Like most Neocities users, I started this site with an interest in the digital days of old. I'm not actually old enough to remember the 1990s, but as an isolated and jaded teenager in the mid-2010s, I discovered Vaporwave. I recognize now that the music fucking sucked, but some of the artistic sensibilities have stuck with me.
Lately, I've been examining WHY certain aspects of vaporwave stuck with me. I quickly outgrew the shitty trap remixes of old soul music, the weird Greek statues, and the neo-orientalist (or in plain man's terms, "weeaboo") aspects of vaporwave, but remained fascinated by the Ancient Web (anything that happened before 2012, as far as I'm concerned, is the Olden Days). I'd spend hours researching the Web that time forgot.
But why? It can't be mere nostalgia alone.Half this stuff was already old by the time I started using the Internet. So what was I really drawn to?
"I love ugly websites," I used to declare proudly. But, more than questionable design choices, what I love about the Geocities era was the creative freedom that it represented. Old stories about the Internet describe it as "the Wild West," an unmoderated land of limitless possibility - and danger.
But in 2020, that no longer feels true. Most web traffic seems to go to a handful of social media sites. Due to "minimalist" UI, the All-Mighty Algorithm, and a need to remain advertiser-friendly, social media offers very little in the way of tools for creative expression, and buries unique or interesting posts under low-effort "content" by "influencers" or celebrities that garners a lot of "engagements" and eyeballs to sell ads to.
So, where are you going with this? you ask. You've really gotten lost in the weeds. Holy shit, this is like 6 paragraphs long, I've already clicked away. Relax, I say, there's a point to all this.
I offer up Hell on the Web not as a tribute to the Internet as it is or as it was, but as it could be. I want to share my ideas online, but I don't want it all to be a vain sacrifice at the altar of The Algorithm. The last haven for genuine online creativity is the personal, hand-crafted artisanal Homepage. I can't promise that my products will always be quality, but I can promise that they were created with love and sincerity. That's the Hell on the Web™ guarantee.