My old personal site was getting pretty long in the tooth. It’s been sitting around since maybe 2015 essentially untouched, and since I (somehow) still like the design well enough and I’m not in the market for new work, I’ve been happy enough to let sleeping code lie.
But one of the things about being an educator is that students sometimes look you up online. And every time I hear about a student looking at my site I find myself thinking, “Eesh! I hope they don’t compare everything I teach them with what they see on the site, because some of the work isn’t up snuff.” I’ve learned more as a designer since I made that site. I’ve grown as a developer. My taste has changed. And I want my teaching to come from the very best of what I know now, so I figure it’s time for my personal site to practice what I preach in the classroom.
In addition to that, with the stress of living through these troubling times, the challenges of working hard at a job about which I care deeply, and the general ennui of life in the doom scroll, I thought a personal site might be a nice low-stakes project where I could let code and design be my worry stone for a while. I have too much nervous energy and too much running through my head all the time to relax in any sensible way, so I always need one or a dozen projects to focus my mind and let me slip into a no-mind flow state for a while. And while I have plenty of other projects, somehow all the others seem to have become too serious and too visible to be truly relaxing. This personal site seems to be just the thing.
So Why a Blog?
I’ve never blogged before save for one brief abortive effort many years ago, so why start now? Well, some of it comes down to what I said above. I want this site to be an ongoing project I can turn to when I want to turn off the distractions and focus for a while. The blog gives me a reason to keep coming back. But there’s more than that.
For one thing, I’ve pretty much removed myself entirely from social media. I have a couple of accounts hanging around, my I never check them and never post. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to be a part of a conversation. I just don’t want to hold the conversation by shouting half-formed kneejerk reactions into a cesspool of extremisms, bots, misinformation, and perverse incentives (especially on the part of those who own the platforms). I’d rather write longform with deliberation and intention in place that I own and I built myself, even if that means far less folks are likely to read it. In fact, that last thing is a feature—we don’t feel as much like we have to shout or be shocking if we’re not trying to get attention amid everyone else doing the same thing. If anyone reads this and finds value in it, that is fantastic, but at the end of the day I’m writing this for me.
Which leads me to the last reason to blog: I’m hoping it’ll get me writing more often and more casually without the internal psychological build-up of “It has to be brilliant. It has to be eloquent. Can’t let anyone see me stumble.” This is just public enough to feel official somehow and nudge me to keep going, but out of the public eye enough that I don’t have to feel like everything must be perfect.
Plus, I’m keen on the emerging second wave of blogging. It seems that a lot of smart people are sharing my disenchantment with social media and corporate-owned platforms to express themselves, and I’m reading more brilliant writing every day than I ever have before. I want to be a part of that.
To get rolling with this whole new blogging thing, I’m going to write a few posts about how I put together the new website and why I’ve made the choices I have. After that, we’ll just have to see how long I can rub at this worry stone until it wears away.