I got sideswiped this a confluence of factors that finally convinced me to resurrect a decent static site generator (hi Pelican!) and bring this blog back from the relative dead.
In fast succession: Medium finally locked all useful distribution they do behind an even stronger paywall, I read this article by Fred Wilson on the value of being self-sufficient, and the one and only patio11 kindly responded to some of my questions about how to bootstrap a fledgling website no one visits out of the cold start problem.
So I'm going to primarily be writing on my own blog (e.g. this post at http://www.locallyoptimal.com/blog/2019/03/24/publish-independently-publish-often/), syndicating posts across to Medium for a least a bit, and seeing how it goes.
A new site generator
I got fed up with fighting a packaging ecosystem I didn't know well in a language I didn't understand, so I picked this up and took it from Octopress to Pelican. So far there seems to be actively less magic (mostly because I can probably read Makefiles and Python much more natively) and it was easy enough to port.
Credit to an old friend's blog post showing up unexpectedly in Google results while I tried to work through the port 😄
On both Patrick's and Fred's advice, I'm going to try and have this website be the first publishing platform and, where it seems useful, I can syndicate out elsewhere. Seems that importing content into Medium w/ canonical links isn't too hard, so I got that going for me. In some ways it seems a shame to lose the very small amount of momentum I had on Medium, but I suppose that makes it cheaper to do now than later.
I'm still quite nervous that this will be the blogging equivalent of someone divesting themselves of USD and solely transacting with cryptocurrency -- I will definitely be more free of "the man" telling me what to do or who can read my writing, but I may find that I don't like the other dowsides that come with that freedom. Then again, the only way to really know how it goes is to give it a shot in practice.
If history is any indication, this will be the hard part. I've had a pretty good run publishing nearly-weekly posts internal to Yelp in the last 3 months or so, but I've been quite awful at putting them out on the greater internet. That seems like a shame in retrospect, because I've often been frustrated at the extreme rarity of any decent writing on technical leadership for non-managers. Except this week of course - see Jessie Frazelle's excellent post on distinguished engineers which has immediately become my new favorite post describing the holistic set of skills behind excellent senior engineers.
And to better defend my ability to publish often, there's probably going to be a bias here to just text and links for a while. Something I can crank out in a markdown editor without worrying about any technical issues and throw onto the website without effort.
So here's to nothing?
Wish me luck -- we'll see if a better generator, some reaffirmed intent, and a coat of new paint do the trick.