Essays on Technology and Culture

A Statement of Focus

The name of this site implies a distinct lack of topical focus, and that is by design. I have a ADHD mindset, and rarely can stay interested in one topic for long. At one point in the site’s storied history, my focus was on books, writing and literature. It lasted about three months.

Since taking the site daily, I’ve found the lack of focus to be a mixed blessing. On one hand, I have the freedom to post whatever I like on here, but on the other hand, I often find myself sitting, directionless, at a blank screen trying to figure out a topic—any topic. Sometimes the results of that are great, and sometimes the results are extremely subpar. Still, up they go, the better to keep the streak alive.

If you, the reader, are concerned, I’m not giving up the daily posting thing. What I am doing is refactoring, and honing in on a focal point for Sanspoint. Like everything I write, it’s based on what’s occupying my thoughts, and what I read. The main focus on Sanspoint is going to be technology, culture, the technology of culture, and the culture of technology.

It sounds a bit pretentious, I’m sure, but I think a lot about culture. Music especially, and so much that I started a podcast just to talk records and music with equally passionate friends. I also think about books, and about TV and movies, though I don’t watch either terribly often. I also think a lot about technology, not just in the sense of what neat new gadgets are out there, but what software and hardware can do for me. This includes, of course, accessing, buying, and making culture.

Then there’s that intersection. The technology of culture, the culture of technology. That’s where things get really interesting, and that’s where I want to probe. I hope you’re willing to come with.

One Day at a Time

New Years Resolutions are stupid, and almost guaranteed to fail. Yet, here I am on the last day of 2012, making a resolution, and backing it up with a big, public post on the Internet. That resolution is that I will be posting to Sanspoint every day—or at least every weekday.

A few months ago, for the tenth anniversary of registering, I made the promise to update the site weekly. This is a promise I mostly kept—losing one week to the disruption of a new job and a hurricane. This was a promise more to myself than to any ostensible audience for this site. I don’t make assumptions that the world is listening to me.

The urge to go daily came not long after I bemoaned how hard it was to find really good blogs. It was a simple, logical leap: if I can’t find what I want, I’ll create it. I need an excuse, after all. The harder part was determining just what I wanted to write about. This lead to a few nights of determined soul-searching, trying to discover just what I’m actually passionate about enough to write about. The list, as written into Day One, went as follows:

There’s obviously more to me than this, but it’s a start. In a way, what I will post here will relate more with the name. Lacking a specific focus or point, whatever gets stuck in my craw each day, and gets my attention, I’ll share and write about. That’s the important thing. If I can’t settle on one passion, I’ll pick freely from among them. Besides, under the pressure to actually do something daily, I’ll have to find new things to say, and new things to explore. In which case, everybody wins.

One thing I won’t be doing is talking up more nebulous stuff about “work,” and “creativity,” and things like that. It’s played out. Talking about doing the work and doing the work are different things, and I’m tired of being all talk. That’s the other side of why I’m going daily—to put my money where my mouth is. Thankfully, I’m not doing it alone. Andrew Marvin of Quarter-Life Enlightenment is picking up his blog again. He’s an amazing writer, a brilliant mind, and one-third of Crush On Radio. Patrick Rhone also went daily, and he didn’t wait to start. A support structure always helps when attempting any life change—and writing every day is a big one.

Also, with the new focus on daily updates, there’s a new look for Sanspoint. If you’re viewing this in a browser, as this is published, what you see is (hopefully) temporary. The previous design of the site was suited towards the longer form articles I wrote. As I go daily, those will only be a part of a bigger range of things, and the design must reflect that. I plan to improve on it over time, iterating and improving as I go. The site itself will evolve as my writing evolves. It will be a journey, and as excited as I am to take the first step, the second one is even more important.

