What is the purpose of this website?

This post is part of the { Website } series.

I largely quit social media because it transformed from being something that helps me keep in touch with people and that stimulates social interaction, to an endless stream of promoted clickbait content. The little “real” personal content that made it to my feed, was usually dull and did not facilitate any interesting conversations. With the creation of this website I’m trying to take control of my online identity, making this domain a main hub for various dispersed identities, somewhat along the lines of these principles .

Being free to do with this website what I want in a way that is meaningful for me, gives me joy. In addition, this website really is personal because I built it myself, which comes with a sense of pride (in the positive sense of the word). This is my first website, and I had no idea what I was doing when I started out. I had never written any html or css, but with the help of a friend during a nightly Skype-session (during which he fell asleep) I had a very simple one page site online within a few days. It was really, really bad. But it was out there, and it was mine. Over time I kept incrementally improving on it bit by bit, and by now I’ve reached a point where I’m quite content with the websites’ features and its minimalistic look (although I’m constantly fighting the urge to delete almost all css and go barebones). By now, I even find myself stimulating others to make their own personal website, and helping them out in the process. Over the last weeks, I helped my friend and philosopher Boris make his own website. I know that for the average philosopher all hands-on tech stuff is, well… Let’s just say in general they like thinking about technology more than using it. If you keep your website simple enough however, you can learn to maintain it yourself, even if you are a philosopher. Even although it might be a bit rough in the beginning, it will have all the more charm because it is authentic. Especially for academics, sober (or one might say: Spartan) websites have a long history (see for example this article . We need people to make their own websites again to keep the web an interesting and diverse place, and offer some resistance against the boring uniformness of yet another generic Wordpress blog or Facebook page. Boris’ work and thoughts are interesting and deserve a cool website. He published his new website last week, and I’m convinced it’s the beginning of a nice digital journey where a lot will be learned. Check it out here .

Anyways, the bottom-line is that what makes my website personal for me is not only that it contains personal content, but that it facilitates more meaningful interaction with people than so-called “social” media (and that does not mean more interaction). For me, the point of my blog is to help me shape my thoughts on topics of interest, but specifically in such a way that I can involve others in this process. The overarching goal is to enable dialogue and interaction with other people through a sensible digital identity, whether that means reinforcing existing relations or perhaps making new ones. I currently play with the idea to represent some of this dialogue directly on the website itself, by also allowing others to post on my domain, which is in the spirit of my plea that more people should have their own little place on the web. In short, I want to offer digital residence to friends on my domain. I do not yet completely know how this will work out, but my current experimental idea is this:

  1. Friends/acquaintances can write a post on a topic reflecting a shared interest. My interests are very broad, so finding such a common interest should not be too hard.
  2. I will publish the post, unless I consider it completely unsuitable to be associated with my name.
  3. My role in the process ranges somewhere between a minimal form of redaction, and full cooperation in writing the post.
  4. In return, each contributor gets their own home page on this domain. This homepage lists all their contributions, and apart from that they are free to do with it as they please. (Technically, this amounts to giving them their own branch on the Github repo of this site)

I made an example of such a homepage here .

As for the content of the blogs, I consider them to be an exercise in imperfection. They are not as unstructured as notes, but neither are they fully developed like articles. They are somewhere in between, more like essays in their original sense: they are attempts, exercises in writing and thinking that do not shy away from incompleteness. It’s yet another reason why I like to think of them in terms of a dialogue: in real conversations answers are not known in advance; they can be confused, open-ended. It is no coincidence that blog writing has such a conversational style. It reflects thinking on-the-way (yes, that is a reference to Heidegger), and in one sense it is a text that ideally does not want to be written down. Its conversational style is a resistance to the suggestion of completeness that accompanies writing, and tries to be spoken language: a voice amongst other voices.

For me personally, perfectionism has in the past prevented me from daring to publish or submit anything. An additional benefit of these blog posts is that they are a good exercise in letting go. I write them as quick as possible and then immediately publish them, to avoid that they stay on the shelf. There is another benefit: I have struggled the last years with formulating the relevance of philosophy. After starting a second university education, I have come to the belief that philosophy is at its best when it does not only engage with other philosophers, but (also) engages with other disciplines, shaping and enriching them from within. I hope that as this blog develops, it will be a testimony to this thought.

Self portraits using stable diffusion <-- Latest

Automation and the ethics of work <-- Next

Paradoxes of the logical implication <-- Previous

Russell on AI in technocracy and surveillance <-- Random


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Paulo Pinto on Wednesday, Apr 24, 2019:

Well. Let me start by saying that I found your website searching for a way to use Neomutt and PGP. Being myself someone who is interested in Philosophy (I studied at Faculty of Philosophy of Braga, Portugal), although I graduated in Cultural Studies, I’m fond to technology and I want to start my own website within the Indieweb philosophy.My knowledge of computer programming languages is very short and I fight almost all the time with complicated configuration. I love Linux and, lately, I’ve been able - with the help of some tutorials - to install Archlinux and minimalist programs. If, by any means, I can collaborate for the content of your website, I would be happy. Meanwhile, I am looking to some help on designing and making my own minimalist website.

B.Regards Paulo Pinto

Edwin on Wednesday, Apr 24, 2019
In reply to Paulo Pinto

Hi Paolo,

Thanks for dropping by and leaving a message! It is nice to see that you found my post, since it seems we have a quite similar background. I empathize both with your ambition and your struggles: I too started out with Arch Linux without any prior Linux experience. I often got lost, but you’ll be surprised how much you will learn over time if you persist. Luckily, the Arch community is very supportive, and all kinds of manuals can be found here: on the arch wiki.

On your website I see you found your way into Arch Linux through Luke Smith. He is a good guide to cool minimalistic programs, but don’t follow everything he says :-) He seems to sometimes pursue minimalism just for the sake of getting to make a new video, e.g. by calling ranger too “bloated” (took this example because you also use ranger according to your website).

With respect to collaboration and your websites: I received your email and will answer there! Btw: the source of my website is available here.

Andrei Popescu on Sunday, Aug 23, 2020:

Hey Edwin!

The quality of the text sets a high bar for the level of conversations, and I just wanted to briefly express my fascination with your website, but since I can’t hold it you know, here you go :D This is literally the best simple blog design I have ever come across on the internet! I have seen quite a bunch once I got interested in the very idea of personal websites. Yellow highlight, readable and beautiful font, lightweight, fascinate in original link highlighting, dark theme. You are very brilliant and original, really! This is a great source of inspiration, which I will come back when I start my own website too…^^ Anyway, good luck with your goals and I wish you a lot of interesting ideas flowing around on this spot of your personal online land!

Edwin on Monday, Aug 24, 2020
In reply to Andrei Popescu

Thank you so much for your kind words! I’ve taken a bit of a hiatus from the web this summer, but this comment gets me fired up again! I’m constantly changing bits here and there, but by now I’ve reached a point where I’m quite content with the look and feel. The link highlighting is actually relatively recent and I’m also happy with it. Even though some things may be a bit rough around the edges, I made it myself and that’s (imo) what a personal website is all about :-)! Be sure to forward/email me the link of your own website once it’s online!