Chris Padilla/Blog / Notes

A Love Letter to 2000s Websites

Ryan North over at Dinosaur Comics has a fancy new overlay:

Is there a joke hidden? Here?? IN THE ALT TEXT??

So uh have you ever wished you could read Dinosaur Comics but ALSO be reading newly-public-domain Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet and not-quite-yet-public-domain-but-hopefully-Disney-is-cool-with-it Tigger?? HAVE I GOT AN OVERLAY FOR YOU, MY FRIEND. Thanks to James Thomson for pulling it together!

I remember the first few overlays on the site when they came out! Heck, I remember the contest ran for the custom footers also on Dinosaur Comics dot com!

I just love this sort of thing! Really novel ways of creating unique interactions on the web. Call me an old man (I am 30 now!) but they just don't make them like they used to, do they??

I'll truncate my nostalgia infused griping to these sentence: Social Media apps have made the web more accessible to more people, giving a platform for voices that otherwise didn't have one. Awesome! AND, aesthetically, a minimal approach has overtaken some of the charm from the old internet. Less awesome!

Ok! With that out of my system, here's this — I know that not every website was overlaying Winnie the Pooh on top their comics, I realize I'm remembering selectively.

So let me pivot from complaining to praising some of my favorites:

  • was a webshow/game site/really impressive flash developer portfolio, come to think of it!
  • Homestuck (then MS Paint Adventures) was a community based-chose-your-own-adventure series (though, I think the community aspect fell off as the series grew)
  • Several webcomics used the medium of a web page to hide jokes in the image alt text and even the mailto link's subject line!! (Thinking of Dr. McNinja, Nedroid, and Dinosaur Comics to name a few.)
  • Neopets was a genre of website that was also a game!! You explored the website in the same way you explored a virtual world. Not to mention that it sported it's own virtual economy!

I think the running thread here is the creative ways folks used the platform of the web. Not just as a way of delivering content the way that Twitter does. But to really squeeze all the juice that's in the web as its own medium.

Put another way, art didn't end at the edge of the canvas.

I'm really happy to have contributed my own piece through AC:NM. A whole visual novel, as a website! Jenn and I very much started the project in this spirit and with inspiration from those older sites. That era of the internet really felt like the wild west where anything was possible.

On to making more quirky sites!