Musings

What’s in a name?

When I first started blogging, I had just started working at Google. I blogged not for visibility, but to create a collection of personal bookmarks online. As I remember it, one of my earlier blog posts was simply a list of local brewpubs people had been talking about at work.

I named my blog Intrepid Ephemera because it seemed like that captured something I understood and valued: wandering around and expecting impermanence. Before I started at Google, I had burned through what I thought was my dream career, started and dropped out of an unrelated graduate program, and done a months-long stint at a temp agency. Various romantic relationships had come and gone. 9/11 had happened. Of course life was uncertain. How else would it be? As I remember it, I didn’t mind the unknown. The unknown felt comfy.

Years have passed since then. And on some level the name of this blog still resonates for me, but on some level it’s also not where I am now. I still believe in uncertainty, I still believe in impermanence and the fragility of all things, I still believe in seeing what happens next – but. Despite all those true things, I’ve changed. And as blog names go, “Intrepid Ephemera” is hard to remember, a bit flail-y, and it doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue. As I’ve said to basically every engineer I’ve ever worked with, “I am not good at naming things. You do not want me to name this project!” (Then they stare at me, and I can just picture them thinking But if you don’t name things, what do you do all day?! What are product managers for, if not to name things?! Oh well, let’s move on.)

It’s also been long enough that this blog name also just sounds like all those years ago, and all those years ago aren’t now. They aren’t last year, or the year before. They’re longer ago than that. How often do we shed ourselves? I don’t know, but sometimes. Sometimes for sure.

So where am I lately? I write poetry. I write essays. I occasionally write fiction, including a surreal sci-fi monologue I read at Lit Nights in San Francisco last week (SO FUN!). I work in tech, and I still like the idea of blogs – so retro! so expressive! but then, I never really got MySpace – and lately, I’m thinking that if all the major social networks have crashed and burned, well, this & LinkedIn are where I show up online.

If this is where I show up, maybe I should give this site a more current name.

Which brings me to, what the heck should I name it? As I’ve said to every engineer I’ve ever worked with….

I dunno.

Musings

I was fond of Twitter. I liked its sense of public forum, I liked its lack of ambiguity in knowing who’d see what when I posted. I liked reading Joyce Carol Oates’ snarky political comments & cat photos, I liked Jeff Vandermeer’s posts about the wildlife in his yard, I liked reading all the things the ADHD community posted to support each other (while meanwhile, I pondered about the fact that most of those posts seemed pretty relevant to me).

I liked its instant-verification of local earthquakes. I liked its brevity and semi-randomness. I liked its hashtags and cute animal photos and discussions about literary poetry and bad jokes. It was fun. Sometimes it was insightful.

And despite that, I’m done. I just deleted my account, leaving this as my final tweet:

And I’m off Twitter. The horrible Elon thing about requiring everybody to sign up for overwork is just the end. If you’re one of the small number of people I’m connected to here, well, I’m on LinkedIn, I’ve got a very retro blog, & you probably have my contact info. Peace.

(I’m curious how long account deletion will take, or whether it will work at all, given how many people have been fired and how many systems those people probably ran. I mean, maintenance and routine processes are a thing.)

I don’t imagine that one small account deletion will make a difference, but on some level I also just can’t be part of that crap. The idea that anything will get fixed or improved by pushing people harder, the idea that business innovation comes with clocking up the hours, the idea that people have to sign on and sign up for personal sacrifice with a near-cult level of dedication for what is fundamentally a job, where the basic equation is trade time + skillz for money – and that some kind of virtue signaling should attach to it! – that is just awful. That is the worst of Silicon Valley tech hustle culture. That is what creates terrible business models and technical & product debt and social isolation and every other terrible thing you can say about this industry.

And yes, I work in this industry. And yes, I think it can offer great things. But I also think it can offer a hell of a lot of stupidity, and this idiotic approach to things is a big part of how.

So I’m out. I kinda hope blogs take over. I kinda hope somebody else builds a less-awful social network. I would like community online. But whatever is going on at Twitter, that isn’t it.

poetry, writing

dear markdown


dear markdown
I want you to work better
for poetry


Today’s my birthday. I’m gifting myself time to think: what do I want next? How might I get there?

And so I signed up for a writing class. It’s a class not on writing itself, but about how to submit writing to publications. Last fall’s writing class, a travel essay workshop group with Don George, was wonderful – hoping this is too.