Roland Writes

Quote: Ira Glass on taste

May 2nd

2 min read

“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.” - Ira Glass

Art and Silence

January 9th

4 min read

Willy Wonka at his desk.
"Attach my feet to the path I beat,
Learn to keep my answers brief."

- Atmosphere

You have a problem: you feel like no one listens to you.

But you still want to be heard, so you give in and do the foolish thing: you try to compensate by speaking more, trying to emphasize the more important things in some way, often repeating yourself. “Maybe if I say it twice, they'll hear me?”

But eventually you learn that, as if by some twisted law of the universe, repeating yourself makes people listen even less than before! This frustrates and upsets you, until you realize the real reason they never listen: it’s because you never cared to listen to them, either—conversation is a two-way street, you selfish bastard.

So you do some soul-searching, and set out to become a better listener. At this point, there’s a good chance that you come face-to-face with the fact you were never all that interested in most conversation to begin with—not out of any malice; it's just that there’s only so much time in a day, and so many interesting and novel things to do, make, and read about. If doing things that interest and stimulate you is an important part of who you are and what you want to spend time doing, how can most conversation possibly compete?

It’s okay, this doesn’t make you a bad person; it doesn’t even make you anti-social. It just means you’re not naturally extroverted and likely require more than conversation alone to feel stimulated. There are many people like you out there, and there’s also a good chance you have the potential to make cool, worthwhile art. Also, unless you magically become someone who finds conversation thrilling overnight, art is also your best shot at finding the meaningful connections you crave.

Realizing this, you have two options:

Option A

You decide that popularity, for whatever reason, is still important to you (maybe you feel that your most viable career choice is something that requires lots of networking, like sales or real estate), buy yourself a copy of How To Win Friends And Influence People, and embark on a lifelong journey of managing hundreds of shallow relationships that are tainted by ulterior motives. If this is your choice, have fun, good luck, and see if you can’t at least make a good salary for your time and effort.

Option B

You learn to be quiet and express yourself and connect with others in ways that do not rely on the cheapness of words, but action and dedication. In other words, you become an artist, in some form or another, by leaning into different mediums. This is easier said than done, especially because you may find yourself alone, losing patience as you work hard, and without recognition, for long stretches of time. However, every time you finish and share your latest work, you will probably find that the reward is worth it. Also, by forcing yourself to be quiet, you become a better listener by definition.

Why not both?

In theory there is a third option, where you try to pull off Option A and Option B simultaneously. If this your choice, good luck. It might be possible for a rare handful of very talented people, but realistically you will end up exhausted, contorted, and dissatisfied. As the saying goes, in your attempt to please everybody, you will end up pleasing nobody. The people you try to keep up with will see through your half-heartedness, however well-intentioned, and end up feeling insulted. And, because you will be under strain, you will not have the time or space to give your art its proper due, and it will be unserious and suck as a result.

It’s tough, but most of us have to choose. I, for one, am tired of talking. For someone who doesn’t like talking, I’ve done a disturbing amount of it over the past few years—it now feels like a big mistake, and my art has suffered as a result. I’m still happy overall, just exhausted in this way, and with little to show for it.

So, if you need me or want to reach me, I’ll be in the studio.

And if you identify as an artist of any kind, may 2024 grant you the time, space, and peace to make some great stuff.


Amateur Night

December 31st, 2023

1 min read

Happy New Year's Eve.

In the words of an uncle, "tonight is amateur night."

Regardless of whether you party a little or a lot, just stay in and avoid the hordes of sloppy goons. If you want to let loose, save it for literally any other weekend. The juice is not worth the squeeze.

A little Frost

December 31st, 2023

1 min read

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.

He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

- Robert Frost

I find it’s still true: the best thing a person can be is a poet.

Memories: the bridge on the river Charles

December 24th, 2023

3 min read

Floating down the Charles River on stolen scaffolding.

I'm too young to be looking back much, but my brother recently reminded me of a time I jumped off a bridge in my hometown, into the Charles River. We were with some friends and I was trying to prove how wild I was, jumping into such nasty water without warning. I didn't know the murky water below was less than two feet deep.

Luckily I was fine, just banged up, and it made for a good story.

And that was just one memory of many made at that low-profile, two lane bridge that connected two neighborhoods within a Boston suburb. It was a short walk to the center of town, but other than that, nothing special. I still don't know why we found ourselves near it so often, but it had its charm, and it felt like ours because no one else ever went down there.

