Over the years I’ve made dozens of websites, started and ended a handful of side businesses, hosted industry events, interviewed hundreds of people, written blog posts, reviewed apps, and generally used design and code to chip away at problems that I find interesting.
Despite all this, the world still expects my intersection of skills and experiences to fit neatly into a single title. For me, it’s product designer.
What a reduction!
To fight this oversimplification, I’ve spent hundreds of hours tinkering on my personal website you see right now, trying to build it in a way that lets me share my interests, abilities, and experiences more completely with anyone.
Most people don’t have the time or patience to build and maintain their own website. So instead, they turn to professional social networks like LinkedIn, or industry-specific social networks like Dribbble, in an attempt to show the world what they do.
But each of these networks is designed to capture a two-dimensional slice of someone’s complete self. Most people maintain so many interest-specific profiles that new startups are being created just to aggregate all of them into new super-profiles. Have we reached peak identity-fragmentation?
The changelog format
A good changelog is a medium-fidelity information channel, sitting in the Goldilocks-zone between a feed and a static post. Great changelogs aren’t as noisy as a commit stream or a Twitter feed, and they’re not as coarse as blog posts or a LinkedIn job change. At their best, they are bite-sized updates, a few sentences at most, that can be easily skimmed and understood. The format even has a style guide with best practices!
The professional social networks of today are stuck on either side of this fidelity sweet spot: too noisy, or too static. And where there’s a gap, there’s an opportunity.
Last November, I started thinking about this opportunity for myself: Is there a way I could represent my skills, share what I’m working on, and talk about my interests using the changelog format? I wanted individual posts to feel more meaningful than my tweets, but not feel stale like my resume. I wanted something in between: a place to write a few sentences about what I’m up to, organized in a way that would give people a real sense of what I’m all about.
It looked something like this:
Yet, maintaining a personal changelog sucked. I was rolling my own code to edit, update, and style the posts, and it wasn’t clear how to easily host photos, or share different types of updates. After all, writing a blog post is much different than launching a new side project, which is itself very different from starting a new job.
Even when you can build the thing yourself, it's hard to find just the right way to represent yourself on the internet.
The personal changelog
My hunch is that there are millions of designers, developers, artists, product managers, technologists, and other creative people from all industries, who are frustrated with how hard it is to represent themselves on the internet. Current profiles aren’t good enough, and services that stitch our profiles together are a hack, at best.
Could the personal changelog be a solution? It can sit at the right fidelity where people want to update it regularly, but not so often that it competes with a Twitter feed. But it’s updated often enough, with the flexibility to represent all kinds of activities, that it can become a true reflection of someone's professional and creative momentum over time.
If you’ve ever felt the frustration of building a personal website, only to watch it go stale, or felt like modern social networks only show a cardboard-cutout version of yourself, it might be time to make your personal changelog.
What that should look like, exactly, is up to you.