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Philip Mallegol-Hansen

A Reflection on 2022

It is a well kept tradition to reflect on the year behind us as we slip past the longest winter night, the opulent holiday parties, and into a “new” year on the calendar.

Whilst I’m dubious of the idea that a new number on a calendar, in and of itself inspires any profound change in any of us, the practice of self reflection undoubtedly leads to better people.

# Return to the Web

One of the most significant effects the year of 2022 has had on me, is reigniting my passion for the World Wide Web.

That might sound like an odd statement for someone like me to make. After all the technologies that underly the internet, and in turn the web, are how I make my living. One might argue that the internet is a significant portion of my identity.

Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter in 2022 forced me, and others in the tech sphere, to face an uncomfortable reality we’ve been largely ignoring for the past decade: The web is losing it’s web-like fabric at an alarming rate.

Through the consolidation of our attention among a short list of web properties, our favorite technology is undergoing the same evolution that can be observed by comparing historical cities with more recent developments: Rather than bustling and sprawling city centers, we see a few big-box stores, connected by Terabit per second network links. Despite being impressive in their own right, these all encompassing sites take away what made the web so special in its early years.

It’s quite plausible that this evolution is the inevitable outcome of the web becoming commoditized, as the number of internet users has grown 5 fold since the “good old days” of the internet1. Nonetheless I feel inclined double down on my commitment to this wonderful technology, and platform, we all share.

I’ve taken two concrete steps to in furtherance of this goal:

  1. Elon’s leadership drove me to look for alternatives to Twitter. Mastodon was the obvious choice, given its federated nature. The move to Mastodon gave me a chance to bust out the sever admin chops, as I spun up a dedicated instance for my wife and I. Hosting my own social media site has been a breath of fresh air. Except that moment where I thought I’d hosed the server during a software update. If you’re into that sort of thing, I can be found at:

  2. This blog post! Although I’ve had a personal website in one form or another for years, it’s been sparsely used. This site is the second half of the same strategy that underpins the personal Mastodon instance: A place on the web, owned and operated by myself, for my thoughts, projects, and anything else I want to share. Mastodon serves the short-form style traditionally served by other social media sites, and I intend to make better use of the site for those things that don’t fit in 500 characters.

# Life is Short

Undoubtedly a trope we’ve all heard ad infinitum, 2022 provided me a stark reminder of how precious life is.

My grandfather was one of the greatest role models in my life. He showed me the ways of woodworking in his workshop, how to navigate the world by map2, how to put my body to work in the garden, how to architect and design changes to gardens or houses, and so much more. He had a significant role in shaping who I am today, by modeling passion for the thing he was working on, understanding that you never half-ass a project, knowing when to put the shovel down and call it a day, and doing all of that with a smile on his face. I miss him dearly.

# The World is Breathtaking

Whilst the U.S. has a plethora of issues about which countless books could be written, one thing it does not lack is beauty.

This year I was fortunate enough to spend a week camping in Yellowstone National Park for my birthday, neither words nor images can describe the experience. All I can really say is: I highly recommend the experience to anyone who has the opportunity.

Spending a week away from cellular reception, away from angry tweets, away from work emails, and the constant pressure of being a member of society, and simply existing in a space together with nature, and a handful of other people, felt in a way I have never felt before. I am certain that it’s a success I will want to reproduce in the future. Whilst my career, my hobbies, my friends, and most other things in my life have happened thanks to technology in one way or another, stepping back from it all made clear all the stress it brings as well.

Although they cannot possibly do the experience justice, the pictures below are a small selection of the views of the trip, I hope they inspire you to see the world.

  1. To me, that’s circa the mid-2000’s. ↩︎

  2. Before GPS was commonly available that was how we got around. ↩︎