2 min read

A year of notebucketing

I've been writing this thing for a year now apparently, let's see if I have any thoughts.

First off, I'm still using it frequently, so that seems like a win already. The volume has dropped from when I started, but also back then I had no job and masses of free time, so I'd expect that anyway. The important thing is that I still want to write here, it's not some abandoned project with an ugh field around it.

So, next question is whether it's good or useful. I think so? I've got out a bunch of thoughts that I wouldn't have managed otherwise, read some pretty heavy books and papers I'd never have got through without taking notes, and explored a bunch of weird territory to do with symbols, representation and repeatability. (This is the thread that runs through all of the visual programming/Derrida/Husserl/Brian Cantwell Smith stuff, which probably looks like an incoherent mess from the outside.)

So that's good. On the other hand, I'm worried that I mostly managed that by cannibalising the blog. It's just easier to spam out notebook-sized posts in one sitting, or write endless notes... but then I'm not doing the work of transforming them into something more useful and comprehensible. I already have a tendency towards hiding, and retreating to the quietest most illegible place I have, and the notebook reinforces that. I want to get back to writing things that other people who aren't already deeply immersed in the same context might actually want to read.

I think this would be less of an issue if I moved the blog to Ghost as well, as I prefer the experience of writing here. But then I'd need to sort out the commenting problem. Ghost doesn't provide any commenting solution itself, and the standard third party integrations it provides are either too expensive to consider for a tiny handful of comments, or ad-stuffed and generally crappy looking like Disqus. So the only remaining option is rolling my own somehow. I'm currently hosting on Digital Ocean, which is already a bit more server admin than I really want to be doing, so babysitting a comment system as well doesn't sound great. I could move the whole thing to somewhere like Netlify maybe? They had an ok free tier last time I looked, and then I could probably use their serverless functions to send comments to some kind of cheapo AWS store... but ugh, I don't want to think about this. Wordpress still has the advantage of providing everything.

Anyway, still glad I've done it. Some favourites so far:

  • Life-changing magic - reflections on KonMari-ing my stuff and buying a better toaster
  • Kill math, or maybe don't kill math - some thoughts on an old Bret Victor essay and a mathematician's response to it. Will maybe revisit this one soon in the light of my new iterability obsession
  • Back facing outwards - very short post on one paragraph of a Brian Cantwell Smith book. Maybe doesn't look like much, but the realisation in it was important and this is exactly the kind of thing I'd like to use the notebook for 
  • I ♥ universities - sadposting about academia
  • Image streaming - testing out a technique for improving my visualisation ability