Right about now, mid-June, is the 10th anniversary of… actually, I’m not sure what of. What I do know is that in mid-June, 1996, I uploaded the very first version of my website.
I’d got online in about September 1995 and I’d been an admirer of the websites of people like Justin Hall and the dudes at Suck.com. I’d just switched to a new ISP – Wave – that offered 20MB web hosting in its pricing plan. HTML seemed pretty easy, so I decided to make one of those web page things.
I furiously tested it; checking each and every link to make sure everything worked before I uploaded it. Finally “Robyn’s Page of Various Assorted Stuff” was ready to go. The URL was something like www.wave.co.nz/pages/rhg
In the first few months, I kept redesigning the website. As I got to know more HTML, I was able to make it look how I wanted. I kept changing the name too. “Robyn’s Page of Various Assorted Stuff” became “Summer”, then “Disco Bitch”. (Shut up. I was only 21.)
I had a section of my website called The Secret Passage where I kept stuff I’d written. It was so named because originally it was a secret part of the website, with hidden links. But I liked the name, and renamed my website “Robyn’s Secret Passage”. No sexual innuendo intended – I just didn’t want to hide under a pseudonym. Eventually I got tired of redesigning, and “Robyn’s Secret Passage” stayed.
After about a year I moved to Ihug and transferred my website there, and crash.ihug.co.nz/~rhg was my new home. In 1998 I decided to get a domain name. secretpassage.com was taken, but secret-passage.com was available, so that became my new web address, and eventually hosting was moved to wibble.net.
I just kept adding to it and culled very little. Back in the early days of the web, there was a vogue for “under construction” graphics on websites, showing that the site was incomplete; that there was still more to come. But I read someone saying that a good website should always be under construction; it shouldn’t be a complete, static, never-changing experience, so I kept that in mind.
I redesigned my website a few times, but it got trickier to do. In the beginning I’d have only a dozen pages to change, but as my HTML empire grew, it was dozens of pages that would need updating.
In late 2002 I started writing stuff at LiveJournal. It hadn’t really been my intention to switch to LiveJournal as my place for online writing, but it was just so much easier than the old system of uploading stuff by FTP, and people could comment on and discuss my posts. I knew something had changed when people started linking to my LiveJournal site over my old website.
So I guess I’m celebrating 10 years of writing stuff and putting it on my parts of the internet.
Sometimes it feels a bit lonely writing online, but every now and then I hear from people who say they were inspired by my website to go and do their own thing. Y’know, there weren’t a lot of New Zealanders out there doing stuff online in the early days. I even had some of my writing used as course material in a first-year English paper at Auckland Uni. Not bad for a non-graduate.
It’s been a choice 10 years. Here’s to 10 more.