I’ve been hap­pi­ly liv­ing on the Inter­net since 1996.

Back then it was bare­ly five years after the inven­tion of the World Wide Web, Gopher was still in style, dial-up was a major tech­nol­o­gy, BBSes were in their twi­light age, and the school I attend­ed had labs full of 80386 and 80486 clones. Lit­tle did any­one real­ize just how huge a role the Inter­net would ulti­mate­ly come to play in our lives.

As time went on, the Web’s graph­i­cal­ly-dri­ven inter­face came to dom­i­nate how infor­ma­tion was shared. Like­wise, its ‘open shar­ing’ ethos real­ly caught my atten­tion at the time this tech­nol­o­gy took off. From the mid-1990s through to the present day, this real­ly has­n’t changed: peo­ple of all walks of life come togeth­er to share their sense of iden­ti­ty, their knowl­edge, their pas­times, and their aspi­ra­tions. This per­va­sive sense of eas­i­ly trav­elled con­nec­tion was what, in time, came to spark my own inter­ests in run­ning a website.

I assem­bled my first site in 1997 on a school intranet, where I got that mem­o­rable first taste of HTML. It was sim­ple, gaudy, and quick­ly fol­lowed up lat­er that year with a more ambi­tious revi­sion (and way too many ani­mat­ed GIFs) on a GeoC­i­ties account. The leap into a pub­lic are­na not only came with its own learn­ing curve, it opened up many win­dows to oth­er peo­ple, most notably the cyber­goths of that era. Com­ing from the small city I lived in and its lim­it­ed resources, it was a relief to encounter peo­ple that had sim­i­lar inter­ests and back­grounds, and it felt great to embrace the wider, more mature world view and sense of per­spec­tive it afforded.

I also made con­nec­tions with var­i­ous craft and DIY com­mu­ni­ties of the time, the most notable one being the Spud­Gun­ner’s Domain, a forum where aver­age users got a chance to rub shoul­ders with civil­ian and mil­i­tary engi­neers at var­i­ous avi­a­tion con­trac­tors, all in the pur­suit of con­stant­ly push­ing sci­ence to the lim­it and find ever more imag­i­na­tive ways of pro­pelling a pota­to through the air. Besides this, there was the Halloween‑L com­mu­ni­ty and its out­ly­ing con­tacts, which pro­vid­ed amaz­ing resources and research infor­ma­tion that tied into some of the annu­al haunt­ed house events I was work­ing on by 1999.

Lat­er revi­sions of my site in 1998 and 1999 saw the buy­out of Geoc­i­ties and the move to the Tri­pod host­ing ser­vice, and it was around this time I picked my cho­sen screen name of Crim­son Halo. The fol­low­ing year, I start­ed putting seri­ous effort into a ded­i­cat­ed long-term per­son­al site in addi­tion to a sis­ter site that served as my art port­fo­lio. A third site was cre­at­ed when I put my Hal­loween project online, and they were all com­bined under the same ban­ner when I made the jump to paid host­ing and launched my own domain in ear­ly 2004.

And it’s been around ever since.


Current and Future Plans

The sin­gle most impor­tant ben­e­fit of own­ing a domain is free­dom. Because much of the pub­lic still relies exclu­sive­ly on third par­ty social net­work sites like Face­book, LinkedIn, Twit­ter and YouTube to main­tain an online pres­ence, they not only relin­quish artis­tic con­trol of the way their con­tent is pre­sent­ed, but they give up a lot of unnec­es­sary per­son­al infor­ma­tion as well as any fun­da­men­tal con­trol of the net­work itself.

Besides lim­it­ing cre­ativ­i­ty, this depen­dence sits at odds with the pri­va­cy of users to the dis­may of many legal pro­fes­sion­als and safe­ty advo­cates world­wide. It’s also incen­tivized the fur­ther mon­e­ti­za­tion of data shared between par­ent com­pa­nies and their affil­i­ates. In its wake, the media has report­ed secu­ri­ty vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty after pri­va­cy dis­as­ter after com­pro­mised account, but the punch­line of this joke is that the aver­age user does­n’t real­ly seem all that wor­ried. Along with peri­od­ic datab­se fail­ure and annoy­ing sys­tem errors dur­ing the scal­ing-up of oper­a­tions, it’s obvi­ous to any­one who’s been pay­ing atten­tion that pop­u­lat­ing your data on some­one else’s site is not a sim­ple task, espe­cial­ly when it comes to man­ag­ing iden­ti­ties and reputations.

