😎 Welcome to the vault

State of the Desk_Ithaka O_welcome to the vault

Cinnamon smell floats in the air. The room looks black instead of blue when I wake up early in the morning, and the tip of my nose has begun to feel numb just slightly until I get my first cup of coffee and its steam warms up my face. Birds seem to twitter later than usual. They know:

Autumn is here.

Yes, sure, duh, it’s already the middle of November! But I live in Southern California and it takes a while for autumn to arrive. (The leaves of some trees do turn red and yellow, even in this part of the world.)

Anyway, it’s a season of change, of death and rebirth, of ends and beginnings. And for me, these past few weeks have been just that: all about prioritizing, downsizing, and simplifying.

And so, after many tries, fails, redesigns, and reconsiderations, the vault is here. This site is where I will run my subscription services, and this newsletter (tagged State of the Desk) will be one of the free portions of it, where I talk about various things that happen at my desk. That’s a pretty straightforward tag name!

I’m feeling hopeful that this is the format that I’ll stick with, at least for a few years. 2021 has been The Year That Pushed Me In This Direction. Many things happened that made me doubt the state of e-publishing as it is. It’s a depressing story, so I’ll summarize the events in one sentence: In the digital age, maybe ten years are all it takes to turn an innovator into a dinosaur.

I want to stay with the innovators.

I don’t want to bask in the glory of the old days, especially because I wasn’t even there for that glory. The next potential glory is what I could maybe be part of, and in my opinion, it looks way more exciting than the past.

Take this site, for example. It runs on Ghost. It’s a free, open-source CMS—though I chose to pay for their Pro plan, which is damn reasonably priced.

Anybody who wants to can now create their own subscription model for free or for something like 10~50 bucks a month.

This is the current state. It’s a beautiful state.

I don’t see any reason to stay on someone else’s turf. I mean, yes, I will use social media and whatnot, but surprise, surprise, who I am on social media isn't my core. In contrast to that, who I am here is closer to my core, inevitably.

Social media is the town square.

My vault (and my main site) is my home.

I am myself at home.

I will never put my core out on the town square. Ever. Even when it seems like I am doing so, I am always coming back home. It's the mini-digital-equivalent of going to a conference but returning home to rest.

(About the "conference" thing: honestly, I think many digital corners can be more rewarding and educational than some offline conferences. Especially if you take into account the cost: time, money, energy.)

Whether offline or online, putting your everything on someone else's platform doesn't solve the issue of marketing at all. Discoverability has always been difficult, for time eternal, and allowing someone else to own your core won't automatically change that.

In fact, already, having my own place has helped me creatively. I work on my own schedule, and I set my own priorities. Again, it's the digital equivalent of having your own home, of not being subject to the whims of an evil landlord or government.

This little site here is my turf. Ghost helps me do that. It’s one of the many services that make creative independence possible these days.

Never before in human history was it possible to reach this level of freedom, this easily, as a lowly non-royal non-cleric. I love it.

So whenever I think about the present-day dinosaurs and get sad, I try to remember how actually depressing it must’ve been in the olden days, when people had to read what the Church gave them, or more likely, couldn’t read at all and had no candles to stay up late at night.

So here it is, the vault. This site is NOT from a hundred years ago. Also, this site is NOT behaving like the present-day dinosaurs.

I don’t want to be a living fossil. If that happens, I think I should bury myself. When I stop changing, I will die.

This is not an exaggeration. I do think about death, all the time. It’s one of the things that keeps me alive.

Welcome to my world.

Hopefully you’re one of those who're turned on by this kinda talk rather than being turned off. I’m certainly in the former group.

Memento mori, folks, Memento mori. And thus we gotta live while we can.