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Optimizing friction

Over and in response to the last few months, I’ve been reflecting about intentionality, and how I spend my time creating things. I have tried to improve the indiewebbiness of my site, and understanding what it means to “scratch my own itch”. This resonates particularly lately because it’s leading me to mull over which parts should be hard and easy. Unsurprisingly, much of that is personal preference, and figuring out how I want to optimize from the perspective of user experience. Friction in UX can be a powerful tool, part of what I’m trying to find is where I want to retain friction as it helps me remain intentional.

For example, I’ve debated adding a Micropub endpoint for my site, and whether to automate sending webmentions within CI. In some ways, it could make things “easier”, and it could make the process of POSSE-ing content to other sites (e.g. Twitter or Mastodon) all the either. What I’ve found is that it doesn’t quite make my own process of writing or thinking about posts or content any easier. Somehow, writing short notes in Netlify CMS, adding syndication links to trigger Bridgy to post to Twitter/Mastodon on my behalf, and using another webmention client does - even if it means I’m manually updating the syndication links later.

Similarly, while I could update my personal 2014-era MacBook Pro to have a larger hard drive and a new battery, I’ve been oddly content with making do. The process of having to be intentional about how long I work away from a charger, and negotiating disk space while undertaking audio production and recording music has led me to sketch out ideas and plan more. Switching to making pizza with the Beddia dough means that I can’t just make pizza whenever I want it - I need to know in advance and take the 24-hour cold ferment into consideration. Even weirder is that this also seems to resonate with my recent forays into exploring Plan 9. At first, I asked my self why I should bother with an operating system where TLS and a modern web browser might not work out of the box. The answer is multifaceted - but its design is both unfamilar and intuitive, and wrapping my head around how things work makes me understand what I actually want out the systems I invest in.

Maybe I’m getting older, or just more patient I’m aware of what I’m doing at every step in the process, rather than having it be fully automated. It’s harder to shitpost if you’re thinking everything through, just like it’s harder to make bad pizza if you know you can’t get instant gratification. I still occasionally make bad posts as well as bad pizza, but I am certainly more aware of the cases where I’m setting myself up for it.