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The Value of a Personal Site

The Value of a Personal Site

Marc on 2021-03-15

Back when I was setting this site up for the first time, there was a common theme across many of the resources I was reading. Almost all of them said to treat a personal site as a 'business card for the Web'. While that idea is a fine starting point if you're only looking for a site to show some basic contact information, I think doing so does a disservice to yourself.

A personal site offers a dedicated place to experiment across the entire tech-stack; not a deliverable for a client that is handed over and then never touched by me again. A personal site is a place to try out that new API, see what can be done with CSS, truly discover what the Web can be.

When I started this site my understanding of CSS was in the mindset that I could just slap Bootstrap on top and call it a day; HTML was just what held my text together; That JavaScript was an absolute no-go. My understanding of these technologies, and by extension my opinion on them, has radically changed the more I've had to grapple with them for this site. CSS is perhaps one of my favourite languages to work in; I love that feeling of effectively sculpting a page, getting everything laid out just right. HTML is a far more 'alive' language than I expected with me being routinely surprised at what can be pulled off with the humble meta tag. JS is still one I'm somewhat conflicted on, albeit very easy to misuse, when implemented purely as a tool (Read: enhancing functionality) JS is actually a lot of fun. Having a personal site puts you in the position to more freely experiment with these technologies and in doing so not only build a better site (in functionality and/or design) but also become more knowledgeable about your tools in the process.

Of course that's just talking about the underlying technologies. There's also immense benefit in writing a blog as well. Although my earlier content was somewhat more sporadic in focus, I've largely settled into writing about technology now, something I think is for the best. As I've said previously, working in a Computing-Science related field inherently requires the continual learning of new skills. This is something that I feel plays to the strengths of a technical blog. I get to read about new topics to write about, and you (hopefully) get a better article to read as a result.

Writing a blog effectively results in a feedback loop. I discover a new topic, decide to write about it and in the process of doing so I need to research more about the topic to help ensure that the comments and information I present are grounded and factually correct. In the process of researching I'll inevitably discover new topics from which another post might spawn. Repeat that process a couple of times and you've just added immense value to your (and your readers) knowledge base(s).

The Web was established as a means of sharing information and as easy as it may be to simply consume the content available online, getting personally involved by creating new content helps offer a new perspective, a new discovery, a new conversation. It helps keep the Web as a place where the more people get involved, the more value there is to be found.