So today on HTML Energy, I talked to Emma Rae Norton, who is interested in the computer mouse and coding slowly by hand. Emma's website is marceldochamp.net.
[~15 second musical intro jingle composed by Madalyn Merkey]
Welcome to the HTML energy podcast, Emma. It's nice to have your energy here.
Thank you for having me.
I wanted to start off pretty simple and ask you... What does HTML energy mean to you and how do you tap into it?
I think HTML energy means kind of like a slowness to me. And I think I tap into into by slowing down. So HTML has always been a very slow and quiet space for me. I use it a lot to think through things that I'm thinking about.
Yeah, what might one of those things be?
I mean, I'm in school right now. And so most recently, I've been doing a lot of work on the history of the computer mouse. I use HTML to think through things visually. So it's a way for me to kind of get down the things that I'm thinking about into a structure and then be able to move things around within that structure. I've been doing research on the mouse for over a year, and it's a lot of there's a lot of different threads of that research. And so I use HTML as a way to kind of like bring those things together and move them around and think about what I'm thinking about in different ways.
Yeah, I saw that you made a scrolling mouse lecture that's presented as a webpage. I love how the two sides are scrolling independently. So it really looks to me like prioritized my own understanding, like I could feel free to move either section. Yeah, I was wondering how you got interested in the mouse...?
I got interested in the mouse because I tried to build one while in school. And so I'm in this creative technology program. We're required to take a physical computing class, which I had never done before. And I decided that I wanted to try and make my own computer mouse. I don't exactly remember why I decided that, but I think I had an interest in trying to make something that I interacted everyday. I thought that it wouldn't be the most complicated thing to do, and it turned out to be extremely hard to do. And so I think, when I was met with how complex the mouse was, I just became interested in why. Why was it so complex? And I was just interested in this idea of something that's seemingly simple that looks simple that we use everyday and it's like one of the most ubiquitous technologies computing technologies to date ... that it requires so much ... so many different like tiny moving parts, and so much maintenance is involved to get a mouse to work with a computer. Like the mouse driver is something that I haven't even really thought about at all. And just because it seems to be way over my head. Or like how, how a serial or how a USB connection works, like something like that. But also the shape of the mouse really interested me.
What about the shape was interesting?
It's for your hand. I think like when you look at it, you can look at it and it looks like something that you want to pick up. But it doesn't really go much farther than that. Like there's nothing about its shape that tells you that it's for a computer, which I think is interesting. And I think the fact that it's for your hand is so far from where we are now ... where everything is baked into the screen. Everything is very flat. It feels important to me that the there's this technology that is kind of a reminder of the fact that you're a human Using a computer. That this thing was made for your embodied self.
What was your first website that you ever created like?
The first website I made was called, "Website with the sound of its own making." And I made that in 2010. It was at a moment where I was also in school, 10 years ago, in undergrad. I was studying photography and printmaking, and I was making a lot of work about... my question was, "What does the internet look like?" So that was my driving question in my last two years of school. It's 2010, which is I think was when the first iPhone came out. It felt like a lot of things in terms of how we're really into computers and how we're relating to each other with computers, or at least how I was experiencing computers ... that started to shift.
In thinking a lot about what the internet looks like, I decided that I wanted to try and learn the language of the internet or the language of the web. And so I made this very, very small website. Very minimal amount of HTML. Just the tag, and the