We used to fish under it, and occasionally "borrow" boats that we found unattended near the water's edge. One summer there was even a forest fire started that made the local news. I wasn’t there for that one, but I know who was, and they were never found out—don’t worry guys, taking it to the grave.

When I ran away from home during a rebellious phase, my brother would meet me under the same bridge for a daily check-in, bringing me PB&J lunches for sustenance. This helped me extend my stint several days longer than it should have gone on—partners in crime, and we still are.

The above photo must have been taken on one of our shitty flip phones or secondhand Blackberries, just a year or two removed from all of us having iPhones. One hot summer day we were walking by the bridge and noticed that the underside of it was undergoing some kind of repair. The workers had made a floating scaffolding rig to do the work. It must have been an off day, though, because none of them were around.

Well, you can see what happened next. We untethered it and floated down the river on it all afternoon. I can’t remember if we returned it or not.

I was a really lucky kid to grow up in the town I did with the friends I had. I don’t keep up with most of them—it’s tough—but I think about them all the time. We were free.

I wonder if any kids hang down by that bridge today.

'The Holdovers' is the movie of the year

December 23rd, 2023

5 min read

A still from The Holdovers, starring Paul Giamatti and directed by Alexander Payne.

I saw all of these “big” movies in theaters this year:

  • Oppenheimer
  • Barbie
  • Killers of the Flower Moon
  • The Holdovers

I enjoyed all of them and each brought something special to the table. However, I realized in hindsight that what I appreciated about the first three on this list the most was the magnitude of their productions, performances, and scale—but not much else. In other words, I was in awe of the intensity, acting, and effects of Oppenheimer, but when I was walking out of the theater, I did not feel truly touched, moved, or stirred by it. It was more of a “wow, that was cool,” rather than the feeling I get when seeing a truly great movie for the first time: not just entertained, but (at least a little) changed.

The same held true for Barbie and Killers. Barbie was wonderful and fun, and, even though it definitely felt like a palliative simplification, the feminist message was earnest, sweet, and well-executed. With Killers, while there is a ton of nuanced praise I could give it—it was amazing, at the end of the day—at times it felt slow and probably could have been cut shorter. Also, the depravity of De Niro and DiCaprio’s characters was so stubbornly unrelenting that sitting through many of the scenes, especially the dozen or so of DiCaprio’s character injecting shots of poison into his unsuspecting Indian wife, sometimes felt like the visual equivalent of a slow, dull, evil drumbeat. The movie is of course, sadly, a depiction of true events, and the dreariness is intentional, but still: it was a little more demanding of me than I wanted it to be.

And then there's the The Holdovers. One of these things is not like the others. It was just a fucking perfect movie. It’s 96% on Rotten Tomatoes is deserved. Taking place during a winter break at a Massachusetts boarding school, unlike the other three, this movie was the opposite of grandiose scale, and was so refreshing because of it. The characters and plot relied on little more than the fundamentals of great writing, storytelling, and the genuine, humorous, down-to-earth touch from Alexander Payne that he is known for. The sets also had a compelling sense of time (the 70s) and place (Massachusetts and Boston) that allowed the other ingredients to grow and shine that much brighter.

I won’t go into any more detail because I don’t want to overanalyze or spoil it, but the timing was also perfect for me. Prior to The Holdovers, I just felt like it had been so long since I’ve seen a truly great, well-written movie depicting normal people going through believable experiences—certainly not a popular one. The last movie I saw that rose to this level—at least that I can remember—was Good Time (2017), the Safdie brothers movie starring Robert Pattinson, and that was way back in 2019.

I’m not anti sci-fi or against CGI as a rule, but I’m on the same page as many others when it comes to regretting the Marvel superhero-ification of the box office. It’s entertaining and fun, but ultimately shallow, childish, and soulless. Sometimes it gets so bad, and I go so long without seeing any (good) movies that portray real life, that I become convinced that (studio) screenwriters have forgotten how to portray real people on-screen. Has the social media era algorithmically crushed our humanity so hard that we are now incapable of constructing worldviews and artistic portrayals without reducing everything down to a standard set of tropes and TikTok-friendly aesthetics? I hope not, because, to quote Ridley Scott, it’s boring as shit.

