Starting a blog. In 2020. That's an absolutely brilliant idea! Said no one. No one at all. Well, apparently that's not entirely true...
I am taking back the web... or something
While bored and thumbing through the bookmarks on my iPad the other day, I came across IndieWeb. I must have visited the site some time ago and deemed it interesting enough to bookmark, but I had forgotten all about it since. IndieWeb recognises that the internet and in particular the content stuff we put on it increasingly belongs to big corporations. We wrote & posted it and now it belongs to them. It is entirely in their control and they are profiting from it. Not you and I. IndieWeb as a community wants us to "take back the web", "decentralize the web" or at least that's how I read it. One way of doing that is by launching your own blog or website. Your website, your content, your rules. And together we make the internet itself a more diverse and healthier place. Yeah!
Apparently the message is actually catching on. Inc writes that a growing chorus of experts is urging people to break out of the walled garden of Twitter & Facebook and return to old-fashioned blogging. Your very own place to gather & share your thoughts without anyone trying to exploit you or influence your behavior. And you know what? I am on board. Let's do this!
Hello, World! Thanks for visiting. I am your host, Willem.
These hands were made for typing
I consider myself the creative type. To my great disappointment I have never been able to discover in me a hidden talent to create beautiful works of art (it doesn't stop me from trying though) or play an instrument (some day!). I am not crafty in the slightest and it is even a bad idea to ask me to just follow the instructions and assemble some Ikea furniture. No, these hands were clearly made for typing.
I discovered computers & programming at a very young age and it has fascinated me ever since. There's something uniquely satisfying about starting out with a humble idea flashing through my mind, fleshing it out and slowely but steadily see it come to life on the screen. And thanks to the internet, my favorite invention on the 20th century, the potential to share it with the rest of the world. I made that!
Really, I consider web & software development a form of magic. Digital magic. The ultimate creative power, one that is not limited by the amount of resources at your disposal but only by your own creativity & imagination.
I have been doing web development professionally for more than 15 years. Fifteen years! That's a long time. But there's hardly a trace of me or my work to be found online. That's a bit odd isn't it? It is almost like I never existed in the one place that mattered to me most.
Granted, I've focused mostly on corporate web applications, so most of the "fruits of my labor" are not publically accessible. The majority has probably been replaced by now as well, such is the nature of this game. As for social media, I have often felt like a dinosaur in the 21st century: I was enthralled by the introduction of e-mail (or at least my introduction to e-mail), forums and instant messaging/chat, but not so much by social media. You won't find me on Facebook or Instagram. But a blog, a consistent web presence? I haven't had one. Until now.
This is hardly my first blogging adventure, mind you. But I've been doing it wrong all along. I've been doing it the 21st century way. Writing for niches, SEO, personal branding, monetization. You know, the "right way". Sometimes those websites took off for a while and made me some money but I always came to resent the work and I couldn't keep it up. I couldn't keep coming up with fresh ideas for new posts to write or I didn't want to do the research anymore for something that never had or had stopped interesting me. I'd stare for hours at a blank screen, completely unable to motivate myself to write. Oh, I have read so many self-help books on dealing with procrastination in my futile attempts to treat the symptoms without looking at the cause. I just don't want to write about stuff that doesn't interest me!
I've also done more personal, more authentic attempts at writing a blog, thinking that that's what was plaguing me. But then I would fall for that other 21 century pitfall: craving attention. Wanting to be read, wanting to have my voice heard. Afterall I was authentic you know, that stuff came straight from the heart! Therefore I deserve your recognition! But now that my posts weren't direct answers to your Google search queries and I wasn't preaching the gospel about the products you were already thinking of buying... now only crickets would visit my website? That's not right! I demand my audience. I deserve it. Yeah, no. Not my finest moment.
This website is therefore me being me, sincere & authentic. So why would this attempt at a website be any different, what's changed? I think I have. I think I came to my senses. I've also gotten a little bit older. Dare I say a little wiser?
Writing has always been "my thing" for as long as I can remember. A thing I have unfortunately been neglecting since my early teens. It's just not sexy, it's not fashionable and it is certainly not making me any money. But that never mattered to me. I always did it for me. I wrote for me. If you liked it, good for you. But I wrote it for me. And I forgot all about that. I finally remembered. I finally remembered the fun I used to have! So here I am, ready to give it another go. But there's more.
I would like to quickly touch on what I wrote about wisdom, or me getting a little wiser as I've gotten a little older. Here's a question for you: what is the beginning of wisdom?
I am sure there's been a Greek philospher who's had something to say about that, but the answer that captivated me at a very young age was given by Data... in Star Trek: The Next Generation. My favorite TV series growing up and still to this day. In my faulty memory he was asked this question in the 1995 game A Final Unity, but apparently it was just during a regular weekly episode.
In the episode, the crew encounters a strange phenomenon in space. Data is completely unsure about what he’s looking at and is told his evaluation of the thing is unscientific. In response, he says:
“The most elementary and valuable statement in science, the beginning of wisdom is ‘I do not know’. I do not know what that is.”
Not just in science. I don't know is almost always the best possible answer in life. It is a way of life, really. There is so much to learn, so much to figure out. Things are always changing. I'd like to share with you what I have figured out along the way. Or what I am just barely figuring out now as I go along. Everything you teach you are learning, afterall.
I have learnt so much from others, I think it is only fitting for me to try and return the favor. Impostor syndrome be damned! Especially now, when I am actively exploring new avenues and attempting to change things up. More on that later, I am sure.
I would like to conclude with a screenshot from Star Trek: A Final Unity. Because, why not? My website, my rules. See, I am catching up already!