Blog like it’s 1999
I’m starting a personal blog again. This is why and what to expect from future articles.
The word ‘blog’ nowadays has a very oldschool ring to it, almost like polaroid pictures, walkie-talkies or vinyl records. Owning a personal blog surely isn’t very cool anymore – if it ever was – and it certainly can’t compete with the convenience and the reach of social media networks and their corresponding smartphone apps today. So why on earth would anyone start a new personal blog in 2018?
For one thing, it’s about focus. I’ve been publishing shreds of personal design projects on Behance and Dribbble, code snippets from my day-to-day hustle as a front-end developer on Medium and Github, videos on Vimeo and photos on Flickr. In addition, I’ve been sharing casual status updates and various finds on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram every now and then. That makes nine accounts on nine different websites – each owned by a large company – I’ve been splitting my output across.
This is nuts!
I feel like the time is long overdue to collect all the diverse content I compose in a single place. This is the place! 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 blog. I want to take back control over my content. In an era of bots, sponsored content, extremist opinions and an often harsh and hostile conversational tone all around, social media mostly doesn’t feel as good as it used to back in the days. But there are way more profound problems beyond that.
Facebook killed the internet star.
Oliver Reichenstein, one of my role models in design, recently published a well written, comprehensive article about the problematic impact of social media on the web in this day and age. The entire article is well worth reading, but one of his points stuck with me in particular — propably because it wasn’t even on my radar before. Since the smartphone is the device of choice for the young generation, the browser isn’t a synonym for the internet anymore, it’s just another app. An app used rather rarely and hardly ever intentionally. The Internet address – the URL – is a leftover only a few know and care about. Everything takes place on Facebook. Instagram. YouTube.
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
The article features quotes from an interview with comedy writer Matt Klinman who also mourns the dwindling of the web. Even though he primarily talks about how Facebook is killing independent comedy sites like Funny Or Die, Klinman shares some worthy universal thoughts on algorithms and machine learning as well. I strongly recomend reading the whole interview in addition to said article.
They (algorithms; editor’s note) 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
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. [...]
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.Oliver Reichenstein
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 an independent, lightweight blog system called Anchor CMS. Moreover, I wrote the code for the frontend from scratch to assure it works without any external plugins tapping in.
There’s no big company collecting and passing on personal data.
No algorithm dictating what you are able to see at any given time.
No obvious or disguised advertising.
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, embedded frames 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 the whole thing 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 colleagues. While I almost exclusively design and code digital products for a living at the moment, 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 part 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. Little design, a lotta art.
Furthermore, don’t 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 personal life are very likely to pop up here down the road, too. Think of this as one of those wild growing, colorful personal blogs from the 90s. 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. I’m a happy guy most of the time. This blog is going to be my internet happy place.
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 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. 🤞
Not only the conceptual orientation is an ongoing progress, functioning and form of this site are still in development as well. Things might be – or turn out – a little rough around the edges or fall apart completely in some places. You are welcome to join me while we sort everything out together. If you want to read along within your feedreader, there should be a RSS feed you can subscribe to.