I suppose the first few months of this year will go down as something on an experiment in my blogging history. I started the year off by walking away from WordPress, and setting up a self-hosted blog in splendid isolation. I had become fed up with the temptation to “play the game” – to seek the attention of others. I installed Ghost on a virtual machine in the cloud, and switched comments off entirely for a month or so. My castle, my words, and my rules.
Long time readers at WordPress emailed me when I left – expressing more than a little exhasperation, and wearily predicting my return in the not too distant future.
Here we are – in the not too distant future – and I sort of have returned, and I sort of haven’t. It turned out running my own island required effort on my part – looking after webserver updates, SSL certificates, and so on. I ended up moving my writing to GitHub – leveraging their ability to turn a source code repository into a website for free. If you’re looking at jonbeckett.com, you’re looking at the result of that effort.
After happily posting to jonbeckett.com for a while, the corona virus lockdown happened, and I found myself with a lot of time on my hands. This thumb-twiddling-time resulted in the realisation that I missed the online community perhaps more than I liked to admit.
Early in April, I returned to Tumblr and WordPress, and then after reminscing with old friends on the podcast, LiveJournal too. I back-populated them with all the posts since the beginning of the year, and figured that if I wasn’t happy in any one place, I might as well try to be at all of them.
I’m still not sure if it was the right thing to do. It often feels like I don’t really fit in anywhere – that I’m a strange sort of rolling stone that passes through from time to time – causing familiar faces to look up, and ask “Isn’t that the guy that used to write that blog ?”.
There is a temptation to give in – to return to WordPress, and board up the constellation of cross-posted satellite blogs. You might liken it to returning to the city (especially as WordPress now runs perhaps a third of the web, if commonly touted statistics are to be believed). Perhaps metropolis is a better word.
On my little blogging island, my voice is the only voice. I can sit on my pretend hill and write messages to myself all day long – thoughts, ideas, dreams, adventures. In a metropolis, my voice will be but one of millions – lost in the cacophony. Is it better to be on the outside, looking in, or on the inside, looking out?