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Shutting Down My Site (patdryburgh.com)
81 points by patdryburgh on Jan 1, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 50 comments



It always makes me a bit sad when any site is taken offline. I haven't even heard of Simple Desks before, but it still makes me sad that it is gone.

Destroying bits is so darn easy, that people do it too much. I don't delete emails (my spamfilter might delete, I don't). Once in a while it's nice to see what you were up to 5 years ago.

My personal homepage is still running. I haven't updated it in many many years, but it still there. Occasionally my friends and I check some photos from there that I posted almost 10 years ago. And I regret that I have deleted all previous version of my homepage.

And it was a sad day when GeoCities was taken offline.

Sure, if keeping your site up and running (even in read-only) costs too much, it's ok to shut it down. But please, try to save as much of the current Internet as you can so our children can see its history.


This reply got me thinking: does the nearly-zero incremental cost of a bit cause people to be more likely to turn into virtual hoarders? Anybody who didn't through physical mail away ever would be looked at funny, but I rarely delete an email, either.

Is there a psychological cost associated with virtual hoarding like there is with physical? Or is it truly not hoarding?


Coming from the opposite side, I wonder if there's an "anti-hoarding" disorder; feeling that most things (physical or virtual) in one's possession is a liability, a weight that would be better off discarded unless they are absolutely necessary. Almost everything I own adds to my psychological debt and I feel a weight being lifted off my shoulders whenever I can get rid of stuff, documents, files, emails or anything else attached to me.


I am like this. I am constantly looking to get rid of as much as I can and that includes digital things too.

I just moved a few months ago and everything I own fit in the back of a 87' Volvo wagon. And that includes my bed.


I believe you're describing Zen Buddhism.


"""Coming from the opposite side, I wonder if there's an "anti-hoarding" disorder; feeling that most things (physical or virtual) in one's possession is a liability, a weight that would be better off discarded unless they are absolutely necessary."""

There sure is one -- and the minimalist trend has a little to do with that tendency, but it's something much rarer than hoarding.

A lot of people do the "anti-hoarding" thing with emotions, memories, friendships and relationships, though, just letting them slip through without affecting them.

Coping mechanisms, if I ever saw one...


When the things you are 'hoarding' are indexed digital copies, you are 'archiving'.


"""Is there a psychological cost associated with virtual hoarding like there is with physical? Or is it truly not hoarding?"""

Of course there is -- hoarding is the attitude towards preserving stuff (and fear of mortality / things changing / passing), not about whether it's physical or virtual stuff.


>It always makes me a bit sad when any site is taken offline. I haven't even heard of Simple Desks before, but it still makes me sad that it is gone.

I'm very, very sympathetic to this issue, and agree that it hurts when any site goes down. However, Simple Desks was mostly a curated gallery of what already exists on the internet. A quick Google search for "Simple Desks" will turn up basically the same thing.

The other question to ask is whether permanence is a value worth holding for all things. Is it really worth holding onto all of that email? (This is a personal question, for everyone to answer, not for one person to dictate over others.)

My friend wrote a great piece on this recently (http://patrickrhone.com/2011/12/20/permanently-impermanent). It reflects on the freedom of not worrying about losing everything. He doesn't advocate being complacent, but simply acknowledging that no system is 100% sure to maintain our bits.


The other question to ask is whether permanence is a value worth holding for all things. Is it really worth holding onto all of that email? (This is a personal question, for everyone to answer, not for one person to dictate over others.)

In the present case, hasn't this in fact been dictated?


> Destroying bits is so darn easy, that people do it too much.

Really? This is only the third time I've heard of it happening intentionally in at least as many years. (the other two being whytheluckystiff.net and diveintomark.org). It doesn't seem like it happens very often at all.


I had a Wordpress blog with several million hits on it. I ran out of time to update it.

I let the hosting expire because I was tired of wondering if there was a new exploit in Wordpress and dealing with dozens of spam comments every day even with Recaptcha.


That makes sense, but in this case the blog was hosted on Tumblr. Free, no need to worry about vulnerabilities, and virtually no spam.

I wonder if there is a simple open-source tool that can convert WordPress blogs into static sites for archival. Like, just crawl the site, save everything as static HTML, and write some .htaccess rules to replicate WordPress's permalink structure. Everything will remain exactly where it was, except there won't be any vulnerabilities and you can't accept comments anymore.

But I suppose the author really is the kind of person who likes clean desks -- the kind of person who cannot stand the sight of no-longer-maintained things being scattered around his part of the Internet. (cf. SoftwareMaven's comment about virtual hoarding above.) If that's the case, I can understand, because I'm a bit like that, too.


httrack?


