The Case for Digital Minimalism

Published July 8, 2019 · 565 words · 3 minute read

Exhausted. At the end of our workdays, Gen Zs all end up drained and numb, even if we don’t seem to actually accomplish anything. Older adults puzzle over why, exactly, we all appear to be dead and passionless.

Certainly, part of my personal issue was my attatchment to the new drug, digital media. I’m certain my personal issues are also present in most members of my generation. Primar

It takes a fierce grip, tempting the mind with an open firehose of facts and events, keeping us hooked on knowing. Like an alcoholic or heroin addict, becoming absorbed in the now of the world takes you out of your personal now. It estranges us from our roommates, families, communities, religions, and the good.

The new drug is endless, shallow infotainment.

I’ve done my best to design my life, and this new site, to address this issue.

While I could go through the effort to implement sharing buttons, google analytics, forms, facebook chatbot integrations, complex menu systems, and the like, I’ve done that before. For a time, inserting and tweaking these things are fun. After a long time, though, they become a chore. You feel the need to stay up to date and implement the latest and greatest every time it rolls around.

I’ve been planning to do a minimal re-write for a while, and here it is! No sharing buttons, menus, tracking, Facebook or Google, and above all, no JavaScript!

Don’t get me wrong, I love JavaScript. At a point, though, shoveling JavaScript at a user becomes an ethical issue for any programmer who cares about those in the developing world, operating on low-perf devices.

Our senses are overburdened with digital events to process; I feel it is better to have fewer, and so, I have designed my site to address the issue. Not intentionally, really; I just wrote a paginator in Hugo and liked it so much I decided that my entire site would just be one paginator.

Lately I’ve been feeling that, like many others in my discipline, I’ve caught a rather horrible case of keeping up with the joneses. For the longest time, I stressed about how I would assemble my new personal site, asking questions like:

  • Which static site generator? Hugo? Gatsby?
  • Which CSS framework? Bootstrap? Pure? Bulma?
  • Should I write it using Flask, Django, RoR so I can track users, run fun experiments, and host endpoints for APIs and Chatbots?

Then I asked myself: Why do I want a personal site?

My answer was, really: to store a repository of notes and texts, primarily for personal use (but publicly accessible,) and with the ability to share a fast-loading, minimalistic view for others.

And so, I’ve gone and done it. I’ve stripped out everything I didn’t need: slow-loading JavaScript, fonts, assets, and complex css. The colors and fonts are chosen to be easy on the eyes, and so I don’t have to worry about how fonts will appear. Everything about the design is here to eliminate my need to endlessly tinker and tweak, allowing me to focus on what I deem is truly valuable:

  • Writing about things I enjoy.
  • Writing about things that are important.
  • Writing about technology that I use.

And so, this site is to be a rolling-release blog packed to the gills with personal notes, articles, etc. I hope you find my public repository of knowledge useful.