The bloomingbridges moniker first came about during a class on online personae and self-promotion at university
Back in 2009 I was looking for a way to make my exotic German name more palatable to an international audience. Around that time I also learned, that many Chinese children get assigned a second, English name like John to better blend in when they go abroad.
My first name, Florian, is Latin for "the blooming one", whereas my family name is a little more mysterious. The bigger chunk of German surnames is taken from people's professions back in the day. I haven't actually discovered the actual meaning of mine, but my guess is that a brückner was someone who used to either build or guard bridges. Delighted over how well my (roughly) translated name lent itself as a metaphor for making connections over the internet, I went with it.
Twitter cropped up and I took an immediate liking to it. There was something about the flatness of it all that really resonated with me. You could tweet at a famous person and even though they might not read it, you could be sure that your message had arrived. That following January (2010) was the first time I ever publicly appeared under the name bloomingbridges. @bloomingbridges, to be precise. Which was also fitting, since I had always pictured the @ sign to look like a tulip as seen from above.
For version 1.0 of my online presence (you're looking at revision v16.5 I believe) I had something special planned: I pulled in data from twitter about my online acquaintances and my interactions with them, sorted them by username length (in characters) and turned them into an ASCII suspension bridge. The bridge would pan across the footer of my site indefinitely, with peaks in the water below indicating recent activity on the platform. The visualisation "blooming bridges over withering waters" was born.
Unfortunately, all data from that era was lost over a disagreement with my hosting provider, so here is a mockup instead:
This is what it would look like in 2016 if it were still running
The site stayed pretty much the same for a while, except for a couple of new projects and easter eggs here and there. By the time I went on placement in Amsterdam (2012), I had started toying with some fresh ideas. I created a gamified version of my site, where the was nothing to see, but a % counter in the corner and an input field for you to introduce yourself. This way I would break the ice as I'd start revealing more details about myself in return. There were many puzzles you had to solve in order to beat the site 100%, like follow me on twitter, or watch the visualisation for a bit. It was great fun, until I realised that no-one made it past the first test of filling in their name.
As I was playing around with WebGL at work, I started working towards a 3D version of my visualisation. Picture it like a Amsterdam canal boat tour, where you'd pass under tiny little bridges, which where sprouting twitter handles. It was all very ahead of its time and not very healthy for the average browser. There have been a couple of stabs at a 3D visualisation since then, but in the end it was just a little too out there. I'd then eventually compromise on a real-time 3D logo for a while.
Building a flower bud in code is harder than it looks
A few years down the line and my influence on twitter has taken a step back. Most former online connections have stopped using the service altogether. It was time to drop the @.
In light of the recent Brexit nonsense, I have decided not to renew my bloomingbridges.co.uk domain. The brand will live on in countless registered user accounts across the web, but the flower will probably not make a comeback.