I started tinkering with websites in the late 90s. Hand coding the HTML and learning cutting-edge techniques like frames and image maps to wring the potential out of Netscape Navigator. My first domain came in 2000, but it wasn’t until 2008 when I started blogging properly.
My blog is still technically alive — although I suspect that if I re-read it, I might experience life-threatening cringing — but for all practical purposes is died in the early 2010s. The posts were in a rut, and the drafts folder was full of snippets that were full of promise, but impaled on the spike of self-censorship.
The odd thing is that the early blogging was an incredibly positive experience for me. I learned a lot just through the work of maintaining and writing it. It resulted in meeting people I still know and keep in touch with, and even generated a good chunk of work, some of it for organisations I’m still involved with. There was a frisson of excitement attached to blogging, and I was suddenly nostalgic for it when doom-scrolling Twitter one day.
There was always a dopamine hit with Twitter. I was a fairly early adopter of it, before I started blogging, and remember being at an unconference (which I was involved in through blogging) talking to someone else about our excitement at both passing 100 followers. And we were both following everyone back because it was about conversation and discovery.
Now the dopamine hit comes from broadcasting your fixed opinions, reading things you agree with while blocking or muting people you think are idiots. It has long since ceased to be a venue for healthy debate or discourse.
So, this is an attempt to return to 2008. If nothing else, I had fun setting up Hugo and GitHub Pages, ticking the wannabe geek box. It’s a bit out of the way of my main site, using a domain which, for some reason, I bought years ago. The distance will hopefully stop the self-censorship. And it’s deliberately disconnected from things like Twitter, connected only to micro-blog, which, I think, has more of an early Twitter vibe to it.
It might all stutter and fade after this post, but at least I’ll have given it a go. If I’m going to stop having a personal internet presence, I want to dump it saying “it wasn’t me, it’s you.”