Will Doenlen

When text is not enough

I’ve long had a beef with text-only communication mediums like text messaging. I find being able to only communicate in text to be really restraining: sometimes you just can’t fully express yourself using only text. Sometimes I want to draw things, or I want to write in a totally different font the system can’t represent, or I want to rotate text and play with the size, or have some kind of animation… it goes on and on. I’ve long wanted text messaging to be like a blank canvas that you can use to express yourself in a free-form manner. It just feels wrong that we’re limited to just glpyhs and a set of emojis chosen by the non-elected, non-representative Unicode Consortium.

Instead, I’ve recently taken up crafting messages in Three.js and GLSL. It’s definitely much slower than sending a text but it’s a lot more gratifying. I really enjoy crafting a little immersive world — it’s kind of like sending a fancy, handwritten note to someone. It’s almost always way too elaborate and the situation never calls for it — frequently I’m just saying small things. But it’s just much more fun. I get to make little works of art and share them with people and hopefully make their day better, too.

Here’s an example of one I sent to a friend recently when trying to make dinner plans: https://www.willdoenlen.com/messages/YUCahyqpvKWG. I don’t really know why I made this — I was looking at models on poly.pizza, saw the angler fish and thought a message illuminated by the angler fish’s bioluminescent light would be fun. So I did it, and now I have a deep sea angler fish message template. 🆒