Thankfully, the superhero franchise/sequel era of the box office appears to be dying down. It was recently pointed out to me that the last MCU movie performed worse than all 33 MCU movies before it, and 2023 was the first year since 2014 that Disney failed to put out a movie that breached the $1 billion mark worldwide (!). With any luck, this is not just a blip, but an encouraging sign that audiences are finally burnt out on Disney adult-ing and starting to crave more original content.

At the end of the day, people can watch and enjoy whatever they want. But when I walked out of the The Holdovers, while I was mostly just buzzing from the treat of such a great movie, I was also a bit sad knowing in the back of my mind that it might be a while before I see another movie in theaters that is that fantastic, elemental, down-to-earth, and also popular enough that most people will have either seen or heard of it. Hopefully I don’t have to wait until Payne makes another movie (though I hear Anatomy of a Fall is great, too). In the mean time, I hope it does better than expected at the awards ceremonies—I bet it will—and that young writers and future filmmakers take notice.

PredictIt season is upon us: the story of how I doubled my money betting on the 2020 election, and exploring the potential for round 2 in 2024

December 17th, 2023

8 min read

The homepage of
A fool and his money are soon parted.

Primary season for the 2024 Presidential Election begins in a few weeks—starting with New Hampshire and Iowa.

While the official start of the 2024 election cycle means many things for many people, in one corner of the world/internet, it means it's time to make some money.

In 2020 I caught wind of a new and legal way to bet on US politics: It is a site the allows you to place limited bets on political events, using a clever, market-based system based on buying “shares” of outcomes. I discovered the site in the weeks before the 2020 Biden vs. Trump election and, after comparing the markets on the site to popular polling data, it seemed that many of the people betting on the site had virtually no respect for polling data whatsoever.

Specifically, the site seemed flooded with Trump voters who, thanks to the surprise of the 2016 election, felt that the polls were underestimating Trump once again. While believing that the polling data was underestimating Trump again was not crazy, the extent to which these market-setting bettors believed the polls were off, based on the bets they were placing on the site, was batshit.

Looking at the pricing on the site, across the board, these Trumpsters were implying a margin of error ~2 standard deviations away from standard margins of error for polling. In short, they were betting that the margin of error for the 2020 election polls would not just be larger, but significantly larger than it was in 2016.

It seemed like an easy opportunity to make some cash—so easy, I thought there had to be a catch. But while the site does take a fee on winnings, and there is a max limit on each individual bet ($850, last time I checked), I calculated that I could make a virtually risk-free ~30% return on any money I put into the site. While 30% return is not exactly hitting the lottery, it is an incredible rate of return for a single event, and would absolutely fast-track the growth of my young portfolio.

As it turned out, I was selling myself short. I actually went on to make over 100% return on the ~$7,000 I placed on bets across the site, ending with ~$14,000 total. How? I was able to make way more money than I originally thought because of the unique mail-in ballot situation.

If you remember the night of the 2020 election, it started out looking really good for Trump, but this was only because the mail-in ballots were the last to come in, and the mail-in ballots skewed significantly Democrat. Of course, the pundits calling the election on TV pointed out this fact every 5 seconds, but evidently this was still not enough to prevent the bettors of PredictIt from losing their cool.

As the first wave of votes came in, giving Trump early leads in most states (as expected), the markets on PredictIt went wild, and the cost of buying shares in a Biden victory in many states became even cheaper than they already were. Watching this panic unfold in real time—both via group chats with friends and family, and the actual markets on PredictIt—I knew that if I played my cards right and rolled my winnings from the first states to call the election into the states that had not yet called a winner, I could make way more money than I had originally thought possible. It was going to be a long night. My roommates in my cramped Pacific Beach apartment thought I was crazy as I made myself another pot of coffee at 8pm and strapped in.

My strategy remained conservative, based purely on polling data, and with no guess work involved. I only bet on Biden to win in states that were not closely contested, and, even then, as a baseline margin of safety, I assumed a massive 8% margin of error in the polls that skewed entirely in Trump’s direction.

When the dust settled the next morning—despite, if memory serves, the election still being ongoing thanks to the slowness of Arizona and chaos in Georgia—every single bet I had placed had paid off. It was hard to believe I had made so much easy money in such a short period of time, based on such a boring strategy. But it felt great. Outside of this, I had never been a gambler, but I now totally understood the gambler’s high. There is something about noticing an opportunity, actually taking the risk to act on it, and then having it pay off that makes you feel valid and alive.

