Blog like it’s 1999
I’m bringing my personal blog back. This is why and what to expect from future posts.
The word ‘blog’ has a very nostalgic ring to it these days, almost like VHS cassette, polaroid picture, vinyl record and all the other media once mainstream driven out by progress. Owning a personal blog definitely isn’t very cool anymore –if it ever was– and it certainly can’t compete with the convenience and the enormous reach of modern social media sites and their corresponding smartphone apps.
So you might be legitimately asking yourself: why on earth would anyone go through the hassle to start and maintain personal blog in 2019 —apart from the mere nostalgic impulse of a record collector who owns two different instant cameras as well as a couple of old VHS cassettes with ‘dumb’ action movies from the 90s?
For one thing, it’s about focus. In recent years I’ve been sharing shreds of my design work on Behance and Dribbble, code snippets from my day-to-day hustle as a front-end architect on Medium, photos on Flickr and Instagram, videos on Vimeo and casual personal updates on Facebook and Twitter every now and then. All in all, that makes eight accounts on eight different websites –each run by a large company– I’ve been splitting my output across. This is nuts!
I feel like the time is long overdue to ditch those services and collect the content I compose in a single place on my own website instead. As a logical consequence, I’ve cleaned up mentioned accounts rather radical, keeping only a very small portion of the old content there —if any at all. And yes, I haven’t linked any of those on purpose.
This brings me to another, presumably more ideologic motivation behind this weblog: I want to take back control over my content. In an era of
algorithm driven feeds, sponsored content and an often harsh and hostile conversational tone all around, social media mostly doesn’t feel nearly as good as it used to back in its early days. ‘The good old days’, y’know? But there are more profound problems beyond that.
Facebook has created a centrally designed internet. It’s a lamer, shittier looking internet. It’s just not as cool as an internet that is a big, chaotic space filled with tons of independently operating websites who are able to make a living because they make something cool that people want to see.Matt Klinman on splitsider.com (February 6th 2018)
Social Media killed the internet star.
Oliver Reichenstein –one of my role models in design– published a well written, comprehensive essay about the problematic impact of social media and the current development of the internet a while ago. The entire article is well worth the read, but one of his points stuck with me in particular —propably because it wasn’t on my radar before. Since the smartphone is the primary gateway to the world wide web for the younger generation, the webbrowser isn’t a synonym for the internet anymore, it’s just another app. An app used rather rarely and hardly ever intentionally at that. Furthermore, the Internet address –the URL– is a rudiment only a few know or care about. Everything takes place on Facebook. Instagram. Twitter.
The article features some quotes from an interview with comedy writer Matt Klinman who also mourns the dwindling of the web as it was meant to be. Even though he primarily talks about how Facebook is killing independent (comedy) sites like Funny Or Die, Klinman shares some worthy thoughts on machine learning and algorithms in general as well. I strongly recomend reading the whole interview in addition to said article.
They algorithms drive us toward more and more extreme beliefs. If a certain number of people watch a Trump rally video, then YouTube recommends you a slightly more alt-right video, and suddenly you’re three steps away from watching a video about how Hitler was correct, if you let it autoplay.Matt Klinman on splitsider.com (February 6th 2018)
Where do we go from here?
In his article Reichenstein goes ahead and points out a possible way forward; He calls for a more proactive approach to the web, a deeper understanding of its underlying mechanisms and an emphasis on education in critical thinking.
And he calls for us creators to shift back our content from all those generic social media platforms to our own domains. To better places.
How about changing? Changing from passive, to active. From scroll to search, from react to rethink, from like and retweet to write and link. Take the power back. …Oliver Reichenstein on ia.net (February 7th 2018)
We need to write on our own domains. … Own your writing. … And on your domain, send people to other domains you like, outside the usual black holes, if possible.
That’s why this website is located on webspace I pay for –with my money, not your data– and the backend of the website is powered by the open source software WordPress. Moreover, I wrote the code for the frontend from scratch to assure it works without any external plugins tapping in uncontrollably.
There’s no big company collecting or passing on personal data and no algorithm dictating what you are able to see at any given time.
While I’m at it; Check your uMatrix or Ghostery browser plugin —I sincerely hope you’ve installed one of those or something similar. That’s right, zero trackers or external scripts. What you see is what you get! Let’s hope I’ll be able to keep it that way when I start to include third party content.
Now you know what I DO NOT want on this blog.
So what DO I want on this blog?
Think of this website as a curated stream of consciousness. I’m a designer, so naturally a huge part of the content is going to deal with creativity in all its glorius, manifold form. Stuff I tinker with as well as work I care about crafted by friends and colleagues. While I almost exclusively design and code digital products for a living, I’m still driven to explore, learn and experiment across all kind of media. The blog will be a reflection of my multidisciplinary curiosity, do not expect any thematic restriction.
In fact the blog is –among other things– an expression of my deep intention to craft more miscellaneous work again, to flex my creative muscles more, to build more tangible, probably less functional and hopefully more disconnected stuff. Furthermore, do not expect the articles to be limited to design or art related subjects altogether —whatever’s on my mind and in sight might be published.
It’s a personal blog after all, so my other interests and some banalities of my privat life are very likely to pop up here down the road, too. Think of this whole thing as one of those wild growing (*fingers crossed*), colorful personal blogs from the 90s.
And one of the most delicious things about the profoundly parasitical world of blogs is that you don’t have to have anything much to say. Or you just have to have a little tiny thing to say. You just might want to say hello. I’m here. And by the way. On the other hand. Nevertheless. Did you see this? Whatever. A blog is sort of like an exhale.Nora Ephron on huffingtonpost.com (March 23th 2006)
But let’s be honest for a second: I don’t have any wellthought-out long-term master plan for this —heck I’m happy if I even manage to follow it through in any manner. Speaking of happiness: With this article I’ve started the blog on a rather grim note, but that is definitely not representative for the general tone of future articles. It’s self-therapy for me to some extent, yes, but I’m mostly a happy guy. This blog is going to be my internet happy place. And maybe, just maybe one day it’s going to be yours, too.
One more thing…
There’s a whole movement of people bringing back and maintaining own websites again. Some of them came together to initiate a so-called Webring to build a network of personal sites and share traffic among each other. I believe this is a good place to start, so I’m part of this little decentralized network. Go check those other sites out.
That’s it for now. Thank you for being one of the first to discover this.
Hope to see you around again soon.
PS: Not only the conceptual orientation is an ongoing progress, functioning and form of this website are still in development as well. Even though it’s rough and raw by design, things might fall completely apart or won’t work at all in some places. You are very welcome to join me while we sort everything out together.