Not as much as I'd like! But it's not nothing.
It's now 2024 and my site is still...this. I don't want to spend too much time writing but I'll at least give an update to show I haven't done nothing. If you haven't already, you should probably read what I wrote here before. Also maybe read through some of the comments too if you haven't already.
I took Omer's advice on this one. At least partially. I already used my real name in places like Twitter and Mastodon, and the more I thought about it...why don't I just go by my real name then? Multiple other people I regularly talk to online already do. It's hardly an uncommon thing to do in the first place. Sure, I'm not the only Jordy, but...how often is that going to matter, at least in the majority of scenarios?
However, I don't think this is the final solution. I said in my reply to the comment that I didn't want to use my full name as a username everywhere, and that's still very much true. I guess in that regard I'm kind of back to square one. Instead, I'm thinking...what if I just use my domain name as my username and my real name as a display name? Let me clarify a bit: there's a whole wealth of new gTLDs that I can use as a basis for the name of a website. Just ignore the whole "I'm searching for a new username" part, I'm just naming a website. I feel like this opens up potential avenues for names, because it's not my name, it's my website's name. I just use it as a username because "Jordy" is taken, obviously! I don't have to worry too much about something that sounds natural and not weird in regular conversation.
Oh, there's still the option of using my real name as the basis for this, too. I'm kind of doubting that's going to be the direction I go, though. I might just be overthinking this, though.
I didn't start on my website the day I wrote the whole post below. I did a lot of writing that day and decided that was enough, brain hurty, I'll get started tomorrow. You're not going to believe this, but, I actually started doing the thing I said I was going to do! I started writing blogging software from scratching using Django! Crazy, I know. It wasn't a minimal amount of work either, I...kind of had it working? I could make posts. I could display a list of posts (not paginated quite yet but probably pretty trivial considering how Django does this stuff). I could view pages for individual posts. It was marked up with Microformats, at least enough to work. I could edit the posts and it'd display a "last edited" date on any posts that had been edited.
Then the overthinking happened. In this case, I got caught up in the most simple but, to be fair, one of the most important things: URL design. It's kind of something you take for granted when using any CMS, or even a static site generator like Jekyll that has a well-defined file structure and sensible defaults for organizing directories. But now with all of the things I was doing and wanted to do...how did I make it all work? Did I want to use slugs for every post? Notes don't have titles, so I'd have to generate slugs from just the content. What if for some reason the part of the content the slug was generated from made a slug identical to one from another post? I could use dates to disambiguate. So the url structure for a single post would be something like
2024/01/03/update-heres-what-ive-done/ for an article (with a title) and
2024/01/03/not-as-much-as-id-like for a note (taken from the first five words of the content). But what if for some reason a slug was identical to another slug from the same day? The more I dwelled on it, the more I thought...do I need to worry about this?? Is anybody aside from me even going to use this? Shouldn't I just make it to account for how I would use it, assume that I'm not stupid enough to make two posts on the same day that would have the same slug, and not have to account for a case where such a thing would occur? Things like this are why I never finish what I start.
Writing is freeing. It's easy for me to get caught up in details, wasting time looking for potential solutions, getting frustrated because I can't figure it out, and then getting distracted by something unrelated to get away from that frustration. It leads me nowhere and when I realize another day has passed where I've made virtually no progress I'm just frustrated with myself all over again. I needed to write this update because it's an introspection into what I'm getting hung up on, giving me a solid moment to just think about what I need to focus on, and reminding me of why I'm doing all of this.
One week. If this page is unchanged by January 10th, I'll write some more here. Ideally I won't have to and this little detour is what I needed to get back into it. If I find myself here again...well, I suppose we'll see if we get to that point.
Below is the previous content of this page. Click here to jump to the comment section.
I've been thinking long and hard about my website. You're probably reading this and thinking that I'm putting too much thought into it...and you're probably right! I've realized that and that's why you're reading this right now. I've obviously gotten a little sidetracked (as usual) but I'm genuine when I say that with each passing day my goal with this is becoming more and more clear.
