What are we even DOING here?

October 5, 2019

For those of you keeping score, this here marks at least the fifth time I’ve re-assembled and (for lack of a less dramatic word) “relaunched” this site. That includes:

  • several WordPress installations
  • a few years on Tumblr
  • two SquareSpace iterations

… and probably some things I’m forgetting. Every time I do this, I try to think about what I really want out of having a website. That is an increasingly complicated, vague answer, but as I get older I’m kind of surprised to realize what it’s not.

More than a few years ago, my friend and former Elementary bandmate Steve retired his amazingly-early 2000s, home-built site. He very reasonably stated that, like me, he was getting older, busier, and had less time to putz around with CSS classes and properly attribute block quotes in blog posts. He also mentioned that if he needed to share thoughts we people, he had Twitter and Facebook, and that seemed good enough.

Something really bothers me about that. Maybe it’s as simple as just disliking the idea of my own effort being some company’s monetizable “user-generated content”. Maybe it’s that I want to get my hands dirty with some kind of publishing system, even if it’s pointless and duplicative, and in the end actually worse for me and anyone reading this than if I posted on something like Medium. Maybe it’s a latent DIY-ethos from listening to and playing in punk rock bands for more than half my life.

Whatever the case, Twitter and Facebook don’t cut it for me. Twitter is funny, lightweight, and kind of stupid, and I work in marketing so in a weird way it’s a sort of cleverness resume that’s actually kind of good to have. But it’s like writing in sonnets; for whatever reason I feel way less self-important (and dumb) writing 3,000 words on a website I built than numbering out a threaded tweet. I feel like kind of a jackass just writing that.

What’s under the hood

So, as a fairly occupied 37-year old Dad who wants a low-maintenance internet playground, here’s what we’re looking at for the 2020 and beyond world of nate sullivan dot com:

  1. Hosting. I moved hosting to WPEngine. They are great — I’ve used them for work, and while they are expensive when compared to the bare bones, “good luck!” hosting I’ve used for almost fifteen years now, I am significantly less poor than I was in 2006. I can mess with everything and make bad decisions, but they have backup tools and really good support to help me fix things without having to spend an entire Sunday afternoon at Panera clicking on tiny CPanel admin buttons, which is something I don’t really have time for anymore.
  2. Domain. This domain is now on https, which is probably pointless, but will — if nothing else — reduce the number of warnings you (and I) see when you visit.
  3. Store. This also allows me to safely sell stuff on the site, which is something I want to mess with not because I’m interested in selling things, but because I work for an online fulfillment technology company, and want to play with our product. So that’s coming.
  4. Archives. Because I am terrible with domains (and impatient), I screwed up a number of things and have lots of old posts locked away in SQL databases I don’t really know how to work with cleanly. A bunch of things made it over, but rather than sort it all out, I’m going to unpublish basically everything. Someday, when my kids grow up, I’ll root through those old WordPress databases (there are so many, now) and dig out the best pieces. I really and truly feel bad that my technical incompetence has broken links and taken things that some people have liked offline — but this is an extremely part-time gig and I’m bad at this. It’s actually kind of funny, because unlike most people frantically deleting things, I’ve actually used this site to teach myself to be held accountable for what I write & say, so I didn’t purge things out of embarrassment. My writing is often poor and my arguments inane, but it’s not like I was posting “hot chick of the week” or whatever in 2008 and now I’m panicking. I’m just really undisciplined with permalinks and I don’t know how to get things out of giant SQL files.
  5. For now, I mostly want to keep writing a little simply because I like to write and it’s therapeutic, and also maintain a little bit of a museum on my weird, kind of interesting life. That includes work stuff, music, videos, and other projects I’ve worked on.

In other words, same old, same old. The site is dead, long live the site.