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Reflecting on 20 Years on the Web

Today marks the 20th Anniversary of my website ianwootten.co.uk. That’s an eternity on the web. It seems strange that it’s existed this long, since I can remember clearly messing round with Movable type and b2 to get something installed on my University systems when I first launched it. Here’s a quick summary of the past 20 years with links to some of my most interesting posts.

The Early Days

Originally, most of my site back then was me blogging about personal life, along with commentary on what was going on in the British startup scene at the time. I enjoyed going deep on the different subjects at uni - e.g. locating shapes in pictures of chicken breasts.

I wrote a lot in those first years, but often not about development. Partly because I was single and had a lot of spare time!

That all changed in 2007 when I got married and the frequency of blog posts reduced significantly.

The Move to Work

In 2008 I wrote about my new business, Fair & Bare and later the many design challenges we held.

In 2009, I wrote about my first ever job at Aardman saying I’d be working there for the next couple of months (It ended up being 3 years!).

Whilst there, I was experimenting with exiting shiny things and wrote up one of my first “tutorial” style posts around using node, express.js and couchdb to create a blog in 2011. This was a variant of an existing blog post that used mongodb instead. It easily became the most trafficked of all my blog posts for a long time.

In 2012 I wrote about embarking on becoming a frontend developer for my first contract role.

Blogging about Blogs

In 2013, I wrote about what it was like having had been on the World Wide Web for a decade and mentioned that I was thinking about moving away from Wordpress.

In 2014 I finally made the move to Jekyll since I wanted something much simpler to use.

From 2015 through til 2018, I blogged very little. Often just to mention I was switching blogging platforms again. You can see a summary I wrote of all the systems I’d used right up to 2018.

Sharing What I Know

2019 was the first year I failed to write anything at all here. I was after all busy with contract work, but was a bit of a wake up call after I noticed. I decided I’d like to get back into a rhythm again. It is after all if nothing else, a really great way to share my knowledge and I’d come to think of it more of an asset I could build up over time.

I decided to pick up the pace in 2020 focusing on writing about what I’d learned and in Python development whilst contracting and also coincided with the launch of something else very scary for me, a YouTube channel. I also started a monthly newsletter sharing what I’ve been working on along with curated links I found interesting. This was partly coronavirus’s doing since we were all stuck at home not able to do much else.

Here’s a list of the most popular posts I wrote over this time based on what I can see in plausible:

About this time, I also began to explore if people would pay for my technical writing elsewhere. Turns out they would and I was pretty good at it. Last year I wrote a #1 Hacker News post for ScrapingBee.

Seems like this work may be paying off, even if it’s slow going. Earlier this year I had one of my best reactions to my writing which led to me getting more traffic in a day than I typically get in a year on my website. It is a one off rant on dependency management in Python, but it’s nice to know the things I write can resonate so well with people now and again.

What’s Next

10 years on from my last decades retrospective a lot has changed. The last few years in particular mean I now have a YouTube channel, newsletter and even ventured into the world of digital products.

It is however, still the things I don’t share about my life that are most important to me. I have a family of 4 now I’ve chosen mostly not to write about over this entire time.

I wonder what the next decade will bring..

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