A
Website
Is
a Room

I came to this^ conclusion sometime during quarantine when I realized that certain websites give me a sense of shelter and rest more than others.

These spaces that particularly stood out to me all had some quality of

slowness,

quiet,

and/or gathering.

We ought to carefully examine the qualities of the living environment that each web space provides for us.

This -------------------->
is a live feed of websites that people are provoked to share and may contain some of these qualities (or entirely different ones).

Consider adding a few places that are dear to your heart.

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Add New Rooms `(*^ -^*)~

Where is the website located?

Please include ‘http(s)://'.

Share a little bit about this place.

What do you like about it? How does it make you feel? Why do you enjoy spending time in this place?

Who is contributing?

How would you like to be referred to?

Welcome

I created this project during one of the most trying and turbulent times of my life. This capstone is a culmination of my studies in the Design Media Arts program at UCLA, as well as the past four years of finding my identity, voice, and true passions as a designer and person.

The goal was to make something communal, romantic, introspective, raw, and beautiful. I also really wanted to dive deep into the research, and in that process, discovered a whole world of like-minded people, learned about new and old tools, and drew unexpected connections between different artists, designers, and their works.

Developing this capstone has been quite the journey, marked by lots of risk-taking, explaining my thesis (surprisingly hard), asking good questions (also surprisingly hard), and one last big "follow my heart" moment.

It's a joy to be able to share this with you.

This Site Is Built by Hand

We are starting to live more and more of our lives in the virtual space. Some would go so far as to say that there is pretty much no distinction between our life in virtual and physical space. I don't know how useful it is to determine whether this reality is a good thing or bad thing, but it's certainly true that we all make some sort of a home for ourselves on the Internet.

We are embodied within each web space that we enter. Our habits, mannerisms, preferences, and quirks manifest themselves in the way we behave within websites. Our dwelling within these web spaces is no less physical than our presence in actual rooms. We invest time and physical, mental, and emotional energy. Like actual rooms within our home, these web spaces have a real, physical impact on our wellbeing. Each space creates a certain feeling within its boundaries, through its structure, contents, and aesthetics. Some websites feel more welcoming and sheltering, and some are aggressive and cold. Some websites provide resources to people in need, some manipulate people into viewing as many ads as possible. Some are quiet, some are loud. Some are interested in people, and some are interested in products.

Creating this collection of web spaces is important to me because the qualities of smallness, quietness, and slowness are generally not valued in our culture. Not all of our experience in virtual space has to be so calculated, functional, profitable, or maximizing efficiency. There ought to be a greater appreciation of places that don't draw attention to themselves, that have no specific desired interaction, that don't pressure the visitor to be any certain way, and that simply communicate basic information from one person in the world to another. All of this tends to get lost in the process of making something "user-friendly."

Behind each of these kinds of web spaces, there are also individuals who are building them with their own hands. Most websites we visit these days are put up by companies and organizations with complex motivations and incentives. To me, there is a certain beauty in the singular, unobscured intention of an individual who creates a website to share themselves with the world.

I hope this project can help increase your appreciation for these kinds of places and their creators.

A Few Really Sweet Conversations

4/21/2021 — Mindy Seu

Mindy Seu: So how's it been?

Nancy Wu: Yeah, it's been good. I'm in the final quarter grinding out my capstone project. I feel like I recently discovered this whole world, and it was so serendipitous that you gave this talk at the same time because it was kind of those ideas that I'm just starting to get excited about now.

MS: Yeah, that's great. I'm glad that that serendipity happened. No, I feel like I'm in the same place as you. It's kind of like this end of semester, end of quarter, chaos right? But it's nice seeing the way all of these projects are developing.

NW: Yes definitely. So I came across your "On Gathering" essay, and a lot of it resonated with me and my wanting to create something that felt very honest to the year that everybody has gone through. And I've been excited to find different resource archives or resource collections just pop up all over the internet during COVID, especially for creatives. And I've always thought that these websites are really exciting and have this idea of gathering and multiple people collectively contributing information. I'm wondering what tools for collaboration or gathering do you feel is most lacking on the web now, but most necessary?

