Tinkering with hyperlinks

20.37, Thursday 23 Feb 2023

Hyperlinks should look different if it’s busy at the other end. Like: maybe they should be noisy, or glow, or have a yellow halo that gets bigger and bigger.

I made a teeny software sketch: watch a video (30s).

Each of the “web pages” (they’re just pretend) has the standard avatar bar across the top, like Google Docs or Figma. The more people there are at the destination, the bigger the hyperlink halo.

ALSO: when you hover over the link, you appear in that avatar bar too, peeping. Everyone in the room can tell you’re looking in!

(I also posted this movie on Twitter, if you want to comment.)

Look, this isn’t a very impressive sketch. You know that, I know that.


I wrote a lot about the web going social and multiplayer last year (here’s a map of my posts). The architectural patterns of approach! How presence lingers! How attention works!

Not to mention that once you have a team on a webpage, you also have a runtime for AI teammates – NPCs.

Those would be fun interactions to explore.

And I think by making.

So this is the beginning of my own little sandbox. Gotta start somewhere!

And who knows what I’ll learn by getting my hands dirty, or how I’ll think about recombining the pieces.


There’s a kind of material exploration that I’m embarking on, I guess? Trying to sculpt something, seeing how it feels, challenging my preconceptions, learning the grain of the material of the multiplayer web… educating my opinions.

Material exploration has been so core to my process for so long that I forget to talk about it, often; forget to even deploy it sometimes.

That’s part of it.

ALSO, #2: I am enamoured of a community which has a full-blown scenius going on.

I’ll link to a bunch of Twitter feeds here because that’s where the action is: startups like The Browser Company (with Arc), tldraw via their founder Steve Ruiz, and Fermat are working and experimenting with software in the open, sharing often wild GIFs of prototype interactions as they go. Omar Rizwan regular shares software thought bullets (and made the experimental browser extension TabFS); continuous visual experiments by Morten Just; so many more people who aren’t at the top of my timeline right this minute; the ENTIRE Future of Coding community on Slack…

My Twitter timeline is full of their energy, and I am like: I want in on this.

“Scenius” is Brian Eno’s term meaning communal genius and last time I talked about it (2020) I quoted some of the essential qualities. Including: mutual appreciation (scenius as peer pressure) – or to put it another way, a healthy jealousy without envy – competitive collaboration!

So that’s another part of why I’m sketching, I think, because I want to be part of that whole thing. I believe firmly that if you want to be part of something, do not arrive with empty hands (somehow).

Anyway. Tinkering. That’s where a bunch of my time is going rn.

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