Why Cliffdweller?

April 25, 2024 | 405 words | 2 minute read.

Back in the nineteen hundreds this internet thing was beginning to take off. I decided I wanted to own my own custom email address and host my own website.

In the office where I worked a guy came up to me and suggested that I’d really enjoy working in HTML. I started digging and he was right! Before the end of 1992 I had established Cliffdweller.com as the premier place for me to play with HTML and goof around on the web.

A year later I moved to Silicon Valley and started working at a trendy games company. They had a website (not everyone had websites back then) and since I had a website, they featured some of the content from cliffdweller on their site! I thought I had arrived.

Does anyone remember SHTML? Cliffdweller had a version of itself that ran in SHTML. I think the S was for “Server Side” or something. Then came Perl. Cliffdweller had a Perl version for a while. Again, it was created on the fly by the server. At some point, PHP emerged and Cliffdweller migrated to that standard. And then came Wordpress.

Cliffdweller.com was a self hosted Wordpress blog for around 15 years. It lived on several different macintosh computers that were physically located in places as diverse as a server farm in Las Vegas and my living room.

At some point, everyone’s personal blogs kind of fell out of vogue, and I moved on. The Cliffdweller blog fell into dis-repair and eventually I had to pull it down. The web address continued though, hosting direct links and temporary things for clients and friends.

But the one question that I never answered was “Why Cliffdweller”? Back in ‘92 it was the obvious choice and the reasons still stick with me today. It’s quite simple really.

It all boils down to three words: Past Life Experience. Or if you prefer, early life experience. I think we have Mesa Verde to blame for it. I could have named it for Hiroshima, or Vasa, or probably even McDonalds (there weren’t a lot of registered web domains back then). I settled on Cliffdweller and it’s been the perfect address for me ever since.

Ask me some day and maybe I’ll tell you the whole story.

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