But as the say­ing goes, “Only you know your own needs best.”

This is where I found that hav­ing a pri­vate domain fills gaps social media can­not pos­si­bly hope to touch. When you’re design­ing for your­self and the audi­ence of your choos­ing, there’s infi­nite­ly more cus­tomiza­tion, more artis­tic free­dom, and far more oppor­tu­ni­ties to achieve the goals you’ve set.

By its nature, social media is ephemer­al in much the same way as the hol­i­day let­ters you send your fam­i­ly at Christ­mas time. Very lit­tle of the stuff you see on Twit­ter or Face­book will ever make it to any­one’s archives — the data sim­ply offers too lit­tle cul­tur­al val­ue for any­one to come up with a com­pelling rea­son to curate it.

Like­wise, this pos­es a prob­lem for those wish­ing to man­age a more per­ma­nent online presence.

Still, as it was in the 1990s, and the 2000s, it all comes down to rec­og­niz­ing the mer­its and weak­ness­es of the tech­nol­o­gy you’re using. Social media has its set of unique strengths, and I feel those are best uti­lized as an adjunct to a mas­ter online pres­ence elsewhere.

That’s exact­ly where crimsonhalo.com is going.

In 2012, I moved the site to a hybrid design where sta­t­ic pages and port­fo­lios exist along­side dynam­i­cal­ly gen­er­at­ed weblog posts. This not only fits my needs bet­ter in terms of data struc­ture and pre­sen­ta­tion, it should be more acces­si­ble to my read­ers as well as ensure a more reg­u­lar stream of up-to-date con­tent. Frankly, the old design was tedious to update and that’s why it did­n’t tend to see much use. The cur­rent iter­a­tion offers a rich­er, more stream­lined expe­ri­ence, and ulti­mate­ly I’m hop­ing its use will super­sede that of Face­book and Twitter.

Last but not least, stay­ing true to design also means I’ve kept the site ad-free over time. This will con­tin­ue. As far as oth­er fea­tures, one day I may add a web­cam stream or get into broad­cast­ing a reg­u­lar show (maybe soon­er rather than lat­er). For now, though, there’s a lot that needs to come first.


Flame Sigil

What is it? The flame sig­il you see dis­played in my brand­ing and page head­ers is my own per­son­al crest, which has seen a cou­ple of alter­ations over the last decade with the cur­rent incar­na­tion dat­ing from 2001.

Com­po­si­tion: In jet black, an ankh com­pris­ing the cen­tral ele­ment of the device, with its loop and hor­i­zon­tal strokes of rough­ly sim­i­lar length, and with its down­ward stroke longer than the loop and hor­i­zon­tal strokes. In jet black, an awen sym­bol at bot­tom formed from the three ver­ti­cal lines spaced with tops con­ver­gent but not ful­ly touch­ing (it is formed by the down­ward stroke of the ankh as the awen’s mid­dle line, and the two unat­tached strokes in jet black, each on either side of the mid­dle line with tops cant­ed inwards toward the ankh, to com­plete the fig­ure). In crim­son, a styl­ized flame atop the ankh with base fit­ted par­al­lel and slight­ly apart from the out­er sur­face of the loop, in cres­cent form, reach­ing two-thirds around the cir­cum­fer­ence; each of the flame’s top points are sit­u­at­ed on either side of a semi­cir­cu­lar dip near close to the top of the ver­ti­cal axis, with the left point slight­ly low­er in height than the right, with each tip point­ed up and slight­ly out­ward from cen­ter at an acute angle.

Mean­ing: the ankh sym­bol­izes the stream of life and exis­tence; the awen rep­re­sents inspi­ra­tion in the artis­tic, writ­ten and poet­ic sense; the flame rep­re­sents opti­mistic pas­sion and desire man­i­fest­ed in the deter­mi­na­tion of the human spir­it to ascend, burn bright, and seek out all that stands above.