An Internet Canvas

Source: Nina Cosford

April 2023

An Internet Canvas

Wouldn’t you want a digital medium with the expressive ease of paper?

I started two years ago. This is an early draft of my long-term vision for

Also, so I’m walking the walk, this page is fully editable. Read once normal, then try editing it.

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”


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."


Interactive and dynamic. Every block has properties. A small library that handles reactive state. Script using Javascript with live reloading.

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…

Made on mmm