Social network cohost lets users turn posts into games - The Verge

The social network cohost offers an alternative to Facebook and Twitter, one where users have more control and can even use CCS to create interactive games.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you build something on the internet, people will find ways to creatively break it. This is exactly what happened with cohost, a new social media platform that allows posts with CSS. Digging through the #interactables hashtag on cohost reveals a bounty of clickable, CSS-enabled experiments that go far beyond GIFs — there’s a WarioWare mug-catching game, an interactive Habbo tribute, magnetic fridge poetry, this absolutely bananas cog machine, and even a “playable” Game Boy Color (which was, at one point, used for a “GIF plays Pokémon” event). Yes, there’s also Doom.

The cohost team embraced the madness. It was the beginning of a creative avalanche that simply isn’t possible on other social media sites — a phenomenon that the cohost community has since dubbed “CSS crimes.”

While major social media giants cling to uniformity and standardized posts, cohost throws all of this corporate banality out the window. My first encounter with this nascent platform was like stumbling across a bygone era of computing — one where websites were unchecked reflections of personal expression and delightfully weird, often awkward vibes. Most importantly, cohost has cultivated a thriving demoscene full of artists, designers, creative coders, and ambitious shitposters ready to push the envelope of computer art.

At first glance, cohost is a simple blogging website. Posts (coposts or, half-jokingly, “chosts”) have no character limit, and there’s an option to make multiple pages for different themes or projects. You can make a collaboratively co-owned page that multiple people can use, like for crowdfunds or podcasts. It’s like meeting the awkward offspring of Tumblr, Twitter, and a hint of Reddit. From a sensory design standpoint, the site’s plum and off-white accents and quasi-retro logo evoke a sense of familiarity and nostalgia (there are drop-down menus!) that conjure personal memories of old-timey diner flatware and Hugh Hefner’s robe — a perfectly off-kilter palette that sets a curiously intimate mood. It’s clear that this isn’t a regular “modern” platform. It’s not an ecosystem or a product. Cohost is a webpage.

GIF plays Game Boy Color.

Image: Hell Labs on cohost

Cohost is a humble operation co-founded by Colin Bayer and Jae Kaplan, who both have professional backgrounds in software engineering and tech startups. “Sometime in 2019 I was grousing online about how Patreon was getting away with highway robbery, and how I wish I had the money to build a not-for-profit competitor to it, because the economics seemed like a slam dunk,” Bayer recalls. He and Kaplan eventually quit their jobs and put together a pitch for one of Bayer’s friends, who offered a generous loan for their idea. And so, cohost was born.

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