From Manu

I guess Mondays are going to be the days for this “publicly private” conversation we’re having on your site and inside your inbox.

I was thinking about your leak at the house and it’s ironic how this kind of problem seems to always crop up at the most inconvenient times. I was also dealing with some annoying issues at home, not a leak but a clogged sink in the kitchen and we spent way too much time on January 2nd trying to sort that out. Like you said, we tend to look at the beginning of the year as this moment of starting from scratch but life manages to find ways to remind you that this isn’t a new beginning after all.

And in my case, that way was scraping away junk stuck in a pipe for who knows how long.

You wrote that you find slowness to be nice in the context of these conversations and I’d have to agree. In my weird internet-powered interactions I managed to find a few people willing to move these strange conversations on a medium that’s even slower and that’s old-school paper letters and I have to say, it’s incredibly refreshing.

Having to wait for weeks to get something back is a very enjoyable change of pace. Also the thrill of not knowing what is happening to your mail once it leaves your hands. Will it be delivered? Who knows! But it’s fun, something I want to do more of.

Learning about your blog journey was interesting and reading about this kind of journey through tools and services always makes me wonder if I just got lucky.

I decided to start a blog on January 1st, 2017 because, you know, clean slate and all that. I never had a proper site, one with pages and menus and content. I always had super minimal one-pagers that were more like digital business cards than actual websites.

But for some reason, I decided I wanted to start blogging. And so on January 1st I woke up super early in the morning, made myself coffee, and coded a very simple blog. The plan was to post weekly updates on my life, a way to keep me accountable. Those posts are still up on my blog and you can clearly see that I didn’t know what I was doing with the site. But it was clear that it was meant to be a way to have conversations. I kept that weekly pace for a month or so, and then I stopped. At some point, I removed the blog because I thought it was stupid to have a site with just a bunch of posts left there.

I coded myself a different static site that was mainly a collection of links. I then wanted to post something I wrote though and I didn’t have a way to do it anymore. So that simple list of links became a list of links with an extra page with this lonely blog post. At that point, I realized that I did want to blog after all and I re-coded myself a blog, powered by the Kirby CMS and I’ve been running on that ever since.

The site has not changed much over these years. I tweaked the typography a bit here and there but it’s been in its current form at least since 2018 I believe and I still like it.

I do want to change a few things in 2024 primarily because I know have a few extra side projects I want people to know about but I love the overall simplicity of my blog. And others seem to like it too so I don’t see why I should change it.

As they say “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

Schedule, rhythm, pace, this is something I find myself thinking about a lot these days. Both in the context of my online life and also my life in general. I’m 34, never had a proper job, always been self-employed so it’s been ages since I had to follow a schedule and I think it’s time to change that. Endless freedom has its pros but also some cons. Constraints are sometimes helpful.

Speaking of technology and pingbacks, I still think the best way to notify people is to simply email them. Because that opens up the door for more interactions. An automated notification doesn’t really help interactions with other humans because I think we’re now trained to ignore notifications of any sort.

At least that’s what I like to do. If I stumble on something I think it’s worth replying to I usually post something on my blog with links to the relevant content and then I try to email the author to let them know that I appreciated what they made and I wrote something in response. That’s how the web is supposed to work in my opinion.

You asked about my blog and I don’t really know what to say about it. It’s a chronological list of thoughts and things I find interesting. It’s part portfolio, part blog, part photo album, part side project. I don’t have a topic and I don’t care about having one. I’m the topic of my personal blog. If you read it you’ll learn things about me and about the things I like to think about. It’s a simple plan but has worked fine so far.

I also don’t try to be any different on my site than I am in person. My posts are not edited and are not drafted. I don’t spend days reworking my content. When an idea forms in my head I write it down and I publish and I move on. My English is far from perfect, there will be typos, and that’s ok. At the end of the day what I care about is not producing great written content but generating interactions with other humans which is why I liked your letters project.

Do you think blogging and online interactions in general will change in the near future with all the AI nonsense that’s coming up?

Hi Manu,

It’s funny you should mention emailing someone. Today, for the first time, I got one of those emails. It was so eerie I had to double check I hadn’t yet posted a response to this letter. It’s not a bad idea.

