January 19, 2018
Time to Bring It Back Online
I’m supposed to start writing about the industry again? Here, or on Twitter? As if any of it matters? As if it’s fair to contain the multitudes for discussing my work, my politics, my writing, my frustrations, my minutiae, my rage, my joy, all at once?
Blogging won’t save the world. But, hell … it feels great to be back.
You may have noticed that, earlier this month, I published a piece of writing on this site for the first time in three years. It’s not that I haven’t been doing any writing in that time, but that my writing efforts were skewed in other directions:
- I spent 2016 writing a bunch of essays overthinking episodes of Star Trek
- I spent 2017 furiously working on a personal writing project * cough * a poetry collection * cough *
- At the end of 2017, I started formally working on a book about, I don’t know, websites or something
So I think I can be forgiven for the dry spell on this specific platform.
There have also been other shifts that affected my written output. The cultural and political climate of the last few years (long before the 2016 election, frankly) have made it difficult, if not outright impossible, to put energy into writing about, well, making websites. It’s not that our work is unimportant (in fact, I’ve argued quite the opposite), but it can feel trivial to wax eloquent on the latest trends in content when families are being torn apart and water isn’t safe to drink.
The professional is personal, and the personal is political, and so these issues are one and the same: the things that affect me also affect my work, and vice versa. The repeal of net neutrality is a waking nightmare for free speech, and, yeah, that’s gonna wreck up my career. The tax laws passed by Congress may make it impossible for me to work as an independent consultant. (Those are just two effects off the top of my head, and they’re crumbs compared to the destruction being waged on less protected people in this country.) Nothing happens in a vacuum, and I won’t pretend that they do.
Negotiating that space, though, is challenging, especially when you work out loud on the web. I often credit Twitter for my career—it plugged me into the content strategy community just as it was forming—but I haven’t used it that way in a very long time. It almost sounds like folklore: a fairy place where strangers once gathered to weave tales about web content—now, years later, it’s a decaying hate machine.
But I’m supposed to start writing about the industry again? Here, or on Twitter? As if any of it matters? As if it’s fair to contain the multitudes for discussing my work, my politics, my writing, my frustrations, my minutiae, my rage, my joy, all at once?
So it’s 2018, and the truth is that sometimes I don’t give a fig about tech design. And sometimes I give too much of a fig: that’s how you end up deciding to write a book, I suppose. That tension—dancing between wanting to be a productive member of an industry and wanting to burn the whole system down—well, I have to find a way to live in it.