Hi, Welcome to the New Turman Dot Co

Posted over a year ago
Seven-ish min read about Life

When I made my last personal site in 2016 (!!!) I set out to use the site as a way to not just say what I do, but what I'm really about. I wrote a manifesto of sorts that expressed how I always found myself somewhere smack dab between the knowledge of the past and the precipice of the future.

I've seen the internet change a lot over the past 20 years or so of being involved in it. It went from something weird and niche to something that's so mainstream it's nearly impossible to imagine life today without it. I have to pinch myself a bit sometimes that I've been lucky enough to witness all of this amazing technology come to life.

Yet at the same time, I've seen vast inequality perpetrated in technology spaces—from bias at tech companies themselves to predatory ways in which technology is used to take advantage of those who often have no other choice. When I take a look at the current state of technology, even though I'm in a state of wonder, at times I also feel vastly disillusioned.

I think that comes from the fact that a lot of folks have forgotten what made the internet special in the first place. I grew up in a very small town of about 2k people and the internet brought me into an entire world I would have never discovered — meeting amazing people, learning tons of new things, and most importantly gaining a sense of perspective.

The world is bigger and more incredible than I ever thought and the internet & technology helped me discover that. As the internet was starting to come to life, it felt like the people who were building it were driven to understand, "what is possible? what is the limit of where we can go?"

While not perfect by any means, that time on the internet felt like a much more curious and empowering place. That curiosity for innovative possibility has more often than not now been replaced with a drive for preposterous monetization. Tech companies gained wild evaluations, investors swooped in to make quick bucks, and a lot of people forgot the true purpose of technology in the first place — to further the human experience.

Maybe that sentiment is naive and overly optimistic, but I believe that software is more than just a money making machine. Of course there's no harm in creating a sustainable business and being profitable — we can't just completely ignore existing societal and economic standards — but when profit becomes the sole objective, the actual purpose of software becomes lost.

For me the purpose of creating great software boils down to: building an extension of the people making it in service to the people using it to gain a new and better experience that would have otherwise been impossible without technology.

The idea being that no matter what the software does, it's unlocking something new that enables you, in one way or another, to have a better life on your terms. Whether it's giving you the efficiency to spend more time doing what you love, connecting you better to gain perspective and community, or the joy to remind you that humans are weird and wonderful.

That belief is what made me set forward to build this site. I wanted to create a home on the internet that felt like an extension of myself where I could share thoughts, experiment on new ideas, and hopefully share a bit of joy in the world.

Early sketches of site direction

I set out to design something that felt at harmony with the past and future. I was inspired by aesthetics from the past like various Sci-fi UI and the Macintosh computer as well as newer things like Playdate, Severance, Midnight Gospel, and Arc (which this site looks pretty great in imho).

And it wasn't easy to nail. I've been working on it on and off for the past 8 months now, and brought in a few collaborators here and there to jam on things and help push it forward.

It's been a ton of fun to create and through that process I identified some things that I really wanted to spotlight:

1. Sharing ideas more freely

I've always been inspired by folks in technology who are open to sharing ideas. Seeing amazing ideas openly shared from friends like Catt Small, Jonnie Hallman, and Lara Hogan inspired me to write more of my ideas down in a space I enjoy writing in.

I've been able to learn a few things over the years. Not everything is perfect, but I hope I can pass on some things I've found and ideas I'd like to share in hopes of something being helpful. Sharing ideas I think is one of the ways I think the internet is most special, and I'm very excited to have a space to try and do that more.

Similarly I've wanted a spot I can share more works in progress and cool things I find on the internet (think like a mix of Tumblr, Dribbble, and Are.na), so I created the Laboratory section where I can post things more quickly that might be less baked or just off-the-cuff.

2. Expressive user interfaces

One thing that I've been fascinated by lately is how we can create interfaces that give users more control over how they experience things on the internet. If I've learned anything in design over the years, there is never a single right solution that everyone will be happy with. So... why are we trying to constantly force everyone to experience things in the same way?

I built this site using CSS variables with a color-agnostic foreground, midground, and background system that can be customized using the dial at the bottom of the site.

This gives a bit more flexibility for people to get a the UI a bit closer to what suits their eyes best for reading, but still fits within the overall aesthetic I wanted to create.

You can see an example of how I implemented this in the Laboratory section. I might play with this more in the future and develop either more themes or a way for folks to be able to customize color further a bit more themselves.

I also love how much sound used to be more integrated into user experiences (Homestar Runner anyone?), but also recognize most people probably would be overwhelmed by that, so I made sure for that to be something someone has to opt into deliberately if they want to experience it.

3. Just the right amount of tech

The most important thing when I was evaluating tech was that I wanted it feel snappy and fast for users of all different types of network speeds.

When I started evaluating the tech stack I could use to make this site, I tried using fancy libraries like Preact, Vue, Svelte, and others, but I found myself spending more time finagling the libraries (and dependencies) than I did actually making things.

I figured if I was going to be writing a bunch of custom exploratory things anyway, I'll give myself a weekend to come up with a different solution that could solve my problems, but didn't have as much cruft.

I was inspired by Stimulus JS and thought about how I could just use normal HTML and sprinkle in some javascript on top whenever I needed interactivity by abstracting some of the state and event management away then leaning much more on using CSS to manage animations and transitions.

This led to the creation of a framework I've dubbed Modool (pronounced mod-uul), which I used throughout this site and made development much faster and my javascript bundle a lot lighter. It's not the fanciest or coolest, but it worked well for me. A follow-up article with full GitHub repository for Modool will be coming soon. :)

In the end I built this site for myself, but also for you! I hope this site can make you smile, make you a bit more curious, and inspire you to make the future a bit better than the past.

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