by Joe Clark
In 2000, I had just spent most of a year couch-surfing and was trying to start a new business for myself, or at least bring in some kind of income. I talked to some friends and started contenu.nu, a so-called content consultancy. In that era, Dockers®-wearing ad-agency arseholes running Netscape 4 had finally “discovered” the Web and were busy fucking it up. I’d been online since 1991 and was not about to stand idly by while these usurpers attempted to rewrite the rules of what made for a good Web site. What was missing in all their plans – push technology, “convergence,” Flash – was content, in which I, as a lifelong writer, had a strong territorial interest.
All I was doing at the time was working as an office lady, which I despised and which was so irregular as to drive me insane with anxiety during my many off days. Near the close of business, I would calm down somewhat and start writing entries for the only public face of contenu.nu, the NUblog.
A surprising number of cool, with-it people read it, but that amounted to preaching to the converted. At no time ever did the subjects of my ire ever notice the blog, let alone its writer. In fact, the entire history of contenu.nu is the NUblog. My friends all had day jobs, we never worked on a project together, and in fact contenu.nu never had so much as a single client. Commercially, it was a total failure. As a conduit for a Weblog, it was a qualified success.
My initial NUblog entries were static HTML files (using tables for layout, but valid HTML nonetheless) that I wrote on a creaky PowerMac 7100 using BBEdit and a 56K modem connection that was a freebie from CompuServe. I had no television, and the closest thing to a radio was an ancient Walkman connected to my Apple 1710AV monitor’s speakers (which sometimes had ground faults and went kaput for half a day at a time). I was, I reiterate, going slowly insane. I had to do something, so I wrote.
Later, Dean Allen hacked together a database system with baling wire, twigs, and saliva that ran the NUblog from 2000 to 2002. The blog came to its natural conclusion in that year, as I had been pretty much vindicated in everything I had ever written and saw no need to repeat myself.
Then, however, the trouble began for the NUblog. I changed hosts and Dean’s old system failed to work. Over 200 of my latter postings simply vanished. I eventually scrounged an SQL database dump of the content, and while various people volunteered over the years to convert the old blog to WordPress, it never actually happened. In May 2006, my esteemed colleague Antonio Cavedoni transformed the SQL database entries into static files, and the NUblog is back online.
It will never be updated, but all the files are now or soon will be valid HTML, so they can be moved to other hosts and will be readable by nearly any future device. For the hell of it, I’m keeping the CSS super-minimal (though I intend to address the issue of print stylesheets). It is not worth my time anymore to custom-craft navigation links from one entry to the next; in the age of tabbed browsing and keyboard navigation, you’re on your own.
Here are some amusing historical footnotes about how I converted files that were up to six years old to be valid HTML and CSS:
hr width="65%") are permitted in that
DOCTYPE, I changed them all to Strict-style classes (
hr class="w66"). Perhaps a future upgrade will make that worthwhile.
Updated: 2006.05.14, 2009.08.13, 2010.08.14