What is this?


"If a building looks better under construction than it does when finished, then it's a failure."

-Douglas Coupland

This has become an excuse. An excuse not to express myself.

Which is funny, I guess, because it all started as the ultimate attempt to express myself.

My vision was grand. In one of my more empowered spells about a year ago, I began building a blog-slash-portfolio that I could use to promote myself and start acting a bit more like an adult on the Internet.

I started my first blog, Confused Nation, in high school and it was very self-centered and small-world. The maturity level of the content coasted ever-so-slightly upward as I goosestepped through college. It was a place for rants and misgivings and dick jokes and what have you.

When I started writing more personal insight about myself on that same blog, it felt forced at best. At worst, it felt misplaced and deceitful. I needed a fresh start.

A new blog would allow me to rebrand myself online in the same way I’ve been rebranding myself in person: A little more self-aware, a little less self-centered, and a little more focus on the big issues. Maybe I would even write some technical articles and submit them to Hacker News. The possibilities weren’t necessarily endless, but they did afford me a break from my self-styled sleazy past talking about toilets and choke sex and whatever.

So I hit the ground running. I broke open the usual tools and went through several iterations of designs I did and didn’t like. I got lazy and frustrated. I wasted time (relative to the project) trying to find the perfect text editor for use in Ubuntu, the most fairly-priced web host, actually set up my own Wordpress instance on a dedicated LAMP development box. There were nights spent reading about what all the HTML5 hype was about. And while all of this was good knowledge to have, it didn’t help me get the project done. What I needed was some better way to motivate myself.

I decided to hold writing hostage.

“You’re not done with that new blogfolio design,” I would tell myself. “You have to finish all of the header images, create multiple style sheets for different media, do it all in HTML5, provide genuinely new levels of interactivity, tie it all into Wordpress, and break the habit of using social media as your primary brain-dump. You have to do all of these things before you can start writing again.”

Classic Kyle, you’re probably thinking. Dramatic, shoot-self-in-foot solution that doesn’t explore the possibility that maybe, just maybe, I’m trying to build something without value. You can’t work hard at something if you don’t see the value in it. That was my problem from the get-go.

Personal projects should not emerge from some contrived idea based on what you see around you. New is good, but I don’t need my own hosted Wordpress instance with my own custom-made Wordpress template all shoehorned into HTML5 with ridiculous amounts of JavaScript overhead in order to convey the ideas and themes want to convey. If the time comes for those things, I will notice the need and build it. But just because the greatest young minds holed up in Palo Alto are building showcase blogfolios doesn’t mean I need one.

I’m not— or don’t really wish to be— an overly-complicated person. So for now I’m going to go back to 1995 .plan-file blogging. Yes— manually updating static pages every time I want to write something. When I want something new, I’ll install it or build it myself. Comments? Sharing buttons? Who needs them yet?

I’m excited to see what emerges. I’m already writing again. And you know what they say: Content is king.

-Kyle Barnhart, 18 Dec. 2011