Buzzing from victory and a fat pay day, I naturally wondered if I could repeatedly make money like this on PredictIt, even outside of a major election. In short, the answer seems to be no. I occasionally check back in on the site, and while there are definitely some tempting markets, there is no widespread, systemically lopsided stuff going on like there was during election week in 2020.

I’m assuming the reason for this is simple: outside of the major elections, the core of chronic PredictIt bettors is made up of people who are generally more highly-educated and statistically aware—nerdy, political, Nate Silver-y types. But once the major election cycle gets going, hordes of inexperienced “normies” show up to the site—with their dubious grasp of probability theory and wacko conspiracy theories in tow—and this is where the money is. It’s very much a seasonal movement. Waiting for election season as a PredictIt regular is like being a shop owner in a ski resort in the fall: just counting down the days until the out-of-towners show up with their money.

Unlike sports gambling, where you’re betting against odds makers who may be better at math than you, on sites like PredictIt you’re betting against someone else. “You don’t have to be smarter than [an odds maker],” says Derek Phillips, a 38-year-old creative writing PhD dropout who for several years made his living exclusively from PredictIt and earned some $140,000 in 2016 (presidential election years offer the biggest prizes; midterms are more of a little bump). “You have to be smarter than somebody who believes that Trump is going to win the election that he already lost.”

- quote from an article by Courtney Rubin in Fast Company

It feels necessary to pause here and say that I do care about America and what happens in this country politically, and when it comes to the fragmentation of our country, the rise of conspiracy theories, and the general/concerning trend toward authoritarianism, the current state of things makes me feel extremely concerned and sad. Despite this, I am not some pessimistic, red-pilled type. I am a voter, and outside of the current PredictIt/betting context that I’m writing this article in, I have a political self who does not think nor care about the money/betting side of politics that PredictIt enables.

I have also thought about whether it is wrong to essentially take money from people who show up to a website to effectively place bets on their deranged political theories. The verdict is in: I don't care. If anything, it's good for them—few things are more sobering and educational than losing money due to your beliefs. I actually rank losing money trying to beat the stock market as a teenager as one of my most fortunate and formative developments. It taught me a ton about how irrational the emotions that take hold of you can make you when your wallet is on the line, and undoubtedly saved me from a lot of pain down the road (for example, I was able to skip and ignore the crypto craze that seemed to claim many young men’s souls during the pandemic).

The point is, as I sit here waiting for election season to start, I like to think of the privilege to place bets on PredictIt as a small reward/consolation for sitting through and participating in the misery of American politics in general. In the coming weeks, I, like everyone else, will be paying increasingly more attention to politics and the election. In tandem, I will also be paying more attention to what’s going on on PredictIt. If I notice any opportunities like the one I saw in 2020, I’ll post about them here. However, as a baseline, I’m not going to get my hopes up and will assume that the easy-money days are over. But we’ll see.

God bless America.

Quote: thinking inside the box

December 16th, 2023

1 min read

"When we first started the band, we wanted to have a formula,” he says. “It’s like, ‘This is what we do, and we’re not gonna try and go outside the box too much. We’re gonna explore the box we’re in. I’ve always been a big fan of that. I used to be in bands where was like, ‘Man, we’ve gotta think outside the box!’ And all I’m thinking is: ‘You guys don’t even know.’ Music should never be just for the sake of being experimental. Before you even start, you have to know what you’re experimenting with first.”

- Mark Speer, lead guitarist of Khruangbin

In praise of boring backend tech

December 10th, 2023

6 min read

For awhile now I've had the goal of making a Django Rest Framework boilerplate starter that I could quickly spin up to use as a backend, and pair with my React frontends, for various SaaS ideas. I wanted to be able to just run a few commands and have a fully featured backend that is easy to manage, easy to iterate on, secure, and built on boring, mature, battle-tested technology that makes security and maintenance a breeze.

Django, the python-powered web framework for "perfectionists with deadlines," is famous for meeting all of these production-ready requirements in an efficient and painless way, while also providing the option to override and customize any feature you need. The out-of-the-box admin UI is also a game-changer.

