Build the Archive

Hi hi hi. Robin here.


It’s Saturday. I’m up early, dressed, eated, walked. Now: under an awning outside my favorite cafe in the city, with the rain making a racket all around me. Who cares though? I’m deep in the stack of writing and CSS-ing and there’s simply no amount of screaming kids, howling dogs, or thundering rain that can stop me.

I’m invincible right now because I’m building an archive.

Last week I realized that there’s kinda no record anywhere of what I’ve worked on and I think my website should archive everything; every website I’ve ever made, every weirdo CSS demo, every little thing. This is always the stuff I wanna see when I find cool new people on the web and I’m eternally disappointed when their website turns up blank.

Also, I’ve forgotten the vast majority of tiny websites and enormous, life-altering projects that shook the bits out of me. Also also, I’ve been cruel and critical of my work lately: What contributions have I made? Was all that time and effort worth it? Was this thing just a pay check or did I learn something from that doomed project?

So building this archive is therapeutic right now, but it’s also therapy for the future: whenever I’m feeling bummed about my work and the things I’ve built that week I need a place to return to and reminisce and feel warm and cozy.

However! I don’t want this to turn into a run-of-the-mill fancy design portfolio where everything is golden ratios and exquisitely animated grids. Rather, I want to earnestly look back on what I’ve made — the stuff that I think is cool and punk rock as well as the stuff that was half-baked, inexperienced, or headed in the wrong direction from the start. Most portfolios that I’ve looked at over the last week for reference describe their projects as if they happened in a petri dish: a perfectly organized and focused thing right from the start. But almost every project at almost every company is a hot mess and we all know it. So I’m hoping that being honest about my work might make this archive feel less stuffy and pretentious and

In other news: C dragged me to the library earlier this week — I had no idea the local library was hidden up an alley just a block away! Yesterday after work I then decided to skip back over there and work on my tiny archive, surrounded by books and newspapers and old DVDs on racks, and at one point I looked around and felt that rare thing where you see yourself contributing to something bigger than yourself; you’re contributing to this enormous archive of everyone who has ever lived. Your contributions are small, minuscule even, completely and utterly insignificant, sure sure sure, but the smallness of the work doesn’t really matter here. Your goal isn’t to be the best or the smartest or the most charming. There’s no competition in a library. In fact, our goals are all the same here; read the words, write the book, make the website, scribble the poem, tell the joke, do the research, shoot the movie, build the archive.

It’s that rare feeling where your ego is gently shelved for a moment and you see this beautiful thing we’ve all built together, where all things are warm and right and good.

Because here we are, safe in the archive.

Bye bye bye,