Back to writing

January 5, 2016

As part of an entire suite of 2016 changes, I’ve decided to give public blogging another try.

In 2015, I consciously tried to do things that I hadn’t done before. The manifestation of that resolution was in giving public talks a whopping four times. Now that that’s been tried, I think I can say with some certainty that I never want to do it again. :wink:

But for many years, blogging just didn’t interest me. I used to joke that pretty much every social network that’s now commonplace—I’ve already done it. Medium? I was blogging about September 11th on LiveJournal. Slack? I used to run an FServe on IRC. Facebook, Friendster. Instagram, Flickr. Twitter… well, the analogy’s stretched to its limit. In any event, I didn’t see the point of trying something I’d already done. It is pretty amusing, though, that many Internet things that people take advantage of now are really just polished versions of things that came before it.

But what’s changed? Why start blogging again? Honestly, I think I had a lot of happy moments blogging into the ether. There was a lot of satisfaction in writing something and tossing it into the void. Maybe I’m trying to recapture that mystery. Another part of me worries about those endless nights where all I did was write, and drink. Is it possible to recreate happiness through writing? We’ll see. And I guess a lot of the “oh I don’t care I’ll just put it online” mentality was an interesting challenge, I guess, for myself to try something that was once dangerous. Shit, maybe it still is dangerous. I met a ton of people off of the Internet through blogging in my late teens, a few of whom I’m still friends with. I don’t know if I’d ever go through that again.

These days, a lot of written communication is heavily edited after an incredible amount of introspection, hesitation, and self-correction. Fuck that. There is something entirely visceral about writing, and, I hope, reading words that straddle the line between stream-of-consciousness and outright-emotion. Or maybe it’s all just a matter of pretension, to justify to ourselves and others that there was a moment in space and time where our experiences mattered.

In addition to becoming more polished, the Internet of 2016 (as opposed to the Internet of 2001) is a lot more locked down. I knew I didn’t want to start writing on some proprietary format, and it depresses me that that’s quickly become the default option for people who want to put :shit: online. It wouldn’t be so much of a problem if there wasn’t also this completely contrary message in the world for people to become more computer proficient. I owe a lot of what I know to just getting on a computer and making things up as I go along. It’s deeply disturbing to continue to come across posts from people that are reasonably well-written and stashed onto Medium (or what-have-you). I had hoped that the vast majority of people would come to agree that we should be actively distrusting and questioning the intents of any service. Not in a tinfoil-hat-wearing “Don’t trust nobody gotta look over your shoulder constantly” sort of way, but at least in a rationale “What does this entity gain by me putting myself on there?” And once you come to an understanding of what their gain is, you’ll be able to better assess whether or not you’re comfortable making that exchange.

For some, being data mined is irrelevant, and that’s not for anyone to judge. What’s being mined these days when your words are placed into the care of someone else? Your photos? Your projects?

For the curious, I grabbed all of my old LiveJournal posts and sifted through the ones that I thought were still interesting. I used ljmigrate, which is a Python utility to interact with LJ’s API; it worked like a charm! Starting around 2009, I think, I also ran a Habari blog on miadzin.org; some of those posts have also been brought over.

Assuming I’ve done enough posts to push them below the fold, I might just go ahead and bring over my entire blogging history from 2001. Some of these words were just painfully trite, though I guess that if anyone took a look at their writing output from ages 17 to 20, they’d be none to pleased, unless you’re like a goddamn Rimbaud or something. I feel like there’s a good amount of liberation in being able to just publically admit what a fool you once were (or still are). The counterargument, of course, is that you just wish you could’ve jumped straight from year 16 to 28 and avoided a decade of confusion.

Maybe, after a half dozen well-intentioned attempts, I’ll end up shutting this down for good, and euthanize the desire to write. I hope it doesn’t come to that, but it certainly might. Third time’s a charm, though.