This blog has now reached the somewhat random milestone of 150 posts. When I asked around what post #150 should be about, the Twitterverse said “blogging”. Well, OK!
Fun fact, this isn’t my first blog: from 2008 to 2014, I had a travel blog, where I tried to write funny posts about my trips abroad for family and friends. This blog is different as I try to, ahem, add “something” to the field of web development, I fact-check, look for previous work to credit and try to keep posts with technical recommendations up to date.
Why personal blogs are great
The fact that so many people publish their thoughts and share knowledge, is something I’ve always loved about the web. Whether it is practical stuff about how to solve a coding issue or some kind of opinion… everyone’s brain is wired differently. It may resonate, it may not, that’s also fine.
People’s blogs are what helped me get started in this industry and get a feeling for the kinds of problems we’re trying to solve. I started doing web development around 2006, and at that time, lots of people blogged. Many of the conversations happened on blogs. Since 2013, this blog is my attempt to join some of the conversations.
Blogging is like “a kind of catharsis”, said Bruce Lawson once in 2005:
In the old days, people used to shout at passers-by in the street; these days, we blog.
(Don’t follow the link and read about his other analogies to blogging)
Writing in public feels great, even if no one reads it, says Sara Soueidan in her post Just write:
Even if only one person learns something from your article, you’ll feel great, and that you’ve contributed — even if just a little bit — to this amazing community that we’re all constantly learning from. And if no one reads your article, then that’s also okay.
It is ideal to do this on your own website. Matthias Ott put it beautifully in his post Into the Personal-Website-Verse—personal websites are about expressing and exploring yourself:
Personal websites are called personal websites because they are just that: personal. Thus, the primary objective still is to have a place to express ourselves, to explore ourselves, a place that lasts while the daily storms pass by. A place of consideration, and yes, a place of proudly sharing what we do, what we think, and what we care about. A place to contribute your voice and help others. A home on the internet. A place to tell your story.
This resonates so much.
Social media is hard to search
Do you ever think “there was this tweet by X about Y” and attempt to find it? This can be really hard, as new tweets appear all the time in this endless stream of opinions, thoughts, jokes and anger. You may want to go to a person’s profile and look for the tweet, but with the endless loading that breaks
CTRL/⌘ + F, I usually wish my past self had saved a direct link.
In contrast, your blog is “a place that lasts”, as Matthias says above. If you take those tweets and put them into context on your blog, that will make the conversation easier to find them later.
Social media is not optimised for organising thoughts
Not only do posts on social media fade away over time, they also have character limits. While you save words, you likely leave out nuance. Threads exist, of course, but on your website, people don’t have to click to try and expand more content. You get all the space you need.
Own your content
When you publish on your site, you own your content in a way not available on any of the centralised platforms, like Twitter or Medium.
Khoi Vinh says about this in an interview:
I personally can’t imagine handing over all of my labor to a centralized platform where it’s chopped up and shuffled together with content from countless other sources, only to be exploited at the current whims of the platform owners’ volatile business models.
What I write about
This blog isn’t particularly structured, but scrolling through the past 149 posts, I did find some common themes. I had forgotten about a lot of the stuff. Warning: there are a lot of links below.
Summaries of events
Sometimes, I write summaries of the conferences I attend, like when I met the TAG, attended ConfConf and joined MozFest. This requires me to hold my phone while listening, frantically taking notes, while being focused on what is being said. After the event, I structure my writings and try to piece together summaries per talk, adding links, sometimes revisiting slide decks if they’re available. This is exhausting, but helps me personally process what I’ve learned. It usually also leaves me with many tabs open and a bunch of self doubt about properly representing the speakers’ points.
I’ve also published some ‘hot takes’. The one I’m now most embarrassed by is the clickbaitily titled Bootstrap considered harmful. Let’s say I had not read Eric Meyer’s awesome “Considered Harmful” Essays Considered Harmful yet, and I was younger. I also wrote about Web Components and which kinds we need, overengineering CSS, “your mom” jokes in corporate culture, why Uber’s for everyone isn’t like Timbl’s and why slowness of websites is optional.
In the last 10 years component systems ruled front-end development. Before that, it would not be uncommon to be hired to build some full pages. Those times are gone. Components have been a favourite subject to write about. Recently this was about accessibility claims of third-party components, before that I wrote about baking accessibility into components, frameworks and standards, Web Components and native elements, the websites as an instance of a design system, grids and components and accessibility in pattern libraries.
Some of my more technical articles are about accessibility. I wrote about how accessibility trees work, alternative text and when you don’t need it, accessible names and focus traps. There were also posts about testing pattern library accessibility, inline error messages and making websites more mobile friendly.
I praised the wonders of CSS in many of the posts. It lets you style things that don’t even exist yet, has simplicity as its core principle and can be used to rebuild awesome posters. To me, the cascade is a feature, not a bug and I feel simple fallbacks for Grid Layout are preferred to complex ones.
One of my first posts about progressive enhancement was about an approach for progressive enhancement with
data--attributes and I did a follow-up on initialising script from mark-up. More recently I wrote about the merits of separating HTML, CSS and JS.
Here’s to the years to come!
There are lots of things I would like to do better. One is to write better, maybe by writing more. Maybe also by submitting to other publications, so that I can get more feedback on my writing. There’s so much to learn about writing and it’s hard to learn alone. I would also like to write more interesting content (don’t we all? 🤓). So far I noticed something interesting can come out when I don’t expect it, and write something short that I never really planned to write about. Probably think about it less?
Anyway… I’ve really enjoyed having my own blog and I hope to continue posting for many years to come. Thanks everyone for support and encouragement, you know who you are! I hope to be back soon with a post that is more useful than this one.