Crafting a Home on the Web

Webpage for Kyle Knapp illustration and design with links and illustration.
My simple handmade website

Over the last week or two I designed and coded a simple webpage containing links to my various websites, social media accounts, and projects. There are many services that let you make pages just like this quickly and easily, but I chose to do it the hard way.

Having dabbled over the years with learning HTML and CSS, I knew this was something I could do, and with a desire to learn new skills and retain ownership and control of my home online I figured this was also something I should do.

I was partially inspired by a blog post by Robin Sloan where he compares creating an app for just his family to use to making a home-cooked meal. As someone who would describe both his coding and cooking abilities as “okay I guess,” this analogy struck a cord.

I have always been interested in the possibilities of coding, and have dipped my toes in the water a handful of times, but have never really finished project that has been put out into the world for others to see and use.

My experience with programming has always involved coming upon a problem whose solution refuses to be identified. I can pinpoint what a problem is, even find out what solution is supposed to fix it, but after implementing it something will still be wrong that I just can’t figure out. And usually this is where I stop.

While making this simple page, the first 90% of the work was finished within an hour or two, while the last 10% took me several hours over a few days to figure out and eventually resolve. There were several times when I almost resorted to texting one of my web developer friends to help me out, but I pressed on and eventually figured things out on my own. It was hard, but I think pushing through was worth it.

Why go through all this trouble? First and foremost is just because it’s fun to learn how to make new things, and it feels really good to say I made this webpage all by myself. Beyond that, I have an intense interest in independent media and culture of all kinds, including on the web. Since everyone has been packed into the few remaining huge social media sites, it feels important to push back on that a little by creating a home for myself and my art on the internet that I control, or as Austin Kleon would put it, “own your turf.”

So if you’d like to see what I’ve been up to, come visit knapp.studio.