So a friend sent me a link to WebCanvas saying, “You’ll like this. It’s like graffiti but online.” Well, okay, but isn’t that sort of what the whole internet is? We take it for granted now and social media sites have homogenized a lot of our online interactions—which can be added to the long list of reasons they’re terrible—but even from its earliest days the internet has been a space, albeit one bound by certain technological limits, where people can express themselves creatively. I even remember when it was harder to use. Websites usually had some pictures and a lot of text and you could do a lot of scrolling. A 1999 article from The Onion, “Dean Cain Fanpage Last Updated 8/14/96” was funny and also reminded us that even if we had a website updating it could be a slow, tedious process.
I also remember when you could read articles on The Onion without being bombarded with ads, and also when certain websites would bombard you with pop-up ads, and when some sites had annoying “frames”, but that’s another story.
Then people started getting really excited about “the Web 2.0” that promised to be more open, more interactive. Blogging became a big thing, and suddenly, instead of being mostly static, websites were not only updated regularly but people could comment, share thoughts, get into conversations, get into fights. A 2015 article from The Onion, “Man Wistfully Looks Around Website He Hasn’t Visited For 30 Minutes”, was funny and reminded us how quickly things were changing.
WebCanvas, for reasons I can’t quite explain, seems like a throwback to the early days of the internet. I think a lot of it is the scrolling, and the MS Paint quality of a lot of the artwork. I thought it would be fun to add something of my own to it. You can post over other peoples’ work but I purposely moved around to what seemed to be an empty space. Then I created an account and, well, went to MS Paint and did a quick picture of my own.
This is the mostly empty space but I liked the neighborhood.
And this is my picture. Done in MS Paint, of course.
And my login failed. I tried a dozen times or so to get in, tried resetting my password, and even tried creating a new account. All of it failed. And that was the biggest flashback to the old internet yet: it’s hard, if not impossible, to get in and update it.
Anyway here’s another flashback.