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11 minute read

So, why did I make this site?

I already have several corners of the Internet that I can call home, so why yet another one?

I have carved out a.lexg.dev for a good while now, and I can put anything there that I want. In my budding professional life, it has served as portfolio page, a place where I can put things I am proud of. It answers the question “What have I done?”

This site way more focused on what I’m thinking about, which doesn’t fit with the theme I have established for a.lexg.dev. This is sectioned off the main site by a different domain to give myself space from formality. Things can be unfinished here. a.lexg.dev is the mopped floors in front. This is the shop in the back, where sawdust is free to make a home on practically every surface.

The decision to make this site is part of a larger journey I have been on since I’ve been an adult.

Let’s talk about social media

A few years ago I trimmed down my media consumption profile down to just Twitter and YouTube and a few video services. I use the word “consumption” intentionally. Social media loves to bill itself as communication platform, but my experience is that the give and take is hilariously lopsided. Twitter in particular has been particularly rough ride in trying to make a mark for myself for a few reasons.

First, Twitter’s model of short statuses does not map well onto what I want to publish. I am learning I have a strong desire to do long form publishing that can be revised over time. Of course, this is a problem somewhat unique to Twitter, but the network effect of Twitter is incredibly strong, which leads me to the second reason.

I have lost any interest competing with “the algorithm”. Content aggregators are great for media consumption, but are pretty good at depleting a sense of presence on the Internet. I don’t desire loads of traffic, rather I desire coherency, and aggregation is literally the opposite of that.

Thirdly, the design and styling of social media plays a huge role in how even user specific pages feel. Most often the sites will emphasize the chronological order of what you publish. This varies from encouragement of append-only to strict enforcement of append-only posting. Styling options? Get out of here. Wanna bold text on twitter? Luckily unicode has an escape hatch for you.

Now let’s contrast with a site I control. If it’s my own site, it’s all me. I can have a space to my own. That’s something that I’ve been yearning for.

Most people do not have this option

Putting this up on the internet was easy, but that is 10+ years of software engineering experience talking. If I take that hat off, it is a fantastically difficult feat. A dog can run a blog, but the dog is most likely using blogger. (No offense to my dog readers.) This is different:

What am I gaining from all this? It turns out, not that much. Before my time, but not long before, you could be the coolest kid on the block if you had access to an HTML book, notepad, and a shiny new web browser, such as Netscape.

I can do the same thing but I can also:

A portion this diatribe was inspired by a post I found on the Internet that argued static site builders are bad, and I tend to agree that they are, but my reasons are a bit different. Even the most refined static site generator will still be bad because it can only be part of the solution.

What can be done about this

The way I see it, a significant hurdle is just knowing which pieces to stitch together. So there is a sense in which this blog post is doing something, not much, but something.

Here are some pieces I’ve heard good things about:

Even if you can get several of these pieces working, this is still annoying because you, the user, are responsible for carrying magical bits of data across several tools. Why is there no purpose built tool for this? Is it any wonder that nobody does this?

It’s a shame too because I had a lot of fun with styling the site. That’s what I actually spent most time on during the first days with the site.

If you found this article interesting or had any questions/critiques, please reach out to blog@a.lexg.dev and include a link to the article. In particular, please let me know if you reference this article elsewhere, so I can add a link to you.