Ben Crowder

Blog: #meta

10 posts :: archive

For people who want updates via email on what I’ve been working on (art, design, writing, coding, etc.), I’ve resurrected my newsletter and dubbed the new incarnation Manmade.

How the newsletter will be different from this blog remains to be seen, but I imagine I’ll probably post more behind-the-scenes material to the newsletter.

Also, I’ve effectively retired my Twitter account (deleting almost all my tweets, cessation of posting, etc.) and will pretty much only be posting here on this blog. The “what to post where” dilemma is solved, knock on wood. (I do plan to still post new artwork to Instagram and Facebook, at least for now.)

Other reasons for this move: I like running things on my own platform. And Twitter is a (very) mixed bag with a whole host of issues. I don’t think I’ll miss posting to it.

Rewrote my about page to be somewhat more detailed. (The self-indulgence of it makes me cringe a little, but I realized I had stripped out a lot of the humanity of my site over the years, and I’m trying to slowly seed some back in.)

The blog, merged

Nine months later, I’m merging my blogs back into one. (Apparently this is going to be a regular back-and-forth thing here, so you may want to get used to it.)

Long story short, I think I’m more prone to blog if I don’t have to worry about categorizing my posts. Tagging is fine for some reason, but categories seem to add cognitive friction, so I’ve gotten rid of them. We’ll see how it goes.

Of minor technical note is that I’ve turned Slash into a pure web service backend, and the blog frontend is now hosted on the same domain as the rest of my site. This is the first time I’ve split the frontend off from the backend, but already I really like it — division of concerns, loose coupling, etc. At some point I’m planning to look into doing the same split with the rest of the site. (To clarify: at the moment, the site and the blog run on two different backends. With the site, the backend and frontend are currently unified.)

I’ve reorganized my Mormon page, primarily to gather together all of the scripture-related materials into their own pages, like the new Book of Mormon page. I also have a few new related projects in the works, some of which are very exciting. More details later.

The blog, now split

The pruning and splitting of the blogs is now complete. From 2,600 posts down to 400, and from one blog to (cough) fifteen. In my defense, these blogs are basically like categories, albeit with a bit more separation (tags don’t cross blog boundaries).

There is of course a feed for each blog (see the subscribe page for the list), and I decided to do a consolidated feed as well. I also added exclusion parameters to the consolidated feed, so if you really don’t care about my type design and art posts, for example, you can use this URL:,art

The blogs are running on Slash, a Django app I wrote. It’s fairly simple, and writing it hardly took any time at all. (What took the most time was going through the 2,600 posts and deciding which to keep and which blog to put them in.) Also, I’m trying out Disqus for comments. Still not completely sold on it, but it was faster than adding comments to Slash.

Now back to more interesting things.

The splitting of the blog

As a heads up, in the near future I’m going to be splitting this blog into several. The main reason is that the audiences for the things I want to blog about often have very little overlap, and the ever-present sense of alienating segments of my readers weighs heavy on me and makes me not blog much at all.

Right now, I believe these will be the different blogs (and no consolidated feed in the works at this point):

  • Coding/web/technology (Python, Vim, etc.)
  • Mormon stuff
  • Reading/writing/books (sf&f, history, science, etc.)
  • Design/publishing/typesetting
  • Art
  • Miscellaneous (personal, etc.)

I’ll be writing a new blog engine (in Django) to run this, mostly for fun, and also to fit my workflow better. (This blog is currently on WordPress.)

Also, I’ll be pruning old posts, deleting anything that doesn’t accurately represent me now. Anything that makes me cringe, if we’re being honest.

Expectation is for this all to happen sometime in February. Blog engines aren’t very hard to write (this’ll be my third or fourth), but going through 2,600 posts will take some time.

Hello, 2002

Something rather bizarre happened today. But first some backstory:

My site used to be called Blank Slate, and it lived at In 2008 I consolidated it and my other blogs into, which is where I’ve been since then. I maintained the old domain for a while, with a redirect pointing to, but several months ago I decided to let the domain go. And I did.

Fast forward to today. I was thinking about my old sites and figured I’d see what now lives at Imagine my surprise when I pulled it open in my browser and saw this:

What the heck? If someone bought the domain (and according to Whois it belongs to a Grygorii Naumov in the Ukraine who runs, you’d expect either a squatter page or something else entirely, right? Not my own site.

And not just that — it’s not the last incarnation of Blank Slate (which you might expect if this is some crazy four-year-old caching issue). No, it’s the page from when I was on my mission. Ten years ago exactly. (Well, from summer 2002 to summer 2004.) Here’s what my site looked like right before I left for Thailand:

So it’s the same (minus some textual changes once I actually left on my mission), except the current site doesn’t have any images, and all of the links just go to stub pages.

I emailed Grygorii to see if he can shed any light on the matter. I have no idea why someone would buy a domain, go to the Wayback Machine (presumably) and copy the site’s home page from ten years ago. Seems almost more likely that some kind of portal in spacetime just opened up and it’s connected to 2002, depositing artifacts from that year into 2012. Or maybe Grygorii himself lives in 2002 and this is like The Lake House or something. (Shudder.) I asked Grygorii what year it is where he is, and who won the World Series.

I’ll update this post when I either figure out what happened or make contact with my 2002 self. Hopefully the universe doesn’t explode.