I’m going to start off 2021 and this new blog by going through every blog I’ve ever had. They’re not many.
The age of the personal blog came to an end a long time ago. They haven’t stopped existing, but they’ve become a niche space. The protagonism they used to enjoy on the Internet now belongs to social media. I don’t have the desire or the knowledge to analyze that transition, but know that it is a fascinating phenomenon.
The age of the personal blog came to an end a long time ago. I, however, insist on having one. Despite the fact that I barely ever use it. Despite the fact that, personally, I love social media and it doesn’t make me anxious or frustrated like it does many other folks.
I like to have a space for official or personal communications that isn’t surrounded by ads. A space whose appearance I can customize, though I rarely do. A space where my words aren’t immediately lost in a sea of similar, unrelated posts by other people about any other subject. A space that can handle bilingual content, which even in 2021 no free platform for online writing does well or at all.
It’s not a space for using regularly, but one for having just in case, and I wanted to go through my different attempts at generating these spaces in the past decade.
A sort of notepad
(2010-2012, 68 posts, Blogger)
I created my first blog when I was 18. I was studying Literature at UBA, I didn’t have a steady job, and I was 2 years into my first romantic relationship.
Back then in Argentina, papers, magazines, and news shows made a point every once in a while to report the emergence of a shiny new Internet platform. Facebook and Twitter already existed, but MySpace and Fotolog were more likely to ring a bell for me. They didn’t interest me. I saw them as overly rigid structures that didn’t leave much space for creative expression.
Blogs were quite simply the first online presence format that caught my attention. It was the first time a news show said, “Check out what people are using to express themselves on the Internet”, and I went, “Huh, yeah, I could use that to express myself, to publish the essays and short stories I’m writing on my own anyway.”
Besides, I was already regularly reading blogs by Internet folks I admired and I had an idea of their potential. It’s much less common to regularly read someone’s profile on a social media site, without signing up for it first.
On this first blog there are chronicles of my daily life, micro-essays about how my personal philosophy was evolving, digital illustrations that greatly surpass my current ability (1, 2), quite a few comic strips about my college days (1, 2, 3, 4), and a bunch of contextless links and short jokes that would’ve worked better as standalone posts on any social media site. There is an analysis of Terry Cavanagh’s Don’t Look Back that I later partially rescued for an article on Matajuegos.
It started out exclusively in Spanish but, from November 2010 on, the blog had its English section. It wasn’t a section, really, but a completely separate blog that I made sure would look the same and have the same content only in the other language. In my teenage anti-imperialism, I insisted on using Spanish’s opening question and exclamation marks regardless of language, ¡¿like this?!, a device that I abandoned as soon as I started having Anglophone friends I didn’t want to make a fool of myself in front of.
Both versions are filled with small customizations made in my recently learned HTML, like the grumpy comments counter below each post, or the blog’s header that switches to a different illustration every time you refresh the site.
The last post was written in a moment of crisis, right after my very first breakup. It doesn’t say much, however. It only announces that I have a new blog. The link goes to the URL I had just bought, davidtm.com.ar, but over at that place there was only a very basic page with a link to my next blog.
Italics on the original
(2012-2013, 31 posts, Blogger)
This blog already starts with my first videogame release announcements (1, 2). I was starting my public life as a game developer—a chapter of my life that continues to this day. I think younger David would marvel at the sheer amount of games I managed to make since then, though it’s just as likely he’d be disappointed in my lack of international fame.
The first posts have some words censored out. I thought of it as an intriguing artistic device, and a good way of hiding the many times I couldn’t come up with a specific word in a sentence or how to resolve a thought. I abandoned the gimmick shortly.
Currently the sidebar has an embedded error page, because it originally had a navigation menu, made in Twine and hosted on my main site. It can still be seen on the saved version over at Archive.org, and it includes a link to the blog in Spanish, both interacting with the same system as in the previous blog.
I don’t go back to this blog as often as the rest. It isn’t distant enough that I’ll feel somebody else created it, but it’s also not close enough that I’ll identify completely. Regardless, I think its content is very superior to what I had been doing up until then. There are micro-essays that are more focused on my artistic philosophy based on the things I had already created, reviews for movies, series, and comics I was consuming at the time, announcements for translations and personal creations, and nearly no contextless link that would read more like a tweet.
The last post, probably written at a point in my life when not much of anything had happened to me in a long time, announces I’m moving to davidtm.com.ar/blog.
