Photo of me in January

This space is for me. It’s not an “advocacy tool” and I don’t expect to use it for “messaging.” I don’t care if you read this or not. But if you do, I don’t want to bore you.

I’ve been blogging off and on since 2004. I like the format. The more I write, the better I am at making mental connections, remembering facts, refining ideas, and explaining them. That makes me a better advocate in my day job, where I run a small program overseeing defense and security in Latin America from a human rights perspective.

I also dabble in coding on the side (see my huge, handmade research database and my tailored guide to Congress), and ultimately would like to design my own platform from the ground up. That will take a long time–using my spare time, perhaps a year or two. So this site is an intermediate step using WordPress. I’ll be setting it up as I write, so for at least the next month, even as I start posting often, the site will have empty areas, odd placeholders, and a layout that could be more attractive.

I’ve had a sporadically updated blog on Tumblr for a while. This new site will replace it, as it will let me do things that I can’t easily do there. I’ll have far more control over the layout. The comment system is better. It’s easier to embed things. Search engines seem to find it more easily. The input forms are first-rate.

But why maintain a website and a blog at all now, in the late 2010s, when everyone gets their information from their social media filter bubbles? While I use social media, that is fleeting and constraining. This space, instead, is for me:

  • Some of what gets posted here is, in fact, early, crappy first drafts. They are fragments of future reports, articles, public speaking notes, notes for my visits to Congress or government, or strategic plans. Others may just be dead ends. Sometimes, the best way to find out is to write it out, then discuss it.
  • It’s an “outboard brain,” filing things that I’ll need later. Last time I was blogging heavily, in 2004-10, I’d find myself referring back to my posts constantly to pull out facts, names, graphics, turns of phrase, or thoughts that I’d “captured.”
  • It’s a place to highlight the great work of creative colleagues in the NGO world, in academia, in journalism, and even in government.
  • Sometimes it’s just a place to share a song, a photo, a video, or something totally unrelated, in a space that’s more permanent than social media and allows more than 140 characters.

So that’s why. I expect the end result to be a space that teaches, entertains, and challenges without forcing visitors to “eat their vegetables.” I want this site to be frequently updated, hopefully a few times per day. I want it to have a distinct voice. I want it to crackle with good prose, provocative ideas and connections, and things you can’t find out elsewhere. And I want it to be mine.