Amusings & other creations (from the early web)

by | Sunday, October 15, 2023

I have been blogging for 15 years now, but I have had a website for much longer than that. I built my first website back in 1998 just as I was graduating from UIUC and entering the academic job market. I still remember the URL ( I designed a variety of personal websites when I moved to MSU and they sat at till I got my own domain name. You can actually see early versions of my website (and its evolution) by going to the Wayback Machine, The earliest instance that I could find was archived Nov 4, 1999, and amazingly enough has my daughter Shreya’s birth announcement archived as well. And for some strange reason, a snapshot of my website (from Jan 2008) is archived on the the servers at the University of Hawaii!

These early websites were hand coded, HTML pages with lots of content that has been lost to time. In most cases this is a good thing, since not much of it deserved being saved. But there were other little things that I had played with and created that I miss. These were random things like palindromic poems, and clerihews about famous (and not so famous) people; short essays and more.

Imagine my surprise when, while digging into my dropbox archives, I discovered a bunch of stuff, that had survived after all. I am not sure they have any intrinsic value but, they ARE meaningful to me. They also capture, visually, the aesthetic of the early web! (This isn’t the first time that my dropbox archives have surprised me, more about that in A (Wheatstone) bridge to the past).

Anyway, once I found them I took a few mins this morning to upload them to this website. What I didn’t want to do was redesign them to fit what my website looks like now. So be warned, early web experiments coming up. Small font sizes, glowing text, it is all there. In spades. But without further ado here we go, in no particular order.

First up, are a series of short essays that I called A-Musings: Occasional essays on technology and life. Looking back, I realize that what I was doing was blogging, before the idea of blogging had entered the general consciousness. I am guessing that I wrote the first one of these (Tea and Technology) sometime in 2000/2001.

Back in 1988, after having graduated from my undergraduate in Engineering, I joined the Industrial Design Center at the Indian Institute of Technology to get my masters in Visual Communications. (I have written and spoken about that shift in various contexts: a keynote at IDC, an essay titled My Favorite Failure, and even my TED talk.

It was in design school, that I started just for fun, a little project called “A2Z: A dictionary of design.” That ended up becoming a book and it is still archived on the IDC website. What I had forgotten was that I had designed a web-version as well.

I do want to apologize in advance for the design of this website – but it is a historical relic of the early days of the web, and the interface is quite clunky. I remember most of the alignments on the page are done with “invisible gifs” (does anybody remember that!). Anyway, here it is for your enjoyment: A2Z: The dictionary of design.

Clerihew’s are short biographical poems with a certain fixed format. As the Atlantic defined it:

The clerihew is a bit of rhyming doggerel invented by Edmund Clerihew Bentley (1875-1956). Traditionally, it’s a four-line verse made up of two rhyming couplets, with meter intentionally (often ridiculously) irregular. Its purpose is to offer a satiric or absurd biography of a famous person. Here are three of Bentley’s own creations:

At some point I got inspired to write a bunch, about famous and not so famous people. Here they are.

I have always been interested in the idea of symmetry, which can be seen in my ambigram designs as well as in my experiments with palindromic poetry. The first one I wrote was most probably when I was in graduate school, maybe 1994/5 and then a few more have come by since then.

Once again I should warn the reader that the interface of this mini-site leaves a lot to be desired. I was experimenting with javascripts and pull down menus and clearly went too far. But here they are: Palindromic poems.

My interest in fractals led me to think about the architecture of Indian temples (something I was introduced to by my professor Kirti Trivedi.). Once during my web browsing I came across this site, which is now gone. I just archived the entire site since I did not want it to get lost. This not created by me, and my attempts to find the author have come to naught. Here it is Indian Architecture.

A few randomly selected blog posts…

New ambigram, Algebra

I have been thinking about the relationship between ambigrams and mathematics - instigated in no small part by an email conversation with Gaurav Bhatnagar. That inspired me to create ambigrams of words that are related to mathematics. There are a few ideas percolating...

Sketching MSUrbanSTEM

Sketching MSUrbanSTEM

I have been playing with my iPad a bit, experimenting with sketching and drawing apps for a few months now. I have realized that it is important to give yourself a task, a clear end-goal to work towards if I had to get anywhere. So with that in mind, I decided to...

Summer Institute for Superintendents, presentation

I was recently invited to present at the 2009 Summer Institute for Superintendents at the beautiful  Crystal Mountain Conference Center in Thompsonville, Michigan. The yearly institute, which began in 1999, is co-sponsored by the MSU College of Education and the...

India Breakfast, a photo report

The India themed breakfast at the College of Education, a kick-off for India Week, was a great success. [Here is a previous blog entry announcing this (and other) events.] I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the people who helped out, and also provide...

Obtuse can be right!

My daughter, whose creative exploits have been featured here before (for instance see her design for a math-music game), now has a blog, titled Uniquely Mine. It features original writing (poems, stories) by her. Do check it out. You can find regular updates on this...

Youth participatory creativity in digital spaces

Youth participatory creativity in digital spaces

Ioana Literat is Assistant Professor in the Communication, Media, and Learning Technologies Design program at Teachers College, Columbia University, and the Associate Director of the Media & Social Change Lab (MASCLab). Her research focuses on the dynamics of...

TPACK Newsletter, Issue #14, February 2013

TPACK Newsletter, Issue #14:February 2013 Welcome to the fourteenth edition of the (approximately quarterly) TPACK Newsletter! TPACK work is continuing worldwide, and is appearing in an increasing diversity of publication, conference, and professional development...

Harris, Mishra & Koehler, 2009

Harris, J.,  Mishra, P. & Koehler, M. J. (2009). Teachers' Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge and Learning Activity Types: Curriculum-based Technology Integration Reframed. Journal of Research on Technology in Education. In this paper we critically...

Creativity in mathematics and beyond

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Our series of articles related to the broad topic of Rethinking technology and creativity for the 21st century in the journal TechTrends continues with a new article on creativity in mathematics. This article focuses on the 4 winners of the 2014...


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