For these reasons, I've noticed a lot of prolific and actually successful indie developers also using mature frameworks like Django or Rails for their backends in order to quickly ship their SaaS MVPs ideas, taking them from idea to (truly) production-ready application in 2-3 weeks of relatively easy/gentle coding, instead of 2-3 months of manically hacking together whatever the NodeJS runtime backend-stack-du-jour happens to be. These coders often sacrifice multiple weekends writing custom code and queries for really basic functionalities that mature backend frameworks have built-in. And, even if they've found ways to cut down their dev time by using boilerplates etc., they're kidding themselves if they are actually convinced that what they've written as a single, indie dev is a) secure by professional standards and b) not going to be a huge timesuck/much more difficult to maintain as months go by and their massive dependency tree of npm packages inevitably leads to breakage.

If not already obvious, I'm in the camp that believes backends should be boring. I think the hype cycle of online web dev communities and twitter routinely brainswashes many young junior/intermediate developers into thinking they always need to be using the latest, shiny, bleeding-edge backend tooling, when in reality, for 95% of startups, you really don't need (or want) anything more than an old-school REST API. I also think this is what most legit, actually productive older developers already know, there's just a visibility bias where we are never going to hear much from these people because they aren't hanging out on tech twitter, gushing over how they added GraphQL and a NoSQL DB to their to-do app; they're shipping their projects and then getting on with their lives.

And an aside for the performance junkies: the boring reality is that the vast majority of opportunities most apps have to meaningfully increase their speed/performance for users (insofar as it relates to the backend) does not have to do with the benchmark speeds of different languages and frameworks; it has to do with caching—yet another thing that mature frameworks all have built-in defaults for. I'm happy for you that the response time and throughput of your async Node.js backend beats my monolithic, synchronous Django backend out of the gate, but if we're being honest, most endpoints are cache-able, at least to some extent, so I can just add a couple lines of code, and now I'm back on top again. That is until you burn at least a few hours (which really add up over time) of your life figuring out how to add Redis to your go-to Node.js backend library of the month, and then we're practically tied.

You're just naturally not going to find a lot of hype-y web influencer content in your tech feeds surrounding old frameworks like Rails and Django. This isn't because they're "dying," there's just nothing new to sell or push with these frameworks because they've already "made it." There's not a deluge of new content for Twitter thread bois (👇🧵) to put out on mature frameworks because these frameworks have already solved every generic problem there is when it comes to backend web app development, including, but not limited to:

  • Authentication
  • Database models/ORM
  • Backend administration (Django's built-in admin UI 🙌)
  • Permissions
  • CRUD endpoints defaults
  • Throttling & pagination
  • Robust error handling and debugging
  • Background tasks & task scheduling

The fact that you get these features by default is not something to be bored by, it's something to jump around and rejoice over. As developers, we already have to spend tons of time staying current on trends in both tooling and tech in general. I'm going to take any opportunity I can get to use reliable technologies that save me time—without sacrificing quality—so I can focus my bandwidth elsewhere. Life is too short. And, unless your startup is in the 3% of new startups that really do have a foundational need for cutting-edge speed or realtime features, using mature frameworks for SaaS MVP backends is simply the right move from both a technical and businesses standpoint—assuming you're actually serious about things like security, scalability, and developing additional features quickly.

Anyway, I finally made my Django backend starter, and I haven't been this excited to code and build things in a long time (by the way, I’ll be sharing much of what I build on this blog going forward, so feel free to subscribe to receive new post updates if you’re curious). I'm solidly in the React camp for frontends, but I'm burnt out on keeping up with cutting-edge backend technologies to maintain my full-stack status just because young, impressionable developers and first-time SaaS founders think that they need them. It's okay if you like playing around with cutting-edge tech as a hobby, especially if you're new to development and excited and soaking it all up like a sponge, but at this point I'd rather put my time towards my life outside of programming than keep burning the midnight oil, reinventing the wheel every time I want to make a new project. I recommend more people do the same.

And if you're daunted by the prospect of learning a new programming language in order to use more mature backend frameworks, don't be; if you're reading this, there's a good chance that if you took just 1/10th of the time that you spend troubleshooting cutting-edge tech and put it toward learning the basics (all you need) of a new language, you'd be cruising in no time. You would enjoy the learning process, too—learning the basics of mature frameworks is a breath of fresh air if you've spent the last several years fighting in the trenches of the trendy.

P.S. I want to, but I'm not going to open source my new Django Rest starter that I've mentioned above for security reasons, even though it's not exactly the most complex piece of software in the world. However, if you want to talk Django or want any help, feel free to reach out to me on twitter—and don't forget to subscribe to this blog for more tech rants and project updates.

