The first words I remember posting on the internet were on a self-made site uploaded to my local dial-up ISP's web hosting service. I have no idea if anyone ever read them, because they were a digital monolith — an attempt at writing that existed outside any real community or ecosystem, except maybe my parents and the real-world friends I showed it off to.
Today, my online writing is assimilated into a network so vast I don't even know where it stops. I can tell precisely how many people are reading this post, and how they got to it. If you want to respond to me, you can leave a comment a few inches below this text, email or tweet at me through the links a few inches above it, or react to it with an emoji on Facebook. Some random Twitter bots will tweet the link, advertisers will track its success, and sophisticated search engines will rank it.
This isn't bragging, because just about everything anyone writes online will touch at least a few points of that web. But the version of this article on Txt.fyi, at least theoretically, will stand alone.
Txt.fyi is a project by Boing Boing author and editor Rob Beschizza. The interface has two elements: a text box and a "publish" button, which posts your words — and nothing else — on a white page. (You can visually mix things up a little with commands listed on an explanatory page, though, or even code things like the elaborate glitch art above.) There are no accounts, no avatars or pseudonyms, no analytics, and no directory. The site tells search engines not to scrape it.
Granted, you can post the link on Twitter or Facebook, implicitly drawing it into whatever network you want. But it can also stand alone, shared only with friends and associates. If a troll somehow finds the link posted elsewhere, they can't do more than stare at the text unless you include a point of contact, and there's no public account information to easily give your identity away. Short of some kind of stylometric analysis, or a direct link between pages, they can't even tell what else you've written. (Although Beschizza says he'll shut it down if it somehow becomes a tool for abuse.)
Txt.fyi isn't a "secure blogging platform" or a "distraction-free online text editor" or anything like that. But it's an incentive to write without worrying about having an audience or a conversation or a persistent online persona, while still getting the satisfaction of having released a completed creative work into the world — and trust me, that feels a lot better than a folder of drafts in that "just one more line edit" state. Does it feel like a toy? Sure. It also feels like freedom.