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🎭 Integrated Identity

Michael Dean
Michael Dean
2 min read

Here's a reply I wrote to the question:

Should I create different websites to cover the different things I'm interested?

I've made this mistake several times (separate sites, newsletters, and identities). I advocate for starting out with one site, and only forking later on if it's necessary.

I over-estimated the bandwidth I had to maintain different versions of myself. It's also really liberating to put your guard down.

Within a single site, you can still differentiate between formats (essays v. fiction), topics (crypto vs. personal growth), and phases (masterpieces vs. brain-farts). You can use tags or categories to group related writings together. You can use a "featured" section to differentiate between your best work from your meh work.

The simplicity of having a single place to post everything you think prevents blocks. It's very easy to feel stuck if you pre-maturely declare and optimize a niche. I got nowhere when my constraint was: [excellent] [long-form essays] on [virtual reality]. Other interests simmered up that didn't fit the model. Maybe we under-estimate the extent that people appreciate our true nature: multi-faceted and contradictory.

The common approach is to go niche. Maybe going anti-niche is a new kind of strategy to stand out in a market. I think "the niche economy" and "the passion economy" are polar opposites. They represent two different ways to publish online. The truth is, you can dabble in both (more on that later.)

But what's the real block to posting all sides of yourself in one spot?

Let's say our site design let's us unite all these facets of our self in a single digital home. It's technically simple, but psychologically tricky.

In hindsight, there was a clear reason why I wanted multiple sites: a benign identity crisis.

I couldn't conceive of my professional network reading fiction on my site (and vice versa). I wasn't allowed to curse. Wanting "conceptual consistency" is sometimes a mask for a psychological block. "I want to create different versions of myself and control who gets to see which." It can be uncomfortable at first, but a pseudonym can make it feel approachable.

We talk about the phrase "personal monopoly" later in the course. There are two archetypes that come up: Architects & Archaeologists. Architects are pre-planned (niches). Archaeologists follow their curiosity and discover unexpected things.

My gut says that there's value in being a permanent archaeologist. But, when opportunities pop up, you can curate a specific set of writings to meet them. There's (usually) no harm if someone willingly decides to wander through your maze of ideas.



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