The first reason that my site is like this, is that I like it being like this.
I like how it looks. I chose how it looks. I like what it has to say. I like that I coded it from the ground up. It’s mine. It feels like an extension of myself, silly as that may sound when talking about the internet – something we rarely think of as “genuine.”
I suppose the second reason that my site is like this, is that I like it here.
delovely is part of a community of people who make DIY websites. In my wanderings, I’ve found that this community overlaps with many of my interests at once: writing, zines, art, old tech, a love of learning.
I’ve come across several different names for “us.” All of them are accurate because they capture different aspects of the community.
Some people call us the “small web.” I like that because we feel pretty tightknit. Spend a little time clicking through various links, and you’ll start to run into the same people. You’ll come to recognize them, and they’ll recognize you. You can learn something from everybody here.
Some people call us “the bespoke web.” I like that because every site here feels unique. When you explore someone’s site, read what they write, and admire their style, you get a sense of the person behind it in a way that social media has stripped from us.
Some people call us “web revival.” I like that because it’s nice to think that we’re bringing the concept of the world wide web back to its roots, in a way. We’re relearning how to appreciate the way the web connects us, rather than taking it for granted. Also, it sounds like “folk revival.” We rarely think of digital mediums this way, but when you think about it, the vernacular web really can be something cozy, folksy, and close to the soul.
That’s why my site is “like this.” Because this community taught me that I can make a space on the web that is completely my own, completely “me” – and that I could build it all by myself. ♡
There’s something to be said about digging your hands into something and making it from scratch.
I won’t pretend to be an expert in HTML or (sidenote: Check out Cepheus and Nightdrifter for that. :) ) though I’ve learned to make something out of the basics.
I personally find site builders like Wix and Weebly a pain to use. The site builders are laggy, they’re bloated with trackers and cookies and monetization which is exactly what I hate about the web today, and I find it frustrating that I have to click and drag and go through drop-down menus just to change the font-weight or size or color, when I already know how easy it is to type up exactly what I want without the lag.
I like my hand-coded site, although it isn’t perfect. I like it because I made it. And I know how I made it. I understand every line of code that goes into painting my ideas onto the screen. I’m a fucking webmistress!
I don’t. I am writing to you in 2022. This, right here, is the modern web. So are the other lovely sites I’ve stumbled upon during my time in the web revival community.
However, I do really dislike the idea of the internet that we’ve collectively bought into for some (sidenote: Spoiler alert: the reason is profit. )
You’re curious about something. You’re immediately told to “Google (sidenote: Of course Google has its uses, but be careful considering Google as the go-to option for everything. See: “Know your enemy pt. 2” ) So you Google it and get a bunch of listicles by sites who make money posting affiliate links. You scroll down hoping to find something useful about it and an ad pops up telling you you need to subscribe, or you need to disable your ad blocker, or you need to check out this hot new sale on... wait, what were you looking for again?
Good luck finding anything interesting and soulful in this SEO-ridden (sidenote: Want to find interesting stuff on the web? Try Marginalia Search. ) Oh yeah – I didn’t even mention how every time you hurriedly click out of that stupid pop-up to finally read the answer to your question, the site downloads a bunch of cookies and trackers so that Google and Meta and Amazon can cater personalized ads just for (sidenote: Use UBlock Origin, or some other ad & tracker blocker of your choice. )
I also dislike social media. I could go on and on about why, but I’ll try to keep it short and sweet:
I’d wanted to leave social media for a long time. Web revival offered a healthy way to replace it. Funnily enough, this community gives me all I ever really wanted out of social media, and does it a thousand times better. I can connect with people remotely, share what’s important to me, and get access to content that is thoughtful, interesting, and cool.
Maybe I am. Maybe I’m missing out on MLM invites from Sindy from high school, maybe I’m behind on this week’s microtrend, and maybe the world was counting on me to chime in with my performative activism. But I don’t think I’ll ever look back at my life and think, “Gee, I wish I spent more time on Instagram.”
The digital landscape in 2022 stinks so much that the stench is leaking into our reality. There are millions of sites, but we’ve been herded into, like, four of them, and those four just so happen to be the worst ones. People are scheming more and more inane ways to make money off the already-milked dry (sidenote: What is the point of paying to see your NFT girlfriend nude if they all look the same underneath? Wait, back up a bit. What is the point of paying for a cartoon if it’s not even unique and customized – just a randomized Mr. Potato Head? (Yes, I unfortunately partly understand why people buy NFTs. I just can’t wrap my head around how deeply sad it is.) ) I’ve been told to pump out content and prioritize “SEO optimization” over writing quality articles. I have to accept the fact that Instagram affected my mental health and relationships during my most vulnerable years.
delovely is my humble little corner of the web, far, far away from the digital dystopia.
I didn’t make my site because I wanted to roleplay what it’s like to have a website in 2002 – although I’ve seen some people who do that, and that’s rad. For many web revival sites I’ve come across, vintage aesthetics are just that: an aesthetic. One which reminds the webmaster that it’s okay to be unprofessional in whatever way they want to be, whether that’s fun, cute, emo, techy, experimental, whatever.
Because it’s fun and because it brings me joy.
When I code my site, I’m the one who calls the shots. I don’t have to fit myself into little boxes, and there are no “likes” to give a second thought about. I don’t worry so much about “rambling” or oversharing because, after all, you came to me.
I like delovely. I like how it looks. I like what it says. And I like it here.
Koos Looijesteijn: the person who scripted the nifty sidenotes; also runs an interesting blog
Neocities.org: what I use to host my site
Yesterweb.org: An online community that makes it easy to get into web revival. Hosts a directory of DIY sites (called a webring) and an e-zine, among other things