In this issue...
In May, mmm.page beta launched. Now 40k members. A broader direction: more writing, exploring, prototyping. 2 new things: Woolgather (monthly newsletter) and lifetime patronship.
It's XH of mmm.page. Welcome to issue 1 of Woolgather. Bear with me. It's long.
It's been two months since the beta launch, and we have 10k new members. Up to 40k members now. Fall Out Boy is using mmm to create zines. I finally paid myself a paycheck. The kids yearn not for mines but to make websites. All good things.
But, a tiny problem: I haven't enjoyed myself. I've been so bogged by support, emails, growth hacking, bug fixing, that I lost sight of the original fun that I left my job to pursue. With beta out, I want to reorient around what excites me: exploring the internet; reading widely; collecting & curating; writing & thinking seriously, but aimlessly; making playful, weird, and/or surprising software.
Right now, mmm is too limited and it's occupying a lot of my time with tedious tasks. To help, I want to introduce two things in addition to mmm:
- Woolgather. A website and a monthly newsletter focused on internet culture and software design. There will be demos, essays, prototypes. Each issue of the newsletter will be focused on a particular topic.
- The Patronship. mmm is a solo bootstrapped project, and I need help. I want to hire people to fix bugs, commission artists for interface work, explore capital-intensive features (e.g. AI, social). But instead of VC money & incentives, I want to raise funds via a limited run of $250 patronships.
I'll elaborate on both shortly. But first: the why. Back in 2020, I left my job because I grew frustrated with a ruthlessly optimized way of developing software, so devoid of character and ideals. I wanted instead to work slowly, governed by rigorous principles, yet still guided by fun and feel. mmm.page has given me that, and I hope to continue refining my approach via these broader essays and prototypes.
And maybe, if I'm lucky, some of my projects and writing might make software seem more approachable, and yet still powerful and creative and exciting – the “kind of work that suggests freedom and possibility."
Hopefully it works out.
"Although I didn’t necessarily want to write like them, to someone who’s 20 years old that kind of work suggests freedom and possibility. It can make you see not only writing but the world itself in a completely different way."
The Woolgather website will be a (rigorously messy) catch-all for my various projects and essays. The newsletter will be monthly, and will contain a prototype or feature, an accompanying essay, and for seasoning: various links, visual scraps, quotes, and gimcracks I've collected.
Each issue will have a focus. A few topics I'm interested in:
- Playful software. The software between full-on tools and full-on games. Software that's useful, yet encourages discovery and play.
- Like, AI stuff. Most pressing: How can AI support rather than supplant?
- Social internet. How can being online feel more natural and fun?
- Making indie software.
- The Internet Canvas. What if we had a digital medium as flexible and expressive as paper?
- Richer interfaces. How can we make richer interfaces? How do we balance usability and richness?
The hybrid prototype-essay approach is to strike a balance between practice and theory, so that I work on “real problems," while still thinking rigorously and principally, and not just in terms of trends and hacks. Some litmus tests:
- Practice – Might a 5 year old understand what it is? How to use it? Are they interested without having to read all these high-minded principles?
- Theory – Are there new, useful ideas? Does it clarify? Is it helpful to other engineers and designers? Does it make murky discussions incrementally easier to deal with, e.g. new vocabulary, analogies, frameworks?
As for being monthly – that's just to keep me on track. I'm not very disciplined.
- Jams EP, Luna Li
- Wieniawski / Sarasate: Violin Showpieces, James Ehnes
- Demos I, Hippo Campus
If you want to support my work, but don't want to pay monthly for mmm.page, I'm trying a new way: a lifetime patronship for $250. Just pay once, and receive:
- Lifetime premium access to every current and future project. For now, this means lifetime access to the mmm pro plan.
- Unique patron ID. Each patron will have a unique ID to represent which of the 5000 patronships they sponsored (e.g. Patron #0002).
- Early preview of projects.
- Wall of patrons. It will be similar to Million Dollar Homepage, except instead a pixel, you'll have a cell which can be edited using the mmm editor. This won't be ready for a few months.
I am running into the limits of a one-person shop, and I'd love to hire developers, designers, marketers, and writers so I can spend more time working on new features, rather than patching cross-browser Safari bugs. And I don't want to raise venture capital because of weird incentives.
I'll limit to 5000 patronships at $250 each. Over time, the price will increase as I release new products and add benefits. I'll keep this up until all slots are gone.
"No wonder that men who live day in and day out with such machines and become dependent on them begin to believe that men are merely machines. They are reflecting what they themselves have become."
Thanks for reading. Now, a few requests:
- Do you know anyone who's good at TikTok or marketing?
- How was this newsletter? Too long? Too short? Requests for future issues?
- Interesting apps? Websites? Links? Email or DM them to me!
- If you're interested and able, please support the project.
The next issue will arrive August 31. If you're not interested, feel free to unsubscribe in the footer. This newsletter is still a work-in-progress, and will continue to be for a while, so bear with me as I figure it out.
As always, my inbox is open.
– XH (@xhfloz)
Internet culture, software design. Join 35,000 subscribers.