Took a trip to Virginia for the holiday weekend. It was nice to get out of the city; it was good for resetting my mind, and I came back home feeling a little more on top of things, mentally.
There are always a million things on my mind at once, and a million things to do. But one of my favorites is of an evolution of WriteFreely — a hyper-local, sort of R&D project to make the software more friendly for the people I know in person; that would be more suited to everyday users, less generically appealing, and made for “feelings.” Whatever I learn would make it back into the main project.
Another thought is inspired by Twitter's continuing unraveling, and recent censorship of Substack and competing platforms like Mastodon — I'd like to open up free accounts on Write.as again.
Just thoughts for now.
Slowly finding motivation — it involves setting goals. Fame and fortune are boring; I can’t wake up for “growth.” I tried in 2019-20 and it didn’t make me happy. Now I get out of bed and joke with my friends. I spend a whole afternoon setting up an online forum for my offline photography group. I say I’ll shoot a one-night art event for free this week. I log into my business inbox and I sigh, even as I email real-live people; so separated by the gaping void between us — business serves customer, customer pays business.
So I set a goal. Make my open source software more widely known and used. Do it for the next 10 years and see what happens. Don’t change it that much in that time, just make it better at that one thing it does, and see what happens. Keep the traditions of the old and open web. Don’t really shout about it, just calmly tell those who wander by and wonder. Hang with the curious ones that like to give in return.
I don’t know the total addressable market of my business. There’s no market share percentage to aim for. I don’t need to make the #1 best blogging newsletter publishing platform on the internet. I just want some more people to see it, and for them to tell others about it ‘cause they like it. Maybe someone will throw some money at me along the way. That will do the trick. That’s it, that’s the goal.
Recently read a tweet pondering that maybe most software we've built could just be a “temporary apparition,” instead of needing to be long-lived societal infrastructure. I find that idea incredibly freeing, and the clearest lens to see the tech world through right now, as someone building it.
What if we took social media a little less seriously — even the “better” solutions like the #fediverse? What if we didn't worry about “changing the world” with some new startup idea, and instead improved life for a few people? What if we just made cool shit online that could help pay our bills and then we do something new when that gets old? What if we forgot the 1990s-2020s delusion that the information superhighway was going to elevate humanity to some brand new plane above our own humanity?
I think we'd arrive at viewing the internet mostly as a fun, silly little thing we use sometimes — and that, like TV, it is useful but only ever parasocial. That it can never replace a meal with friends and family, a real-life community, making love, a face-to-face conversation, or hearing the birds outside your window. Maybe we could continue building cool digital things without all the pressures of being the best, conquering the world, getting it absolutely perfect for everyone, everywhere in the world.
Here’s the workshop I’ll be teaching this Saturday at Photodom in Brooklyn, on how to create a website / portfolio without social media. Really looking forward to it, and hopefully it’ll be the first of many to come.
I’ve started settling back into shooting black & white. Right now, Kodak Tri-X 400 is most consistently giving me the look I want.
This one was shot on Lomography Lady Grey 400, which I also like a lot:
Looks like the workshop I wanted to start is moving forward! I talked to the camera shop where I get all my film developed about doing it there, and they liked the idea. Will be talking through the details on Monday, and doing the first one in mid-October if all works out.
Inspired by the news of Starbucks getting into Web3 yesterday, I made a bot that generates news about other companies getting on the bandwagon, using an old list of Fortune 500 companies and buzzwords from Wikipedia.
You can follow the bot on Twitter and in the fediverse: @firstname.lastname@example.org
#web3 #bots #fediverse
I'm thinking of teaching an in-person class on how to start a website, aimed at writers and artists. The goal would be to teach people the basic building blocks of a website (domain name, DNS, website host), so they can go out and choose whichever platform they need to accomplish what they want.
I think this is the missing piece for anyone who knows they want to create their own site — whether it’s because they don’t want to use social media, or they want to start something bigger, like a store. Basically, even when you use a website builder like Squarespace or Wix, they act like they’re the only game in town, instead of being part of the wider ecosystem that is the World Wide Web. So even as you escape the walled garden of social media, they just pull you into their own; you’re not only stuck there through feature lock-in, but knowledge lock-in.
This course would try to bridge that knowledge gap, so once you make the move to the independent Web by setting up a site, you can get the most out of it by choosing the exact tools that fit your goals — and knowing you can move / change them at any time.
As I’ve started doing film photography again, I’ve also been looking for avenues to publicly share my work. This summer, I was excited to see that three of my photos were selected for a group exhibition at Atlantic Gallery in Chelsea. Last Thursday was the opening reception, and some good friends came out to support me — it was a great night.
Those photos are listed on Artsy, and will be in Atlantic Gallery through August 28th.
A couple weeks ago, I started working on a personal marketplace for selling JPEGs — or NFPs (Neat, Fun Pictures), as I jokingly call them, to poke fun at web3.
Today, I finished the basic application and added it to my site on baer works. Basically, anyone who buys a photo there gets both a high-resolution version for personal use, plus some recognition on the storefront as a patron (listing your name is optional).
In that spirit, I’m calling the tiny application powering it “Fund Your Friends” and I’ve created a GitHub repo for it — I’ll release the source code once I’ve cleaned it up and made it easier to manage.