MS: I think before we talk about tools, it's worth kind of distinguishing "gathering" in its multiple forms. So I think, for me, gathering comes in material and social forms. So the material part is this collection of disparate items. Whether that's online or analog, it's basically like a collection. And this is actually different than a gathering of people, the social form. Often times the social gathering might be used to activate the material gathering or the material collection. And I think that's what a lot of these indexes or online collection or curatorial projects are trying to do.

So specifically in terms of tools, I'm actually a huge proponent of subversion of tools. If you're able to make one on your own, of course then it becomes bespoke or distinct for the exact questions that you have. But often times these resources to make these tools might be limited whether technical limitations, budgetary, etc. So actually using preexisting tools and kind of finding their breaking points and using them for your projects could be a way to create a sense of bespokeness even if you're tailoring it to your exact prompt. So even in this way, there's an are.na channel that I shared during that talk called Radical Google Docs. Google Docs are problematic for a lot of reasons but also quite collaborative for a lot of reasons. And that channel provides like a good overview of people trying to share resources with whatever resources that they have. I think even in pandemic times, of course Zoom is a easy contender for a gathering tool, but there are also ones that are anti-surveillance and more ethical and open source, Jitsy for example. And even an alternative to Google Docs might be an open source version called Etherpad. So I think even if there are these mainstream tools created by the large tech oligopolies it's easy to—or not necessarily easy—but it's possible to find alternative tools that you can kind of hack through it's open source nature or API and make it more specific to what you need.

NW: Seeing these tools existing before the pandemic, and seeing them being manipulated in different ways, from my observation, especially during the pandemic, what are your thoughts about the importance of gathering online or having social gatherings online? How has that changed from before the pandemic, being in it, and now towards the end?

MS: Yeah I think that scholars like Jurgenson, or Legacy Russell, talk about this distinction between 'afk' and 'irl', and how the latter is an incomplete view because the digital space completely permeates real or onsite life. So I actually don't see a huge distinction between these forms of gathering spaces. For a lot of people, online spaces do form like a form of respite or third place as described Ray Oldenburg. So I think that it's in our nature to want to be part of a collective. Priya Parker, in the Art of Gathering, describes how the primary goal of a gathering is to create a sense of belonging. So I think that trying to find your kin and your community can happen in physical or digital spheres.

NW: Great, yeah, that's exactly what I'm hoping to get at in my project. So what I'm hoping to do is to create this community resource archive, specifically collecting URLs that have been helpful during the pandemic or in light of it. And I originally was thinking about creating my own website, but hearing your thoughts about using preexisting tools and subverting them in some way is interesting, and I want to think about that. I also wanted to ask what practices—whether technical or more conceptual—help cultivate that sense of belonging that is so key to gathering?

MS: So Prem Kirthanwurthy, which I talked about in that essay. He created like a series of online gatherings during the peak of the pandemic. And he often talks about it in terms of like a triad, so all tools are platforms. If the platform is one corner, the affordances are another, and the behaviors are a third. And I think often times we think about the tool or the platform itself, but the tool is only one aspect. It has to be in conversation with how it's used, so even think about like if you go to a conference or an event, maybe people really think about the space or the decoration or the food or all of this, but this is only the platform. Once people enter that space, it kind of leads to different behavior based on the precedence that you set. So I think that metaphor might be a nice way to think about how the tool engages with the decision you make to actually facilitate these events, to create a sense of belonging. I think it's really about the facilitation and how you might encourage people to participate in some way.

NW: Thank you, that was very helpful. The metaphor is a good way to think about how people are interacting with any kind of tool, rather than the form itself. These were kind of my main questions, but are there other thoughts that come to your head about this idea? I wanted to hear your thoughts if there's something this connects with or something I should be thinking about in creating an archive. Subverting tools is one method; I came across another idea that's called handmade web, and I was really excited about that which is why I was leading towards creating my own website to have that handmade quality. So these are just some of my ideas, so I just wanted to hear if this connects with anything in your mind.

MS: I think that maybe the most important thing to consider is that no collection is neutral. They're all highly subjective based on the perspective or the biases whether intended or not by the collector, which is you. So I actually think actively acknowledging your personal reason as to why this is valuable to you and your specific community, could be a nice way to frame the project.

NW: Yeah, definitely, I think personally that can be quite hard. It's easy to be in denial or not realize there always is a perspective that our work has to come from. If it's something we're creating, it can't be neutral.

