Blast from the past

Today found me de-junking my office. I guess it’s the absolutely gorgeous day we’re having in Salt Lake… it’s tricked my mind into thinking it’s spring again. I blame my mother’s genes… she’s a chronic organizational freak. She’s a devoted viewer of Clean Sweep on TLC. She constantly pulls everything out of a room, re-organizes it and throws out precious childhood memories of mine (okay, so I exaggerate a bit… but not that much). So here I am, cleaning out my shelves, and I come across a binder with a lot of papers in it. Not that unusual for meI tend to put stuff I’m working on (personal stuff… never business items, mind you) in a binder and throw it on a shelf, forgetting about it for about a year. Well, this one happened to have some old papers from 1998 or so.

I started writing web pages back in ’97 or ’98 (I forget) when I made the most awful Geocities home page EVER using Netscape Composer (yes, I actually used to love Netscape). Well, a few days later, I got pissed off that the WYSIWYG editors never gave me enough control. I guess it was the inner designer trying to come out (I was at that point more of a Computer Science geek), or perhaps I’m just a control freak. Either way, I decided to learn about this crazy HTML stuff that was underneath the pages. Two weeks later, I was a PRO. Let me tell you… I could make complex frame-based sites with the greatest of ease.

Well, these papers I found contained some of the HTML I was writing back in 1998. Yes, you heard me… I wrote out HTML, literally, by hand. Lord knows why. I can actually see myself sitting in the front room of my house, with a pad of paper and a mechanical pencil, writing out the markup of an entire site. I guess this is a testament to the fact that I prefer paper to PC. Seriously. I know that seems like a lark when I post to my website at least a few times a week, write emails almost nonstop, and with my penchant for technology and gadgetsyet it is true. I love a good pen and some nice paper. I’d rather read a printed book or magazine than read its contents on a computer.

Reading through the markup, though, brought me back to the way I, and most folks who made web sites then (and sadly, do now), wrote HTML. Uppercase tags. Floating paragraph tags. FONT TAGS! Granted, this was before I’d even heard of CSS, and before there was any real support for it, anyway. But the markup and methodology of my past days was enough to make me shudder. I actually shredded the documents (really, why keep them?).

Seeing this window into my past gives pause for thought. I really have come a long way. Having to pretty much relearn HTML upon my return from Australia, after not using the internet for roughly two years, must’ve helped. Now, don’t get me started on what I read in some of my old notebooks from high school… now that’s really embarrassing!