it’s really hard to find good, new stuff.

It really is and it’s frankly amazing that we’re still facing this issue. It’s not rare for me to mindlessly browse the web not knowing which sites I should actually visit.

I don’t do social media and outside of those platforms there really aren’t many places useful to discover new content. I think that’s one of the unfortunate consequences of people moving on social platforms: old-school forums died, for the most part.

And forums were neat! If you had an interest in something specific chances are there was a forum for you out there. And since forums weren’t stupidly huge over time you could become friends with a bunch of regulars and it was such a cool experience.

That’s something I personally miss and I don’t think social media can really recreate that. And it’s one of the best aspects of small communities. I love small online communities, especially weird and niche ones.

I wrote about the topic a few times before and I suspect I’ll touch that topic again in the future because the way is changing and I think people will slowly move back to more distributed spaces. We’re seeing a resurgence of personal blogs and maybe forums are gonna be the next type of sites to come back online.

A completely unrelated question but is there a place in your life for exploration? I’m not talking about intellectual exploration but rather physical one: going to new places, walking random paths. I’m asking you because I was doing my morning walk with the dog earlier today and decided to go up on a path I often see while driving, and after a short hike on a snowy path I stumbled on this tiny cavern, and on the other side of it there was this gorgeous view of the mountains and everything was lit by the morning sunrise.

Not sure if you do pictures on your blog but I’m going to attach one I took from that spot.

Blue skies that are nearly clear but for a few wisps of clouds over rolling hills with dry grass and buildings in the distance.

And it got me thinking about how many things we’re missing simply because we don’t explore more often. I lived here for almost a decade not knowing about that wonderful place and who knows how many others are out there.

This is something that also happens when I click links at random, now really knowing where I’m going to end up. That’s one of the reasons why the indie web is fun. You start clicking and you don’t really know where you’ll land.

Hi Manu,

Forums were neat. I can’t believe how much community they could build. I still speak nearly daily to someone I first “met” on forums when I was about 15. He lives half or more a world away right now. We’ve never met in person. In various ways, our careers and interests have continued to follow similar paths. In some ways, he’s my original “letters” pen pal. It’s strange to have known someone that well for nearly half my life and having never met. But I think that friendship is a testament to the fact that forums do create community and connections that are meaningful.

I agree that today’s social media doesn’t really recreate that magic. The closest thing was early Twitter. I first joined Twitter at a conference in 2010. It was using a hashtag at this multi-track conference and being able to follow the conversation in other rooms (and have a conversation with folks at the same talk) that felt electric. In a way, those hashtags for real world events were like pop-up forums. I don’t know that I regret being on Twitter for so long, but it’s pretty wild how it took using Twitter as an augmentation to a real world event to make me “get it” and what Twitter usage became by the end.

I’ve also written about community at least a few times. It’s really why I participate in the web at all.

I personally love exploring. What I like to do whenever I travel is just move through a city on foot. We do “urban hiking” where we purposely choose two points pretty far from each other on the map for lunch and dinner and spend our day in the spaces in between, learning what it feels like to inhabit a place. I honestly wish we did more exploring and more “nature” hiking, which is something we’ve picked up and down depending on the year and our overall energy level. I think it was Annie, who I wrote letters with earlier in the project, who used to post a photo of her hike every weekend referring to it as “church”. That’s how I feel when I get to go outside for long periods and really shut things off. Lately, this is has been really hard to find time for. I’ve been pretty busy preparing for some big changes in my work life which has subsumed all the energy I have.

A little more exploration would be a nice thing for 2024. I’m going to think about how I can make that happen.

Sorry for the late letter— as I mentioned earlier this week, on Monday we announced that Allovue— the start up I’ve worked at for almost a decade— was acquired by a large public K-12 software company, PowerSchool. In some ways, this is going to change a lot. In other ways, nothing at all will change. But this week, especially, was a hectic one with a lot of emotions to process and people to support as my team and I transition.

Hoping we can still slip one more of these in.