MS: Yeah Donna Haraway described this as situated knowledge, not assuming knowledge or the creation of it is neutral, or it really comes from a certain concept from the person developing it alongside their peers.

NW: Wow, okay. I will definitely have a lot to look into after this. Great, I don't want to take up too much of your time. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me.

MS: Good luck with your final project. Final push! I'd love to see the final project, so please feel free to share it with me.

NW: Thank you so much, Mindy. It's really an honor to speak with you.

MS: Yeah I'm really excited. I think what you're thinking about is really so connected to what interests me. So I'm glad it resonated with you, and I'm excited that more people are interested in this sense of belonging, gathering, etc. So it's really exciting.

NW: Okay, thank you so much again.

MS: Thank you so much!

5/27/2021 — Laurel Schwulst

Nancy Wu: I really appreciated your response [in email]. I saw the part that you mentioned in the essay about how your students were asking you that question about how to make a real essay. I didn't understand at the time, but seeing your explanation, I think it's kind of interesting because in my experience, I'm not a super experienced web developer, but to me even in thinking about how to code my own website and build it, to me that is so much more real than all the other websites that maybe are more real that I come across. So that was just something I thought of.

Laurel Schwulst: Because it's personal? Or..?

NW: I guess because it's personal, but also I think it has come up in a lot of other things that I've been reading—people don't really understanding the tools or building blocks of how the web actually works or what's behind it, and maybe that's why people interact with the web in a certain way because they don't know how to contribute or know if there's anything they can add, so I feel like anybody engaging in that process, to me that's been a lot more real than surfing "real websites".

A good place to start might be the blog post you did for fruitful.school. I think I came across that somehow...I don't know how...but I think the purpose of that blog post is very similar to what my output for the capstone project kind of is, in light of the whole year that we've been a part of because I've been a part of an online show already, and this is a second online show (hopefully the last), and I wanted to make something that reflects on this time. And the thing that prompted me to think about websites and how now we do spend our lives and live on the Internet, and we live on these websites, that there's a difference and a consideration we should give to where we live. So that's what I'd say motivates my whole project in light of this whole year. So I think that blog post, in light of quarantine, with different thoughts on the web, is where my project comes from too.

Some things I just thought of in response to the first interview you linked with TakeShape Mag. In thinking about websites spatially, how would that inform the building of a web archive? Have you worked a lot with archives online and how can thinking about websites spatially—that structure—determine how we collect things on the Internet?

LS: Yeah I think maybe in that interview I mentioned my work from Artist Spaces website. Does that ring a bell? I can also tell you about it.

NW: I think so, yeah I'd love to hear about it.

LS: Yeah, Artists Space is an artist institution in NY that's been around since the 70's and I redid the website about a year and a half ago, although that means I was working on it three years ago because of how long it takes. Basically part of the reason they wanted a new website was because they were physically moving locations, and not only were physically location, but also had a change in leadership and stuff so there was kind of a need to represent themselves. And so I took direct inspiration from the new building. And I think this is something you'll notice a lot of web designers do, and one thing that was unique was this new building has two separate entrances to the same place, and so—usually I love my projects to start with a research phase—and I realized that Artists Space had been around now for 47 years at the time. So I was like "Wow, they have a really impressive archive." So I took the two big How could a website have multiple entrances?, so that it's archive is basically more accessible" because literally in Artists Space, the address is 11 Portland Alley, like one is stairs and the other one is a ramp, and so it was literally accessible for people in wheelchairs, but I'm also envisioning how historical information can become more porous in a way. And so that was one huge design decision that I made was to, if you go to artistsspace.org, you'll see at the top literally 'pages', 'images', 'text', 'videos', and 'artists', and its just basically ways to view the same thing. I could share my screen if you want, if it would be helpful.

NW: Yes sure, that sounds great.

LS: So let's see. One second, I have like dark mode on, and it kinda makes things crazy so I have to turn it off. Yeah actually during the pandemic, you know, I felt like I needed to turn dark mode to preserve my eyesight, but yeah it's a pretty simple website. You can go to 'Exhibitions', click on stuff, but basically you can also go to images, these are basically all the images that are on Artists Space's website, and if you want to learn more about one, you just say 'About This Image,' and then you see what page it exists on, so basically you can hop around pretty easily and the same thing is true for texts, which are pdfs that exist on the site, you can say 'About This Text' and go to the page that it exists on, same thing for videos and also same thing for artists. There's like a huge list of every artist is on the site, so yeah.