Quote: reveal yourself

December 8th, 2023

1 min read

The most difficult thing in the world is to reveal yourself, to express what you have to. As an artist, I feel that we must try many things—but above all we must dare to fail. You must be willing to risk everything to really express it all.

- John Cassavetes

Still need to see A Woman Under the Influence.

Photographs and social media, 90s style

December 5th, 2023

5 min read

KODAK EKTAR H35 Half Frame Film Camera, 35mm

My new film camera was delivered today. It was just $50, but the film you have to feed it costs ~$18 per roll, and looks like its just 36 pictures per roll—fifty cents a pic; will have to make them count.

While more expensive, this deliberate, self-enforced limitation—that makes every shot feel like it matters—is something I’m looking forward to and one of the main reasons I purchased the camera. It's also definitely part of why the retro film camera trend has become so popular over the past few years, beyond some people having an aesthetic preference or nostalgia for the look of film.

It's tiresome to talk about at this point, but I’ll share the thought anyway: creating and sharing images has become so cheap and frictionless in the smartphone/AI era that the value of any one image is continuously trending toward an asymptotic zero. Inside this deluge of dog pics, brunch selfies, and Midjourney/DALL·E prompts, the photograph itself has become—just like complaining about changes in a constantly changing world—a little cliche.

But the bigger problem I’ve had with picture-taking losing its allure over the past few years—despite this stretch being filled with so many good times—is that its caused me to hardly take any photos at all. While I prefer this mode to the other extreme of, say, sharing all of life’s moments to my IG story, I’ve been feeling some regret that I let my aversion to the manic, iOS-generated abyss of modern telecommunication push me too far into the negative—to the point where I almost always come up empty-handed when I consult my camera roll to revive fading memories. While I prefer this side of the picture-taking extreme to the other, this also does not feel great.

Thankfully I’ve been able to rely—as I always have—on more conscientiousness and posterity-oriented friends and family to document things, but recently I've noticed my inner-historian bubbling to the surface more and more, often to ask why I’m not pausing more frequently to actively participate in and create—through some combination of seeking, feeling, and storytelling—the context that I crave for my world so badly.

This led me to the realization that, I’ve avoided participating in not just picture taking, but a lot of online and app-y forms of communication/self-expression that have, over time, become standards. This is not because I’m some anti-social Luddite—I’m still on several of these social media apps, and I work in tech, after all—but mainly because, despite being an active, driven person with a genuine desire to create and connect, I’ve grown tired of the toxic, soul-sucking, miles-long fields of shit that the creators of our various devices and apps force us to crawl through before we can get to anything of value. I’m also not willing to normalize how insane and faulty the plumbing of modern communication has become, and I don’t care if airing this out on a personal blog makes me sound like a cranky old man—I’m certainly not alone in feeling this way.

But I won’t rant further about social media, Big Tech, etc.—it’s a well-travelled topic, and there’s not much for me to add. But as far as what I can actually control, I recently had the revelation that I’m in a unique position—as someone with web design and development skills—to have total control over how I put myself out there. This is why I redesigned, developed, and launched this site.

Rather than play the zero-sum game of either being on the apps (provides some short-term dopamine hits but ultimately makes us feel worse), or not at all (makes us feel left out, unheard, and lose context for how much of the world continues to communicate)—why not just pack up my stuff and move it outside of the algorithm’s house? For me, the option to stay online and share stuff now and then—without needing to rent land on on Big Tech’s property to do so—has been there for awhile, I’ve just never seized it.

I don’t need to grow old waiting for some pseudo-spiritual tech guru weirdo like Jack Dorsey to create the perfect decentralized social media app, and I don’t need to join Substack and then, in all likelihood, grow frustrated by whatever limitations I would encounter there. I can just go full custom and off-the-grid now by creating this blog, and build upon and extend it, truly, however I want: a Twitter style central feed, photo albums like Facebook, blogs like Medium, whatever. If I want to, I can even go full Elon Musk and trash the place—which reminds me: I also don’t run the risk of not knowing if something I put a lot of effort into creating and sharing on here today is still going to be there tomorrow. It’s my domain, and if I actually keep this thing running for awhile, given Elon’s current trajectory, there’s a decent chance the server powering this site will outlive Twitter’s...

Anyway, welcome to my new social media app for one. There might be some affiliate links and plugs to my business stuff here and there, but there there will be no banner ads or pop-ups; no AI-generated content, and no algorithms running in the background as you read. Enjoy.