The text of the first homepage I ever had has gone lost. The only drawing in it resembled what I had on my self-made business card at the time, a cartoon figure (that was supposed to be me) in front of a terminal. It quickly got stolen and copied into other people's homepages to represent them without me knowing. I was severely flattered and learned something about copyright protection and my ability to draw something that resembled me, which are both fairly nonexistant.
A while later, I looked at the flimsy drawing and the chaos in the page and decided to tackle it head-on. The theme of scatter-gather (a kind of diagram) stood for that; I had scattered my things all over the place, and now readers could go gather them up.
This one didn't actually get used; instead I got started with imagemaps. The second design had its heroine sit cross-legged in the middle of a room cluttered with things that, more or less mysteriously, corresponded to pages I wanted to offer. I learned two things. One, it's not only me that I can't draw to a reasonable resemblance, I can't draw almost anything. (The little Bonsai tree was interpreted as a ``Mushroom growing out of a microchip,'' and the figure in the middle as a ``chinese guy looking up''). Two, imagemaps are horrible to maintain, partly due to the imagemapping software itself, which required you to jump through all kinds of hoops to be able to specify where the user went and was amazingly unhelpful when things went wrong in any way.
And then visited HotWired and felt ashamed for my flimsy lines. Okay, it was kind of cute, kind of disoriented, but it didn't hit people the way that Wired's thick, confident strokes did. I wanted those strokes, too. And I was sick of the inability to combine text and graphics in any reasonable way, so I decided to not do text at all; the index would be purely graphical. On the search for an index-like graphic, I decided on brain segments, brain parts that would correspond to certain functions. Based on this brain from the history of medicine image database, I came up with the third design.
To accomodate text-based viewers, I had to re-write the imagemap program, and fixed a few things that had annoyed me earlier. The brain came along nicely. Most people who already knew me liked it, with one notable exception who refused to enter that page because he found it repulsive. People who didn't know me wondered whether I was crazy or what? Nobody could find a thing.
Slowly gaining a few things on the server that were actually worth finding, I experimented with mixtures of text and images; it's really really hard. A similar design took off on handreading - the areas in a hand would correspond to the linked-to pages - but I didn't really have the typographical tools and knowledge to write such a map, and the whole thing drowned in line puns.
Then I started sketching was a pseudo-commercial site that would happen to feature its actual owner as the ``employee of the month,'' but I'm clearly not up to it, graphically. Besides, although I haven't seen the employee thing used yet, there are a few pseudocommercial sites that do this schtick with an amazing devotion and textual and graphical talent that I simply can't match, and probably shouldn't try to.
Recently, I discarded a homepage that was mostly textual, with this guy all over it. The boggling brain still appears occasionally in other contexts. I like the logo, but the page layout had a bad real estate problem in anything except Mosaic, and, partly because I was spending some time on artwork for another site, I was starting to think more about color and selling stuff than about text.
Gee, that one sure went down fast.
What we see here (and what nobody except me would of course recognize) is Evelyn (a cartoon character) burning the midnight oil in front of my old qvt119 terminal, while Sebastian (another cartoon character), who can't sleep, has gotten up and is preparing coffee for her, an ancient gesture of intimacy. The thermos can is a Danish design and is, in reality, red. Sebastian and Evelyn are trying to fix a time travel experiment that mis-fired and, instead of the expected politician, transported a young student into the present time, together with parts of a library; which, since the student has lost all memory, becomes the prime means of reconstructing their victim's identity. (At least that's what it would have been, if I had ever gotten around to writing the story.) The page's background dimly shows the fragmenting head of the victim, and the title ``scatterhead'' picks up the motif of earlier pages.
``101 dull martians'' was a play on the Disney movie ``101 dalmatians'', 101 as the number of introductory classes in america, and 101 as used in Orwell's 1984, the number of the room that contains everybody's deepest fear. The home page that went along with it was impossible to navigate but looked okay with lynx, looked so-so with Mosaic, and drove me nuts with Netscape. When I started playing with Java, it soon acquired a ``warp'' to a Java eye-covered home page that I couldn't use as a real home page because there was no way in hell I could make the Netscape tables work with anything that didn't have tables.