I'm Reviving this Blog in 2022

Forget web3, I'm going back to web 1.0.

Jan 2022

When I started this blog back in high school, a classmate of mine kindly gave me access to his web host and a WordPress sandbox and let me do whatever I wanted. I started hacking my way around HTML, CSS, PHP, and MySQL, finding a way to break this website almost weekly and trying out as many WordPress plugins and themes as I possibly could. I flouted my parents' computer use curfew by waking up at six in the morning in order to play with my website (or computer games), and the name "diplateevo" came out of an experiment rearranging random letters until I got something unique.

I started blogging regularly and soon outgrew my borrowed web host. After a few conversations with my father, he agreed to pay for shared hosting on Dreamhost, and I continued developing and vastly overcomplicating my WordPress installation. By the time I graduated college, however, I started working full-time and blog updates became infrequent. I started using Twitter regularly as a way to share my thoughts and connect with people around the world. In fact, part of my decision to ultimately move to Taiwan was spurred by conversations with people I met through Twitter.

Eventually, I wondered why I was paying nearly $30 a month to host this website that I barely used, and decided to greatly simplify and re-engineer this blog to use a gerry-rigged Ghost CMS to serve as a static site generator with a frontend written in Svelte and Sapper, hosted on Github Pages. Hosting costs went to zero, but this blog continued to be dormant.

My optimism toward social media started going downhill sometime around 2015-2016. It’s hard to pinpoint an exact inflection point, but around that time I started noticing people around me getting information more from internet sources rather than from books, magazines, and newspapers. The explosion of the mobile internet and “the sharing economy” meant that a significant amount of people had their first experience with the web not in the Web 1.0 era, but in the Web 2.0 era on mobile devices.

Ironically, that was when I first started playing with cryptocurrencies and still optimistic about what changes blockchains might bring to our digital lives. No one knew at the time that Bitcoin was going to reach the valuation it has today, and the mere possibility that it might end up completely worthless is exactly what made it fun, interesting, and worthwhile. The entire experience felt like the alpha release of a cool, low-risk, tech product that I could experiment with. It’s unfortunate that in 2022, it still feels like an alpha product and yet is no longer anywhere near low-risk.

Decentralized Mistrust

Today, it’s impossible to scroll through my Twitter feed or browse Hacker News without someone arguing about cryptocurrencies, Web3, or the metaverse, espousing ideals about “decentralization” without fully understanding what it means. I want to get away from predatory social media and advertising platforms as much as anyone, but most blockchain applications feel like a frankenstein solution forced onto a problem they were never meant to solve.

To put it simply, blockchains allow individuals to cooperate with others they don’t trust by placing trust in the network and cryptographic algorithms securing the data. This as an incredible engineering feat and certainly has valuable and appropriate use cases. But just as driving an armored vehicle with a motorcade is overkill and cost / energy inefficient for most transit scenarios, moving all our applications onto blockchain-powered platforms is not going to solve any real problems while only creating more problems. For example, how is a blockchain-powered social media platform going to be any better at solving harassment problems, especially if every single post gets written permanently on-chain? Without any cooperation with legally enforceable regulations, how are so called “smart contracts” going to provide any jurisdiction over the real world?

Additionally, blockchain protocols are built with mistrust as a default state, which means a lot of redundant energy is spent verifying every single transaction, which is why cryptocurrencies consume exorbitant amounts of energy in return for little actual performance, not to mention the extra amount of engineering required to build, deploy, and support something on the blockchain.

A New (Old) Vision for Diplateevo

All that to say, I will not be web3-ifying Diplateevo (whatever that means) anytime soon. As someone who has built a career in frontend engineering, I’ve started to really value simplifying things as much as possible, and creatively thinking about ways to make software more resilient, reliable, and performant. I find that my most productive programming sessions are when I delete more code and write more testing and documentation, because it allows me to rethink and triple check my output.

I’ve re-engineered this website (yet again) to be even simpler and portable, and have even decided to make the whole thing public. It’s still built on Svelte, but I’ve migrated to SvelteKit and removed Ghost CMS backend in favor of simple ArchieML text files to generate a static website. This will allow me the flexibility to do both simple and complex posts, which I plan to do a lot more of in 2022.

Web 1.0 ftw.