In 2012, during my freshman year of college, I created a site with Google's Blogger platform titled Sassy Echidna Software. I was in the middle of a creative slump at the time. It'd been a few years since I'd released a video game, so I created the blog as a sort of motivational tool for myself. And it worked - or, at least, it coincided with a new wave of creative output.
Given its purpose, the blog was almost exclusively video game oriented, and it included a series of writings about game design, game recommendations, dev logs, and so forth. I was satisfied with expressing my thoughts about politics, music, culture, and my personal life in other channels. I was much younger then, and a lot of this early writing is cringeworthy - sophomoric in all meanings of the word. I've already taken down the most embarrassing pieces, but to remove the rest would be to erase a lot of personal history, and I'm not willing to commit to that.
By 2016, my writing output slowed, and the blog mostly became a list of project release announcements. Sassy Echidna Software effectively stopped being a blog and just became a portfolio site.
In the years following, I've become increasingly frustrated with the direction that the internet's taken. Gone are the blogosphere and the art sites of the aughts - in their place is social media. The internet's collapsed into a handful of sites, and they are the soul-sucking kind. Enough folks have complained about social media that a lot of these critiques may sound familiar but I'll go through the list: social media is addictive by design. Social media sites sell our data. They use our words and media as their product. The quality of discussion is shallow: posts are ephemeral and decontextualized and tweets lack the sophistication and thoughtfulness of long-form writing. For many of us, social media is a time drain. The overall design of social media is to promote raw engagement rather than personal expression or empowerment. I'm not crazy about it!
Maybe this makes me a cranky old person yelling from her front porch, but I miss the old internet.
I don't know yet if I'll ever be able to leave social media altogether. Regardless, I'm making a continuous effort to withdraw from it to whatever extent I can, but doing so requires replacing it with something else. On the "consumer" end (for lack of a better word), I've started using an RSS reader as my primary content feed. It's a more empowering and far less addictive way to keep tabs on blogs and webpages, and I wish I could follow everyone on the web that way. Setting up an RSS feed is easy, but creating an alternative space for my online writing would require me to have a proper blog again. This would take a little more work.
Sassy Echidna Software was no long suitable for my purposes. I wanted to distance myself from my old, cringey writing. I didn't want to use a blog engine owned (but no longer maintained) by Google. I mostly don't want to write about video games anymore. Most pressingly, people generally don't know what an echidna is, let alone how to spell it.
My plan for a while was to create a sister blog on Blogger titled "Bad Platypus" that would accompany "Sassy Echidna," but that didn't solve all of the aforementioned problems. So, when Marina Kittaka developed and released her Zonelets blogging engine, it came at an opportune time. Finally, I'm able to integrate a blog into a website that's more properly my own! (Thanks Marina!)
So, here we are: alexandrah.neocities.org. Plainly titled: Alexandra Higgins' Personal Website. The blog itself, however, still needed a name - I tried calling it Alexandra Higgins' Personal Blog and that just didn't do it for me. "Wicked Platypus," however, feels right.
It's exciting to have a proper site! While I built the blog portion of the website off of Zonelet's code, the rest of the site has been personally programmed from scratch. It feels empowering!
On the new site, the list of games I've released and the blurbs about myself and Underground Arcade Collective are adapted from Sassy Echidna. What's new, besides Wicked Platypus, is a "links" page (what scrappy lo-fi website is complete without one?) and a cheesy statement of intention for the website to grow into a spiralling mess of other content.
Social media has the lowest barrier to entry to web participation of any other method of online expression. It's here to stay, and I understand that blogging isn't feasible for everyone. That being said: more people should blog! Maybe you are one of those people! It's not too hard - Zonelets is a pretty cool tool for it. Join me! Make a bad website, revive the blogosphere, and reclaim a bit of the internet for yourself.