Updates and maintenance of all this

10 Sep 2023

Whilst I’ve not posted much new here beyond photos, I have been doing behind the scenes maintenance as I try to bring home my various bits of digital life. I’ve had several websites over the years, and each stage tended to be quite leaky, losing some content along the way. Then in the web 2.0 boom this was solved by devolving maintenance responsibility to third parties - content went to iWeb, Flickr, SmugMug, Tumblr, 500px, Instagram, YouTube, Cl.ly, etc. - but those never turned out to be as long lived as promised as those companies had sifting priorities and/or owners.

Thus I’ve put in some effort of late to repatriate my content to a website I maintain and manage. I dug out my previous blog before the one that formed the basis of this site, and reinstated posts from that, with posts now going back over 20 years. Some of those posts are good, a good bunch make me cringe, but they are all my history, and so I feel they belong here, and I’ll get to why shortly.

I’d already started a few years back syncing my new posts to Flickr with my photos here (I like the Flickr community, which is why I dual post), but now I’ve gone back and done a proper full sync, so everything that I ever posted to Flickr is now here. I’ve also tried to restore my 500px photos as best I can: during the later Yahoo years I abandoned Flickr, which seemed to be becoming full of adverts, and for a while used 500px, but came back to Flickr after SmugMug acquired them (again, for the community), and closed my 500px account, but that meant a lot of what was posted was lost as there was no way to export at the time. I’ve since combed my blog for references to 500px and found the original photos where I can and recreated them - even where I’m now less keen on the photo :)

I moved in all of my Instagram photos, which became the basis of the snapshots section. It’s a silly subjective divide I have between my “art” photos and my random pictures of daily life, but it’s my website so I can do what I like :) I’ve since been populating the snapshots section with new life snapshots as I would have done if I still used Instagram, and I have been backfilling it with old posts from before Instagram was a thing that feel like I was trying to achieve a similar “quick snap of a moment” thing with my original blog. This has also involved going back and finding the original images of my old blog posts, as on my old site pictures tended to be capped at 400x300 pixels, and so it’s nice to see old posts now looking as fresh as newer posts, particular ones like this of family events.

Which is also to say, I’ve not just restored old content and left it to rot, I have been trying to make it fit in with this site. I’ve not been editing content, but I have improved picture quality where I can, and I’ve been moving things to a better home within the categories despite where they started, and I’ve been tagging things to help me discover things. This is not complete, I suspect I’ll reshuffle more content around now that I feel comfortable having started it, but it’s shown me there is a benefit to doing so, at least for me.

Which brings me back to the why. There’s a lot of me in here. Pretty much the Internet came of age as I left school, so most of my life has some trace in this website somewhere. So I want to see that, remind myself of what I did, and what I’ve still to do. This website does let me share things with friends and family, but it’s also really here as a thing for me to look back on, in lieu of a diary of old. Or to put it in a more pithy way: Short term I post things for others, but long term I post things for me.

There’s a lot of content in here, and whilst it’s all technically accessible, the sheer volume makes it near impossible to gain insight from, and so I’ve been trying to curate some views and tags that help me (and anyone interested), get a snapshot of say what it means when I say I’m a motorcyclist, or that I’m a gamer. I have so many photos here, but I’m trying to make selective albums to bring out some common themes. I rewrite the snapshots pages to less ape Instagram’s feed, but now to provide a way to quickly scan through nearly three decades worth of snaps to let me find things.

The process has also an excuse to add things like alt tags for images to improve accessibility. I’ve been doing this for a while now on my guitar building site - all images in posts over there have alt tags for almost a year now, and I’m slowly backfilling the rest of the site as I have cause to reference an older piece of content. Here I’d be amazed if I’ve managed it for 1% of content only having just started to do this, but I can do so in bits as I fettle with the site. The main part is I’ve now done the bit that makes it harder for me not to do this than it is to do it, if that makes any sense - for instance photo imports now fail unless I add alt text.

So lots of progress, but it’s all still a mess of course, but I’m quite pleased with how it’s gone and is going. There’s many things I’d like to improve, but there’s no real rush as the only person I’m trying to fix it for is me; this is a journey, not a thing that I’ll ever be done with. And there’s lots of my life that isn’t here so it’ll never really say all I want. But it’s nice though to have done a lot of the heavy lifting to get most of Internet addressable me here (modulo guitar things and work things), and now I can experiment with ways to draw out meaning from all of (waves hands) this.