The means to an end

Published on 03 June 2015

I got my first computer when I was 11 years old. That was 1998.

I thought it was a bit late -- most of my friends already had their own computers. When I got the thing, I didn't know what I would even do with it except play some games and access this fabled thing called the Internet. Of course, I soon found a lot to do and took to it very quickly. First was my humble home at Geocities' Cape Canaveral, Cockpit #7628; then a truly wtf moment/domain with; then finally the glory of building dynamic webpages using open source technologies -- something I would rely on heavily during my time as a student.

An early CMS

(Above) Redacted rendering of earlier works.

For the next seven years, I would self-publish several websites that, for the most part, were heavy on my own brand of written content. I had learned how to build basic content management systems so that my friends and I could publish our work easily. The range of content varied greatly, but much of it was rooted in the naivety of teenage ideals about politics, authority and all the kinds of things I'm glad were lost (or at least inaccessible via the Wayback Machine).

For seven years, programming, scripting, and designing were just the tools for publishing. Technology was how I would find a voice and make it heard in a unique way. Some kids were writing posts on services like Xanga, but for me, these were always too generic and felt less like publishing and more like, well, journaling. For me and my most loyal cohort (a friend named Glen), our ideas were much bigger than that. That is, if you can excuse the brief side-project involving me starting a school gossip website that I was promptly pressured to shut down. (I hear that, these days, Facebook is carrying that ugly torch forward.)

At 18, I wanted to go to university and study journalism. But the perceived difficulties in obtaining respectable employment in that field, the possibility of an uncertain economic environment after graduation and the rate of growth of tech drew me instead into Computer Science. I had decided to secure my future the best way I knew how. I did this alongside the knowledge that I could always publish on my own. After all, I'd been doing it for years already.

Four years of intense studying and partying took their toll, and I neglected what I had enjoyed so much for many years. I made many attempts to return to writing regularly, but time after time I found myself dead in the water. I was far too busy with side projects and even a startup to do much in the way of publishing anything.

After university I wanted to do a code blog while consulting, but I was soon feeling suffocated by the lack of interesting pieces I could actually write -- the nature of my work was secret, and the time leftover after the long hours didn't leave me much time or even creative bandwidth to work with.

At 25, I left the United States to live in Denmark. The life of an expatriate can often feel like an endless working vacation, and it was here I thought I could begin writing about travel exclusively. Working for a travel-oriented company, it seemed interesting, but even when you live within a two hours' flight of some amazing destinations, it doesn't make money materialize like magic. Dead in the water again.

I feel like people often start out with an "intro" post and never end up writing another post. They come back to their blogs, read the least interesting post possible, get discouraged and decide to come back later. The next time they return, a week will have passed; the next time, a month; then a year will pass, and they never get around to creating anything new. I've certainly done it a few times myself.

I turned 28 recently. My ten year high school reunion is coming up, and in the run up to this event on the other side of the earth, I'm forced to think back about what I did when I was younger that worked for me. I didn't have any set themes, really -- I just wrote. And that's how I want to do it this time around.