Let's start with what I wanted to do in the first place: a blog where I can simply write down my thoughts. I mean, that's more or less what I'm doing now, right? Mission accomplished? Well, I wanted it to be more structured and pretty than this. I originally started working on this back in October, and it was coming along pretty well and I was going to have a pretty barebones but passable site up within a day or two with a blog post about why I did it and what I was going to do next. Then, one thing led to another and I started looking at the IndieWeb. Now don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with the IndieWeb or any of the things on that site. The problem is that I was now looking at this site and thinking about how I could start implementing the different protocols that are key to the IndieWeb: IndieAuth, Webmentions, Micropub...and I was starting to wonder how I was going to implement it all. Luckily, many of these specifications don't rely on each other; I can add them piece by piece, as I'm able to, and that's assuming I even want to add any one individual part at all!
The real issue, then, isn't that I couldn't simply implement only what was easy at that moment. What I was more hung up on was the effort it would take to add the harder parts further down the line. I was originally building my blog using Jekyll, a static site generator. The problem with Jekyll is just that: it's static. Jekyll doesn't care that I made a new blog post; it's going to just generate all of the pages anyway. Webmentions, on the other hand, are a little more dynamic: when I make a new post, I need to send a webmention to anything I may have linked to. Likewise, if anybody else were to link to one of my posts, I would need to have a way to receive their webmention and do something with it. There's tools to handle these things with static site generators, but there's some caveats of course: a lot of the time, they require you to manually handle incoming webmentions, or manually send outgoing webmentions. I don't think I'd want to do that forever, especially when there's definitely ways to automate this. I also don't want to make do with that for now and have to migrate over to whatever I come up with next, so I should only add it when I mostly have the implementation in a state I'd like it to be in.
So now I had a half-built Jekyll blog, but there was more functionality to it that I wanted to add in the future. However, I was hesitant to continue at this point. When it came time that I wanted to add that dynamic webmention functionality, how was I going to do that with a Jekyll blog? Was I going to have a single dynamic endpoint for webmentions that would add whatever was received to the source files and build the site automatically? Was I going to use another tool to automatically make a new file for the post, build the site, and send any corresponding webmentions afterward? Why am I even using a static site generator at that point? So I figured that there had to be some piece of software somewhere that had all the IndieWeb as well as just general blog/website features I needed all bundled up and ready for me to use and customize as I needed.
Unfortunately, I never found something that did exactly what I needed. I was avoiding anything written with PHP, which unfortunately eliminated a lot of potential candidates. I found some promising Python projects, particularly microblog.pub, but there was always something that didn't work the way I wanted or it was too confusing for my puny brain to customize. My issue with microblog.pub was that, while it didn't seem terribly difficult to style it as I'd like, it seemed to want to be nothing more than just the microblog part of it. It supported notes (short-form, like Twitter) as well as articles (long-form, like your traditional blog post), but as far as I can tell had no built-in support for just having static pages, which is something I'd make use of. I'd try to roll my own static pages but, again, puny brain. It even acted as an ActivityPub instance, so I could even feasibly just replace my current Mastodon account with it, which is not something I was considering but kind of warmed up to the idea of doing.
Out of options and desparate for some kind of resolution, I figured that the only way I was going to get my site to be exactly how I wanted was to write the whole thing from scratch. I mean, there's other CMSs built in languages like Python, but trying to extend them to add IndieWeb features seemed like it'd be too much work... I think at the end of the day, the core of this is that I'm unsure if all of the effort to write my own site from scratch is even worth it, when all I wanted to do in the first place was just have a blog to just write things. My own ineptitude and stubborness in regards to this is just getting in the way of being able to just write things. Part of the reason I'm even writing this was so I could do what I wanted to do in the first place, even if it lacks the style or features that I would like it to have.
