A History of Jamie Norrish's Web Pages


Today (being the twenty-third day of May, 1997) I read a Usenet post about the loss of the Internet's history/past through the permanent disappearance of so much of the communication which goes to make up the community's past. The author, Tad Kelson, proposed that people store and thereby preserve "old" web pages.

I find the idea of what constitutes the history of the Internet, and what is means to people interesting; I also occasionally lament the passing of web sites (mostly my own, when I have deleted pages and then discovered too late that they were of some merit to someone). While I cannot bring those pages back into existence, I can at least write a short history of my web pages, and the changes they have undergone.

The beginning

Truth be told, I do not accurately remember when I first started writing web pages, or what my first documents were. I believe it was not long after I began writing HTML documents that I took over maintenance of HârnPage, a site devoted to the role-playing game world Hârn and its accompanying rules-set.

Going along with HârnPage - which began relatively small but over the years grew to a fair size; I believe it is one of the best sites for a specific RPG in the world - I had a homepage which contained a paragraph or two about myself and a list of links to material I had written or maintained and sites I found interesting. I converted material that I had been writing in other formats to HTML and put them on my site. At first this was largely related to MUDs, one of my enduring interests, with a hodge-podge of other stuff, including bibliographies compiled by others which I made available on the web (one of the lamented losses).

My own content

With the maintenance of HârnPage my interest in role-playing became active once more, and I began writing material for the setting. This was encouraged in large part by David Millians, whom I came to know from HârnList, though neither of us reside there any longer. How rare and special to find someone who is the ideal audience, and then also to become close friends!

With role-playing on my mind, I joined a role-playing group and started a play by email (PBeM) game. The former led me from the strangeness of Glorantha to the newly-released Nephilim; inspired to do the game and its players a service, I created a web site for it. The content of this site was mostly bibliographies that I compiled from the Victoria University of Wellington library catalogue. It seems to have attracted no interest from the Nephilim community at all (as indeed with the site as a whole, hence its demise less than two years after it began), but I found links to it in several academic sites. This rather confused me, as my bibliographies were nothing more than a list of books which sounded interesting or relevant to me, with no annotations whatsoever - I don't think I'd read a single one.

The PBeM was an interesting experiment. Having played briefly in one and a half others, my prime mistake was lack of preparation of material. I wasn't to repeat it in my next two games, though OOS would thwart one, and chronic irregularity dog the other. In all cases, however, I made (and continue to make) use of web pages to give players access to information.

Meanwhile, there were few changes to my "home page", except for irregular updates to my description, to bring it into line with my current activities. But then came my decision to enroll in an MA (Hons) degree, and shortly after MyThesis (pronounced myth-e-sis) was born.

MyThesis was only just a piece of academic work; my main impetus for the project was not so much my interest in medieval education, but more a desire to do a piece of academic research in a personal context. The worthy reflections on qualifications seven hundred years ago were placed in their context of my life and thought, my other interests, my own history, and whatever else I happened to think - all out there as it happened for whoever wanted to read it.

It was an interesting experiment, though looking back on it Mythesis suffered from a lack of determination and will-power on my part. As is often the case with my work, the initial ideas were good, but the long-term execution sadly lacking. This is still a dragon for me to face.

The Passing Present

With the loss of my graduate account, my web pages changed. No longer part of the World Wide Web, they are only accessible by those in New Zealand. A depressing limitation, given that there are few enough people who wish to read what I have to say at the best of times. Ah well, there it is.

I took the opportunity to remove all material from my site that was not written by me. Part of my motive for this was to ensure that I kept producing content - there is nowhere to hide lack of new material in this new scheme. The site stands or falls on its own merits.

Which has passed into...

It's now the 28th of May, 1998, just over a year since I wrote the above. Besides now thinking this document rather self-indulgent, I have a little to add. My web pages are once more world accessible, which is a great thing, if only because David can once more read my pages.

The dragon hasn't been killed, but I am pleased with my efforts on Lands Lie Dreaming, a project now four months old and still developing. Other projects have sprouted their own web pages (most not yet publicly available), and match my increasing involvement in roleplaying games.

I am now very much concerned with writing HTML according to the principles of its design, and have tried to ensure that all of my pages are as accessible as I can make them.

The next chapter

Now in October 2001, I am bringing back these pages after a long absence while I have been overseas. www.artefact.org.nz is now their permanent home. I don't know, as I write this, all that is in this old collection; much of what is new is part of Artefact Publishing projects, particularly The Dreaming Web. I don't imagine much has changed since I last wrote here in 1998.