This post started with the title “Leaving Wordpress”. I thought I was going to tell you about what I didn’t like about Wordpress and why I switched to something new. I thought I was going to describe Hugo and my custom built, “hand-crafted” look and feel. I thought I was going to show off my tech wherewithal and beat my chest on topics like simple text, avoiding CRMs and going your own way. I got 200 hundred words into writing that post and realized it was awful, and that the real reset is not about the way it looks or the tech or the tools, it’s about what is here. It’s about the reboot of this site as a forum for my own expression, for sharing outside the boundaries of social networks and an attempt to make the process of sharing more fit my habits and capabilities.
A Word on Wordpress
I think Wordpress is fine. I’ve used it here for over 10 years. Go use it for your website if you don’t know how to write html, css, and don’t know how to write code.
Me and Wordpress
Wordpress just doesn’t work for me. I’ve grappled with it, and in some of my past posts it shows. Some of my personal gripes:
- It’s slow.
- Writing drafts is a hassle. I have to do it online in a web browser or do a lot of copy and paste. I like to write in vi. The copy and paste game makes me feel like I’m an amateur programmer. Yeah I know, API’s blah blah blah, the world shouldn’t need API’s to update a website.
- Writing in that little window is a hassle.
- It’s slow.
- It’s written in php. I don’t like writing php so hacking it is unpleasant.
- Theme creation is convoluted.
- It’s slow.
The bottom line is that I want it to work like building a web application works. I make a change, I refresh and test locally. I commit the change. Then I release to production. I want to do that on the command line because that is where I’m comfortable. I don’t want to login to a web application backend, wait for it to load, then click a series of buttons to submit an article to my own website. That isn’t fun for me. If its not fun for me then won’t do it. I’m not blaming Wordpress for the diminishing number of articles posted on this site over the years. I have work and children to blame for that. I am saying that I’m more likely to publish if I enjoy the process, and I no longer enjoy working with Wordpress.
We Should Share More
This may turn into a post of its own, but we don’t share enough. Sure, on social media we “share”; but what are we sharing? And with who? If sharing via our websites is so time-consuming that we fail to share at all, then perhaps social media is so easy that we share things we should not. Opinions we haven’t thought through. Nonsense memes. News and suggestions from people who are not believable. Short form diatribes written hastily in response to half-baked news articles read out of context. And the comments. Oh the comments.
I can’t bring myself to express much on social media. I can’t talk about achievements; it feels like bragging or posturing. I can’t talk about failures; it feels like comment bait. I can’t talk about my growing family; its not my place to give them over to the data brokers without their consent. I’m not sure what goal social media solves in my life anymore. I guess its a great way to schedule a run with your buddies. Cal Newport calls social media platforms “walled gardens” that implement a kind of “collectivist attention market”, and I don’t want to be a part of that other than as a passive observer.
But I can create here. This is my place and it was here before Facebook and Twitter. With any luck it will be here long after they’re gone.
Finally, how was the new site constructed?
The world doesn’t need another step by step guide to building a website and hosting it in a scalable way. I created the design for this site in plain old html and css, using tachyons. The design is influenced by Brutalist design. I turned the design into a hugo theme, then exported all of my Wordpress posts using a plugin. After converting the ones I cared about, I deleted the rest. Then I used hugo to create the static site. This site is hosted on AWS using S3, with wide distribution via CloudFront. Here is a good post on the subject, though I do things differently.
There are no longer comments on this site. Much is missing that will not be coming back. What is left is what needs to be here, and nothing more.