Every few years, I start a blog. When I don’t have a blog I think about starting one, but I dawdle and dawdle. When I see blogs I admire, I look at the list of hundreds of posts covering maybe a decade or more and think… what a missed opprotunity—why don’t I have that? I’ve wanted to write for years, but I’ve rarely written.
You can’t change the past, but you can choose your future. So, here’s me trying to write more.
So that’s one reason for this site’s existence.
Another is… I’ve always been fascinated with technology. And technology, in the course of my lifetime, has totally changed the way we live our lives. When I was a kid, I called my friends on a rotary-dial telephone, and I had to memorize their phone numbers—or keep them written down on paper until I did. I had to knock on my neighbours’ door and ask their son to come out and play.
And I won’t give further examples because this isn’t one of those “back in my day” posts, the point is… everything is at least somewhat different now, because computers and the internet aren’t just this thing on my parents’ desk in the office that they yelled at me to not use so much, especially during summer break when I could have been playing outdoors (I seem to recall still spending plenty of time outdoors). Now it’s in our pockets, now it’s everywhere, now we’re constantly carrying on a dialogue with the whole world.
At least, hypothetically.
Another thing about my youth before I move on: When I was, I don’t know I want to say 10, or 12, my parents signed me up for a “mini-university” summer camp program at one of the local universities, my eventual alma-mater. Because I’ve always been a nerd, I did the engineering-and-science-focused version of this instead of the sports version, and I got to play with computers and build gunpowder rockets and stuff—it was awesome.
But I want to share this very distinct memory of being in a classroom with the dozen or two other kids, and we had computers in front of us. We were going to be using one program in particular, I don’t remember what it was, maybe it was a drawing program. But the teacher was lecturing/warning/scolding/you know how adults are/🙄 us to, well, sit and shut up until he told us what to do, instead of just playing around with the computer like we wanted to.
Nevermind my thoughts on the free-form exploration of technology that children do naturally, and how much better suited it is to how we live our lives than doing what we’re told. The teacher had a peculiar choice of words, he said: “Don’t get hypnotized by the computer.”
And, years later, I can see how he both had a good point, and was wrong-a-long-a-ding-dong, but either way… he was already too late.
I’ve always been fascinated with technology and computers, and I’ve never wanted to stop playing with them. It was my full-time job for a decade or so, and now it’s not quite my job anymore, and I find myself jonesing to do stuff with software again, and one of the things I want to do is build a publishing platform…
I love technology, but as it’s consumed the world, it’s started to feel less like a cool escape for nerds and more like a yoke around all of our necks. You know what I mean: the biggest, most powerful corporations in the world are all technology companies, and they’re all competing with each other to lock us in their digital cage instead of the other guy’s, and I don’t want to complain too hard when in general our lives are so uplifted by these marverlous toys, but… no: The fact is the modern world of technology is both amazing AND it sucks.
I think it’s important to find ways to use technologies to enable yourself, and not to enslave yourself.
Publishing your work in a place you control, where you can share it, and some multi-billion-dollar publicly-traded conglomerate can’t snap their fingers and make you disappear, the way Facebook and Tumblr and Twitter and etc. can and will and have done… that’s empowering.
Consuming an endless stream of low-value “content” specifically chosen to maximize the likelihood that you won’t ever, ever stop looking at it, or, if you do, it’s only to throw your own contribution in, to give your creative energies away to the machine that will repurpose them to keep all your friends just as hypnotized as you are… that’s being a slave.
And modern tech makes it so, so easy to be a slave.
All this leads me to wanting to own my work, fiercely own it: keep it in a format that isn’t beholden to any given piece of software, keep it on the free, open, public internet… to the extent and for as long as such a thing even still exists.
I don’t know if I’ll ever create anything “meaningful” in my life. I’m not entirely sure what that even means. But what I can do, what gives me a sense of freedom, more than anything else, is building a little thing of my own and saying, “Here it is.”
So: here it is.