The design of this website.
This website is a direct descendant of one I made in 2019. The core ideas come from very early on when I was using the internet, and I didn't want to tell people with my chosen username what kind of person I was. I picked the username ‘zemnmez’ to be something meaningless that people could fill with their own ideas of who I was.
Similarly, when I made the website, I didn't want to tell people directly about myself, so instead I made this timeline to keep track of what I had done every year. The number in roman numerals is my age that year. It fulfilled another role as I was collecting my work to apply for my US O1 visa, which requires proving that you've done a lot of interesting things!
The background video (‘hero video’) is of a hidden area in the gardens of Kenwood House, a beautiful stately home sandwiched between Highgate and Hampstead in London where I grew up. It's located at about 51.57139601074658°N, -0.16924392259112794°E.
It used to be that there was a bench hidden under overgrown bushes and a tree near the hydrangeas past the orangery. I took a video from there one summer – I was collecting photos and videos to remind me of home because I knew I'd leave it behind someday to move to the US.
The type and style itself was inspired by older, pre-computer era typsetting such as the Lloyd's Act 1871. Particular effort was put into trying to have content fill horizontal space automatically, as seen in older documents that try to make the most of the paper they're printed on.
What's the difference between and ?
The diamond logo () came out of several years of wanting a way to express myself in art. For a few years following, I changed logo annually based how I'd felt the year prior, making logos with geometry and construction lines.
When I eventually made the diamond logo, it ended up looking a like an eye logo I'd made very early on in 2012. I liked it so much it came to represent the persona I had since 2009. The logo itself is from much later, probably around 2015.
The time eye logo () was the later (2019) creation, coming out of a specific need to disambiguate between the published work I had as ‘Thomas Shadwell’, my real name, versus ‘zemnmez’, the persona I had used since 2009. It became necessary after I made the Forbes Under 30 list for my tax system hack in 2018. Before this point I'd worked hard to try to keep the two identities separate, but Forbes lists aren't really for online personas.
The eye logo is a reference to the well-known ‘eye of providence’, a symbol that represents human achievement as being incomplete without God. I wanted it to reflect the idea that, in a universe that might not have a God, we as people have a responsibility to care for each other.
In having to make this distinction, for a short time the work published as ‘zemnmez’ continued to represent the things I was most proud of – an idealised kind of self. But at Google, I started to publish security research I was really proud of as both ‘zemnmez’ and ‘Thomas Shadwell’ The abstract ideas are still there, but now I'm more ‘Thomas’ than I ever was. ☺