It has been 5 years, 6 months, and 22 days since I was hit with a large shockwave that blew me off my daily blogging perch. I have struggled time and again during this past half a decade to resume a daily blogging practice to only have the silence over take my blog, my typing fingers, and more deeply my soul.
For many bloggers this past half a decade has been a time to leave their personal blogs for writing on their Twitter or Facebook or Medium or other social accounts. That has not been the case for me, as the silence has gone deeper: I quit Facebook in April 2012, I see no reason why I should write on Medium when I could write here, and my Tweeting has declined since 2011-2012 significantly.
No, the real problem that I have become silent. My whole world, internally and externally, has shrunk. And this is more than ok, it was necessary.
I have had one major cycle of quiet whole life silence in the past, where I withdrew into myself for a period of nearly four years. It was a time of reading, learning and conserving my energies before I jumped back out again.
I am not interested in discussing at length what happened in the past but finding a way forward from here. While I am not quite ready to be out and about yet, I am working steadily in the background; there are a number of background processes currently running of writing, thinking, and taking photos.
I am writing fiction stories to be published soon. And I am, also, thinking quite a bit on ideas and trends in technology and how people use it – whether I blog about it anytime soon remains to be seen. I continue to take and mostly post photos daily to Flickr and/or Instagram and/or here.
I don’t think the personal blog is dead. This one may be quiet and full of photos, but it is not dead and the background processes may very well come to the foreground soon.
While yesterday afternoon the Quiet Room at the local library was a lovely, silent space to write, transcribe, and edit words, today is an entirely different matter.
To quote Julie Wanda, “The odds are good, but the goods are odd.”
This afternoon the Quiet Room is not quiet; lots of twitchings, movements in seats, throat clearing, and mild talking under one’s breath.
Luckily for all, the local bouncy dude, who spent most of his first hour staring at the Google home page giggling and twisting about in his computer chair, has blessedly departed.
I am at a long, thin plastic table near the emergency exit crash door writing this, in hopes that theese words will breed more words – cultivated word husbandry, if you will, in the not-so-Quiet Room at the local library.
“Storytelling has a shape. It dominates the way all stories are told and can be traced back not just to the Renaissance, but to the very beginnings of the recorded word. It’s a structure that we absorb avidly whether in art-house or airport form and it’s a shape that may be—though we must be careful—a universal archetype.” – John Yorke, All Stories are the Same
“The anthropologists got it wrong when they named our species Homo sapiens (‘wise man’). In any case it’s an arrogant and bigheaded thing to say, wisdom being one of our least evident features. In reality, we are Pan narrans, the storytelling chimpanzee.” – Terry Pratchett, The Science of Discworld II
I like the Dish. I am not and was not too fond of all the intricate details of the Washington D.C. political scene, but I very much liked Mr. Sullivan’s perspective, breadth of blogging interests (Hello, beardoftheweek!), and insights into worlds and cultures that I don’t live in. And that is what the best of blogging does no matter the subject matter, it gives the reader a personal view into a world(s) or culture(s) or interest(s). In particular, Mr. Sullivan and his team gave me insights and views into many worlds. Thank you, Mr. Sullivan.
It is this quote in his going away post, that reflects a similar trend in my own life that I have not written about much here on this/my blog:
“The second is that I am saturated in digital life and I want to return to the actual world again. I’m a human being before I am a writer; and a writer before I am a blogger, and although it’s been a joy and a privilege to have helped pioneer a genuinely new form of writing, I yearn for other, older forms. I want to read again, slowly, carefully.”
I have been online daily since 1994. I have been creating websites and various bits on the web and internet since 1996. I have been receiving my primary income from web work since 2000. In the late summer of 2010, a large tumult occurred when the internet start up that I co-founded and spent up to 16 days in a row without a day off coding for failed and I had to ‘pivot’. While my pivot to mobile web and app development made a great deal of sense at the time, it took a toll. By 2012 I realized that I was burnt out – burnt out on web design client work, burnt out on bigger project contract work, burnt out on trying to get my own app ideas out of my computer, and just plain emotionally and psychologically burnt out.
In real life, I got sick – weekly or more migraines, bad environmental allergies, insomnia, bad stomach acid issues, etc – my body was sending me several large notice to cures and I felt pressured by work ethic guilt to not listen. In real life many wonderful and well-meaning friends and web colleagues encouraged me to get back up on the saddle and find another music or mobile start-up to work in or write that tech book on mobile user experience or… or…
In 2012, I traveled, I came back home refreshed, some family stuff hit the fan, I traveled again hoping to regain my perspective, then the family stuff really hit the fan. I found myself trapped in 2013. Sick, stuck, angry, stuck, working on a couple of mobile apps that would never see the light of any app store, broke, and did I mention angry and still sick?
A little over 9 months ago, I pulled the plug. I gave notice at my overly expensive apartment, I lined up a few house sitting gigs for family & friends, I stopped checking and posting to social media sites more than once a day, and off I went to figure out how to slow down, to live, create, and thrive in the actual world again.
