Matt

Founder at Write.as

I’ve been digging into the world of image parsing the last couple days, after fixing image orientation issues while introducing a new issue: image metadata (particularly for color correction) getting lost during processing.

In short, Go’s standard image/jpeg library tosses out metadata when you decode an image to transform it, as we do for images uploaded to Snap.as. So preserving that metadata means first parsing it out, running the transformations, then writing it back to the image when you encode it with the new transformations. Should be straightforward, right? Oh let’s see…

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For certain musicians, when they put out new work, I have to set aside a moment to sit down and listen to them. These days my mind is too scatterbrained to instantly shut up, switch my focus, and pay attention to this new thing I’m absorbing. So instead I have to carve out some time and space for myself to really feel it.

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Some time before, in a past life, in a past day job, it felt like work. I answered to someone; my stress level indexed my responsibilities and how far off-target I was from them. My life was less “mine,” less the product of my personal goals, more the product of market forces; more what my parents would have wanted. I made career choices based on what would benefit me most financially, rather than existentially. I thought convention would benefit me more than pure idealism, and indeed it did. I don’t mean to say I’m ungrateful for all the fortune conventional wisdom has brought me; only that its gains are short-lived, and I’m looking again to my long-term.

I built my own thing as a way out from this; as a re-declaration of my own skills and capacity to do more than what I was merely told to do. I gave that thing a conventional goal of being a profitable business, to solve the problems convention solves: “nothing in life is free.” Otherwise I merely wanted to build, and wanted to build something that people enjoyed. I made it personal and tied it closely to who I am. I worked on it for years because I enjoyed it, and other people seemed to, too.

Now it’s reached a certain point, a certain clearing on the other side of the woods: modest profitability. I always thought I wanted a big small business, but when I started putting that in motion in a real way, I realized how quickly (and how far) I strayed from my original purpose in building this thing (whether you call it a product or business or art project). I started seeing how even this pure thing can eventually feel like work — not in the invigorating, satisfyingly-exhausted sense of the word, but in the futile, misaligned-with-my-life sense. I started buying into the business gurus who say I need to focus on sales and inserting myself in front of people to “grow.” I didn’t really think (or know to think) that I don’t have to do things by convention now. Sure, conventional business practices might help me reach less-modest profitability. But what then? Again, convention promises only short-term, shallow happiness and not the kind of bone-deep satisfaction you get from giving the finger to convention and generally forging your own path.

Something I’ve been thinking lately: perhaps it’s time to move to higher-level applications in our suite. I’m basically thinking our *.as and *Freely apps make sense as highly generic tools fit for a wide range of uses, and then we can offer another layer of more specialized apps on top of them.

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My mind is on two major projects at the moment, one that brings many users to the platform, and another that moves a large publication here. The many-users project hasn’t required too much stretching in the product itself; the publication project requires a major rethinking of everything. But it also takes us to a new level — somewhere I’d like to go.

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I don’t trust computers. I work with them, I use them, I program them, and I can generally understand how they operate. But I never trust them fully, no matter how much I’m supposed to.

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As a kid I always wanted to be an architect. I'm not sure where the desire came from — maybe Legos and Tinker Toys — but long after I got into computers, instead, I started learning more about my unrealized dream profession.

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Mainstream social media is just like the suburbs — inhabited by many people, with the aura of a town (even Zuckerberg falsely dubbed Facebook a “town square”), but without the civic institutions that actually make it a town.

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I'm slowly, quietly mulling over the idea of a Write.as “version 2” that takes the past six years of lessons and starts from scratch, in terms of our user experience.

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As I wrote about in July, this year we started experimenting with paid content on Write.as and WriteFreely via a proposed standard called Web Monetization. Now we support paid articles, which we'll be fully announcing this week. Here's a demo of what that looks like.

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