Sam’s Amazing List, a Thesis Project Proposal

Sam’s Amazing List is a web-based essay that, through expositions, interviews, videos and photographs, revisits and responds to an online journal I kept at age 14.Using web standards (HTML, CSS & JS), I will create an immersive online personal essay that uses archived websites, video, audio and other media (produced by me) to explore the role of the internet in adolescence through the lens of the original Sam’s Amazing List, a website I maintained on Geocities during my freshman year of high school.

The form of the story will use web tools old and new. I will conduct interviews with old friends. Readers will be able to log in to their old accounts on bygone websites in situ so our internet histories are entwined. I will create vignettes relating to people, places and events noted on the original Sam’s Amazing List and incorporate them into the essay. Ultimately, the essay will be presented as a single-page immersive web experience that embraces the internet as both subject and object.

In recent weeks, I’ve been researching topics relevant to this project:

  1. Analysis of the adolescent psyche, specifically the “imaginary audience” / “personal fable” theories and research specific to web-based self-expression in adolescence.
  2. Looking at internet history by conversing with peers about experiences on the web and performing exercises in which I document my initial reactions to my old websites.
  3. Exploring and prototyping new forms of online storytelling with sites like MetaFilter and tools like TouchCast as inspiration for ways to present rich annotation. I’ve also built prototypes to that end.

I’ll be posting updates here as I enter the production phase of the project.