How Do I Talk to People, Again?

  • On April 1, 2024 ·
  • By ·
Angry woman holding a bullhorn and raising her hand into the air

How Did We Get Here?

I’ve had my own website, in some form of another, since 2002. In that time span I’ve graduated college, been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), moved countries, gotten married, even grown a salt and pepper beard. The online and IRL world have changed a lot since then, too. For lots of people the internet is a handful of apps probably run by the same couple of companies. These apps tend to aggregate content without providing anything themselves, save access to attention. (I suggest reading the articles on Stratechery’s concept of Aggregation Theory for further thoughts on the differences between platforms and aggregators)

There’s been a lot of stuff people don’t want to mention for fear of being too topical. Use the wrong phrase and suddenly people on both sides of issues will brigade you as opportunistic. Or you get shadow-banned; flagged as unfriendly to advertisers, regardless of your stance on something, your posts and comments having zero reach because you mentioned something verboten. Or maybe you’re simply tired of hearing arguments from the squeakiest of wheels.

We had a global pandemic that largely shut society down for years. Most of us couldn’t physically be around each other from ~2020-? Reddit saw site-wide protests over API changes. The changes still happened, shuttering many 3rd party apps. This led to an exodus for those seeking alternatives. Elon Musk bought Twitter, changed its name to X, and continually muses about getting rid of the block feature. This also led to an exodus as users scattered to alternatives, where some of us learned about the Fediverse. They then got frustrated trying to understand it, confused by everything being decentralized and yet still able to be connected.

(Toot from via

What Does All That Mean?

Communicating with people is complicated. Trying to communicate online is even more so. Blogging feels like walking around with a bullhorn wearing a sandwich board sign. Comments become a cesspool of spam and GIFT. (True story: Even after disabling comments on this site spammers still got in. I literally had to get a plugin that nukes that functionality to stop it)

Podcasting is fun but requires so much effort to assemble, format, post, troubleshoot… not to mention it still feels like I’m talking mostly to myself. I have no interest in hosting a group show again as that becomes herding cats.

I’ve considered taking YouTube or one of the other video platforms more seriously, though that tends to result in falling down rabbit holes, researching and trying to figure everything out before ever posting anything. Putting the fate of my work in the hands of the various algorithms does worry me, I’m not gonna lie. But I’ve still got this site if a host limits what I can do with something.

Web 1.0 was average people putting stuff online. Web 2.0 was supposed to be more interactive and user-based. We’ve accepted the retroactive argument that this meant social media. Now we have doomscrolling. Web 3.0 tentatively includes tech like the Internet of Things (IoT), blockchain, NFTs, cryptocurrency, and metaverses. Personally I don’t like the vision of the future large companies seem to be pushing. It feels like we’re being sold stuff nobody really wants in the interest of making a select few tech bros very rich.

So What Do We Do?

I’m going to embrace the spirit of the small web. That means intentionally focusing on my presence online. I’d like to start blogging here regularly again as I properly build up my portfolio and demo reel. Hopefully that means getting myself organized on projects and sharing them as I work. I’m always apprehensive about announcing things and failing to deliver. But I’d rather be failing regularly than disappear because nothing ever had a deadline. So check this space next week to see how I do.

I’ve also been tinkering with building an HTML5 animation site since Flash died. I think I have the technicals sorted out. Now it’s mostly a matter of creating content.