NW: Yeah, I really like this. I think it's really interesting that you can take the same content and present it in different ways, and how there're layers on top of each other, I feel like that's pretty cool. And you mentioned that there's an accessibility consideration. Was there an accessibility consideration in creating this website?

LS: Yeah um, the website wants to be accessible which to me means viewable to many different types of people, not only people with literal disabilities, but we can also think about in different environments that are like, for example, less connected or low bandwidth people. And so the website whenever it presents images, it makes sure to have alt-text. I actually have this thing that, so you can see the alt-text that appears right here. And the other thing is that it's fast to load because we want it to be accessible to people in low bandwidth areas. Often times websites these days I realize they're overloaded with too much Javascript which means that the essential content doesn't load before crazy effects, and that can be really detrimental especially if it's a really important website like a health website or something for the public good. And then I don't know if you found this website, but maybe one thing you'll notice is that the alt-text actually appears down here, and that's what we call exposed alt-text, and people usually don't do that. Usually it's just hidden for people who are blind or low vision, [they] have a screen reader which literally reads this aloud to them or displays them in a braille reader. But the reason I decided to do this visible alt-text was because I noticed that Artists Space was already doing that on their Instagram, and so I just wanted to pull that thing they were already doing naturally into the website, if that makes sense.

NW: Yeah, I'm really interested in trying to see how—since I am building a website—just taking into consideration how to make it more accessible. I won't have any images so that's just one thing, and it was just in my mind and this might be more abstract but I've heard how people say sometimes when we present or are wanting to consider other communities, we still present them as the "other." For example, we are people who are abled or can view websites normally, but then there's this "other" group, and even if we want to include them, they're still be the "other" group. I was just thinking about an accessibility toggle, but even that when you first go to a website, it would be toggled on the non-accssible side, and it requires them putting in the effort. That was just a thought that came to my mind.

LS: Oh, that's interesting. I remember—I wonder if I can find a recent student who graduated from Princeton—oh shoot, I just like cleared my cache and my history so I wonder if I can find this. Anyway this student had a toggle that was kind of like old school web mode or contemporary mode, and it displayed the same content in two different ways, and I always think that it's a useful exercise to do. Yeah so in the old one it had like gifs, and the new one had like these elegant illustrations.

NW: Yeah, that's something I'll have to keep thinking about. Oh, something else you mentioned was the intimacy gradient that I thought was interesting. I was wondering if you also had an example of that in your work? I just thought it was interesting so I wanted to ask you about that.

LS: I definitely think for example fruitful.school—I think I was mentioning that the importance of even passwords as a way to signify a more private area. You know, fruitful.school, we don't show our classes literally here, but there is like a password protected area called portal.fruitful.school. Oh sorry, I guess it's down right now, but yeah so I've been playing with password protection, but also literally another thing you can do, if you go to my site right now, which—yeah I'm redoing this site—but there are certain links that are more easter eggs, so if you click on today's date, you'll actually get to this other site that I have but it's funny because I figured that not that many people are going to come here, because not that many people click on random things, but I think certain people are and I feel like there's more personal information here, like I would consider this a more semi-private space and you know, if you click on some of the days, what I was doing was just keeping a list of the weathers since they changed, but I was also keeping a list of my moods as they changed, just kind of as a reflective exercise. But yeah, just to say that that's one thing that's possible with the web, even though this isn't password protected, it is harder to find and I would consider something like that something that's like an intimacy gradient thing.

NW: No yeah, I would agree, I think that's super interesting, and I never thought about that, but I think it does, maybe it's a little risky, but generally it still makes sense that putting that link somewhere, that door, in a less noticeable place where people wouldn't go there, there's some form of controlling who goes there. Okay, yeah it's interesting, just because I never thought about, the concept makes sense, I just didn't understand how that might actually work in building out a website, because not everyone has more delineated this is the public space and this is more intimate. Yeah, thanks for sharing that. Let's see, oh yeah, another thing I guess a lot of what we've been talking about has been like from the web designer standpoint, and I guess the way we talk about websites it is viewing it a certain way, that people build websites and we are responsible to design it a certain way and build it a certain way, but do we take into consideration the fact that the majority of the population don't view websites in this way? Like I'm sure to a lot of people it's kind of like these things just exist on the web and how they got there they have no idea because I notice how many of these essays and many things I've been thinking about are also framed in that way.

