The why and how of travis.giggy.com
What is this site?
tl;dr This site exists because I don't know how to fit into anybody's bucket
Travis.Giggy.com is my own custom-built knowledge repository. It is the manifestation of my need to learn and organize.
When people ask me what I do for a living, I usually tell them that I'm a programmer. It's true: I'm a programmer by "trade" -- I made a living as a programmer for a long time. But I only answer that way because I don't know how else to answer:
- Yes, I'm a programmer - As a technical architect and coder, I helped a couple of companies go from very small to very big.
- I'm also an entrepreneur - I've started and sold multiple tech companies, but probably nothing that you'd know the name of.
- I'm a product manager - I've helped friends and startups bring wonderful new products into the world across wildly different categories (Blockchain, AI, data science)
But most of all, I love to learn and build. And this site is an attempt to organize my knowledge, share it with the world, and live my my mission.
Why I needed a custom website
tl;dr, I use my own version of the Zettelkasten method because it helps me organize my thinking and push it to the next level.
I've always been a prolific writer - it helps me to organize my thoughts and communicate them to others. The problem with all the writing that I did in the past is that it is ephemeral: it comes in a burst of creativity and gets quickly buried. Good ideas had no way of sticking around because the old writing is subsumed by new writing. Old ideas are replaced by new ideas.
And the same thing for reading. I read a lot, usually 20+ non-fiction books per year. The new reading is always more readily available in my mind than the old reading. I always hoped that my subconscious was hanging on to the old reading and would make it available when necessary, but that's a bad strategy for learning!
So, in an attempt to lay down a foundation of knowledge, a method of retention, earlier this year I picked up the Zettelkasten method of note taking. Through several starts and stops, I have turned it into my own, and already have 700+ individual notes on topics as diverse as data science, finance, decision making, constructive conflict, and more.
The unique, interlinked structure of this repository of knowledge required that I build something unique to leverage it. There is no Medium, Tumblr, Substack, etc, platform that was built for a graph of personal knowledge, so I had to build it myself. (Which is not surprising, because clearly not very many people want/need this level of know-org!)
How to use this site
tl;dr click around :)
The blog is composed of essays (like this one), photos, and quotes. I write in markdown, referencing my miki content. I check it into github and it is automatically merged into the website and pushed live via Github Actions.
My "Miki" is a wiki, but just for me. I write prolific notes from my own thoughts, from articles that I read online, from book highlights on my kindle, then extract atomic individual thoughts into many interlinked notes. Each note gets it's own unique name,
yaml header, and markdown content. It is in a folder, has links to other relevant notes, tags, etc. Just like the blog, when I commit and push the content to github it is automatically merged into the live website. I have just as many private and random notes in my local repository as public organized notes, but only the ones that have been organized into the Miki get pushed live.
The Miki manifests as a force directed layout graph on the website. You can visualize how notes interlink and form groups of knowledge. It's easy for me to see how things link together, click through them, and explore.
A work in progress
This is the first version of the website. My projects are never done... I just quit working on some of them. This one is no different - even though I have put a stake in the ground and pushed it live, there are many improvements to be made. Over time, if life permits, I will continue to improve and add to it. As always, and with myself in general, it is a work in progress.
And, to close out in the same way I started:
Yes, I'm a programmer - after all, I built this site from scratch. I'm proud of it too :), but if you're also a coder and you look at the source code for travis.giggy.com, you'll see that I'm not a great programmer anymore. And that is what makes this worth doing... because while I'm not world class at anything, I'm pretty good at a lot of things (the consequence of choosing an entrepreneurial life, I think) and this website is meant to showcase an organized mind, a creative mind, an ambitious mind, and most of all, an appreciation for the journey and a celebration of my many opportunities to learn and grow, connect the dots, and build things that people can use.