Personal Website 4.0

Why have a personal website anyway?

Welcome to Martin's new personal website.

But why?

The short answer is, I feel like it's time. It's been almost a decade since my last personal website stopped existing. Today, I'm finally ready to start sharing the inner machinations of my mind with you, the world.

A slightly longer answer includes the backstory. How could it not?

I built my first Personal Website 1.0 back in high school. It was part of our CS homework and a thing of beauty. Yellow text on a grey background and a photo of my face in the middle. And the photo had to be there. A couple weeks before I had cut my first mohawk, so I was very proud of it.

The Personal Website 1.0 was pure HTML, <table>'s and everything. What CSS? Back in my day, CSS hadn't even been invented!

J/k, our CS lessons just kinda sucked.

Interestingly enough, the site had been online and available on my school's website up until recently. I stumbled upon it on accident one day, and there was much rejoicing. Not anymore, though. They seem to have finally taken it down. F.

In any case, that was my introduction to web design and development. (And see where it's gotten me.) In college, I also dabbled in Linux, ecommerce, and gamedev, so by the time I graduated I had more things to share with the world. And I also needed a job. It was time for a new personal website.

My Personal Website 2.0 was an ultra-minimalist marvel of design titled "yet another coder's portfolio". Much creative wow. It featured my CV and a dozen or so personal projects, such as "qwerty racing", "rgb shootout" and the likes. No mohawk this time. Very professional.

A year or so later, I realized two things:

First, that I'm capable of turning my thoughts and experiences into somewhat cohesive paragraphs of written text. This wasn't exactly new. By this point, I had spent over a decade on IRCs, ICQs, and the early socials of the world, and written text was my primary way of communication.

Second, and more importantly, I felt the desire to share these thoughts and experiences with the wide world web, and not just a select group of friends.

This meant there was only one thing left to do for me.

Yes, I started a blog. It became my Personal Website 3.0. Nothing too exciting, though. You could call it a "nerd ranting about Linux, Magento, and stuff" blog. But since I had just quit my last job to become a freelancer, I wanted to make it look even more professional.

What's the best way to make a website look professional? Call it "a team of internationally based web developers … with a wide experience in various website development areas". I even added a bunch of my friends' photos to make it look like we're an actual development agency. So professional!

Funnily enough, I did get into ecommerce more professionally, after all. My hobby turned into a more "serious" business, so I decided to reuse my Personal Website 3.0 for business purposes. Why not?

Thinking about it now, it was clearly a dumb decision. There are a hundred better ways to leverage your personal website to grow your business. But then again, most of my decisions back then can be considered different levels of stupid, so this one wasn't any better or worse.

Now, quiz time:

Name two reasons why you shouldn't merge your personal and business websites? (And lives, for that matter.)

My answers:

For one, you are not your business. And as mine grew and evolved, my personality got stripped away from the website completely, until eventually the Personal Website 3.0 was no more.

The other reason is that you will probably, hopefully, outlive your small business. If it fails, you will be sad for a while, then shut it down and move on. If it succeeds, it will get bigger than you. And in either case, you'll have a hard time decoupling your personality from your business. I sure did.

Fortunately, by that time I had a whole slew of more serious personal issues to deal with. So the problem of not having a personal website wasn't quite at the top of my list of priorities.

I kept occasionally publishing professional things on LinkedIn, and I had Instagram for my #hashtag needs. And that was enough, especially since my desire to share my thoughts with the world had pretty much disappeared by then anyway.

A few years passed. I managed to put my life back together and had spent over a year in my first "real" non-entrepreneurial job in a decade. That was when I finally started considering getting my online presence back. Beyond the LinkedIn profile and the assorted Quora answers, that is.

It was time to get a new personal website going.

Why?

Initially, I wasn't quite sure. I hadn't gotten back to writing yet, and I surely didn't feel like opening up to the world yet. But I knew I'll figure it out eventually.

So I got the domain and slapped my email and my LinkedIn profile onto a blank page. In some ways, it reminded me about the good old times. And it was fine for now.

In fact, I did figure it out sooner rather than later. As soon as returned to writing non-professionally I knew the real purpose of the Personal Website 4.0. It would be the place for the real me, without the personal-professional divide.

This divide is something I had thought about more than once, too. LinkedIn is your professional identity. Instagram is your personal one. To me, it always felt artificial and often unnecessary.

Now, I don't suggest flooding LinkedIn with your drunk selfies (but please post dogs), but you gotta find a way to be yourself personally and professionally. Without putting on a boring "professional" identity. Because it's boring.

And this divide was one of the reasons I never understood Twitter. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't stop myself from trying to be either personal or professional. And neither felt right on Twitter.

Recently, I decided to give Twitter another shot. And my biggest takeaway from following a few dozen fascinating people from all kinds of areas is that they're great at combining their personal and professional selves. They're just being themselves, being genuine. So why can't I?

Great, but Twitter is conversational. What do I do about my more-than-conversational things?

Personal Website 4.0 is the answer.

End of backstory.

And in some respects, this brings me all the way back to the times of me being me. The times before the divide.

This website is me.

Welcome, and thanks for dropping by.