I grew up alongside the Internet – and along the way, I started to mirror some of its worst tendencies.
The Internet started as enthusiast message boards, grew into sprawling collections of home-brew Angelfire and Geocity homepages, and then got strangled into a specific set of ideas and designs geared for maximum shares, discoverability and revenue.
I spent 15 years seeping myself in that hyper-optimization. I wrote some of the first top 10 click bait lists for TIME Magazine, I worked on marketing content inside Facebook, I went through Y Combinator and tried to brute force a bad startup idea, I spent millions of dollars arbitraging and promoting content through social media ads. It got me into trouble on occasion, but it's addicting, too.
Until the burnout hits. I never imagined this weird collection of work as something so cohesive of a career, but that's what it became. And it's not a long-lived one, not for anyone. There were a cadre of people like me, fresh out of school in 2009 who all were given the keys to figuring out the Internet for big organizations. And I can think of only a handful who are still at it.
Some have moved on to other, more modern hustles – crypto offers a new version the same dark star, equally relentless in its pull and with even more frenetic cycles of boom and bust. But most just hit a wall. The Facebook hegemony got too big. Twitter too sharp. Tik Tok demanded a different set of skills, better suited for the next generation that grew up filming each other on their phones. (My first phone didn't even have Internet access – I'm ready for my AARP card.)
But there's a pernicious slow-burning toxicity to that work, too. Before, I used to have enthusiasms for their own sake – I'd create things because I wanted to make them, not because I thought they'd play. And before I realized it, my own unruly, tangled set of interests was hedged and trimmed into a tidy set of things I wasn't really interested in at all. I was bored, I was tired, and while the Internet had been good to me, I was ready to let the wilderness reclaim some of my brain.
This site, then, is an attempt to do that. I hesitated for a long time to start it because I didn't have a crisp enough theme or purpose for it. But that's the type of thinking I'm trying to beat back.
I'm going to write, at occasional frequency, on things I'm doing or find interesting. There will be no ads and no optimizations. I will do little to no work to promote it. I'll try to make anything I put here a complete thought, but that doesn't mean it's a good one. Some of it will be stuff I'm still learning. Some of it will be bad.
So enjoy – or don't! The Internet, after all, has become a very big place. I'm surprised you're in this particular corner, but if you find you don't like it, here's the door.