A Year of Transition

by Michael Szul on

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Yesterday I was going through my GitHub "starred" projects on my phone using the beta "lists" feature to organize them. In that process, I culled the stars, reducing them from ~530 to 237 (as of this writing). I posted the accomplishment to Phil Eaton's excellent Discord. Later I mentioned:

I'm mostly trying to consolidate and tighten up my work, hobbies, and learning paths in 2022. I turn 43 in a few days. Would be nice to have a clear focus of what I want to accomplish before 50. That means coming to terms with some things I’ll likely never get to.

That statement seems like a natural conclusion for 2021. There's been a lot of changes this year reducing the amount of projects, domain names, communities, social media, and just about anything else I read, watch, touch… I just never put it into a mission statement until just then.

The biggest accomplishment this year was finishing the conversion of Codepunk from the Ghost blogging platform to a static site generator of my own making. This static site generator is a part of a larger project called Minerva, which includes a reader (RSS, etc.), a writer (markdown, latex), and a publisher. All parts of this project are open source, but just not completely public yet, and together, along with some hosting, emails, etc. form the foundation of Ambry.

Clicking on that link you should notice two things: For one, that page used to have more projects on it, but it's been reduced to a focus of just two, and both those projects are things that bring me utility first, but will provide utility for others as well. The other thing to note is the domain: quietmath.co. 2021 saw me move away from the idea of a personal brand. I quit doing speaking engagements pre-pandemic (for a number of reason), and although I had success with various writing projects, they were time consuming and took away from blogging here. I still own szul.us, but all HTTP traffic is forwarded to the Quiet Math web site. I still own a good chunk of domain names, but I've reduced them by about half and currently only maintain two.

2021 saw me decide on a write here first rule. Instead of trying to write elsewhere or trying to write books. Blog on the blog. This rule includes the newsletter where I go rid of "special" newsletter issues in favor of blogging here and then sending the post out in email form. I don't like how newsletters have created a barrier to content.

On the podcast side, we produced a couple of episodes in VR, but Bill had some (awesome) family news, so we've put that a bit on hiatus. But 2021 also saw the launch of Codepunk's Apotheosis, our second podcast about the past (and future) of cyberculture. The write here first rule also dictated that each podcast episode comes with a full blog post attached.

Things I've started to stay away from

  • Facebook - I can't remember the last time I logged in.
  • Twitter - I don't have it on my phone. I log in once in a while to tweet or retweet something, but am trying to be on it less and less. I also removed a lot of people I was following.
  • LinkedIn - See Facebook.
  • Politics - Adds too much stress to my life.
  • The mainstream news - I only have the WaPo app installed and rarely open it.

Things I've returned to

  • Martials arts - Baguazhang specifically, but also began practicing Aikido again and started exploring a little Xingyi.
  • Reading (a lot) - It's amazing how much time you have when you stay away from distracting applications on your cell phone.
  • Role-playing games - Mostly cyberpunk ones.

Newsletters I read

  • Continuing Ed (Edward Snowden)
  • Kneeling Bus
  • Retro Sci-Fi Art
  • New World Same Human
  • TLDR
  • Sentiers
  • Future Crunch
  • Phil Eaton
  • Ben Evans
  • Exponential View
  • The Prepared
  • Important, Not Important

Magazines I subscribe to

  • Cybr Magazine
  • Logic Magazine
  • Dark Mountain Project
  • National Geographic
  • Infinite Worlds

Communities I still lurk/participate in

  • Cybr
  • Data Station
  • The Prepared

Places/Projects I donate to

  • The Long Now Foundation
  • Logic Foundation
  • Internet Archive
  • The National Geographic Society
  • The Gnome Foundation
  • Pop OS
  • Geary

The best book I read this year: The Red Web by Andrei Soldatov & Irina Borogan.

The best TV show I finished this year: Dark on Netflix.