In my last post I mentioned some of the updates I’ve been doing around the internet, but I wanted to explore my process and motivations a little more. (This blog is basically self-guided therapy at this point.) I doubt this will be interesting to anyone else, but it’s always nice to get thoughts down on paper – or in this case, in front of the eyes of the search bots.
My new groove was started with my most recent classwork, which found me back on a heavily modified school version of wordpress. Before that I’d set up this blog in the wake of a destructive auto-update gone bad, but I hadn’t put much effort into it due to time constraints. With a little push and inspiration I found myself thinking about my place on the internet, and with a relatively light weekend from school and my car in the shop keeping me home, my spring cleaning weekend was off to a start.
My first task was this blog. If I can thank last term for anything, it was convincing me I didn’t need to code something from the ground up to make something personalized. I also spent that time thinking about what it was I wanted to be known for, and what I didn’t. I enjoy coding, and there is always going to be an aspect of that in my future career, but I’m learning to niche down and focus on what I really want to do, which is tell interesting – and well-designed – stories with interesting tools.
So this past weekend, that meant getting the blog to a place where it could be a source for my thoughts, while still being extendable into a portfolio and resource in the coming months. This came with some future proofing and careful consideration: things like connecting to google, updating my PHP versions, picking the right contact form and cache plugins took a lot of my time, but it was rewarding once finished.
My base theme, Yuma, was chosen for it’s customization options, and my foray into AI entered the picture with several hours of prompting midjourney until I got a good handle on prompt engineering, the products of which managed to proliferate beyond these pages.
The biggest fix after all of this work was finding a free plug in for backups (sorry, Jetpack – I’m just not ready for a relationship yet). Having lost my last blog to a faulty auto-update, I knew I can’t let that happen again.
A large part of this weekend was updating the main social media channels with a shared aesthetic based on midjourney’s interpretation of my likeness. Here’s where this process really verged on therapy – I’ve historically not wanted my likeness on the internet, and that anxiety is something I’m still struggling with for a multitude of reasons. For now, this AI illustration is a pleasing middle ground that works with my general aesthetic.
In Welcome to the Fediverse I mentioned how I connected my blog to activitypub, so I won’t go too much into that. But this process did inspire the next path of my internet spring cleaning, which was considering what networks I wanted to spend my time with not only for entertainment, but for future career goals as well. There is a balance between distraction and benefit that is still a work in progress.
For now, I’ve settled on Mastodon as a bet for the future of a free and open internet, and a more professional outlet once I can figure out the best communities and tools for the fediverse. That is definitely an ongoing process across all of the social media sites: how do you tailor them to your interests, and more importantly, your needs?
Take instagram as an example, shameless plug. With the tiktokification of the platform, and even long before that, it can be good at discovering your interests and putting them in your face. But this conflicts with my actual needs if it, say, distracts me for two hours while I lay in bed doomscrolling. For now, I find instagram to be a middleground some day becoming part of my career strategy, but safe for now when I want to be vegetative for a little bit.
I take pinterest as a lot more design focused, shameless plug again, so it’s become my go-to “scrolling while I’m in line” app. When I was using it for interests and not needs, I used to be annoyed at how pinterest would adapt to showing more of the same in the moment, wanting it to be more like instagram or tumblr in pingponging between interests. But as a tool for creative inspiration, I’ve learned to prefer the stepping stones method of being led through related discoveries instead.
I mentioned tumblr, and that brings me to my next weekend excursion. Over the last year I’d taken to making more of my socials under my name. This makes sense for when you want someone interested in your instagram to find you on youtube, as an example. Along the way to this endgoal I ended up with two tumblr accounts and over the weekend began the process of switching my self-titled to my older blog, whose wealth of history I suddenly found charming. I don’t need two tumblr accounts. But as I stared at the old blog (shameless) I had a bit of nostalgia wash over me.
The conclusion I came to is that tumblr is not a career-focused resource for me, other than in the same way that I get inspiration from pinterest – another social that I don’t use my name on. Like I mentioned with Mastodon and Instagram, I need to tune this network to get out of it what I want. But as far as the social aspect is concerned for tumblr, I see it as more of a blog showcasing my personality rather than my thoughts or talent. That is, after all, what I’m paying for yearly for hosting and a domain name here.
The next social network I found myself updating this weekend was twitch (you know the drill). With my goals in storytelling it felt like a natural fit to bridge the gap between personality, interests, and career goals. I hate to sound like a hustle culture grind mindset dudebro who wants to turn every hobby into a money making scheme, but I do see the value in broadening my reach in ways that allow me time to simply play. Now that my schedule is a little lighter in the evenings, I hope to find some time to relax, play some games, and if I reach a few people, cool! If not, no biggy, at least I shot a zombie or planted an 8 bit flower farm or whatever.
That brings me to my last bit of work this weekend, which was updating youtube as well (last one I promise). Like so many of the others, I can spend hours on youtube as an observer, but it remains the defacto mecha for the kind of visual storytelling I want to provide. With my goals of finding balance, I can’t promise I’m going to start right away, but this blog will hopefully start me thinking in terms of sharing my ideas with the world, even if the world isn’t all that interested.
So for now, these sites are all updated with the same links and graphics, and I’ve considered how I want to use them, as well as when and why. My next stage of spring cleaning is going through and trimming the trees a little bit; cleaning out the cobwebs of years old content, planning out more of a strategy and schedule, and beginning to tailor my follows and usage patterns to benefit my goals. But for now, I’m just happy to be here.