Whenever I do a site redesign, it forces me to revisit this sections of the site that I don't usually think about, or don't normally pay attention to.
When I first put this website together, my main focus was the Campaign section since what I was working on most was my Red Alert campaign. I remember having all the other sections of this site as links in the sidebar, but crossed-out and un-clickable (back when leaving 'under construction' GIFs in places was still considered the norm). Then, when that was completed and my time freed-up for other hobbies, my focus shifted to the Artwork/Writing sections where I posted all the pictures I was drawing and silly stories I was writing. In the last couple of years, the focus has shifted to this blog.
So with this latest redesign, I worked on the blog first (it's usually the template for how the rest of the site will look/act), then moved on to the simpler, mostly-static pages of the Campaign and my dead-in-the-water Red Horizon project section. After that, I moved to the Writing area since I had a few new stories to add to that section.
This left the About and Artwork sections of this site, both of which can instil a feeling of embarrassment in me since they reach back the furthest in time and are sprinkled with reminders of things that aren't up to my 2012 standards.
In the About section I have links to screenshots of what my site used to look like, going all the way back to 2000 when I first put this site together using Netscape Composer, HTML frames, and littered it with pictures of anime-style drawings and quotes that had nothing at all to do with the site - and all in Times New Roman font!
And in the Artwork section I have drawings dating back to high school days which, as I've been reviewing them this past week, have made me cringe. Now that I'm facing these images from my past, I find myself thinking, over and over: OMG, I used to think these were GOOD?!!? I'm half tempted to remove many of the pictures from there, but then another part of me kicks in and prevents it from happening - the part that believes that this site should act as an archive of everything I've shared on the internet.
As much as I'd like to selectively filter parts of my past to make a better impression in the present, it wouldn't feel right for me to do that. In the case of the older versions of this site, it reminds me of what I've learned from all my previous years of web design and development. In the case of my old drawings, there's still a part of me that wants to pick up a pencil and start filling-up my sketchbooks once again.
I'm not really sure if there's a lesson to be learned in all of this, but it reminds me of all those those inspirational http://images.ultraq.net.nz/pages/quotes that rant about telling you to 'make a new you', to look to the future, etc, etc, but I can't seem to recall one that tells you to be proud of what you've done. Too often the theme of those things is to get people to start again, leaving the past behind, or 'shedding your skin'. Why? I wonder. Are people so often regretting their mistakes that they need to jettison their personal baggage on a regular basis? Somehow I doubt ignoring one's past and 'starting fresh' is the way to creating less mistakes, since the prevention of mistakes requires experience, hindsight, and the ability to reflect on the past.
If I choose to take down some of those older drawings, or screenshots of how my site used to look, how can I say I've really improved? If I take down those older drawings/screenshots, how will I know if what I do now, or what I'll do next, is really any better?
The past is there for a reason - it's not just for historians.