did you make them if Flash is still dead, and there is no non-flash editor on the website?!

K: I’m also glad I can tell you about my experience and I’m sorry for my not perfect English. Well, on Blingee there are maybe 100 people who are still making. Last year after Flash was discontinued, one of them told me about an old version of flash which I downloaded on my old laptop as well as the Pale Moon browser and tried it on February 2, 2021, but then deleted the programmes because I heard about the risks. Now I installed it again and I’m making new blingees again, because I missed it so much.  I’m not sure it’s 100% safe but there was only one person who got hacked.

OL: What exactly do you mean by “got hacked”?

K: She said she lost her accounts. Later she wrote on Blingee that she got hacked and people were afraid they would lose their accounts too but I didn’t hear anyone else got hacked.

OL: How did you come up with the number of 100 blingee users still being active? And, how many people do you think were still active before the editor stopped working?

K: When I joined Blingee there were a lot of people, but then less and less. People stopped making or deleted their accounts. In the end of 2020 right before Flash was over, people started to make a lot again, me too, because we thought it’s the end. I don’t know how many people are still there, maybe not 100, but very few.

OL: Is 1998 the year of your birth? If I assume correctly after reading the goodbye comment under your “last” blingee, you came to the service in 2012 when you were 14, right? Can you tell me what you remember about that?

K: Yes, 1998 is the year of my birth. I came to this service when I was 13 years old. I discovered the website in February and uploaded photos of my hamster to test the effects and thought it was very cool. So on March 1 I made an account there.

OL: So, 10 years! How many blingees and samps have you made in these years?

K: Over 1800 blingees, and  a lot of stamps, more than 6000 I think.

OL: Which is your favorite one? Or some that you are really proud of?

K: Usually I cut out stamps when I need something for my own blingee but can’t find it on the platform. It takes time to make them, but it is worth it. To be honest I can’t decide which is my favorite, I’m proud of almost all of them, but there’s one which I really like, though it was used only one time and this I used it for one of my favorite blingee, in 2012.

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Perpetual Calendar builds upon the rich digital folklore tradition to start a day on your social network by wishing each other a good one in the form of an image, often animated, and most likely glittering.

Vernacular web has different facets, that can’t be reduced to usual suspects: dancing baby or LOL cats or “under construction” signs. When in the 3rd decade of the 21st century I’m asked what can be seen as Digital Folklore today, I say Blingee.com, Lyric Videos on Youtube, … good morning greetings on… actually anywhere where you can attach an image to your post, but mostly where you can attach an animated image.

Glitter quotes and have a nice day wishes is a subculture.These images are neither memes, or reaction GIFs, not classic 90’s GIFs. They belong to the 3rd millennium and mark the dramatic shift. In the beginning of the century a new social networks routine — to wish a good (nice, great, sexy,…) Monday (Tuesday, Humpday,…) with a self made or found graphic — replaced “Welcome to My Home Page” greetings and relieved the ever growing urge for updates.

With https://haveagood.today/you can go to the future and the past, checking what day of the week were you born, or on what day of the week New Year 3000 is going to be. At the same time you can see it as a flipping through my collection of the graphics that represent an important layer of vernacular web.

I’d like to thank  The Internet Archive for commissioning the work for their 25th anniversary! And Dragan Espenschied for transforming the collection into a calendar that will work forever and on all the platforms!

An update on the eve of the 20th anniversary of 9/11. Forty four new screenshots of pages made as a tribute to the victims of the terrorist attack, or related to the event in other ways: collections of photographs and documents, investigations, conspiracy theories, Osama Bin Laden hate pages, …

⚠️ Some GIF mentioned in the text have a limited number of loops.
Consider hard refresh to see them in action again.

MetaTools web team Christmas party, 1995. Front row, left to right: Audrey Witters, Julie Sigwart, Rena Tom.
Back row, left to right: Michael Mogitz, Scott Fegette (Audrey Witters’ personal archive)

“Assorted Tip and Tricks”, chapter 6 of Richard Koman’s GIF Animation Studio manual, published by O’Reilly in 1996 starts with the wise remark “Your Web page can be a lot more fun if it’s not always crystal clear exactly what is going on” (p.69).
Meaning that animated GIFs can be used for more than just motion. They are the element that can bring surprise and suspense. To realize GIFs’full potential one could play with interframe delays and numbers of loops. Two essential properties in the mid 90’s; two more decisions early GIF makers could make, apart from transparency (or not) in the background of the animation and the amount of frames used in the animation.
As an example of the best practice Koman brings the Blinking Alien, attributing the authorship to Audrey Witters from MetaTools.

