2022-01-14: on publishing

perfection

i'm a perfectionist. i find it hard to share my work (anything i produce) with others without mulling over it and polishing it to bits first. this affects virtually everything i do. the code i write, the toots i fire off on mastodon, emails, music, even cooking.

i've noticed how this tendency has resulted in me simply keeping most things to myself. it has also instilled a reluctance in me to start new projects at all. there are so many choices to be made at the start of a project and i don't want to get any of them wrong.

of course, this is ridiculous and i don't want the pattern to continue so this digital garden is my hands-on approach to bringing about change. if you're reading this, then i have already broken out (at least partially). it's an ongoing process, a journey, but the first step has been made.

the digital garden

maggie appleton writes the following about the concept of a digital garden:
A garden is a collection of evolving ideas that aren't strictly organised by their publication date. They're inherently exploratory – notes are linked through contextual associations. They aren't refined or complete - notes are published as half-finished thoughts that will grow and evolve over time. They're less rigid, less performative, and less perfect than the personal websites we're used to seeing.
this appeals to me and helps me overcome my reluctance to publishing by...
  1. ... framing the matter in a way that content isn't expected to be perfect. this takes away some of the pressure in my mind. i can always tell that voice in my head: "hey, it's not even supposed to be good."
  2. ... opening up the possibility to improve and expand later. this strategy has proven quite effective for me. for example, my source code is always full of todos. when that voice in my head starts bugging me again, i can just say: "yeah, i know. i'll get back to that."
so in summary, the digital garden format seems to be a pretty good fit for my undertaking and that's why i went with one.

tech

i'm a tech guy. i'm frequently more interested in the tech applications are built with or the medium a piece of content is published on than the content itself. as such, the thought of publishing something immediately raises a ton of tech-related questions. some of the ones that came up after deciding to start a digital garden were...

where do i publish the content? do i use a service or self-host? self-host with hardware or a vps? which provider? which format/distribution method do i use? i kinda hate the modern web, do i really want to do this on the www? i'd really like to try gemini but i don't know that much about it. would it be a good fit? does it support inline hyperlinks? do i even need inline hyperlinks? i probably shouldn't be hand-crafting html pages... or sould i? maybe a static site generator is the way to go? perhaps i could roll my own. what if folks are actually interested in my site and want to be notified of changes? could i use rss? what licence should i use for content? ... and so on and so forth.

part of me knows that these questions are actually just getting in the way of actually publishing something though so i tried to go with "whatever requires the least[1] amount of effort to get started". so for now i've got... the stack is bound to change over time. who knows, maybe i'll end up on gemini after all. but for now, i've got something that works.

final remarks

this is actually happening. hell yeah!


[1] i may not have been super strict about this. technically, self-hosting requires more effort than, say, creating a facebook page. but i am not throwing all my values over board just yet.