On Ten Years

Ten years ago, I registered In truth, my parents paid for the domain and my first year of hosting as a High School graduation present. It began as a replacement of my now long defunct LiveJournal. I built a design in Dreamweaver, set up Greymatter as a blogging platform, and spent a period from the summer before my first semester of college until my eventual fail-out, journaling my life. Over the intervening years, I’ve struggled to find a format that suits me. Among the various things I’ve tried are a personal journal, semi-weekly experiments in fiction, vaguely lifehack-esque productivity wank, blogging about literature and books, and finally what you see here. There have also been fallow periods where the site consisted of little more than a placeholder page. [1] If you’re genuinely curious, you can plug my URL into—I refuse to do you the favor, so as to spare myself easy embarrassment. It’s been two and a half years since I last started over, opting for another clean slate, when blogging about literature failed me—or when I failed blogging about literature.

Though I refuse to link to it, it is interesting and informative to me to rediscover the roots of my voice as a writer and put myself back in the mindset of my eighteen-year old self. Ten years ago, I was preparing to move to New York City, trying to determine who I am, wondering what I would become and what my future would be. Now, I’m preparing to move back to New York City, trying to determine who I am, wondering what I will become and what my future will be, now with an additional decade of experience and knowledge under my belt. In that time, Ideas have risen and fallen, projects have started and been abandoned or failed on their own. I’ve learned failure, repeatedly. I’ve designed and re-designed and re-re-designed this site at about once a year. The constant has been, in one form or another, maintaining this site and pouring out words. I keep at it, hoping, for some reason, people will want to hear what I have to say.

Some people do want to hear what I have to say, but if they didn’t, I’d still keep at it. I’d still keep writing and clicking that publish button as often as I can. The words come from somewhere inside, sometimes in a trickle, sometimes in a torrent. Some of them land on a page. The words never stop coming, but the frequency waxes and wanes. One reason I publish on here so infrequently is that I’ve come to believe in curation. What I put up for public consumption deserves to be the best of what I can create, not just unfiltered brain droppings. For that, there’s my Twitter account, and I’m trying to apply some of the same focus to that.

As I write, big things are happening. Crush On Radio is picking up steam. I’m quitting my jobs, packing up the bare minimum of my posessions, and moving to New York City to be with the most amazing person I know. I’m learning new things about myself that I never expected to learn. I’m seeing big, exciting things happen in the lives of my friends. I’m simultaneously falling back in love with my home town even as I get ready to leave it. There’s so much happening condensed into so little time that it’s hard to keep it all in focus.

Focus may well be the watchword here. The next few months will give me the unfettered freedom I had in my lost year writ even larger. To survive, both creatively and financially, I will need to focus: focus on doing the work—focus on finding work, focus on making the work better. This is the test of all the lessons of my last decade, an open book, open notes, open ended essay format test with no length limit and no time limit, graded on the steepest curve imaginable—my own. At least I have help, or more help than before. The flip-side of focus is commitment. I’ve committed to this relocation, and I’ve committed to producing a podcast every week. I’ve made commitments before around Sanspoint, too. The question is: “Who am I making this commitment to?”

The successes I’ve had came from committing not to any theoretical audience, but to myself. Sure, I have the aid of my co-hosts for Crush On Radio, but I’ve taken on the heaviest lifting. If I don’t sit and record and edit, if I don’t write the post and compile the notes, there is no show. If I don’t make the time to sit and write and edit, there is no Sanspoint. The artistic dilemma inherent in this case is quantity versus quality. Andrew Marvin has something new every single weekday, short or long, and I respect and admire that. I don’t think that’s what I should be doing.

Ten years in, I’m committing to myself to make this thing real. Each week, one new thing that goes up, of length and substance, the sort of thing you could and would throw into Instapaper for later perusal if you don’t have time to read a thousand-plus word essay. That said, I don’t want to force myself to hit an arbitrary word count if I can’t. What is most important is having well-written, well-thought out, long-form work under my name, because that is what I choose to write and it is what I want to read.

  1. Primarily, this was because my previous host had been hacked, and someone injected malware code into all of my pages. I jumped ship to MediaTemple and never looked back.  ↩