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Brett O'Connor - PUT HTML

Brett O'Connor - PUT HTML

A place to put internet

Posted

Who are you and what do you do? (Seriously, what do you do?)

Hello I am Brett O'Connor, also known as negatendo on the internet. My avatar is often a sparkly dog, but I'm not actually a dog. I am a human computer programmer living in Denver, Colorado with my wife and two cats. Sometimes I make things for money and sometimes I make things for other reasons. I love computers and I surf the internet every day. I also usually make breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

I try not to be intentionally mysterious about what I do, but I like to show more than tell.

What is Put HTML?

Put HTML is a place where you can upload an HTML file to a web address and have it appear just the way you intended. For example, I might create a file called "poop.html,” with the markup “<p>poop</p>" inside of it, upload it to Put HTML, and it will be viewable at http://www.puthtml.com/ negatendo/poop. There is no chrome, buttons, or other stuff to get in the way of my beautiful paragraph of the word "poop." Send it to your friends on Twitter and Facebook! Show the world your poop!

You can also upload css, javascript, and json-formatted data if you want to get sophisticated. (See http://www.puthtml.com/ johnholdun/bikes as an example of how json can be used as a data source.) You may not upload any sort of media (like images) right now, but that's ok - just hotlink like it's the year 2000! You can do almost anything with the HTML you want, and you can even borrow other's HTML by selecting “copy” on the feed or simply adding "?edit” to the end of their URL. (PROTIP!)

Put HTML is meant to challenge to our preconceptions about free expression on the internet. There are many ways to say something on the internet, and many of them are touted as a way to express yourself, but few let you work with the very language of the world wide web (unless you choose to host it on your own). Also, when you publish something elsewhere, it's oftentimes surrounded by ads, in a social stream, or included with other garbage that serves to distract people from what you want them to see. Sure, some of this stuff has been done with good intentions: Handy WYSIWYG editors, security, editorial control… but Put HTML asks us to reconsider that. Every picture has a frame, so what's the difference between 1MB of HTML code and typing into a text box? What kind of pictures does that create?

Put HTML is also a tool we wanted for ourselves. We wanted a way to share fun demos, experiments, and art without overhead. We wanted to post it in a common place, with long and glorious URLs because we love URLs. Sometimes we can only say it in HTML.

What was the inspiration for Put?

- Wordpress and other content management systems:

A lot of work I've done for money is in Wordpress. I have nothing against Wordpress in general, but I have discovered that it's not always appropriate for what people want to do. Do you really need a daily blog if you just want to say a few things? Does everything you want to say really have to be surrounded by a common header and footer? How much do menus and comments distract from simply getting your message across? Of course, Wordpress is flexible - can be changed to work this way - but why even bother when you can just write some good old fashioned HTML?

A lot of us were beginning to wonder if every website really needed to be driven by a content management system like Wordpress. Static site generators like Jekyll have begun to appear, and their usage is increasing. Just like back in the day, we've returned to uploading static and efficient pages free of the (sometimes problematic) real-time dynamics created by databases and sever-side code. Put HTML is sort of like a social static page generator.

We are actually beginning to see this become the style, especially for long editorial pieces. For example look at the work websites like the Verge are doing, which leverage the browser in creative ways not usually possible in traditional CMSes, such as what they did for their piece on fanboys.

[Editor’s Note: The Awl recently gave Maria Bustillos’ longform article on Adventure Time its own standalone, single page site.]

- Emilie Gervais:

Emilie Gervais is one of my favorite internet artists. No, Emilie Gervais is one of my favorite artists period. Gervais and her peers have been sharing fun, surreal, challenging, interactive art on the internet made in HTML, JavaScript, and whatever else for as long as I can remember. Her piece http://w-h-a-t-e-v-e-r.net allows people to upload an HTML file under whichever gender they choose. That idea, and the implied freedom of expression within, definitely influenced Put HTML.

- Casey Kolderup and John Holdun

When I first really started thinking about Put HTML it wasn’t what it is now. It was actually a lot more complex, sillier, and not as direct. The discussions I've had with Casey and John revealed we all had different ideas and expectations for what we wanted out of it, and inspired a lot of what you see now. Both of them have been making their own HTML art and other projects for a while now. Put HTML is better because we each had our own ideas about what it could be, and have collaborated on forming that into a single useful thing that we all like.

You, Casey, and John, were full partners in Put, right? How did you divvy up the work?

Here's how Put HTML happened:

One day I was ranting about some of the ideas inside Put HTML on Twitter. Casey and I started a conversation about it there, which eventually moved to email, and then finally to IRC, where I met John. We brought in a few more people, chatted, took notes, and then suddenly John sends us a link - it was something exactly like Put HTML.

Feeling mildly defeated, I shrugged and said, "Oh well! I guess it's been done!" and that's when John told us he had basically coded the first version of Put HTML while we were talking.

Since then John has been doing most of the development work as well as fronting the hosting fees, so if you like Put HTML please give him a hug or high five or all your bitcoins or something. We are always talking about the site and considering its future, and every once in a while a change will sneak in there. I hope to make some contributions to the code soon as well but have to learn a little Ruby first.

We are all working "real jobs” and trying to thrive without Put HTML. Put HTML has no funding, and is more just a concept right now. We try to make changes and fixes when we can, but our current goal is really to just see if people “get it” and then what they do. We know that one day we may need to add restrictions, but we'd rather wait as long as possible so we can honor this idea of creative freedom to the best we can.

What are your favorite Puts that have ever been Put?

Any time someone posts their first HTML I love it - even if it's pointless and stupid. I just want people to try it!

I've really liked the silly ideas and projects of potasmic. He once called Put HTML, "HTML sandcastles," and I really like that idea. Sandcastles can be fun to build even when we know the ocean will take them away.

One thing to note with potasmic's HTMLs - you may have to view the source code in your browser to understand them. In fact, that's another PROTIP! Always view source on Put HTML. You can do this with the web browser you have now - it's usually found somewhere under "Developer Tools" or the like. Interestingly, you don't actually have to be a developer to choose that menu item, although if you do it enough you may become one.

Put HTML is very handy for making small collections of links. I've enjoyed the way kfan and others have made things with it to share.

[Editor’s Note: Ugh, Kevin is so cool.]

Other mind-blowing pieces are noisia's 29 and johnholdun's prince lanvin.

Have there been any surprises about how people have used it so far?

Generally I'm surprised it's being used at all! The spooky and strange ohxeimoo, the first Put HTML bot, also definitely surprised me.

What’s the next thing you’d like to add to the site or improve on?

We are not sure. We are frequently torn as to whether it should be more social, less social, have more features, fewer features, etc. We want to improve the editing and workflow a bit, and to bring in some kind of index generation / data driven idea, so that seems like it will happen. As for what else, we are open to ideas!