The Other Pivot
I wrote The Pivot thinking about the technical aspects of the blog. I pivoted from Blot to GitHub Pages and started getting the site production ready. I talked about “front matter” and a struggle with the technical aspects of an already highly technical setup for anyone who isn’t a technical person. I included bits and pieces that weren’t technical otherwise; the other pivot focused on the content on the site and more broadly my writing in general.
The fact is that I read a lot. My reading inevitably turned into links from my site out to the content of other people. After all, my Tumblr blog, where this all really started in earnest back in 2009, was built with the sharing of other people’s content in mind. Once social media became a much more common pursuit, link blogs weren’t as necessary. Daring Fireball is still ostensibly a link blog, albeit one with a laser focus and a high number of followers. My link blog once had followers as well, but lacked a focus. You could argue that my blog still lacks a specific focus; I would agree with that sentiment, in fact.
That is why there is another “pivot” I thought to write about in the early stages of this next iteration of the site. The other pivot has to do with the content, the shift that is necessary for me to continue to invest in this platform. The shift away from linking to other people’s content and instead focusing on my own pursuit of being a better writer and sharing my own journey toward being a better technologist, minimalist, husband, and father.
I think the thing that has always bothered me about other blogs to some extent is that there is a lot of content but a lack of thoroughness and authenticity in what is written. Ben Brooks is one writer that I come back to time and again because he is if nothing else authentic. He has a focus on finding the best of a given product category and is opinionated about a great many things. It makes him both interesting to read and a place to revisit if you are looking for a product in a category that he has covered extensively, to name just a few: bags, pocket knives, or clothing.
My focus is minimalism, but I am not one of The Minimalists, so I cannot provide the type of content they do. My focus is technology, but I am not John Gruber, so I cannot provide the depth and history of knowledge in that content area that he does. My focus is parenting or fatherhood or being a great husband, but the majority of people interested in those pursuits are, let’s face it, reading something else.
The one thing I can provide is a unique juxtaposition of all these things. And provide insight into the journey it has taken to get me to where I now am.
I read Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport awhile ago and was struck by two things:
- Mr. Newport gets a lot of things spot on; we are consumed by our technology, defined by it, and need to be able to distance ourselves from it from time to time to provide our bodies with the other things they need: emotional, social, physical wellbeing.
- Mr. Newport doesn’t seem to really understand what it is like to be a husband and father of school-aged children in the 21st century. (My kids are six, four, and one at the time of this writing.) He posits that we must be willing to leave our devices at home and go for an uninterrupted stroll for a few hours at a time. I barely get five minutes of uninterrupted time at home, let alone screen time or a stroll. The fact is that leaving technology behind is both easier said than done and requires much more than a whim and a desire with children in the aforementioned age ranges.
Suffice it to say, I have ideas to bring to that conversation and barring the lack of time to provide my ideas, I wish to do so. What I once termed Digital Minimalism, as the opposite of “Digital Hoarding”, was focused differently than Mr. Newport’s approach, however. Here’s what I thought back in November of 2018:
As with any discussion of minimalism, it has to be said that not everyone thinks about things or approaches in the same way. Some people don’t care how many notifications come in, some people don’t care if their photos library is massive, some people don’t care if they fill their house, proverbial or not, with stuff. That’s OK, to each their own, but I offer the above comments as a means to call attention to the lack of discussion on the subject of digital minimalism (or, more rightly stated, digital hoarding), especially as more and more discussion of physical minimalism is entertained. People may not see the effects visibly, but as we create more data the world over, the need to pare down the data we keep will become all the more necessary.
The information I want to share on this site moving forward has technological minimalism in mind just as much as the approach to its archival content. I want to share information that helps others find their way toward technological minimalism while also shifting toward a more minimalistic approach to the items I have behind the scenes. By my current count, I have only five posts available to read on this site, all original content and all with a current purpose. They are also all only available by direct link.
As the site gets more content, I will discuss the approach I take to ensure that more content does not force more complex site design.
The digital clutter of my past is important to understand the journey, but much of it is not my own and should be considered “clutter”. It is therefore both representative of the problem and unnecessary to the most recent goal I wish to pivot toward.