Today Audrey is a Managing Director of Online Executive Education at Stanford and she was very surprised that I wanted to talk with her about her alien.gif. The conversation started on Whereby on June 29, 2021; continued in Google docs the following days and concluded with the short video call on July 12.

Olia Lialina: Audrey, did you know that you are famous? That your GIFs and tips on how to make them were celebrated on the pages of GIF Animation Studio? Actually did you know at all that you were in the book and on the CD?

Audrey Witters: I did! And we have the book at home. I just have to find it!

Back in 1995, I began to work for MetaCreations (back then called MetaTools). We produced graphic arts software — Kai’s Power Tools was our big title then!  And so, myself as well as three other folks at MetaTools were working on the website, we did everything together: design and coding, these weren’t separate jobs back in 1995. You didn’t have it segmented yet. One of the things we did to support the community and to promote the software was publishing web tips, I think they had a cute name, I can’t remember now.


AW:  Yes! And so, I had published a tutorial on doing animated GIFs using Kai’s Power Tools.

OL: <title>Animation Rocks</title>

AW: And then the author of that book sent me a note saying “hey, I’m publishing this book on animated GIFs, can I use your stuff in it?” I checked with my boss, and we were like, yeah, it’d be free publicity for our software as well as our website. Let’s go! So, I guess that’s the story.

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False Memories, Olia Lialina, 2020

For Internet Explorer 6, Windows 2000, and virtual machine

My professional life happens in two dimensions. In IRL one it’s the end of Summer 2020, where Microsoft just announced that Internet Explorer – the notorious web browser that for many was the only window into the WWW for quarter of century – has been discontinued. It’s the end of the era.

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August 14th 2020 IRL and January 1st 2004 on One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age archive: Happy New Year!?

What were the most important developments for web history in 2004? The birth of the Facebook1 and the announcement of “Web 2.0.”2

These events mark the beginning of a new era: a “modern” web, the web that we are still in today. A web where the role of the user is not to build the web, but to generate content and data. A web where the gap in between users and developers is unbridgeable.
Not many did see the significance of both back in 2004. It was hard to imagine that Facebook will become so powerful, or the extend to which Ajax will affect the way users interact with the web and each other.

Later that year, on the 9th of November 2004, Firefox browser was released, to end the era of IE dominance.3

What I personally remember about that year is that people around me finally abandoned the idea of having a personal home page. In an attempt to support those who still designed, updated, and fixed broken links, art.teleportacia gallery initiated the 1000$ Page Contest. It showed that there are some people online who still make their home pages by themselves and are even proud of it. The following year all entries already were blogs, which in 2020 would probably be regarded as the “personal web.” But 15 years ago the difference in between a home page and a blog was very clear.

As for GeoCities, in 2004 it’s users were fighting with Flash, Yahoo!’s templates, and the idea that a web page is dead if it is not updated.

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28 Feb 2020 @BerkeleySETI: “We’re now on TikTok!”
02 March 2020 BerkeleySETI: “basically, we’ve analyzed all the data we need for now.”

On March 2nd 2020, the SETI@home project announced its hibernation starting March 31st. After more then two decades this iconic distributed internet project is becoming history. There is enough data, enough super computers, and no extraterrestrial tasks left for PC users at the moment.

SETI@Home is one of the very best things that happened to the internet. In an ideal world all the internet is  something@home. Well, next time!

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A little Christmas wonder!

Up until today we discovered 55 pages in the GeoCities archive that were decorated with softly falling DHTML snowflakes. Six of them are now brought back to your browser: by adapting JavaScripts that GeoCities users copy-pasted into their pages, digging up missing snowflake GIFs and other flying objects from the Internet Archive, and rendering midi files to audio.

For detailed notes on changed code, see Dragan’s notes on GitHub.

Please note that some pages feature wonderful auto-playing audio. You will probably have to allow autoplay and reload the page:




with sound

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