(2013-2016, 13 posts, WordPress)
I finally had the dignity to install WordPress with the Polylang plugin so I could have a decent bilingual space of my own that wouldn’t depend on such a limited free service as Blogger. It’s true that I still used a free service for hosting the site, Freehostia, but at any point I could switch it for a paid one and migrate the site without changing anything structural. That was the theory at least.
There are no more social media style posts here. Nearly every review comes at the work with more specificity than before, analyzing a certain aspect of the work instead of just explaining why I liked it or not. It’s not that I hadn’t done that before, but from here on out it became the norm.
There are essays on the nature of language and about diversity in fiction, a subject that I was beginning to experiment with and that I was very new to, so don’t expect any grand revelations there. The article Mechanical Macondo: videogames and Latin America (which I don’t link to directly since Archive.org didn’t save a copy, but you can read it in its entirety on the blog’s main page) is a shy first step towards the topics I would later explore in my videos for Matajuegos—Make games for Latin America and Towards an Aesthetic of Latin American Videogames.
Funnily enough, this version of the blog concludes with two posts, both called What I’ve been up to. I find them fascinating, though they must be among the most boring things I ever wrote.
The first post, from June 2016, was written during the saddest time of my life—my job had me getting up every day at 6 in the morning, and I was going through my first (and so far only) unrequited love where I just didn’t get along with the person I liked. Regardless, the post includes the beginning of two fundamental projects that continue in my life through the years, even though they’re a little inactive at the moment: the Matajuegos blog, and my Argentine game parodies.
The second post, from September 2016 (notice this is just three months later), was written during the happiest time of my life—I had quit the last “normal” job I had, I had started a much more fulfilling job that I still have, and I had just begun my second romantic relationship. The post really doesn’t say a lot more.
Some time later, the traffic my site was getting surpassed the traffic that was contemplated on the Freehostia plan and this version of the blog went down.
(2018, 2 [additional] posts, WordPress)
In the second half of 2017, and in the same week, I had my second breakup and I started my first office job in a videogame studio. In March 2018 I was going to travel outside of Argentina for the first time and attend my first international conference for game developers. Maybe because of that, I had a sudden urge to have a new personal site, and one that looked shinier and more professional.
Santiago Franzani designed a stunning site for me, hosted for free on 000webhost, which included a blog where the old blog’s posts were also conserved. I remember I didn’t pay him anything for it, and I have the impression I didn’t thank him nearly enough for the terrific work he did, including some beautiful illustrations for each one of my text games.
I never gave this version of the site the love it deserved. Partly out of sloth and partly because certain aspects of it didn’t scale up too well, like the pressure of having to add a beautiful illustration for each new text game I released. Eventually 000webhost’s free plan also refused to deal with the site’s traffic (which was mostly bots to be honest) and it went down. I’m not sure if there exists a salvageable version of this WordPress install somewhere. At least I have copies of every post on Google Docs.
(2021-????, 1 post and counting, WordPress)
In 2020 I suddenly found myself in the midst of a global pandemic. Some other people went through the same thing. Luckily, and unlike most folks I know, the resulting quarantine didn’t affect me too much emotionally. I’ve been isolating for nearly a year, going outside only when I need to go to the supermarket or when my mom needs medicine or some other help, and I never really needed or wanted to take advantage of even the flexibilities that the government allows every once in a while.
While other folks have spent the entire pandemic trying not to collapse under the stress, I had the privilege of using that extra time at home to finish a few projects I had wanted to do for years:
- I translated my longest text game into Spanish,
- me and my colleagues (one of whom is my latest ex) created a huge game in record time that we had planned years ago and which has received many awards and compliments,
- I wrote my first novel (which I am now editing and I am dying to show the world),
- I convinced my mother to let go of her Blogger site so we could get a paid hosting plan for our official sites and blogs (on Hostinger, if you’re curious).
That last point is, obviously, the relevant one for the purposes of this chronicle. I don’t know what the future has in store for my blogging life. If I stand by the constant that each one of my blogs has fewer posts than the previous one, I can’t really publish anything after today. I don’t mind. As I said, this is a space for having just in case, and I already enjoy my time in social media well enough.
Part of me wants to rescue all of those old posts and retroactively publish them here to keep the history of my online writing alive and to give this blog a greater sense of continuity, but on the other hand it also feels good that all of that rookie writing stays archived separately and accessible only to those who are determined to find it.
I bid farewell for now, and I hope you’ve enjoyed this little tour of my life. Even if it was from a very specific and limited angle. Even if you just kind of skimmed it. The age of the personal blog came to an end a long time ago, but the format still has a special place in my heart.