...I'm starting to drone on a bit, I think. The title implies this is supposed to be about what I'm doing but I'm only talking about what I've done (or rather, the lack of what I've done). Although, now that I think about it, I suppose the long-winded explanation of how I got to this point should shed some light on what my plans are.
I'm going to write my own simple blogging software from scratch using Django. (Is it really "from scratch" if I'm using Django?) I know there's probably other options I could use that are written in Django, but as I said, I have a puny brain so I don't want to have to build what I want around pre-existing options. I've also realized that maybe, just maybe, doing something like that would be fun, because the only reason I would be doing any of this would be to have fun, right? I just need to make sure I don't get too hung up on what I'd need to add in the future, lest I get too overwhelmed. Maybe having a list of the things I need to do and roughly in what order I want to do them in could help.
There is, however, one other thing I've been thinking about that isn't necessarily related to the website...
I've been using the name "hazuzumi" since early 2015. Sometime in 2021 I changed my username to "hazu" on some platforms, although I continued using hazuzumi on some since hazu was already taken (since it's so short) or the site didn't support changing usernames. I don't think it's any secret that I'm terrible at coming up with names (and in fairness, coming up with a name that's original, short, catchy, and unique is pretty difficult for anybody). I've obviously gone through a number of usernames in the past, which I've abandoned for various reasons, although mainly because I just didn't like the name. "hazuzumi" definitely reached that point, as it was a name I came up with in high school when I was first getting into anime and Touhou. I've probably explained (at least partially) the way I came up with my name a few times but here's the full story: I took part of my old username (the word "spring"), checked a Japanese dictionary for the Japanese word (hazumi), and modified it slightly (I doubled up one of the syllables). As time went on, I just thought it sounded stupid, but I already owned the domain hazu.moe so I opted to just drop the second half of it (since it was the doubled-up syllable that I wasn't a fan of). Now I'm growing tired of just the name "hazu" because it's not unique, leading to me using "hazuzumi" for most of the things I sign up for anyway.
My intention is that, at some point in the future, I'll move away from my current username and come up with...something else. Unfortunately, yeah, I'm not good with names. It's gonna take all of my brain power to come up with something that will work and that I can actually stick with without eventually growing to resent it. I just don't know how long that'll take. It may just never even happen? I don't want to admit defeat that easily though. Whatever name it is that I do come up with, I'll likely buy a new domain for it and I'll redirect this domain to the new one.
“ngl i want discord to die at this point”
I'm starting to enjoy this writing thing so much that I'm moving on to completely different topics than what I had originally intended this whole piece to be for. I guess in a way, this section is at least tangentially related to the website thing. If you somehow didn't come here from Discord, then I suppose it's worth mentioning that I'm an active user and moderator of the big Touhou Project Discord server, and I've been a regular member of it since 2016. What I want to talk about is how, in recent years, I've had a number of issues with the platform, as somebody who uses it nearly every day.
The first is, of course, is its insular nature. I mean this in a few ways, and in some ways that you may already be familiar with. It is, of course, completely closed source, and hosted on their own servers. To 99% of people, this makes sense and you'd be wondering, "okay, but who cares?" With the growth of both ActivityPub/Fediverse and Bluesky in the past year in response to Twitter's acquisition by Elon Musk, I've come to the conclusion that open source and federated (or at least decentralized) alternatives are what we should strive for. I think there'll come a time where Discord will fuck up, in one way or another, that'll result in a mass exodus of users to a competing platform. I see this as an inevitability; it happened before when people moved to Discord originally from other competitors like Skype. I'd argue that any time is a good time to migrate to a more open alternative, but the vast majority of users in a community are likely content with the platform as it is now and aren't willing to give up the familiarity and features of what they have now to switch to an alternative that is less user-friendly and lacks features while providing no tangible benefit to themselves personally. (Just know that I, at least, do see a tangible benefit to moving to more open alternatives and am willing to move whenever for that reason alone!) The other thing is that many communities are making Discord their primary or even only presence. Others have talked at length about this, so here's an example: recently, one of my favorite doujin music circles, Minstrel, announced that they would be resuming activities. They also announced that, in lieu of having a website like they had in the past, they would open a Discord server. To be frank, I think that having a Discord server as your hub for announcements, updates, etc. is a terrible way of doing things. (They do still have their Twitter account, but I think I just mentioned a few sentences ago that Elon is fucking it up, right?) There hasn't been much they've done with it on that front, but I can think of multiple other cases in which I've been told to join a Discord server to download something, look for a guide on how to do something, or for any number of other reasons. I don't want to have to join a fucking Discord server for every little thing! You can't even make the argument that it's because it's free, because there's other free alternatives that don't lock your content behind having to join a chat room!