LS: Yeah, I think that's a really good question, and it's unfortunate that simply making websites, even though you know, I think it's, like I can only say this because I grew up in a certain era when it was easier and more people did it, basically making websites is difficult nowadays for a lot of reasons, and I would say making websites, the process is not accessible to most of the population. And I think that's really unfortunate, and I feel like I just wish the tools for making websites has kind of caught up to present day, but it hasn't really, and I think part of that confusion, well, and so I guess what i would say is like I think I really want to see better tools for making websites in the future. Yeah, I think it's unfortunate that it's just not easier.

NW: Yeah, that's something I noticed just in my process of trying to build something. I actually initially really wanted to build something on the peer-to-peer network, and I tried really hard to have that as the framework for the project, but yeah learning how to do that and figuring that out, even though as an idea it's so romantic, and I really love it, it just practically building it out was impossible to me. It was my first time using the terminal, and yeah, I just couldn't do it. But I just think it's interesting how there are these, especially with the peer to peer web, it's a great idea, but there is a big barrier for a lot of people trying to build something on it. Yeah and with normal websites I think as well, even just hosting a website is so complicated.

LS: Yeah, I saw your question about peer-to-peer, and I was like "Oh, that's really cool," but I feel like I was really into it like 3 years ago, and I feel like I got busy and haven't been doing it as much. Yeah, I made websites using BeakerBrowser back then, but I haven't checked up on BeakerBrowser in recent times, but I also think it's really cool and really romantic, and I think BeakerBrowser's goal at the time in 2018 was that they hoped that they would be doing something so cool that bigger browsers like Chrome, or Firefox would adopt some of their methodologies or protocols and make them more accessible. And I think sometimes that's the role of the artist too—is to lead culture where it should go and then hopefully it gets adopted by bigger places.

NW: I think I realized that too because I was trying to get into BeakerBrowser, but I can see that it needs people to be into it for it—

LS: have you tried Secure Scuttlebutt at all? It's not a website builder, it's almost like the Facebook of the peer-to-peer web. I actually saw a really interesting article on it recently about the founder of it, because it was actually started because of this person's sailing lifestyle, literally they spent time on a boat. Yeah, I think Scuttlebutt is a good thing to try to explore. It's also sometimes hard to get working, but once you get it working, I think it'll be interesting.

NW: I'll have to look into this. Yeah, I was finding a bunch of different platforms and ways that peer-to-peer web looked like.

LS: Yeah, how would you define your thesis or describe it? Is it about the web and peer-to-peer and spatial things?

NW: Umm, yeah I guess it's, hmmm, I think I have a hard time doing this. I think I would describe it as an exploration and maybe an ode to small, quiet web places— websites basically—so that looks like a website that I am building that houses this community archive that people can contribute to on the website. And actually, I can just show you, and work on defining it myself more. So this is what I have working so far, and this is the jist: a community archive that discovers and remembers websites that gives some feeling of slowness, quiet, and/or gathering. I'm thinking about elaborating about those terms, but anyways, a portal to slow and quiet corners of the internet that care more about people than profit. I don't know if I want to explicitly say that, but I think it is at the heart of what I feel. So I got this working which is really exciting. I put title here but I got a really good suggestion to make this first form box so that instead of writing a title for a website, people can write a whole description of what this site means to them, so just a different way of displaying the information that is more personal. The URL, the place, and whatever name they want to give themselves. And so this loads every 15 seconds, so this is kind of what I'm hoping to have as the final project, but part of this I kind of have been wanting to make it a big research thing, just because I've been really excited about these ideas, so I've been talking to other people and hoping to have these transcripts as part of the story that maybe I can have on here as well that people can browse if they want.

