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Miriam, for the Archive

A (long) short note on writing longer short notes

This post has been written and published, and filed away for safe keeping as an event that happened in my past. This post is also a live performance, and an invitation to engage. Thanks for dropping by.


I’ve had this site for a very long time – though the domain and the underlying tech (and most of the content) has shifted more than once. Is it still the same site, if I can just take out all the words, and put in new words?

(yes)

Over the last several years, I’ve leaned – or devolved? – into an approach that is not quite digital gardening but also not ‘posting’ in a blog format. It’s become almost a retroactive digital archive of shifting, cross-referenced, projects and events. A digital timeline of what happened along the way.

(I have found there are sometimes good reasons to break a promise)

Lately I’ve been feeling the evaporative nature of so many art projects. I work hard, I’m proud of the work, but once it’s done it becomes… one more markdown entry to file away with yaml metadata in this digital cabinet.

A semi-sorted mound of detritus – the results of living, trying things, changing my mind, and trying something else. A curriculum vitae, with too much color and detail.

(let me show you the lovely flier from my latest live performance and a single line documenting my first one)

That feeling has bled into my relationship with social media. I have a thought. I hit publish. There is no middle step. I hit the nearest publish button I can find. It’s on Twitter. A momentary live performance, and then…

(15 years on that site, and all I have to show for it are a load of lovely friends, some acquaintances who seem swell, a weirdly web-obsessed audience, and a few reply guys)

Somehow that all leads us here. An attempt at reviving something more alive inside the archive itself. Adding WebMentions, cleaning up the RSS feed, and writing more… short notes?

(have a thought, add a commit message, wait for Netlify to publish)

I’ve also been reviving and curating my Feedly account, to get back in the habit of following other personal sites. Maybe even responding to them here? Who knows, maybe there’s something to this idea of a slow social back-and-forth.

(this is a reply to Matthias Ott, but you wouldn’t know it yet)

I’m attempting to develop a new habit, with this site at the center. Not to post more or less, but to think more carefully about what I want from posting in the first place. There’s no folder full of draft articles, or trello board of ideas, or resolution to post every day. Only a mental reminder that I’m already posting all the time. Sharing, replying, testing ideas, having a laugh.

Social posting. It’s a way of thinking out loud, and building relationships. I’m just not doing it here. Platforms like Twitter make the flow of conversation so easy. Too easy, sometimes. Other times, just right.

I don’t want to lose that. But what if some of those thoughts – some parts of the conversation – could also have a home (and a longer life) here? What if this site wasn’t only a log of past events, but a place where something can happen? Something social, even?

(syndication really is cool sometimes)

The latest post from Matthias is a lovely reminder urging us all to Just Put Stuff Out There – with a well-deserved shout-out to Chris Coyier’s regular short posts across a wide range of topics. Both Chris and Matthias have been a big inspiration in pushing me to try this.

(it would be super embarrassing if this short note spirals into a long one)

I already put stuff out there. The problem I have here is a little different. I tend towards the extremes. I will either write the most in-depth complete guide possible – or I will condense the entire thought into 240 characters and hit send.

When I do start to get precious – ahem – it is absolutely helpful to remember I can ‘just hit publish’. But right now it also feels helpful to take a second and ask: What happens after I publish?

(I spent hours writing this, and yes, I’m thoroughly embarrassed)


(an after-thought, a chaser, a postscript)

I spent part of my summer in 2012 at the Naropa Summer Writing Program. It’s a weird place, and I had a lovely time. Between classes, there were often large group gatherings in the auditorium.

Naropa keeps audio documentation of every event on campus – a tradition that goes back years. Somewhere along the way, it also became tradition to acknowledge that when speaking. Anyone who was handed a microphone would prefix their thought with the same strange phrase (using their own name). Here it is:

Miriam Suzanne, for the archive 


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