Less Is More

1st April 2005 · Last updated: 5th October 2016


It's time to say goodbye. This is the last ever post I will make to this site. Comments will remain open for a short while, before I close them down for good.

My reasons are simple. Firstly, the site is taking up way too much of my time. I don't use a pre-built program to publish posts here - everything is hand-built, except for the comments script, which I tweaked a lot. So uploading a new post is a complicated matter of editing a bunch of files in different folders. I could program it to be automatic, but that would take a long time to set up. Any code I've added has always taken days of debugging. I could always install something like Wordpress or Movable Type etc, but then I'd have to convert all my posts (259 in total). And from what I see of such programs, great as they are, there's always snags with them. At least my way I've had total control over the output of my site.

My second reason for quitting is that no-one really seems interested anymore. I know I'm guilty of producing dull posts, never reaching the technical brilliance of guys like Dave Shea or Eric Meyer, whose blogs regularly shine. I also dislike uploading what I feel is an important post, like my recent keyboard demo, then seeing zero comments. From the comments I do receive, I am able to tell that the majority come from visitors who have found my site via Google. In other words, there doesn't seem to be a core readership anymore. (Perhaps I'm wrong, and they are merely shy of commenting.)

So I've felt increasingly like I'm wasting my time. Who are my posts for? Who reads them? Who cares if I post or not? No writer should ever churn out material for the sake of it, that has no market value. And that's another point worth making. Nothing I write ever makes me a cent. I accept that it's a free site (I don't wish to spoil it with ads or subscriptions) but when it takes up so much of my time, then you begin to wonder if it's worth it. I feel I'd be better off writing for a publisher, even if the pay was lousy, or not writing at all.

I'll be the first to admit my writing isn't the best. With a website, it's easy to publish a single sentence, or waffle on for paragraphs. There's no difference in cost. Now some sites I read offer an amazing quality of writing in their posts, where genuine writers are pouring out their literary hearts for free. Which brings me on to the nature of the "blog". I only thought this week that the word is a misnomer. Why do blogs exist? To give us the daily details of unknowns? Surely not. The word was abbreviated from "weblog" of course, but that means they should truly be web logs. A record of something important, such as the progress of a scientist or an author on a project. This view has been expressed by others before, but I never fully grasped it until now. So no more pointless posts from me.

Another reason I am stopping now is that for the past year or so, I don't feel I've had anything new to offer in the realm of CSS. I see the kind of complex CSS being offered by experts today and frankly, I can't even begin to understand some of it. CSS seems to be going the way of a mathematical programming language. I'm all for that, but the simple days of borders and background colours appear gone. Besides, CSS is just a tool. It was never meant to be an end in itself. So I'll leave it in the capable hands of the experts, of which I am not a member.

So what will I do next? I have a vague plan to start a proper blog one day, when I have something worth writing about. Until then, I hope to do a lot more of the things that I found interesting before this site took over my life. Things like surfing (on the web that is), checking out all the bookmarks I have saved, but never get round to using. I also want to concentrate a lot more on reading books. There are so many great authors out there, and I've always loved discovering a new classic.

I also want to do some writing of my own. I've written a few things in the past, but my efforts back then were not what you'd class bestseller material. I don't wish to try and write directly for that class anyway, as it takes years of skill, and possibly a fair amount of luck. But I have an increasing number of ideas for short stories I am desperate to write. I cannot say if these will turn out well, or be seen as amateur rubbish, but even bestselling authors have to start somewhere. I just love to write for the sheer joy of writing. If I can sell what I write later, then that is a welcome bonus.

Making music is another thing that has always fascinated me. I want to have another go at dabbling in that field. It's very time consuming though, but maybe that's because I'm too much of a perfectionist.

Also there are a whole host of offline activities I could be spending time on instead. Like Mark Pilgrim wrote in his last ever post:

"It's time for me to find a new hobby. Preferably one that doesn't involve angle brackets. Or computers. Or electricity."

So that's it. If I get another site together one day, I'll consider adding the link on the front page here. I won't be killing off this site completely - it will remain as it is today, with all the archives intact. But for now, I bid you all adieu. Thanks for reading.

(And no, this isn't one giant April Fool's joke.)

Comments (13)

Comments are locked on this topic. Thanks to everyone who posted a comment.

  1. Arve:
    I may not like your decision to quit, but I respect it.

    I, for one, although I don't comment here too often (I actually only comment on entries where there's something to debate), have appreciated _reading_ it, and had actually hoped you'd write more often.

    Which is also what I wanted to bring up: While rolling your own CMS gives you total control, it also steals time. Time you could have used for surfing, reading, writing, enjoying offline life, sex, marriage, life, death or anything else that brings you joy. And inspiration to "blog".