My other issue with it is a bit more broad, and also a bit more meta: I don't want the sole way I communicate with people to be in a chat. Being able to write this whole page has been pretty liberating, and I could never write something of this length in Discord, because it's a short-form chat room, and it isn't really anything more than that. They made a forum channel with threads, but all a Discord thread is is just another chat room! There isn't an option for long-form discussions on Discord, and for many communities the sole form of communication they use is Discord. I've even attempted to try and get my thoughts across about this in Discord (see the linked quote at the top of this section, if you're in the aforementioned big Touhou Project server), but at the rate an active chat moves, trying to get out more in-depth thoughts before the topic moves on to something else is an arduous task. Maybe it's just because chat isn't for me, and I'm not saying that there's no point in using chat either, because it does have its uses over long-form discussion. My problem is that there's no other way to talk to people in the community I frequent in a format like this, or in a format that would be more akin to a traditional forum site, without saying, "Hey guys, I wrote a thing, click this link," and linking to my blog post or whatever. On that note, if you did actually read up to this point, thanks. Please leave a comment when you're done reading, even if you don't have much to say, because I'd appreciate knowing that there's people that actually care about wanting to read stuff like this. I've talked a little bit about wanting to have a forum, but I get the impression that many people don't want to use forums anymore. Even as far as long-form discussion goes, people see social media like Twitter or Reddit as the alternative, but I don't agree with that, seeing as those platforms have their own goals and, at least in my opinion, do some things that I don't see as particularly healthy for discussion. I just hope this isn't a sign that most people have completely abandoned the idea of forums in favor of ephemeral, insular chatrooms or social media that encourages clout chasing and trying to win the algorithm engagement game.
So let's tie this whole thing back into the central point I've been making with this page. I'd like to make a website as a way to kind of go back to the way the internet should be, rather than staying in silos that devalue conversation. I've been bugging my friends in Discord (somewhat jokingly, to be fair) about buying domain names and making websites for fun! And yes, I know I said I'm doing it somewhat jokingly, but that's sort of the way I am and I'm still somewhat genuine about it, if everything I've written above isn't a testament to that. I'm just terrible at convincing people or arguing in favor or something. Another thing, however, is that I'm currently all talk and no action; if I want to persuade people I actually need to practice what I preach. So that's why I think it's about time I get to work and actually make something of this place.
That's more or less all I want to say for now. I just need to make good on my word that I'll actually finishing writing whatever the hell it is that's going to serve as the basis for this site, which is a tall order for sure, but I'm determined. I mean, if I wasn't, I wouldn't have this massive wall of text, now, would I? I'm not exactly a proficient writer (English was my weakest subject in school), so if reading all of this proved to be somewhat unbearable, I apologize, but thanks for sticking with it. I'll have a comment section below if you want to add your own thoughts, tell me I'm stupid for thinking any of this matters, criticize how poorly written or hard to follow all of this is, point out spelling mistakes/grammatical errors, etc. And before you ask, the comments are handled using Isso, and I don't plan on using it for the final version of my site. It's just something I had set up already. Comments are manually approved so if it's not showing up, just wait a bit, or bug me if it's taking too long.