It all started from Scratch. Pun intended! The humble beginings of scratch.mit.edu my first social network!

My Scratch homepage

2016 - 5 years ago

I decided to sign up for a scratch account to share the programs I made locally using ‘Scratch 2.0’ iirc - an Adobe AIR app built in flash in those days. I recall the easy - drag and drop interface to build programs with jittery animations and SVG sprites. Sometimes lengthy codeblocks would crash my computer and the JavaScript engine in Chrome (while working with cloud variables) on a 2 Megabytes/s internet plan.

The first time I heard about Scratch was through my mother. She was teaching Computer Science to 3rd graders at a local CBSE school back in the day. I was browsing through her school books when I read about Scratch. There was a CD with an offline installer file. I was definately hooked once I figured you could publish your project over the internet and find other people’s projects and collaborate together! (In today’s terms - forking a free software project to improve the program.)

My own ICSE school didn’t have any of this in our 7th grade curriculum.

But apparently memorizing the exact word to word steps to ‘insert a new row in a Microsoft Excel document’ was important. And mugging-up a bazillion things to ace a 50/50 in a school CS test.

Anyways.. I was on my own, finding how Scratch works and carving my own path.

I Googled for ‘random username generator’ and after half an hour of scrolling I decided to land on ‘polarhive’. There was no reasoning behind the name, just sheer joy and excitement of a 12 year old kid doing something no one in my class did.

I made sure that no scratcher had a similar username. I wanted it to be unique and catchy. None of us had Instagram or Facebook accounts back then. Not even YouTube. The only social network most of my peers and I knew of - was “Clash of Clans” a popular mobile game we used to play on our parent’s 4"7 inch phones. Our labs didn’t have Scratch, nor did the junior labs have internet privileages. Something that was exclusively for the big boys (2 grades higher)

I was active on Scratch for almost 2 years making all sorts of random projects.

ranging from music and animations, an attempt at ‘encryption and decryption’. Cloud storage and arrays/databases, so called ‘AI’ projects that could learn what the user was trying to draw, voice recognition, and random interactive games.

I realize today how far I’ve come and proud of my younger self! P.S: The code is definitely messy but the ideas ‘clever’. I must admit I DO NOT remember one bit of the spagetti code I used those days, so don’t ask me to explain it over again lol 🍝, and some parts of the code is not compatible with Scratch 3.0 so they break if you don’t run it in Scratch 2.0.

YouTube

I eventually got bored of Scratch and I switched to video making. I stared a YouTubt channel - Flexing my so called ‘editing skills’, chopping up 720p video on an old 2010 Dell computer. I made around 52 videos totalling in 16 GB of precious bandwidth with an average upload schedule of 1 video a month from 2017-2019. I stuck with the ‘polarhive’ and it got popular in school. I used it to upload short sketches, made travel vlogs. Basically all archived and reset after I deleted my old Google account.

Facebook and Instagram

This - I regret signing up in the first place. Most of my school friends were on Instagram, that was the only reason I used Instagram. WhatsApp was already too old for us and we left it for the boomers, we all hated not being able to use it on more than one device (the lack of cross device cloud sync).

IMO Instagram was good until 2018/19 when Zuck dropped a ton of bloatware - trying to copy YouTube with IGTV and iirc today it is called reels. It got rusty and it became a trap for ‘consoooooming’. I deleted my Facebook accounts after I got to know they were planning to merge Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook into one.

Fediverse

I literally joined every single website I knew of, to claim my username but all had the same issues as Facebook (centralized). Evenetually that led me to Mastodon and the fediverse, it was quite interesting - and that’s where I am now. For the past 2 years I invested time to setup my own website, migrated from medium.com and other centralized social media like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to federated alternatives. Getting a PGP setup so that people can cross verify my identitiy and improving my overall privacy and freedoms in the open-web!

Upward and Onward!

This all began because I decided to setup a scratch account to interact with other people via the internet even though no one told me to. What if I decided to just continue playing video games all day? It’s hard to imagine how it would have been today. No blog, no videos on my channels, none of the interactions with the wonderful people I have met online 🧐

Take that leap ~ The best is yet to come!