multiverse diary
Multiverse is a small and expressive blogging network that @kickscondor and @glitchyowl are building. This is where we log project progress
27 entries
First: Feb 8, 2021
2 contributors
I remember reading it and thinking - - i...
wow this is super tight
Wow banana paint is tight hahaha gonna s...
this song gets me going too ๐ŸŽธ
can i haz
I can't wait to start playing with this ...
It makes me so happy that you made this ...
esp the legendary "night desert" school ...
@mayaland Superb. The frame askew is jus...
super inspiring
@abu would love to learn more about your...
This is super cool lol

Things I love about Figma scrapchats:
๐Ÿ‘† Cursor hype (move cursors very quickly up and down while someone is writing)
๐Ÿ–ป Dropping in pics from the day
โœ€ Dragging over old designs and hacking them up live
๐Ÿฆ‹ Butterfly nets (clipart of butterfly nets has been a useful accessory) ๐Ÿคท

The only thing I'm not into is when a text box has a fixed height and you type past the end. The words get allโ€ฆ trapped. But it turns out you can fix that by clicking the 'auto height' button on the right-hand side. Ayyy.

One of the most unusual things about working with @glitchyowl is that we do 90% of our communication in Figma. I counted today: 36 figma chats, average 2 hours in length.

They all end up looking like Florida. Although we did chat upwards once.


When I was done, I felt some disappointment and exhaustion. Six months and I had a single page of HTML. I hid the link to it in a back corner of my website and was done with it.

One thing I knew for sure was that I wanted to collapse supporting discussions. The arrows on the right-hand side would hide detailed threads that went deeper on topics. (I still feel that this could be improved a lot - but after six months, I had to let it be!)

The purpose for hiding discussion wasn't just to organize the discussion. I wanted the main conversation on the page to be readable from beginning to end - a cohesive abridged form of the two month long back-and-forth. My own personal visualized perspective on what I got out of the conversation.

The final transcript is 20,000 words. It took SIX MONTHS to edit and design. It required a custom transcript format for nesting comments inside of each other.

Settling on a design took work - but the vast majority of the work was spent trying to shape this conversation into something that I felt could be readable. I read it over and over, trying to understand the key branches of the discussion and which parts I felt would have longevity.

Hypertext 2020 was a 'blogchat' that happened for two months - January 2019 and December 2020. I asked questions from a post on my blog. And h0p3 (top left), Sphygmus (top right) and Chameleon (bottom left) - three public TiddlyWiki writers(!) - responded in posts on their wikis.

We didn't make several posts. We just each responded in our own giant single post that we would go back and edit. No notifications, no feeds - just refreshing each other's pages each day. What makes a blogchat different from a normal chat (in my mind) is that you have time to ruminate and respond. It took two months! Everything was considered a public draft. You can go back and refine your answers. And you could easily pick up a thread from three weeks earlier if you wanted.

We created a huge mess of hypertext in the process.

When the chat was over, I intended to act as editor. To compile the conversation into a hypertext creation of some kind, to try to see what a two months long conversation would look like.


Ok - so now I need to try to talk about Hypertext 2020. (Which started in 2019 - before 2020 was slimed.)

It turned out that this project was an incubator for ideas in Multiverse. But I didn't realize that at the time. It was one of those ideas that gets pursued and just seems like a lark - pure wankery, pure messing around, no foreseeable value to it. YOLO + HTML.

Little did I know that @glitchyowl would happen upon it. The magic of one insightful observer.

The full final project is here: https://www.kickscondor.com/HT2020/

Two inspirations have been the original Byte V1 app (pictured left, 2015-2017) and Muze chat (https://muze.chat/). It feels like there's been an explosion of sweeeet creative and whimsical apps in recent years!

