January 20, 2020

Writing on the Internet

After spending the latter half of the 2010s away from blogging, I finally realized what drew me to it in the first place.

“Blog” was always a loaded term. Inextricable as it was from the narcissism implied in self-publishing, even its etymology implied a special level of it: Why else keep a public “web log” unless you fancied the mundanities of your daily life so interesting that you thought others, even total strangers, would read it?

Musings, commentary, and essays were worse. Rather than imagining others to find your unedited memoirs worth following, you would need to imagine your observations and ideas to be novel enough for an audience to consume. Indeed, mine was the greater hubris!

I would like to think, at least, that it was not wholly misplaced. If you read Interuserface at its peak, you might have read a piece on owning shapes that got linked by Daring Fireball. A piece on “delayed passive confirmation” that was cited in a book by Lukas Mathis. Pieces not-inaccurately predicting Apple developments. I wrote on design, and for awhile, it worked. I enjoyed writing it, and at least a few people enjoyed reading it. And then, I can only surmise, my enjoyment ceased.

I love writing. I love reading good writing. So why did I stop blogging? I continued to tweet and write comments on Hacker News, so it wasn’t for lack of things upon which to opine or the motivation to do so. I wrote at least one Medium piece on something so niche that a new version of the software it was written about has since rendered the point moot. But why not write at Interuserface?

What I’ve learned is that for me to enjoy writing, it cannot be caught up in my own expectations around its audience. I realized that I’d painted myself into a corner with Interuserface, where each new article had to meet a certain set of criteria to be on-brand, to engage with what I imagined the audience to be. What I really wanted was to write in a way not particularly calculated to burnish any pretensions of being smart, iconoclastic, or a “thought leader” – to write, in other words, for enjoyment.

Interuserface was a blog about design. It will remain so, but now also so much more. If I am to cultivate a new specialty, perhaps it will be in cold takes. There is, among other things, a critically-acclaimed movie that came out in 2014 for which I have been biding my time to write the ultimate contrarian review.

I do not imagine that I will abandon other media, be they tweetstorms or HN comments. But there is something liberating about writing away from these more interactive venues. A blog is a place you can call your own; it is home. It is where the heart is.