Shutting Down This Site

Some time in the fairly near future, probably while I'm sitting bored in some hotel room, I'm going to start decommissioning this site. That doesn't mean the content is going away, or that I'll stop writing.. I'd almost like to just pull the plug and walk away to start anew somewhere else, but there are still several dozen pages that continue to get a continual stream of hits. I assume that means people get some value from them. It's scarcely any harder to save anything than to save just those pages, so that's what I'll do. I'll talk very briefly about what that means in technical terms, then I'll move on to what it means personally and what I plan for the future.

Begin Technical Digression

After several years on Wordpress, this site became 99% static in 2013. By "99% static" I mean that there's no code other than the webserver that runs on the site when you fetch a page. No PHP, no database, etc. However, there is a very small amount of code that runs within the webserver to rewrite certain URLs. The file layout that you see doesn't exactly match the file layout that I see. To make this 100% static, so that it can be served by someone else who doesn't even support URL rewriting, I need to make those transformations in the pages themselves instead of relying on the webserver to make them over and over. Then I can put it somewhere behind someone else's TLS certificate and someone else's CDN for free or close to it.

As it turns out, running even an incredibly basic site still means keeping the OS updated and keeping an eye out for security issues and paying someone more than the price for a cup of coffee every month. I'm perfectly capable of doing those things. I just don't want to. I don't get even a cup of coffee's worth of incremental benefit or enjoyment from it, compared to alternatives.

End Technical Digression

I started blogging in 1999. The world has changed a lot since then. In particular, there are a lot more ways to get one's thoughts out onto the web. For really quick stuff I use Twitter. For social stuff I use Facebook (and did even before I worked there). So what's left? I mentioned earlier that there are still several dozen posts here that still get hits - often more than decade after they were written. I enjoy writing those, and I especially enjoy the rare moments when such a post strikes a chord with someone else, but that's not going to happen on Facebook. My friends there are too few, and too unlikely to share the very specific interest represented by any particular one of those posts. Sure, it's nice that I can get reactions and comments for free, but it's not the right platform for that kind of thing in this era.

Also, somewhere along the way I got addicted to the sheer ease of use of more modern platforms. I don't want to edit a long-form post in plain text, even with a preview, or have to edit in stuff like categories and tags manually. I don't want to use a CLI to publish the result. I use text editors and CLIs all day every day for my work. When it comes to writing in my spare time, I want to point and click and have someone else worry about how that content reaches other people.

What I see a lot of other people doing is posting their work on a hosted blogging platform like Medium, then maybe a pointer to it on Twitter. Maybe they even submit it themselves to something like Heckler News. That approach makes a lot of sense to me - maximum writing convenience and maximum reach. For various reasons I don't think Medium is quite right for me, but I'll probably sign up for something in the same general category (e.g. Silvrback) and keep writing there. Maybe that even means I'll write that kind of thing more often than the 3-4 times per year I've managed in 2016 and 2017. I hope so, because I do miss it.

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