Websites made me nervous. It takes so much time to think, build and maintain. The idea of making it public to the whole world threw me into jitters. Above all the aesthetics aspects overwhelmed me. I was limited by technology and its architecture.
For someone who has a background in cognitive science, a website should make communication easy for the reader but many websites do not. We mask this fact by generalising ideas that websites are meant to be "this way". In all honesty spoken language is far more easier for people to understand than a written word. The syntax and semantics of written language overwhelms our brains because we need to understand the norms, constructs and then apply the same to understand what is in front of us as a written word. If we all spoke our websites, it would ease cognitive loads of the brain by 70% and that is not a simple number.
A voice tweet is more powerful than a written tweet isn't it? In 10 seconds you can say far more than 100 characters. Just that we are not used to listening to voice one way. We love it when it is two way and it is a conversation. There is nothing called as right or wrong conversations for humans. Whereas for a robot, there is something called as wrong conversation and your Siri's and Alexa's stand still when they don't understand the sarcasm or humour or intensity of what you are saying in a conversation. That being said, I was always against something that is not built for human brains but hey, the entire WWW is built on this one way communication and language is used heavily so who am i to dispute about that 🤷🏽♀️
It is also human that we adapt faster and we accept the new norms quickly. With website also we started believing that "this is it". We don't question when it causes the slightest discomfort. We push it hard and we try to overcome the discomfort. We feel the pride when we work hard and move forward. So websites starting living in our hearts and minds as something that has a certain structure. The structure was dictated by possibilities and limitations of technology. So it is what it is. Questioning it was out of norms so i kept my fear inside me and continued to live in the WWW without a website.
Social Media in 2009 Slowly things started changing. Social media started popping into our lives. Orkut, My space, Facebook, Circles, LinkedIn, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter started coming into our lives and people started more conversations. Slowly the need for a website was going away and people started expressing their thoughts and perspectives in posts, tweets, pictures and even emojis. Memes, GIFs, Boomerangs, Videos started popping up making it more human. The creative expression was boundless and people started sharing their thoughts and ideas.
I also have accounts in all these social spaces but I hardly used it as i didn't have much purpose. Once I started gardening and a revolution of eating healthy, cooking healthy, I had a reason to post pictures and talk about health and wellbeing. Then came my adventures into the startup world in the form of starting up, cofounding, investing etc. I had a need to share my thoughts as a founder. Slowly when I found my feet around building ecosystems and communities, I had to be vocal and expressive about my ideas. I logged into my LinkedIn account around March 2018. I started sharing my ideas as posts for over 24 months and the reach was powerful.
My friends told me, there is another world called as Twitter and it is all about sharing ideas. I logged into my Twitter account around March 2020. Keeping up these handles are hard as the algorithm rewards consistency. Not every thought is well formed so sending a thought deliberately as a feed to millions of smart minds out there didn't feel right, so I started thinking about blogging.
I started with Medium in 2018 to document all my experiments on weight loss, design, products, gardening and more. This confused the hell out of audience as they could not understand the multifaceted view of me. They followed me for what resonated with them and not for everything I am. When i understood this, i flushed my medium account and started writing in my own space (karthis.blog) from March 2019 onwards. My colleague gifted me a typographically beautiful site for the madness i was churning out everyday. Readability is taken care in the site and it just flows. I kept at it and the same issues started cropping up. Different projects, different contexts, different times and I could not organize my thoughts as blogs had a structure to it. Either i had to curb my thoughts and projects because others cannot read it all or I need to find something that enables my thinking process and creative expression. This struggle was on for almost one year.
I unpublished my blog site (saved some $ as well) and started a Substack for each project (eg: designu.substack.com). It was good because people followed me based on their interests. However imagine 100 projects over a period of 10 years. Their mailbox will go nuts and they have to consciously follow me on certain projects. There is no place where they will know all projects I am into. I can't follow someone like that and I will be frustrated. This is the limbo i was living in for the past 6 months.
I started using Notion for documenting all thoughts as my Brain Vault and slowly i felt better inside me. Chuck my audience. I had to get a hold of myself first. For the first time, I was thinking well. I slowly started publishing my notes to public in some tweet storms and articles and it helped others to absorb well. This is when i drew up my interests as a bunch of venn diagrams. I saw the beauty of complexity in making of a person over a period of time. I realised we all are unique because we have a unique blend of interests, impressions, experiences and environments.
- Why should i give up this evolutionary advantage for the sake of technical rigidity?
- This is when i started asking some bold questions.
- What if our idea of a website is wrong?
- What if the website is you in a digital version?
- What if it allows you to express more genuinely?
- What if it allows the readers to pause, stop, reflect on thoughts and come to the space when they feel like. no pressure, no subscriptions and no extra cognitive load. Just the thought liberated me inside. I felt all the above with Notion.
The tool took away the tool and allowed me to just be me like what a good interface should do.
It allowed me to change, adapt, correct, tweak on the go without worrying about too many things. That is exactly how fluid our brain is and that is exactly how a site must be if the purpose is all about expression.
I decided to make my notion page into a public site. So far i was using Notion more for team productivity. For a change i purchased a PRO plan last evening and got it to work in less than 45 mins. This is the best decision of my life.
How to setup Notion page into a site?
The DNS stuff takes time. Give it 24 hours to settle down. Otherwise, just follow the steps.
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As a designer i can empathise with the non tech world and I can understand how you might feel. I will be able to help you patiently without making you feel you are dumb. There is a first time for everything so don't bug yourself too much. Be kind and let us sort it out together.