Definitely Not My New Years…
Welcome to the start of the new Unattributed website. If by some chance you had stumbled on this website in the past, you might know that it used to be a tumblr blog. At that time the idea was to share interesting things I found around the web, along with a few of my personal creations. Basically it was a large open bookmark compilation.
Now, however, it’s time to move on. The reason for moving on to something else has come about for several reasons:
- I’m feeling more inspired by the myriad of random information around me.
- My approach to the internet and more specifically social media, has changed.
- It was time to revive my websites after several years of hibernation.
- I needed / wanted to consolidate my sites.
So, let’s take the time to explain all of this for the rest of this article.
Over the past two years I’ve spent a lot of time doing two things: consuming a lot of media, and writing. This came about for a couple of reasons: the first was my task of taking care of a terminally ill relative, and was followed by the pandemic. But those weren’t the only reasons. There were also issues like nearly all of my technology dying within two months (literally my desktop computer, laptop and cell phone), just when a lot of technology became very difficult (or very expensive) to get ahold of. And then there was the 8-9 months spent dealing with the estate of the relative I had been taking care of. Overall, you could say that 2020 wasn’t all that great (or productive) of a year for me.
However, I did get to do a fair amount of thinking, planning, writing. This was something that I hadn’t really done for quite some time since most of my plans had to center around other things in my life. It wasn’t really mine to direct.
The thing that was a real changing point for me, however, came when I was able to start getting some technology together again and started actually working on this. The big things were: (a) I organized a lot of information that had been spread all over the the place, (b) I started working on how to put together a work flow for myself, and (c) I started actually gaming.
Now, gaming might not seem like a big deal. But for me, well, I generally hadn’t been much of a gamer before. And I’m still only into lighter games: turn based RPG’s, visual novels, simulations, etc. But the thing is this: for me it served as something on an inspiration, how? It’s given me a chance experience narratives in a different way. I’ve long known that games have their own way of presenting narratives. One of the things that I had started consuming quite a bit over the past several years was gaming content on YouTube (in particular Minecraft content, which is now my favorite game).
So, basically, I found that I have more inspiration now: I have a new perspective on things, I have a ton of materials that I’ve built over an extended period of time (my email archives are around ~2500 messages per year over the last 10 years, my “knowledge” database has over 1000 documents, and I have a bibliography database with hundreds of references in it), and I have a desire to explore a bunch of different concepts and topics in as many forms as I possibly can.
The Internet and Social Media
Partially because of the responsibility to take are of my relative, partially due to limited access to the internet, and partially doe to the failure of most of the technology around me, I ended up leaving the internet for a couple of years. More specifically, leaving social media. And I don’t regret it. I’ve come to realize that the time spent doom scrolling on Twitter, trying to checking things out on Instagram or TikTok, and playing attention games that social media pushes are quite damaging.
The thing is, I’ve realized that I tend to not function all that well in the social media landscape. The idea that one is try to come up with short pieces of information that will grab and sustain the attention of thousands or millions of people is just a game I don’t do very well. Instead I function in the world where there is more deliberate and considered thought given to things, or there is a bigger narrative. Consider my approach to be a novel to social media’s micro-fiction.
That being said I have found there are some platforms that I tend to like using a bit more: typically these are forums. Forums tend to work better for my because they are specialized in a specific topic, and most of the expression can be more complete than trying to cram something into 250 characters. But as with all things, having something like Twitter is useful at times for more interactive communication: Mastodon is filling that role now. Reddit is also okay to some degree, depending on which sub-reddits you are in. PixelFed is a suitable Instagram replacement, not a lot of people posting fancy (fake) influencer shots, just people sharing their pictures / drawings / etc.
The point is: I don’t use the social media the way I was before. Now I tend to focus on the things that I want to do, and occasionally pop my head onto a social platform when I want / need to. That’s lead me to be much more relaxed than I used to be.
Out of Hibernation
This is where things get a bit on the geeky side.
Once I knew that I wanted to start working on my websites again I had to make some decisions. There were some things that needed to be addressed:
- I wasn’t happy with the software I was using.
- I wasn’t pleased with one of my hosting services.
- I needed to move off the free hosting that I was using for some of the sites.
- I needed to simplify some aspects of managing all my sites.
- I needed to drop a service(s) that I don’t trust.
- And finally: I needed to re-design things into a workflow that I could work with.
There’s a lot more technical details that go into this. I spent quite a bit of time evaluating options before I finally came to a decision. And things actually didn’t go quite the way that I expected:
For example: the software. That was actually a sticking point with me.I wanted to get off the software that I was using due to changes making it more difficult to use. And I still feel that way. But there were other things to consider: I’ve been using this software for nearly a decade at this point. Some more recent changes are actually positive (but they don’t undo the negative changes). Looking at other options, I didn’t find one that I felt I would be comfortable with (and I went so far as to set up local instances of them and tried porting one of my sites to them — so I put in some time doing serious testing).
The hosting situation was probably the more annoying issue. The host I’ve been with now for 10 years. I didn’t want to hit that milestone. I actually started shutting down services with them several years back, but hadn’t finished. So now it was time to start doing research all over again. Fortunately I found a service that can host all my sites, and should cost around as much as it previously cost to host one site. This new hosting service also simplifies a lot of management side of things, and has features that my old hosting hadn’t figured out how to do in 10 years (like having staging areas for working on updates).
Services being dropped: I’ll be blunt about this one, it’s Google. There are just more and more things happening around them that make them a potential liability. A couple of quick examples: Google Analytics is not compliant with recent EU directives, and there is potential liability in using Google Fonts API’s. This isn’t a matter that I take lightly. I personally haven’t been a huge fan of Google for a while now, I don’t use their search engine, I try to turn off as much of their stuff on my phone and tablet as possible, and I’ve been trying to get rid of their analytics everywhere. Also, I’ve been moving all of my domains to a different registrar (previously some of my domains had been registered with Google out of convenience). So yeah, that’s actually a pretty big one.
The thing that I haven’t folded into this yet: my approach to social media and the internet. One of the things that I decided when I left social media was to not try to chase things around anymore. I want to focus on my work and not on trying to chase status online. And yet, I still want to get these sites seen by an appropriate audience. Well, it turns out that the fediverse (which Mastodon is part of) has an answer: they have a publication protocol that can be integrated into these sites…when an article is published the fediverse will get a copy of it, and it will just look like another Mastodon / Friendica / etc. stream that people can follow.
So that makes a lot of things a lot more streamlined. Sure, I probably won’t have “the reach” that other sites have, or that I had in the past. But honestly, that doesn’t make a difference, I know that the people that are interested in my work will find it and be able to follow it in a way that is convenient to them.
So, yeah, this is was a long way of saying a lot and a little at the same time. Basically, I’ve given a long explanation of how i have gotten here. What this new begging is and how it came about. The thing that I am most pleased with is that I have an idea of the things that I want to do. I’ve found my inspiration again, and I have a lot of ideas that I want to pursue. This site is my opportunity to talk about the things I am pursuing, and present some of the research and information I’m learning along the way.
I’m also happy to have found a way to streamline a lot of these endeavors. Between having a hosting service that helps to pull things together, to finding tools to publish these articles to the fediverse, there is a lot of time that I can spend working on the articles ant to write, the research that I want to do and dive headlong into any random rabbit holes that I want to.