On gardening, using the internet, and redesigning this site

Some thoughts on what I want this site to be, and how that's reflected in design changes I recently implemented.

2024-03-23

#meta • 522 words




Hi! I recently redesigned the site, and am working on some more fundamental/abstract changes too. Read on to find out more.

What's new

I:

  • changed the font to just one font (spectral) at different weights, (except for code blocks)
  • changed the alignment
  • removed the nav bar and search box
  • removed the footer
  • redesigned a bunch of pages
  • removed photos and my logo from the front page

I'm still working on further changes.

What's the goal?

I'm trying to reorient the website into more of a digital garden than a blog. This is not a concept I invented, but one I've seen keep popping up in various places and which I think makes sense to me. The idea here is that you're gradually cultivating an interconnected ecosystem of thoughts that is in some sense more than the sum of its parts. Essays don't work that well for this purpose alone — though they can absolutely be a part of it.

I will still post essays here when I write them — and I will write them — but what I want is more of a representation of myself than just a place to put longform writing. I want more, smaller pieces, that fit together nicely via hyperlinks — I think that's closer to how I think. If I want this website to represent me non-trivially, it feels correct to have it operate on a model that feels closer to how I think.

Also, it's more fun for me. This site is very much an art project, a project in self-expression, and when writing feels like a chore I want to still feel like I can add to it. The idea of cultivating a garden is how I want to feel about it: not making herculean efforts, completing heavy lifts — I'd like to save that for when I'm working on research or building something — but instead tending intentionally to the plants.

Hence, I want things to feel slower, more focused, more exploratory rather than linear. I realized a lot of the features I'd added in the past weren't needed, and didn't have a place in the garden. So I took them out! If I want them back, well, that's what git is for.

Using the internet effectively

I think what I want out of the internet is initial connections — the beginnings of great conversations, new ideas, new friendships. That's what it's good at. It's not great at enabling the meaningful substance of those conversations to go well — though it can host content, it's difficult to replicate the depth of engagement you can get in-person.

So I want to shift my usage of the internet to reflect that. I'm going to start using a pseudonym in various circles, in order to lower the activation energy to posting; I'm not posting inflammatory content or liking anything (too) sus, so I think this is ok. I already inhabit the internet as a real person, so it's not like I'll be giving up existing anonymity; using a pseudonym is just a trick to reduce the barrier to entry for myself.

Anyway, yeah, welcome to the garden! Enjoy your stay.

Published 2024-03-23

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