LS: Cool, it looks really great. I also really like the plusses that make up the "website is a room," it reminds me of architectural renders, and I'm sure that was your intention maybe, but I feel like it's working really well. I'm not sure if you've found this in your research, but back in 2018 was the time I was really into peer-to-peer stuff, but I also think a lot of people were, and I was invited to the Internet Archive's Decentralized Web Summit, and I don't know if you've explored that at all, but I did a workshop there that was about people making their own personal profiles on the peer-to-peer web. I'm going to try to find a link to it, one second. Yeah, and I don't know if you've seen this, but its just this like Laurel's room, but basically this was one of the templates for what we had people you know fork in BeakerBrowser and make their own. But it was kind of like, yeah let me see if I can find the description of the workshop. Basically I'm just going to paste this Google search in here, if you search for our workshop was called p2p2p2p, there are some different things about it and we had people fill out this worksheet at first so that was kind of fun, I'll just put the link in here. Where we asked them about the place, person, powers, and peers, and those were the different sections of the website, but I've also really been interested in the concept of the room tour. In recent times I actually gave a lecture in my room where I showed all the diferent parts of my room and that led me to talking abut my diffeent projects.

NW: Oh yeah! That would be great. No, thank you. Yeah, I think the room tour is a good idea. This is kind of the barebones of what the website will be, but I've gotten different suggestions to include honest details about this whole process and having it be: yes, this website does the archive thing, but also something that very personally reflects what was going on in the making of it or in my head or in my life, that are there, so it's not just a cold thing that websites can be like. So I guess it connects with the random things in your room that you talked about because they're just there, and I can just have them in my website.

LS: Yeah, I'm just going to link you. This is like the Youtube lecture I did about room tours, if you're interested. The only thing is that it's a real long interview, so it was in Seoul so it's in English and Korean. But yeah, that's cool that you want to talk about the process also through rooms, is that right?

NW: Sorry, what do you mean "through rooms?"

LS: Oh yeah, you mentioned something about wanting to expose your process.

NW: Oh yes yes, in this single room maybe. I do want to have it to all live together, so I'm hoping these columns will be scrollable separately, and this left column can have more information underneath it about the process that it would just be there as people are seeing everything. So I'm kind of thinking about how to present that, but also trying to think about if I am trying to incorporate those little links to go somewhere, it will just take some design work, but that's kind of what I'm thinking. I also wanted to ask, so like I've already mentioned the slowness and quietness, and I think I took those from other essays that I've read, and I think that really resonated with me, speaking to the experience of being in some of these place and how its just so different from other websites and places where those qualities aren't really valued. I was wondering if you had thoughts about the importance of slowness or quietness on the web, either as somebody using them or building them?

LS: I think people have described my work in those ways, and I think that's accurate. I think it comes from my interest in basically the importance of the environments to learning and curiosity, and personally, I've always been really impacted by it's like a combination of kind of quiet and boring environments but also paired with just the right level or mystery to encourage further exploration, so I kind of feel you could use the same descriptive words to describe a room in that it's not full of people, it's usually quiet and still, and there are a couple interesting objects around that have a little bit of mystery inviting you to explore more, so yeah I also think obviously that's a reflection or a web that is not corporate or competing for your attention it gets harder and harder to do as time goes on, just because the web seems to be such a money making platform these days, and also like I've also been experimenting with how to make money online, and it's really confusing because for so long I've used the internet in this exploratory way, and so I think a challenge for maybe me and other people like me is like how do we maintain those spaces but also make a living at the same time. But yeah, that's maybe going off into a different territory.

NW: No, but very real I think.

LS: Basically, it's hard like every year the Internet gets more and more corporate. Like what do we do about that? Or will the Internet just kind of continue in this way, and we should just find new spaces to make personal and special? I guess I speak as someone who has really learned like literally, through the internet and basically made a lot of my best friendships and relationships like if I didn't have the Internet it wouldn't have been possible. So I feel really indebted to the connectivity of the internet to do so many meaningful things in my life, so it's a really hard problem.

NW: I guess I haven't really reflected on what kind of impact it's made in my life in those ways, but I'm sure it has. I thought it was really helpful when you mentioned that certain things that are conducive to that curious environment that you like are things that are boring but with small interesting elements, and those things tend to produce that curiosity in you. So I'm wondering if there are certain elements like that, and what might some of those elements be in a website, and what similar elements also create some sense of community on a website? So what elements foster either curiosity or community?

