What Is This Website?
My website has been a holding page for nearly ten years. Before that, it had been a growing online portfolio of my artwork up until around 2010 or 2011 at which point it started to stagnate. Eventually I decided that it no longer represented me in a way that felt right for the moment so I replaced it with a short message stating that I did not currently know what I wanted to do with my website and I would update it soon, a gif of a turning hourglass loading animation, and one picture of a sculpture. The site has been like that for years now, with minor changes to the language and changes of address when I move.
I have frequently found myself under the illusion that I’m about to finally update my website; to give it an overhaul that’ll represent where I’m really at today; to give it a format that can grow with my thinking and my activities. And then I don’t.
I’ve conceived probably a dozen new concepts for this website, half of them maybe good. I’ve built entire new websites entirely different from one another and then never put them online or told anybody that they existed.
Recently I helped my friend Anna build herself a website and this prompted me to think out loud again about my own site. I started playing around with the static site generator, Hugo (which turned this bit of writing into a web page) to organize my writing, with the idea that this might be a way to get on with the process, and also to encourage me to be a little more organized and disciplined about my writing, and to share it with the world.
Still, I was being dogged by a perfectionism that probably grows out of making websites on the daily to make my living and thinking that this would be my opportunity to do it my way – wanting to do something more ambitious; cooler; telling myself: “No, it’s not quite ready yet. What if I have a better idea tomorrow?”
Then, this past week, I came across an article by Laurel Scwulst that reminded me that a website is an ever-changing thing, and that mine will never be done so I might as well get on with it and let it grow in the light of day, play with the other websites, and learn.
Some of the first websites that I admired were simple personal blogs that people would use to share dispatches from their lives and thoughts. I found that a good blog could strike an appealing balance between personal and public, polished and raw. They could fall in an interesting gap between reading an essay and reading someone’s journal. With this this blog I’ll try and strike a similar balance writing somewhat for my own benefit but with some awareness that someone else might read it. I’ll try and be a bit disciplined about it, but not too disciplined. I’ll try and write maybe one significant entry per month: one entry that I’ve put real effort into researching and/or composing.
This area of my site will continue where my previous Tumblr blog left off. This area of my site will act like a bucket collecting rainwater, the rainwater being things like quotations that fall into my hands or ideas that fall out of my head.
So, I do not know what this website is. I may never know, just as I may never know “who I am.” For now, let’s just call it a site of experimentation, which is all it’s ever been in so far as it has thrived. I’d like if this became not just a reflection of “who I am” but a tool to use in redefining that question, in connecting me with other people in a way that I don’t think the crowded and manipulative platforms we primarily use to communicate online will allow.
The old site that the holding page has replaced seems to have been lost to the bits and bytes of time and, like a lot of work that felt insignificant or annoyed me at the time when I lost track of them, I’m sad that it’s gone. I think I’ve finally learned my lesson and will begin to version my website with git, so I can see how it changes over time - grows, shrinks, drifts. Eventually, maybe I’ll even set up a thing where visitors can go back in time to see earlier iterations. This was one of my dozen ideas for a website that seemed too daunting, so I never began.