    Don't compare yourself to Dave Shea, Jason Kottke, William Gibson, or anyone else: Compare Chris with Chris, and write whatever _you_ feel like, _whenever_ you feel like it. Your literate enough, smart enough, and readable enough.

    I hope you'll take the plunge of installing some external software, that takes away control, but takes back time.

    I hope to see more of your writing.

    Posted on 1 April 2005 at 11:14 pm
  2. Colin Ramsay:
    A shame. I was a regular reader, subscribed to your RSS. If your heart isn't in it, then this is the right decision.

    Posted on 2 April 2005 at 1:12 am
  3. tommy jones:
    sorry you feel this way

    Posted on 2 April 2005 at 9:51 am
  4. Stu Nicholls:
    Sorry to see you go, but I understand how you feel. My site gets about 4 million hits a month but is very rarely mentioned or listed on the major sites. But I think I will keep at it all the same whilst I still enjoy it.
    BTW it was your 'pencils' that started me along the CSS route', so I do owe you a big 'thank you' for that.

    All the best for the future.

    Posted on 2 April 2005 at 11:57 pm
  5. Moose:
    "No writer should ever churn out material for the sake of it, that has no market value."

    Well, I could not disagree more with this statement.


    Posted on 3 April 2005 at 12:06 pm
  6. Roy:
    I've subscribed to the feed from your site for a while now and have enjoyed what you've published - sorry to see you go, but can well understand your reasons. I'm primarily a photographer, but I'm trying to teach myself CSS and am in awe of the stuff I see both here and on the other 'major player' sites you mention - this is probably why I've never commented - I don't yet feel worthy!
    I recently shut down my photoblog and used a closing quote in sympathy with your title: "Sometimes things decrease and there is a gain; sometimes with an increase there is a loss" - same reasons as you, took up a lot of time and seemed to lack interest - both from me and the viewing public.
    Good luck in whatever you do. I've enjoyed my visits and will probably still call in from time to time to refresh my memory.

    Posted on 7 April 2005 at 10:54 pm
  7. Mike Pepper:

    Disenchantment is the bane of the dedicated developer.

    Perseverance counts.

    I'm linking to you now from my references section. Drop me a line indicating the category you consider best appropriate.

    You are an asset to the Web.

    Posted on 8 April 2005 at 8:54 pm
  8. Jarrod:
    Cheer up, buddy.

    I wouldn't be surprised if you wanted to quit if you didn't have a blogging tool in place. That's just silly.

    Moving to Wordpress might be easier than you think. You'd basically have to get all your previous posts into a specified format, and then import. If you have some kind of regular structure throughout your posts, and know a bit about programming, you can automate the process.

    Posted on 12 April 2005 at 4:17 pm
  9. Tim Callahan:
    Sorry to see you go.

    Posted on 12 April 2005 at 11:35 pm
  10. Carlos Bernal:
    I don't think you should quit; nor compare your contribution with others you mentioned. Your experiments push the limits of practicle knowledge.

    Some of those mentioned have become stale in their approach, what is always needed is more ideas, more voices and more inventors.

    Take a vacation, and then come back with a Mona Lisa portrait out of CSS!

    Less isn't more...it's less...plain and simple.

    Posted on 13 April 2005 at 9:12 pm
  11. Chris Hester:
    A Mona Lisa portrait? Great idea! I once saw a picture of Warhol's Marilyn that was made out of Lego tiles. Looked great.

    But less can be more. Think about minimalism, or zen.

    Posted on 14 April 2005 at 9:13 am
  12. David Alexander:
    Sad to hear it's coming to an end. I suppose that you should do it only for as long as you actually enjoy it. If you can gain more pleasure from spending your free time on other hobbies then that's clearly the way to go.

    Hope you don't get too downhearted. Some of the emotions you display above are ones I feel at work - and I get paid to sit there and type! :)

    As for your keyboard CSS; I'm well impressed. Not least by the fact that you dedicated yourself to doing it, I suppose. One thing I noted is that the original keyboard scaled with text increases, whereas your [better looking] one does not. That's what always gets me about CSS - I think I have it nailed and then realise it's nigh on impossible to cover all the bases.

    It's people like you and Stu Nicholls whose enthusiasm and good examples have encouraged me to continue.

    All the best for whatever you choose to do.

    Posted on 15 April 2005 at 9:32 pm
  13. Blowout:
    I'm sorry to see DD go; I do like reading your rants. However, I understand your reasons.

    Posted on 16 April 2005 at 11:34 pm