Unfortunately this ๐“ช ๐“ฎ ๐“ผ ๐“ฝ ๐“ฑ ๐“ฎ ๐“ฝ ๐“ฒ ๐“ฌ energy doesn't make its way back to the Web. Of course, there are great networks like Futureland, Special.fish, Petals.network and such popping up lately. Energy seems to be leaking back into the hypertext kingdomโ€ฆ

There was a link last week on here by @tania about whitespace in design: https://futureland.tv/tania/ux-ui/45497

One of the things that inspired me so much about @glitchyowl's comic logs is that they bring whitespace to blogging. This has always been possible with images (rip spacer.gif) and in webcomics - and ofc in custom hypertext like what Robin Sloan does - but comic logs really seem to encourage spacing out your layouts in a new way - for a narrative benefit.

This stands in stark contrast to the cramped quarters of posting on 'gwalb' social networks. It would be deluded to say that this can solve any of the myriad of problems on the Web - but it will have a subtle effect that's worth coaxing along.


Hopefully Multiverse is not above janky, smh skins. The ability to destroy the design is a necessity. Otherwise expression is capped, innit? Comic Sans is in there. #FF00FF (such a bad color that it was the original transparent color) is in there. Cornflowerblue on cornflowerblue if you REALLY insist!


looks like we've got a dress code! gathering and blog chatting can feel like a potluck party too~* we've been exploring ways to thread and stack conversations in a way where we could feel that we are having an equal conversation online


We both loved the pattern palette from MacPaint - here is ours. And while there are hidden toolbars in Multiverse, the most common tools are all shown by default. I'm amazed at how @glitchyowl was able to preserve the approachability and lively design of MacPaint!


So @glitchyowl really opened my eyes to the beauty of MacPaint. It doesn't work anything like our common design tools work today. Like here - https://www.cloudpaint.com/classic - go create something in it and see. The way the pattern brush works.

It's very limited. But this also leads to a unique look. You can tell when something is made in MacPaint. (Or in MS-Paint for that matter! Pokey the Penguinโ€ฆ) I also love that there are no hidden toolbars. You can see everything that you can do.


And here is @glitchyowl's first take at the Fine Vellum style that won me over. And, amazingly, this style was designed inside our Multiverse prototype! (I later took it back to codepen to try to refine it.)


Let's fast-forward to this last month - when @glitchyowl sent me a series of boxes she'd designed that felt like vellum to me. Semi-translucent, fogged-up styles - achieved by dropping a light-colored shadow with a rather heavy blur on it - but leaving the box layer above the shadow almost clear - but with a subtle gradient to it.

I love that you can see through the upper left and top edges!

Here's the pen where I worked this style out: https://codepen.io/kicks/pen/MWbKKdM

Once we had 'whostyles' for each other, we could quote each other using our font and color choices. At the time, this was a way to express our friendship - by investing time in each other's styles in this little way. It also gave this feeling that we were inhabiting each other's 'blog'/'wiki'. (Some in the group even started to give each other permissions to post directly to each other's wikis - in order to fix styles and correct things.)

It felt like good, friendly human work.


On the other side of the Web, I began discovering wikis that were colorful and self-styled - particularly https://philosopher.life and the above http://sphygm.us. That second wiki became an important one in this story - as Sphygmus and I began coming up with ways of quoting each other and preserving the styles. This became the 'whostyle'.

The Web has converged on a color called 'gwalb' - gray with a little blue. Drained of all of its color, people become small circles with unstyled text next to them. Far from the hypertext we used to know!

One of the progenitors to Multiverse is a project I worked on back in November 2018. The project was called 'whostyles' - a way of customizing comment boxes. I was using them to quote other wiki writers who had their own sweet font and color styles. (https://www.kickscondor.com/whostyles/)

Feeling grateful โ€“ we are both learning to enjoy the process and have a good time. It's taking time but I think we are now getting to a state where we having lots of fun again


This is the tale of purple desert designs, silent HTML livestreams, MacPaint toolbars, Mario Kart-inspired JavaScript and disgustingly gaudy drop shadows.

This is the Multiverse Diary. Am I doing this right, glitchyowl?

glitchyowl multiverse diary