In Retrospect

Okay, so I do recognize that talking about how you redesign and update your own blog belongs somewhere on the 3rd level of navel-gazing hell. That said, I do spend a few weeks every couple of years refreshing the paint on these virtual walls, and given that I also spend a good amount of time reflecting on the what and why of writing here1, this little bit of self-indulgence is at least thematically in line with the overall premise.

The prior version of this blog—the landing page is the featured image above—was built back in 2017. I had recently started a new job at a fast-growing startup as a director of engineering, and wanted to continue writing: about what the job entailed, how management works at increasingly senior levels, and when everything needed to scale out yesterday. That version’s design therefore focused primarily on the written content, with periodic posts flagged as articles to add to the corpus. I already had migrated this blog to WordPress years ago2, and for this use case I modified the minimalist theme Typology to emphasize simple pastel colors and typographic cleanliness.

3 years later, and I feel like I’ve made good progress on articulating my thoughts on engineering management. With the last iteration of this site, I was unabashedly trying to get attention and reader engagement, but it turned out that opportunities were much more prevalent with my role at Affirm along with my networking and volunteering efforts with Plato and SFELC3. Essentially, being an online thought leader4 proved elusive, no matter how many times I pushed my own blog posts on Hacker News.

My personality has always been introverted and introspective; I have this tendency to reflect and opine on experiences, as work notes or journal entries or purposefully jotting down thoughts to paper. The new site name—in|retrospect—is meant to capture that sentiment. I also added sections for book reviews and management musings; most of the positive feedback I’ve received reference posts in those categories specifically. The rest is just simple colors, clean lines, a couple of illustrated headshots courtesy of my friends at Interactive Labs, and getting rid of bits of the site that no one used anyway.

I will say that there’s a certain enjoyment that I get from engaging the engineering and building recesses of my brain, particularly now that I’ve spent a chunk of time solely as a manager of people. It’d be much easier to throw something on Medium5 or to lightly customize a Squarespace site, but this sporadic exercise gives me an excuse to marvel at the web browser capabilities, and get things exactly the way I’d want them.

  1. Notice the new site title and tagline?

  2. I got my first job at a startup in part due to building my own blog engine in the mid-2000s, so I have a soft spot for web development; it’s just way too much work nowadays when there are so many capable options.

  3. My participation have led to a handful of interviews and podcasts, which you can find in the about pages.

  4. To be clear, I actually hate the term.

  5. I did try to cross-post at one point, and gave up.

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