Remaking My Site
I had the idea for this site around 5 years ago (I think I first registered the domain in late 2017) while I was working as a software engineer and partway through a master’s degree in data science. I was convinced it was going to be a data science blog where I’d show off all the neat projects I completed, post tutorials, and all the other cool things people do on data science blogs. We can see the project thing didn’t turn out too well and I didn’t actually put the site up until 2021 so the tutorial thing didn’t happen either.
The problem was I was wrapped up in the idea of a professional site and building a personal brand. Because I was trying to show off all my skills, I wanted everything to be perfect before it became public. This just led to me publishing absolutely nothing. How could I let anyone read anything imperfect? That would make me look unprofessional and hurt my image as a developer!
Ignoring how unlikely it was that anyone would actually read what I would post, this mentality was extremely unhelpful. I wanted to write and get better at writing, but it was impossible to do that when I wouldn’t give myself a space to be imperfect. Making my website career-oriented meant I had to write technically impressive things that other people (especially recruiters and hiring managers) would care about and believing my website had to be professional meant I couldn’t write about my non-programming hobbies.
Source of the change
I don’t remember exactly when I started to change my mindset about blogging, but it may have been when I came across Tom Critchlow’s Small b blogging. He describes big B blogging, saying “Too much content on the web is designed for scale, for sharing, for gloss and finish. It’s mass media, whether it’s made by a media company or an individual acting like one.” He instead proposes small b blogging as an alternative where you write deliberately for small audiences, refine your ideas, and be yourself. Trying to focus on making a blog that could grow and worrying about perfectly polished writing was getting in my way. Follow that up with Joel Hooks’ Stop Giving af and Start Writing More, where he says “Everybody is treating writing as a “content marketing strategy” and using it to “build a personal brand” which leads to the fundamental flawed idea that everything you post has to be polished to perfection and ready to be consumed.” Well, I feel attacked. He goes on to talk about how it’s more important to write for himself than optimize for content that performs well with readers. It’s better to curate pages of related topics than rely on a reverse chronological, paginated list of posts.
From there, I found the idea of a digital garden - a personal space you care for and improve over time rather than fire and forget polished blog posts. Another pair of blog posts by Tom and Joel had me convinced. No more attempts at polished blog posts, I’m making this site a place for me to organize my thoughts, keep links to things I find interesting, and share what’s on my mind.
This shift in mentality is what convinced me to actually post things, starting with The Self-Hosted Hurdle. That post isn’t anything groundbreaking and it’s not really complete, but it was on my mind that day and I thought it was worth recording. That’s good, there will be more of that.
I’ve been trying to read more this year and I’ve really been enjoying it. I had previously considered keeping a public list of the books I’d read. Going along with my interest in decentralized social media, Tom Critchlow’s proposal for a decentralized Goodreads sounded really interesting. I never started working on something like that because it wasn’t perfect and what if what I did wasn’t what others settled on? It doesn’t matter. I came across Chris O’Donnell’s book list after he linked to his site on Mastodon and that inspired me to get going. I’ve started my reading list and put it in a new Links section of the home page. After I finish adding what I can remember from pre-2022, I’m going to add a similar list for board games. Because I like making fun of myself, the Hall of Dead Projects will probably get a prominent place there too.
The Hugo theme I use is great, but very geared toward blogging. I’m starting to fill out the home page with less of a time focus, but I’ll probably look for a different theme that’s even simpler. I want the design of the site to make it easier to organize a mix of shorter posts and curated content that grows over time.
I’m also removing the Broken Intuition title. The domain name can stay since I’ve grown to like it, but the title has to go. I’m not trying to build a brand or make myself seem more important than I am. I just want to be me, but on the internet. Yes, my web site is going to look like a lot of others. I won’t stand out, but that’s ok. This one is mine and I’m excited about it.
Here are a few other posts that inspired this change but I didn’t mention in the main post. You’ll notice a lot of these link to each other - that’s really how I ended up here.
- Blogging Streaks and Freaks by Tom Critchlow
- Indieweb personal library
- How the Blog Broke the Web by Amy Hoy
- 15 rules for blogging, and my current streak by Matt Webb
- Re: Tom Critchlow’s proposal for a decentralized Goodreads by Matt Webb