A few years ago, I came across a piece — I’m not sure where — about a little-known website created by Rob Beschizza, a writer and editor at Boing Boing. Apparently, Beschizza had made a website that claimed to be the “world’s dumbest publishing platform.” I was intrigued.
What Beschizza seems to have had in mind was to create a website that is a kind of polar opposite to the big social media giants, which so many of us are used to tracking our every move and motivating our experience via the social capital of likes and comments, upvotes and reacts. The result is txt.fyi.
As a website, txt.fyi is remarkably simple. It has exactly one button and one link. The link is simply to the about, where a short note from Beschizza explains the website’s purpose, if it can be called that. The button just says “publish”, and above it is a box to enter text. By default, all the text is completely ordinary static hypertext. But if you’re willing to enter the (very simple) code, you can create links to other pages or play around with various other minimal formatting.
Once a user hits “publish”, a web page will be created consisting only of whatever text the user entered on the previous page, as well as a small link back to the txt.fyi homepage. That’s it. There’s no share option. There’s no way to revisit anything that is created, unless you specifically copy the link from your browser. There’s no way to find what other people have written. Search engines do not crawl or index txt.fyi. There’s no way to search for any of the content created on it. It’s, practically speaking, quite useless.
And it’s invisible.
That’s important for making it one of the most cathartic websites out there, in my opinion. You can write anything you want into txt.fyi, and it becomes instantly and permanently part of the world — a real thing you thought and embodied into a digital format. At the same time, it’s completely anonymous, and the probability of anyone ever discovering your text is extremely small.
The website is more powerful than you might think. For example, because pages can be linked and strung together in sequence, it’s possible to create a very small website. It would be minimal and impossible to edit after the fact. Once you hit “publish” you’re done. Also, while any one page can link to many others, no two pages can link to each other, nor can any page link to a page created after it. A complicated website, like this choose your own adventure type story, would have to be engineered in reverse.
Here’s a very (very) small website I created.
It’s fun, and I recommend trying it out. It could be useful for journaling when you want to just get things out but you don’t want to ever have to look at it again. Or it could be like an anonymous confession — very cathartic. You could create a private link to hidden information of some kind. Copying the links from the search bar and writing them down physically makes for a fun old school secret messaging system with a friend (protip: the first part of the link is always the same, so if you just copy the last few numbers and letters, it works as a cute code). It might be a cool way to spread information for an art project or maybe even a political protest.
It’s anti-social social media. Check it out.