Graham Smith

Why a blog

Last year, amid the fallout of Twitter’s still ongoing fall-apart, I read Adam Mathes simple call to action: “Just use the web.”

In a time when the closed platforms of Twitter, Facebook and others are falling apart - and also just “sad to visit”, as Mathes put it - there’s an increasingly pragmatic incentive to avoid them. “Find a way to care enough to care for your creative output. Invest the time to create space for your output that is your own.”

I operated my own blog for much of the noughties, mostly run on Wordpress with private hosting and a hand-made theme. One of the things I liked most about it, aside from the fun of tinkering with CSS, was that it was a central reservoir into which all my online ephemera flowed. I wrote long, mostly unread blog posts, sure, but Wordpress plugins also pulled tweets, screenshots from Flickr, links and more into the sidebars. The feeling was of having a home on the internet which I controlled, and which I carried with me even when third-party services died.

Then I got busy and stopped writing blog posts. I spent more time on social media platforms - although still not much time, relatively speaking. The blog became increasingly burdensome to maintain, too, requiring regular security updates long after I’d last written anything on it. And so eventually I took it down, cancelled the hosting account, and let the domain name lapse.

Yet I miss having a home on the web. It increasingly seems both an ideological and a pragmatic imperative, as Mathes argues, to have a space that is our own among the crumbling edifices of Big Tech. It’s also just fun. Blogs and newsletters and RSS and all the structures of the web remain fun where Twitter and Instagram and TikTok so often seem sad.

So this blog is my attempt to just use the web. It’s a static website which should require very little maintenance, its pages generated with Hugo, and with an inexpensive domain and hosting from Porkbun. I’ll update it rarely and no one will read it, but that’s just fine. It’s home.