Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Oct 13 2022

A newsletter? Really?

When I began writing online journal entries in early 2001, I simply wanted to share stories from my daily life with whomever might be interested. Stories of my life as an ex-American Taiwanese, of playing in a jug band, making films and engaging in photography, etc. Things a few family and friends might enjoy, perhaps. The blog, as such accounts came to be known, grew to encompass several topics as blogs became popular, and then, with the advent of Facebook/IG/et al, waned in popularity, returning to the realm of people who just enjoyed writing rather than using them to garner attention (photography seems to be following a similar track). In any case, this is my experiment with TinyLetter, part of my attempt to escape the confines of the social media algorithm and regain a semblance of pre-Facebook sanity, and a return to the simple, rambling stories I’ve always produced.

Another part of my escape plan includes another piece of retrofitting, i.e. a personal website just for my photography. This has been somewhat of a saga, as I had originally concluded that Squarespace would be the best way to present my work more or less as I desired it to be seen, rather than the hit-and-miss, mysterious popularity machines. I tried out other trials such as Wix and Format, but the interfaces didn’t appeal to me. After subscribing to a Squarespace 7.1 template, however, I found that once you choose a template, you are basically stuck with it. I was told I would have to cancel my entire subscription if I wanted to choose a 7.0 template that I could change. I tried one I’d been recommended but it wasn’t doing everything I wanted to, so I wondered exactly why I was spending all this money again?

Some friends had been suggesting Google Sites, which is free and apparently nicer than it was after some upgrades, so I played around with that out of curiosity, and, well. I made a site. Here it is. I’m still working on it, and hopefully Google is working on further upgrades to the service, but it’s free and it sort of works, though it looks a lot better on desktop than on mobile, but I figure viewing photography on a phone is sub-optimal at best in any case, so this is what I’m going to use for now.

So the issue now is weaning myself away from the dopamine hits of Likes and Comments and Follows that social media has me addicted to, clawing my way back to some kind of real-world existence (oddly enough, VR experiences are more akin to IRL interactions than social media ones, but that’s another topic for another day).

So yeah, a newsletter.

I’ve been writing this journal for well over two decades, making it one of the longest-lasting blogs out there, But lately I’ve been tiring of the FB/IG algorithm, and I suspect I am not alone. I’m still working on all of this, but I hope to achieve some amount of autonomy, even though my mind has likely been rewired by so many years of dopamine hits in the form of little red dots signifying “engagement”. Congratulations! You’re part of the tribe! You matter! Now do it again! And again! Faster!

Except my time would be far better spent creating for myself and those I care about rather than some greedy algorithm that ultimately doesn’t produce anything of value. Recent inspirations have come from Craig Mod and Andy Adams of Flak photo, both of whom are way better at this sort of thing than I am. But they, Craig in particular, have beaten a path towards what I would rather be doing than posting on FB/IG (or, heaven help me, twitter), which is mainly writing, photographing, video, and editing the result of the whole thing.

So there is no set topic for this account. Those who have faithfully read my journals for the last 20-odd years know what to expect: random posts about wandering the alleys and byways of Taipei, musings on photography, writing, cinema and virtual reality, the odd music gig or photo excursion or exhibition, trips abroad…that kind of thing.

As with just about everything else I do, this is an experiment, a space to see what happens. And as always, you’re welcome to come along.


powered by TinyLetter

posted by Poagao at 6:55 pm  

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment