A call for contributors. Very seriously!

By now, you may have heard about David and I’s very serious attempt to create the world’s most compatible thing™. Our first public response to a request for speaking was posted a few weeks back at aVerySerious.website. (Which, BTW, is performant, responsible and accessible out of the the box!)

This post tries to capture our energy, society’s need and the thing(s) we’re building, and we hope you’re on board.

Thesis statement

Media studies expert Marshall McLuan’s quote “the medium is the message” is but a rumination: What if that medium is a webpage from 1980? A printed book? A VR application?

We believe a new key narrative is needed for content creators, interaction developers and information consumers to celebrate the work that societies have produced, to preserve what whimsy the past provided, and to accept that the future will one day be old, perhaps just as old as what we’d consider as ancient.

We also intend to underscore the nature of media forms, breaking the chroncentric nature: No time period and its tech is truly better - and in many ways, there’s joy in all things. Could we take a singular narrative and let it be pushed to its absolute limits across as many forms as possible?

We need compatibility in all things: The southpaws among us will complain about scissors, doors and can openers; the Deaf/Hard of Hearing community will fret at the inability to be included in announcements and events; the poor sighted among us will recall the power of eyeglasses and contact lenses; just about all of us will scream at obfuscation, jargon and dense language that just isn’t called for. (See: Binfordization.)

We need to band together to build collective empathy. In short, we believe all society’s problems are probably caused by - and are also solvable by - society. The loss of the Netherlands’ historical records, the disappearance of incredible web projects, or the essential death of my college newspaper’s website all carry a similar through line: We don’t understand where we came from, let alone where we are, and we’ll probably let all of that slide the next time something new comes along. This means, inevitably, the past will be lost at the promise of a new future. This cycle can be broken, and this art project tries to underscore this.

We’re asking things like

  • Why can’t you fax your website? Or VR headset?
  • Why don’t people have hobbies?
  • Could we get some people to learn how to use TTY/TDD devices?
  • What about fax machines?
  • Why is every brogrammer so solemn about the things they do?
  • What happens when the tech, the data and the society disappears?
  • Could we successfully throw together a floppy-writing party?
  • Do people really know the history of the web? Could they experience it in an immersive, interactive scavenger hunt?

This project is boundless in theory - we want it to grow and fit the desires of the contributors who just might show up.

Some core requisites for the work and for participants

We believe that this project should be:

  • Compatible with ALL web browsers.
  • Open Source (GPL v2 or higher) as much as possible.
  • Introspective of each media to which it’s composing to, such as SMS chat bots or printed paper.
  • As fun as possible (Please have fun!) as it’s Serious, not Solemn.

Who:

We want you(!!!) to join us. If you can do anything involving:

  • code
  • words
  • pictures
  • baking cupcakes
  • having fun

You’re probably welcome! :) Please be excellent to each other.

We share the Codes of Conduct with Code&&Coffee and the WordPress meetups - any questions or concerns, please email coc@averyseriouswebsite.net.

What:

We’re building things, such as:

  • webpages compatible with every browser, and even the GOPHER protocol
  • webpages that showcase the modern web
  • a fax protocol (leveraging a web service)
  • an SMS chatbot
  • a Twitterbot that tweets out various segments from the story on repeat
  • a bootable floppy that contains a story
  • swag, like a t-shirt with a story on the back
  • printed media (including a guest book)
  • Future media, such as streamed audio, video and so on

A requisite of the project is we hope to track, in the most limited sense, is volume of consumption of each of these - so we can share this data onward as this project may evolve. This might be web analytics, sales of floppy disks or names in a physical guestbook. (Remember web guestbooks?)

Also, through this project we’re

  • informing people along the way.
  • having as much fun as possible.
  • learning about the things that no one knows about, e.g. what truly was CSS1 like?! or How do I make HTML3 pages using Gutenberg? or Can we render faxes in VR?
  • bonding through a collective embrace through retro futurism*, digital archaeology**, and having fun***.

Footnotes

* We think you can learn about the future by learning about the past, and we think you can learn about the past by learning about the future.

** This term is used in different ways, but we intend to use it in a way that celebrates the past and decay of media, formats and tooling. Archaeologists work through the struggle of repiecing the past with what’s left, and we intend to do that through the digital record.

*** We really think that everyone should be doing this more than anything else, be so long as they’re also respectful to the people and the world around them.

(Note: We know our a11y and l18n efforts here are limited, but we intend, especially our modern web version, to support efforts here.)

Where:

Most of this contribution is happening online in the TheRealHTTPSters Github board.

If that doesn’t jive with you and you want to contribute, reach out.

When:

MVP needs to be ready by October 31 (don’t be scared!!) so we can be ready for WordCamp Riverside.

Due to the time-sensitive nature, issues (when assigned) should be worked to be closed within 48 hours unless otherwise permitted.

Why:

It’s important to recall the past, understand the present and save the future. And to win for the world, we need to have hobbies and care about each other.

How:

We’re going to be goofy and use the technologies underpinning the websites we use and build every single day, plus our various work experiences and discoveries, to make the coolest, most compatible thing you’ve ever seen, heard or felt.

I want to play along!

To join, complete this form below or email us at info@averyseriouswebsite.net.

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Code is Software

We are a collective that advocates for holistic software and continuous integration.

therealdavids


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