Very nearly eighteen years ago, I launched mahnamahna.net 1.0. That website was my personal online playspace until 2010. It was the place I expressed myself on what we (back then) still sometimes called the World Wide Web. No one calls it that anymore. I think that’s a loss, and there’s probably a whole ’nother post in me about why. But it’s a small loss compared to what so many of us lost when we abandoned our wacky personal playspaces and gravitated to Big Social Media. Hey, I’m not pointing fingers; I did it, too. I fell into Facebook, and less so, later, into Instagram. (Never took to Twitter much. Only a few dozen tweets — mostly retweets — over the years. That’s gonna change, but I’m getting ahead of myself.)
I’ve been mostly absent on social media for a few years now, and you know why. It’s fucking toxic, that’s why. Yes, I still keep track of people who are dear to me via Zuckerberg apps, but I don’t want to contribute. Not at all. I want to be a part of how that whole ecosystem eventually dies, and the only way to do that is to disengage. Step one is not generating any content on the platforms you despise. No matter how dear your connections on those platforms might be.
The people in the indieweb movement have it right: We need our own playspaces, and we need better ways of hooking them all together. I want to be a part of that, and perhaps even help make it happen, so about a year and half ago, I started building mahnamahna.net 3.0. (Yes, 3.0. There was a 2.0, about five years ago. It never launched. There is probably a whole ’nother post in me about why.) The going was slow at first, because I spend my workdays building websites, and rarely feel like hacking on one at night or on weekends. Then came 2020, and Covid-19. Not only did I feel a much larger need to rebuild my own online playspace — a need to reclaim my online voice — I also had plenty of at-home downtime to work on the project.
Today is my forty-sixth birthday, and launching this site is one of the ways I am celebrating. It is a gift I have built for myself, to my own exacting specifications. And here you are, visiting and reading! How cool is that? That, friends, is the magic of the indieweb — or, as we used to call it, the World Wide Web. No ads here. No engagement tracking. Just pure, 100 percent me, including the admittedly minimalist design.
I hope you’ll visit again, because I intend to be a blogger again. I have some plans that I am really excited about. If you want to follow along, new posts will be linked to from my Twitter account for now, but not elsewhere, because, seriously, fuck Mark Zuckerberg. If you are either an aging web pioneer like myself or a hardcore geek, you can also follow me via RSS. I’m also thinking of adding a means for visitors to get email notifications for new posts. If you’d like that, would you please say so in a comment below? As time passes, I believe that the “web” part of the indieweb will grow a lot stronger; as new ways to connect arise, I hope to cut the link to Twitter.
Thank you for visiting, and Happy Birthday to me!
[UPDATE, November 2021: You can now sign up to be notified by email when there’s a new post here.]