I eagerly clicked to see what the fuss was all about when Jason Kottke launched his latest site design. Bright colours, easy reading typography, simple layout and an excellent extension of the work he's been doing since forever. I think it captures his voice well.
I browsed his new about section, dove into his tremendous archive and followed some of his tags into the dark depths. It was a good waste of time. There are so many loose threads he's pulled together that are best appreciated in their entirety.
I have always admired his work but this redesign jolted me to think about why.
This blog, and those that have fallen before it, were always meant to be my extension into the Internet. Digital space has always preoccupied my faint little mind. No other interest captured my attention like using a computer: not friends, not games, not sports, not anything. The promise of a world that I could shape without my parents' or my school's permission was an exotic dark matter that begged to be explored.
When I got online after the turn of the millennia, I spent most of my time on design forums. I harangued anyone I could into mentoring me, providing their time to teach me what I desperately wanted to know: how to build something in digital space. Most were happy to help and lend me their time and expertise, which is something I didn't appreciate enough at the time.
The internet was a Wild West. Standards were still being developed and the technology involved was easy enough for a child (literally) to pick up and master. And after the small initial technical hump, the only limits were your own creative mind.
I cannot wax poetically enough about the simple, honest, child-like beauty of the early web. I don't want to moan about the web we've lost, but there was an ineffable quality about that time in my life. The friends I've made and lost who were no more than 60px square portraits of cartoon characters could fill an encyclopaedia.
When blogs, née weblogs, started to build steam and become more “professional” that’s what I wanted as well. I left behind the small, personal communities that had helped me start off and moved onto, well, something else. Legitimising the web was a shiny target, something that was on everyone’s mind. So, I followed my lizard eyes and missed my monkey heart.
Looking back over the illustrious examples of long-standing blogs like Kottke.org, Waxy.org, Daring Fireball, etc. I realise that what I really admire is their commitment to their own voice. It's hard to imagine that all of those choices were intentional—perhaps, they are even more clever than I give them credit for—but because they managed to stay their course, the divide between the web I loved and the web I followed seems so wide.
How could I have mistaken one for the other? I failed to hone and shape my own voice in all of the years I've been on the internet... Heartbreak emoji.
So, what to do?
Honestly, pick up from the start.
I am going to invest more of myself here. I'm culling the list of extra projects that I planned to start and instead bring more of who I am (or who I project, which is another matter I'd love to get into later) to this tiny quarter of the Internet.
Who knows, after ten years, perhaps I might have something that inspires the same sort of nostalgia as Kottke.org.