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Permanent Tourist

A personal website by Mark Howells-Mead

Happy birthday, Permanent Tourist!

I started learning about the internet in 1996, and began making my first attempts at proper, themed websites in 1997. Back then, it was all the rage to make fan websites, so a friend and I followed the trend, collecting images from all over the web and populating our own little online homes. They were hosted in free web space as so-called tilde sites. If memory serves, mine was at freespace.virgin.net/~mhowells3, a long-since-defunct URL.

In 1998, I started using Blogger to publish an online diary and at around the time I moved to Switzerland, I decided to fork out the annual fee for my own “domain name”. Even then, .com domains were doing a roaring trade and so all the short domain names which could be associated with my name were gone. I stumbled across an regional domain and grabbed it for the website I hosted on one of my employer’s servers in the Bernese Oberland.

After getting quite a bit of traffic to the site, I started getting pressured by visitors when I didn’t update the site regularly. I got fed up with the pressure and so I resigned the domain, deleted the website and all of the content, and packed up shop in about 2004.

A year or so later, I began to miss blogging and so I started a new site: one devoted entirely to my photography. I needed a new domain name and so I hunted around for some suitable ones, before being inspired by something my boss had once said. That my life, working by the shores of Lake Brienz and spending my time in places where so many others take their holidays, was like a permanent holiday. Hence the name Permanent Tourist, and the inevitable Swiss domain name permanenttourist.ch, at which you’re reading this blog post.

According to digital records, I registered the domain on 13th April 2005. The first version of the site was like the original: a gallery-based collection of photos running through a small media management system I coded myself. After joining Flickr at around the same time, I eventually gave up on my own system and started using Flickr exclusively for my photos. I turned my attention to WordPress instead, and started blogging again: individual, sequential entries, grouped by keyword and category.

The first entry dates to 20th August 2006, and features a photo I’d taken in Paris nine years beforehand. This “version” of the site, which has been through ten major re-designs and an almost infinite number of tweaks and changes since then, still contains all of the posts I’ve written since.

I started writing this blog ten years ago today; twenty years ago this summer, I started my life-long foray into the web. My earlier versions of the site contained photos and galleries, so alongside the blog, I’m extending the site soon with a new section: photos posted in a gallery format. Much like my Flickr account, but with the intention of only posting my best work and my favourite images.