I did something that I have wanted to do for years but never could allow myself to do in my rush to always be on and always be useful/working, I started reading fiction again – both in paper book and ebook form. And shooting film on two actual real live film cameras, as well as a weekly photo walk with my Nikon D800 DSLR. And went out to look at the stars as much as I could with my binoculars. And I discovered the wonderful world of onlinefan fiction.
It sounds odd but the world of online fan fiction helped me to remember what I loved so much about the internet in the beginning and middle of my life on the web: folks from anywhere and everywhere gathering together in communities over specific interests and sharing their d.i.y. creations to their online friends in those communities. The creations may not be polished, they may not be shiny, and they may never have a business plan or V.C. backing, but they are really the best of the web.
Much like Mr. Sullivan, I wanted to slow down, get off the web hamster wheel and figure out how to live again. Sorry if there has been much silence in the public facing parts of my digital life, especially on Twitter, but I don’t regret the last year of silence. Like Mr. Sullivan, I am also a human being before I am a person on the web, I am a creator before I am a web worker, and I am a creator and a human being and a friend before I am a social media __________*.
One of the things that I am looking forward to in the supposed future of the internet of things – a digital life that is an embedded, ubiquitous, and mundane part of every day life rather than a screen that demands all attention. To quote the old Nokia taglines, it is the act of creating with the technology and connection to people that makes the digital life interesting, not to be subsumed into it.
Good luck to Mr. Sullivan in his reading, writing, and personal life endeavors. Good luck to me in attempting to find a good work / life balance between creating for earth monies and creating for the love of it.
* Given how much I truly hate the words that social media and marketing industry folks use for people with high to medium numbers of followers on the major social media sites, I won’t be using the term(s) to describe myself. My hate for one particularly gross term, that starts with an ‘i’ and ends in an ‘r’, is the subject of a whole blog post to come.
A quick round of Sunday tidbits and links for you…
1) T’would appear that Apple is waking up from its rather sleepy mobile photo lull and is declaring game on to the newly minted Microsoft Mobile (entity formerly known as Nokia Device and Services) in two sweeps with the declaration of:
3) In my searches for good recipes for various Japanese recipes, I have found myself at Cookpad and a bit baffled by the translations that Google gives me. Thus, when I read that Mie is now the North American office / staff member for Cookpad En, I was very excited. Not only for a great position for Mie, but also that means that Mie’s excellent abilities in blogging, cross cultural exchange, and blogging will mean the opening up and un-confusing a great wealth of contemporary Japanese foodways. So EXCITED. Go Mie, Go!
5) Charlie Stross has two great blog posts for thinking about technology, now, the future, and the world, read the comments:
a) The Snowden leaks; a meta-narrative – A call for the internet protocol to be rebuilt before it is too late:
The trouble is, the success of the internet protocols created a networking monoculture that the NSA themselves came to rely on for their internal infrastructure. The same security holes that the NSA relied on to gain access to your (or Osama bin Laden’s) email allowed gangsters to steal passwords and login credentials and credit card numbers. And ultimately these same baked-in security holes allowed Edward Snowden—who, let us remember, is merely one guy: a talented system administrator and programmer, but no Clark Kent—to rampage through their internal information systems.
I’ve got two candidates for such investments: (a) commercial thermonuclear fusion reactors, and (b) colonizing Venus.
Fusion: we are not fifty years away any more. We’re about thirty years and $100Bn away. Or we’re about 8-10 years and $200Bn and a Manhattan Program level of urgency away—it depends on the political and legislative framework. However, building tokamak fusion reactors (like ITER) is never going to be cheap; to get 1Gw of electrical power out implies a 5Gw thermal reactor (and a third of its power is going to go into maintaining the fusion reaction). More realistically, tokamaks will come in 5Gw power output and larger sizes, making them an order of magnitude larger than today’s big-ass 1Gw PWR, AGR, and AP1000 reactors. We’re looking at startup costs of $25-50Bn per reactor, and a requirement for up to 1000 of the suckers if we want to roll it out globally as a major energy source.
So: it’s a project that will plausibly soak up $25-50Tn and take 10-30 years to roll out while needing 30-60 years to break even and start to provide a return on the capital investment. A good way of making the Koch brothers atone for their sins while preserving the illusion of their wealth, right?
“During the panel I shared a sadness I’ve felt about the increasing lack of independent storytelling online, how so much of the content being produced now is all about images and beautifully styled vignettes. So much of the web has become a giant Pinterest board”
While I don’t read many lifestyle blogs, I have noticed that many of the food blogs I have read for years are now more like a slick food magazine than a blog. More and more of the bloggers I know have either gone professional or they have stopped blogging.
I enjoy the holdouts who are not sponsored and who are blogging/writing/sharing their passions for the joy of it, even if their passion is also their profession. A few of my current favorite blogs are: