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 (www.uiuc.edu/~pmishra). I designed a variety of personal websites when I moved to MSU and they sat at punya.educ.msu.edu 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…

LanguageART: Meaning making through type & image

LanguageART: Meaning making through type & image

I love collecting quotations—usually related to learning, design, and creativity. Over the past couple of years I started trying to visualize these quotations, playing with type and image, to tease apart their meanings, sometimes to undermine, sometimes to enhance. I...

Blast from the past: Theories and memory

Ambigram for the word "Theory" by Punya Mishra My first real research study was one that I conducted back when I was a graduate student under the mentorship of Bill Brewer. It was designed as a classic educational psychology memory study and though I have done little...

Coding + Aesthetics: New Journal Article

Coding + Aesthetics: New Journal Article

Does beauty have a role to play in learning to code? Can code aspire to beauty and elegance? In this article, we argue that it does and it should. Read on... Good, J., Keenan, S. & Mishra, P. (2016). Education:=Coding+Aesthetics; Aesthetic Understanding,...

Let go of what you think you know

An ongoing series of posters designed by graduates of University College Falmouth for the purpose of passing on advice & inspiration to first year students. You can see the entire series here... [Thanks for the link to the Daily Dish]

SITE2022: San Diego

SITE2022: San Diego

I sent the past week in San Diego at the SITE 2022 conference—first face to face conference in over 2.5 years. It was great to get out meet old friends, make new ones, and just spend time together. Below are (for the record) the papers and presentations that I was...

Impact of technology v.s. chewing gum on learning

Just got this from Tom Reeves at the CIMA conference, Twente University. Allen, K. L., Galvis, D., Katz, R. V. (2006). Evaluation of CDs and chewing gum in teaching dental anatomy. The New York state dental journal. 72(4): pp 30-33. Abstract: The purposes of this...

Update IV

Chris from Creativity Portal dropped off a "strong" message to me on my website (see it here). Just a couple of points. First, I have not received the email they sent me (I do not question the fact that they did send it) - just that I did not receive it. I checked my...

Media, Cognition & Society through History:  A Mapping

Media, Cognition & Society through History: A Mapping

If oral cultures prioritize memory and print cultures emphasize systematic organization, what types of knowledge will AI systems foster? Marie Heath and I wrote this line in a chapter that is currently in press. But the idea underlying this quote has been with me for...

Technology Integration in Higher Education

Matt Koehler and I led a session on Technology Integration in Higher Education: Challenges & Opportunities for a day-long symposium titled: Colloquium on the Changing Professoriate. This is how our session was described in the program book/website: Technology has...

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