tln devlog [1/3] — Motives

Back in 2017, I grew increasingly annoyed by the social media platform I was using for publishing film reviews. Although an enjoyable and stimulating place a few years ago, I had found that SensCritique was getting ridden with advertisements, and I didn't like the carnival of links and images which were displayed on every page to enhance traffic. It didn't help either that the website would thrive on aggregating moviegoers information, therefore constantly spreading incentives that everything be graded on sight —something I came to believe to be quite an inappropriate way to apprehend culture.

Furthermore, as I got more preoccupied with creating my own stuff than discussing works by other artists, essentially I stopped caring about online film discussions (most of my interactions back then regrettably amounted to superficial analysis and attention-seeking comments, so I wouldn't dare to call it 'debating'). Thus I wasn't much concerned about losing so-called followers, and I was ready to move this humble activity to someplace it wouldn't get as many views. Writing lengthy and/or somewhat freewheeling online articles caters to few people's taste anyway, and I'm happy enough talking with a few close friends about whatever movie I saw recently.

My point here is twofold. I didn't care yet about having a website which felt my own; however, I needed a place removed from the frenzy of social media. Also, I knew that I would draw way less readers than before, which didn't bother me because I wasn't making money from this whimsical occupation, nor did I have any intention to. Still, it felt scary to stop participating in social media. No groundbreaking epiphany here, but it seems like you can't promote your work anymore without being complicit in many practices I'm not comfortable with. And I'm somewhat upset that this case should be considered settled by most people.

Later on, I worked on a series of pictures, but I lacked a place to publish them, so I ended up putting them on Facebook (they landed here eventually). This felt clumsy for a number of reasons similar to what drove me away from SensCritique. Yet, further than the need for an autonomous place to share my interests, it made me realize that I wanted the design of such a place to reflect my interests. I would not be satisfied unless the structure itself would feel as fulfilling as the content —at least to me, and hopefully to the users.

This intent covered both the logical arrangement and the graphical rendering of the content (I guess that's what they call HTML and CSS, duh). As it happened, this longing for idiosyncrasy obviously ruled out other social media, but it also excluded WordPress-powered projects and whatnots. Even though I could tinker with existing content management systems to display photos and publish blog articles, I could not get the media reviewing/archive platform I was longing for, except if I wrote my own web application.

At that point I roughly saw what I had to build, and I was ready to get some work done. The only issue was, I knew zilch about web development. Oops. Time to pull some tricks.

  • I used to work in computer security, so I was already quite, eh, computer-fluent. I would have to get familiar with a whole new field, but it should help to know stuff about Unix-like environments and also some programming (and so it did).

  • I'm confident about being a fast learner. That is, when I'm convinced I need to be, otherwise I get bored, rebellious and/or sick of everything on earth. There may be various reasons for this situation, but I met quite a few people who had the abilities but lacked the self-assurance, so it seemed worth noting, however effortless it might sound to some.

  • More than anything else maybe, I was able to free significant time for this. By the end of 2017 I had quit my regular job, and I also put many things aside in order to move some personal projects forward. Whether this was healthy or not will be discussed later. At any rate, it should be considered that I felt comfortable enough, money-wise, to spend several weeks on this. It's kind of self-indulgent to engage in something which I could afford to fail, yet it's precisely because I turned this into a non-risk that I couldn't bear not to do it.

Finally, I should talk about one strong belief which underpins the whole plan. The more I'm involved in the different steps and components of a project, the more it will make me content. Even if there existed some out-of-the-box solution which gave me everything I needed at once, I probably wouldn't take it. This could be contemptuously dismissed as reinventing the wheel, but it's more than a matter of intellectual curiosity.

On some occasions, my job used to leave me disheartened because my contributions were far from giving me a hold on what was a massive undertaking. In the endeavours I pursue now, I need to deliver something that feels final, and I need to exert as much control as I can beforehand. I struggle to feel complete when I mindlessly use other people's work. It can be rather demanding to appropriate new tools and knowledge in this way, but eventually it makes me feel like I own the entirety of my labour, of my creation, of my life force. An invaluable feeling indeed.

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