LS: I mean one thing that comes to mind—so I met this architecture studio recently, it's funny because I was asked to help redesign and program their website, but the proposal didn't go through, they actually ended up choosing something else, but I really liked meeting them because I feel like we had really similar philosophy. They have like a really simple website. They're called TOD WILLIAMS BILLIE TSIEN. They're in New York, and one of their biggest projects lately is the Obama Library, so they do some pretty big stuff, but you can see their website is pretty understated, and they have this philosophy internally that they call "withholding," and so they want to encourage people to discover their work kind of on their own by not showing everything in the beginning. And I think my philosophy is pretty similar, which is also why I have this personal website—right now that's a wikipedia page, and I actually think that it's a little bit too much—and I'm working on my next website that feels a little more true to my philosophy, but previous versions of my website have been more in line with this sort of thing. But basically, I think that a certain amount of, I guess I would call it pacing, like you don't show everything at once that's one thing. Maybe a certain amount of mystery or withholding. One thing about this website that's interesting is when you refresh the homepage, it's a different image, and it's a process image from one of their projects, and it's basically like an ice breaker for them if they're with someone. They could probably tell a story about this image, but I think the mystery of the image leads people to click the links. Yeah so I guess, pacing, withholding, mystery, and at least for me I've always viewed the web as a magical place, and I think that a lot of my designs have some faint sense of magic and whether that's like a very small animation that almost feels like something's breathing, and I guess this gets into more aesthetic terriroty, but it's also like using kind of magical colors or things like that, but usually I just choose one thing. I don't overload it because I want just the right amount of mystery, so yeah I guess those three things come to mind.

And for your other question, community websites, I have—as my time as a designer—definitely designed a lot of websites in which I would consider them to be basically a network of people coming together and whether or not people can edit it. Maybe I'll share my screen one more time, and yeah I dont know if you've been to this site, this is like my design website. I'm currently in the process of reorganizing all my websites, so I don't link to this one that clearly. If you click on this little circle, you'll get to the list of all my projects, and I feel like the first community website I did was printed matter's website. Oh, so this is actually a sketch for this feature on the website called "tables," which is basically like a visual Amazon List in a way, so people can put products on it. Let me see if I can go to the website, so what they ended up looking like was this, and the website's a little different now, but I guess I think a lot of my work is kind of shows the abundance of people coming together on them. Let's see The Creative Independent is another example of that, where really almost the best page of the website is the People page where you can just see the breadth of people. It actually slightly got redesigned recently. This is what it looked like back in the day. Anyways, it's just interesting; these small microdecisions do have an impact I think. Personally, I haven't made any websites where people actually log in and participate, but one that comes to mind is gossips.cafe. My other friend Becca, she made one called petals.network which is related. It's not as active anymore, but I think it's really sweet. Yeah basically anyone can login and post, and there are comments. It's kind of like a group blog, but yeah, it was amazing when this was really active, I was actually going to this website on my mobile web browser and I was like "Wow, this is such a nice feeling to be in a place that my friend designed. It feels so much better than being on Instagram," and it was unreal. It just takes so much, I mean I don't know because I've never done a site like this, but I think it takes a lot of upkeep if you don't really plan it right. I think one nice thing about gossip's cafe is the posts delete every 8 hours, and that kind of makes it a little bit easier to upkeep. But I see that your website has a social aspect where people can post?

NW: Yeah, I think that's a big goal: to have people want to contribute. Having understood a little bit about my goals, to then connect to different places that they find interesting and see that there is a community of people who care about websites like this, and there is some sharing of that feeling together. I really like how in gossip's cafe the interaction is really simple, you just type it in and click and it's done. So I kind of wanted that too. Thanks for sharing that reference.

Great, I think we might be out of time, but this was really helpful, and I really appreciate all the different places that were connected.

LS: Yeah of course, good luck with everything. Yeah let me know if you end up publishing it, whatever it becomes, I'd love to see.

NW: Yes, I will. I'm hoping to get it live and share with people so they can populate it a little before the show opens. That's like next week actually so that'll be in these coming days. But yes, I'll definitely send it to you when it's up.

LS: Awesome. Yeah, great talking.

NW: Thank you so much for your time, and this was really nice.

LS: Yeah of course. Well have a great day, and good luck with everything. It's a cool project.