An Internet Canvas
An Internet Canvas
Wouldn’t you want a digital medium with the expressive ease of paper?
Websites are the most expressive medium I know, but they’re used today in such a tiny narrow way.
The thing is, they could be like digital paper: back-of-napkin notes, moodboards, journaling, letters, toy apps, lists, sprawling canvases.
Something with the ease of paper, but the expressiveness and capabilities of software.
Here are a few ideals…
Intuitive as paper. It shouldn’t require a manual or tutorial. Poke around. No coding knowledge required.
Genuinely mixed media. Add anything you want: images, text, videos. Embed services too: maps, music, IDEs, iFrames of other websites. Even draw directly on it.
Easy to reference. The URL is the pointer. Short and memorable. Let people name pages within their namespace so it becomes a portable handle.
“Why are you spending so much time making a website builder?”
“Uh… well, I put some thoughts down at notes.mmm.page/paper”
Flexible for any use. It should feel natural for a wide variety of uses. The medium itself shouldn’t imply any use. E.g., the same 8.5”×11” can be a handwritten note, or a flyer, or scratch paper.
Preservable and lasting. Serious art requires serious labor, but why spend years on something if it’s not guaranteed to last? Link rot, dead embeds, broken dependencies, etc.
Ideal: ability to export the entire file as a single .html. Inline styles, scripts, images, assets, even localized copies of tweets, YouTube videos, etc. And it needs to be easy to do so, not just possible.
Also, don’t invent a new set of protocols. Rely on web technologies: imperfect, but inertial.
"PICO-8 cartridges can be saved in a special .png format and sent directly to other users."
Something like a Flash/HyperCard/Visual Basic lite. Easier said than done, of course.
Let people pop the hood. Peek underneath. Shouldn’t you be able to “view source” and see how websites are made? Like this page itself?
Like this spur-of-the-moment moodboard?
Right now I’m translating these loosey-goosey ideals into real tools that are fun to use, feel good, & create the conditions for people to make internet canvases. As it turns out, it’s a lot of work…
Feel free to reach out if you have ideas.
P.S. Sorry if this page downloads too many files. I haven’t gotten around to the performance/bundle optimization part of the project yet…