websites – who really needs them?

i have a vendetta against the personal website. i have one (it’s not this one) and i’m ready to get rid of it. i am told, for a business, you need to have a website. my question: do you really?

like, i understand for websites that sell products. you want to go to the site to investigate the brand, the products, and possibly purchase. but for many other folks, you visit the website once and never again. the page i go to the most is the company’s “about” page and then maybe their “pricing”. i rarely read their blogs or any of the body content on the site. maybe i’m alone in this, but i have a hunch i’m not.

considering my squarespace costs $18/mo and it does very little in terms of connecting me with an audience, i am planning to retire it. if anything, i am paying $18/mo for faux credibility. “oh he has a website, he must be legit” says the imaginary voice in my head. this is indeed a fantasy. you don’t need a website to be legit. you do, however, need an internet presence. and this can be done FOR FREE on facebook and instagram. you can even have a low cost blog (like this one) which yields much more engagement than a static site that serves as a $18/mo business card.

maybe one day i’ll hit the scale that i can afford a website. but as i am experimenting and trying to find out my niche, my customer base, and my services, i am not going to pay a recurring fee for a billboard that does nothing for me.

cool directory

to continue on yesterday’s post on focused play, i also have made it a point to just dig deep into my google docs. what’s funny is that when i am bored i will just poke around in my folders, organizing the files until i suddenly come up with an idea that excites me. and, i realized recently that you can create tiny websites for free with a tool called google sites. i made a small “cool directory” that you can see here.

this small website was a solution to my project problem: i have so many projects that i’ve completed and/or am working on, i realized i needed a google sheet to keep track of them all. the website serves as a more palatable way to navigate the most recent videos and streams i’ve published.

this and yesterday’s mother’s day card are both small, but i think it is important to show off the little things along with the big projects, just because it validates what you’re doing, and provides some momentum for doing more. i hope that by learning one hundred little things, it will make building the big thing that much easier.

toolbox / sandbox

right now i am using glitch, a website that allows its users to try out and edit small programming projects. i’ve been learning javascript and a little bit of vr. i’m a little embarrassed by it, but i made a small mother’s day card for my mom which you can see below.

my strategy has been to just spend time playing with the tools on glitch in order to see what is possible and what i like. i have limited resources (i’m working primarily from a chromebook and an iphone) so glitch works out really well for me because it is based online. i’ve been having a good time trying things out, even though i don’t have a clear idea of where it will lead me.

twitch hypothesis

i recently started streaming on twitch. this is a messy platform that reminds me of myspace, since it has a lot of room for interactive customization. in reading about twitch, i learned that there is a quieter side to the platform that is not entirely focused on gaming. some folks knit. others read. some draw. me? i’m seeing if i can collaboratively write a tv script via livestream.

it’s an experiment, and i don’t know how it’s going to pan out. i know i need my schedule to be consistent, and i know i have to work out some logistical problems with sharing what’s on my screen, but i love working on platforms that are still growing and figuring out what they are. because in a sense, so am i.

what is the best way to curate content?

“curation” is a big buzzword on my mind right now – since we are drowning in information, curators of quality content are some of the most valuable fixtures we can find. my previous job was at a boutique that only brought in the best of finely made men’s clothing. jenny nicholson, funnily enough, curates “bad media” with her critiques. my friend lito is an invaluable resource to me, as he visits a ton of restaurants and curates a list of his favorites.

part of me just wants to make lists and share them (a google doc makes sense). i would love to have an easily navigable collection of lists somewhere of quality resources and content. i guess the best thing i have going for that need right now is are.na (link) which is kind of a minimalist, pinterest-like website where you can save your favorite internet things in a pleasing way.

as we curate, patterns emerge. the trick is starting and then refining the process. i love books, cafes, people, and walking. i am sure there is a way to somehow collect data and to make it pretty, which is what museums do, and what any good curator does as well. how will you share your collections, and how will you focus the themes of your finds?

generative vs. non-generative systems

i’m currently reading “the future of the internet and how to stop it” by harvard law professor jonathan zittrain. the chapter i am currently on defines generative systems, or things that people can build other things with. a lot of tools online are generative, though some or non-generative. jonathan suggests that generative systems push innovation a little bit better, and are more receptive to new ideas.

there are a delightful couple of pages in which zittrain tells us the difference between generative and non-generative products. legos are generative, while a dollhouse is not. a knife is generative, while a potato peeler is not. you get the gist – a generative tool allows for its user to do a lot of creative things with it. currently, i use a generative system called glitch (link). it’s a website that teaches its users how to code. it is full of tools and building blocks intended to build web apps. i’ve made some tiny vr environments, algorithms that write poems, and yesterday i toyed around with maps.

if you are lucky enough to find yourself in a generative situation, i encourage you to play. you’ll innovate and create something new just by having a good time, and by seeing what directions your new tools create.

agility is a superpower

in joi ito’s book “whiplash”, he states that in a changing world, agility triumphs over strength. today, i am thinking about this maxim in terms of honing in on my ability to develop products and systems more quickly than any competitor.

lady ada at adafruit also speaks to the power of agility. in her conversation with joi ito she tells us how she will share videos weekly of the products she is making. viewers wonder aloud why she would do this – won’t competitors steal her ideas and release the product before her? the answer is no, because lady ada can make the product significantly faster than anyone trying to imitate.

for us, this means experimenting with how quickly we can provide a product or service. another concept that i think about on a regular basis are “ooda loops” (wikipedia). this is a method of strategic thinking that allows someone to make quick decisions in a very powerful way (observe, orient, decide, act). in your sphere, how can you create and ooda loop? and what can you do faster than all other competition, using the tools available to you online and off?