Digital Homesteading

I grew up around farms and farmers. Cattle and chickens, the smell of old things slowly becoming food for new things, grizzled men plucking at their coverall straps, spitting to the left, and ruminating with their friends whether the back pasture is going to give them enough hay to last the winter. They made purchases based on how easy it was to maintain: old farm trucks with space to "swing your legs in" while you were working on the engine, tractors where the metal shell was never screwed over the engine block because they were going to work on it tomorrow anyway. There's sustainable wisdom to this: they never encountered a daily problem that they couldn't solve with a little more common sense and simple tools.

Such a lifestyle and the skills required are now seen as quaint. We have been conditioned to believe we don't have time1 or energy to troubleshoot our problems, much less to start considering "can I fix this myself?" as part of our decision-making.

… 

I grew up alongside farmers, but I didn't have that life and didn't absorb those skills. I spent a lot more time on keyboards than in fields. While I'd like to reclaim those lost farm-skills, I have realized that my journey has an advantage: When I got started writing on the internet, the only way to have a website was to build your own website. It was nerdy, time-consuming, and personal… but more importantly we learned to fix our own mistakes. We learned from the builders around us2. This blog is mine3. I never screw the shell down because I'm going to work on it tomorrow anyway.

If your passion or livelihood depends on a set of tools or capabilities, don't rent those tools from someone who can deny you access4 or claim your output5 at any time. Own your tools. Be a digital homesteader.

Resources for Digital Homesteading


  1. Remember this commercial? Long before Amazon's Buy It Now. 

  2. When I was learning my craft, every website I encountered could be understood by simply clicking View Source: https://viewsource.info/. Hugely empowering… and sadly lost in the age of complex build systems and generative front-end stacks. 

  3. There are indeed higher powers that could really mess with my ability to distribute: DNS registrars, .gov dominated BGP servers, caching services, search engines. In the end though… I can still build HTML documents and distribute over sneakernet if I want. 

  4. Example: CGP Grey almost lost his livelihood because of an automated copyright strike… on his own content

  5. The largest content-driven websites are selling rights to train AI models on our behavior, content, and insights. You use their rented tools, they profit from your output. Sometimes that's a good trade. Sometimes it's not. More on this later. 


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