While I’m just a bit older at 36, and I have never been self-employed, I’ve had a pretty flexible schedule the most of the time. I still end up with quite a bit of routine. Some of that is imposed– I have, a metric ton of meetings. But a lot of that is just having found what works for me.

My ideal day looks something like this:

  • 8 - 9 AM Lift weights at the gym
  • 9 - 9:45 AM Shower, make or get a coffee, have a small breakfast
  • 9:45 - 12:30 PM Desk work and meetings
  • 12:30 - 1 PM Lunch
  • 1-2:30 PM Desk work and meetings
  • 2:30 - 3 PM Take a walk outside, sometimes with my older dog who likes to walk.
  • 3 - 4 PM Desk work
  • 4 - 6:30 PM Dog walking, dinner, and some time with my partner
  • 6:30 - 9 PM Volleyball
  • 9 - 11 PM Quiet desk work
  • 11 - 11:30 PM Prepare for bed
  • 11:30 - 12 AM Read

There are lots of disruptions to this. I only go to the gym 3 days a week and volleyball is 2-3 days a week. They’re not always on the same day. I also frequently have meetings with West Coast team mates from 4-6 PM or emergent issues that require sticking to my desk until 6 PM. Those days, I rarely make it back for the Quiet Desk work slot because my energy is just shot. Heck, in general, this kind of ideal day dramatically undercounts my typical hours. But I do think it shows off why flexibility is great.

I do some of my best work after 8 PM if I can at my desk doing focused, quiet work, that I find terrible difficult to do during the day. In fact, looking at it written out, there are very few long stretches of uninterrupted work. I think that fits my own brain and role– I very rarely can actually get something done for four hours straight. I don’t have the kind of work that is “Start here, and keep working until you solve the problem” very often. When I do, I kind of like to do that work on weekends. I do find myself often picking things up on a weekend afternoon and suddenly realizing I put in a half day of work because I finally had a concrete problem to just work through. It’s a real manager’s dilemma.

My blog is also just about me. In some ways, it represents the conversation I’d be having if I were with a friend. I’m just often… not. When I go quiet on my blog, it’s almost always because there’s a lot of stuff going on I don’t want to talk about publicly or I’m spending a lot of time with people. The quieter my physical space is, the louder my digital one gets. I once told a friend that my blog basically existed so that I didn’t drive my friends crazy with constant text messages.

That’s really what the theme of my blog is– the group chat no one signed up for but is happening anyway.

I recently added an About page. It started as something I wrote to test out a new design I’m playing with, but I ended up liking it too much and realizing the redesign project was going to take a long time. It’s funny– I put a whole section that was about my blog, but it doesn’t say what the blog is about.

AI and its impact on the web. Well that’s a bit of a can of worms.

I’m not sure how big the impact of the current AI models will be in the first place. It was actually Matt Birchler linking to a post in which I compared OpenAI to Uber that had me thinking about pingbacks. I never would have known he replied if I didn’t happen to follow his blog. I’m quite sure he doesn’t follow mine, so I my later elaboration and reply to his post probably never made it to him. I never really thought to email him about them. I don’t think he owes me or even should write a response to them. But, I guess I do think the internet would work better for conversation if he knew they existed.

That’s a tangent though. Large language models are pretty good at cleaning up writing. I’ve had times where I’ve asked it to simplify a sentence or make a paragraph more direct and I’ve been happy with at least some of its edits. Their chat interfaces are also genuinely great– remember the chat bot craze of 6 years ago? LLMs could make chat bots less like a bad support phone tree and more like a real interface. 1 I also think that the image generation tools are pretty damn powerful. Combined, I think they will create a bimodal distribution. There will be a new internet-of-shit, this time digital, filled with AI generated content. This will be a massive volume of web addresses that no one actually visits or wants. Then there will be the rest of us, whose websites and content may get a little better with the help of AI tools. As a result, I think more and more people will want a place away from the algorithms and clearly personal and human made to point to. I think we’ll see user generated content continue to grow as a counter to the AI slop. But I also think that it’ll continue to get harder and harder to find good stuff on the internet as it gets buried below the new content farms.

One of the biggest challenges of blogging will continue in the age of AI-content – it’s really hard to find good, new stuff.


  1. One thing that’s hard about LLM chat-as-an-interface is you can’t really design the experience. That feels like something that is a problem I haven’t seen anyone talking about. ↩︎