So I've really been enjoying this new project. I grew up in an amazing wild west era of the internet where you can ask almost anyone my age where they learned HTML and they would very likely, like me, say Neopets.com. We were all out there, learning something that many adults struggled with, just so we could deck out our profiles and guilds and forum posts in garish color combinations.
I wanted to show off some of these early creations of mine, specifically my Neopets Guild that I don't think anyone ever joined, but a recent visit to my long-neglected Neopets account revealed that at some point I thought it would be funny for my profile to just have a picture of a comically fat giraffe, and my guild was deleted! So rather than being a showcase of my earliest forays into HTML, this post is instead an impromptu eulogy for my Neopets Guild, Jhudora's Fan Club.
For those who never played Neopets, in addition to the various species of Neopet the world of Neopia is inhabited by the Faeries, uber powerful, all-female, humanoids with wings. The Faeries featured heavily in storylines and quests spanning the site, and each Faerie was one of six different elements, the classic Earth, Fire, Air, Water, Light, and Dark. One of the Faeries, Jhudora, was a powerful Dark faerie. She was deeply interesting to me as a young child, even then intrigued by women with dark auras and colorful hair. She was characterized as "evil", but within the storyline of Neopets never actually did anything that hurt anyone else. I found her so interesting that I left the Dragonball Z Guild I has joined (my username was a reference to Kakarot, the Saiyan name of Goku), and instead started my own, Jhudora's Fan Club.
Jhudora's Fan Club was my greatest juvenile HTML experiment. I learned many skills in making it, like using the color picker in Photoshop to make sure I used the right shades of Green and Purple to match Jhudora's hair, complexion, and dress. I agonized over deciding which of those colors to use for borders, bodies, text, and links. And then, my first major failure: after putting together what was, in my memory, the perfect banner for my guild, I put in the img code so my banner would welcome any visitors to the club. It alwasy looked fantastic on my dad's computer, but if I accessed it anywhere else the image was always broken! I had linked my image source to the local file path on the computer, as I had not learned how image hosting on the internet works. Sadly, I would not learn about photobucket and other free image hosting services until I had migrated almost completely from Neopets to Gaia Online.
All that to say, my favorite part about this space is that it is built on tools that, like Neopets, Angelfire, and Geocities in days past, encourage rough, unskilled, DIY approaches to web design. When you escape the polish and professionalism of digitally-authoriarian spaces like Facebook, you can express yourself in ways unavailable to the average person. There's no-one here to say that my Blog can't be a Magenta, Blue, and Yellow eyeburning landscape with an animated gif that I made on loop dominating the canvas. And that is something I've missed.