"""Destroying bits is so darn easy, that people do it too much. I don't delete emails. (...)"""

The music from Hoarders come to my mind reading this...

Compared to tangible-stuff-hoarders it's all to easy to be a bit-hoarder. I've kept my share of bits over the years (tons of albums I never listen to, old emails and such).


So you shut down a tumblr hosted site that didn't cost you anything to run except for time - and now all of us who had never heard of it before can't even see the content that used to exist. I'm glad you are doing something better with your time that you will find more fulfilling - but I think it's a shame you went this route.


Here is what you missed:

      __
     |  |
No, seriously... I enjoyed looking at those photos once, it was just like an architecture magazine. No big deal to shut it off, just don't consider it your life's work.


wayback machine has some samples from 2010. As swah says a bit like Blueprint magazine circa 1985. I liked the older desks that had some marks on them, had been worked on. Does anyone not use a Mac?


"""Does anyone not use a Mac?"""

There's this guy in New Zealand.


You shut it down because nobody should give a fuck about it, yet you tell us what computer you used to develop your website? I don't get it!

Also, don't you feel a bit selfish for removing something that other people obvious find value in from the Internet?


Yeah this just feels like selfish ego-stroking bullshit.


apparent update:

"Back, and better than ever January 20th, 2012. Many thanks to Pat Dryburgh for his excellent work over the years. Unfortunately, he has chosen to end this venture. We think that is a great shame, and we've decided to bring it back, but in a different form. When we relaunch on January 20th, Simple Desks will return with a more substantial aim: to provide food for thought on the subjects of productivity, minimalism and design and technology (along with some occasionally unrelated musings). We hope you'll join us. In the mean time, we suggest you read Pat's excellent blog post (patdryburgh.com) on his decision. We hope to avoid some of the issues he raises with the new incarnation of Simple Desks."

http://simpledesks.tumblr.com/


and it will suck.

The idea of forcing change to revive something dead sucks, organic change (or evolution as one might call) it is great but taking a tried and tested idea that had popularity and changing it forcefully never works.

Why don't they stick with what it was? :|


If we're taking the organic model, what it was died. It clearly wasn't profitable/rewarding enough for the old owner, perhaps if you don't change it that will be true for the new owner.


Or just leave it in place and simply not update it.


I can relate to this so well. I've mentioned previously on this site that frankly I find much of the beauty and inspiration you can find on the web completely empty and meaningless. Technologists love to talk about the social impact the web is having and how it's going to change the world for the better (things which are undoubtedly true), but so much of it is so superficial that I can't help but think about what we're losing at the same time.


So I appreciate that it's your site and you have the right to do whatever you want with it, but isn't it a tad arrogant to judge what other people may or may not get out of it? To call it "porno" is to make a big assumption of what people are using your site for. And even if most people are just gawking at pretty pictures, isn't it a bit much for only you to decide whether it's a net positive or negative on the world?

It reminds me of the whole "_why" thing. It's totally your right to stop hosting content, but it's also a bit rude.


You can still see all the work via google images: https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&safe=off&q=simpl...


I'm glad you found something more fulfilling to do with your time, but that doesn't mean the Simple Desks idea was trivial, or on par with a porn site. I'm certain that many people can appreciate the ideal workspace setups of others, and yet it's not like something we would be fapping to. Honestly, I'm sad I didn't get a chance to really see the site before it got taken down.


Link to the original site: http://simpledesks.tumblr.com/

It looks like someone has taken over. I'm glad, because it's a shame to shut something down that people enjoy, but you shouldn't feel forced to work on a side project.

I wish you luck, and here's to hoping your future endeavors bring a bit more satisfaction.


Well since it paid, why not sell it, or give it to someone who will run it. I check Freshome almost daily. You can say looking at other people's home is pointless specially expensive ones because most readers will never live in such a house. However some people may just find it joyful. Just check your logs and see the ten most frequent visitors, ask a couple of them to run it.


This was an option I considered and discussed with a friend who is well known in the minimalism/productivity space.

To me, it's actually more of a moral issue: is keeping a site like Simple Desks online good, bad, or neutral to the world. I'm sure it's different for different people, but I just couldn't shake the feeling that in the end it was detrimental to people's time.

We have better things to do with our time, and much more beautiful works of art to get enjoyment from.


Of course you are welcome to do whatever you want. I find taking it to the moral extreme strange though.

That leaves you little in the way of daily activities besides pure charitable work. Does your short film make the world a better place? I doubt it.

It sounds like it comes down to what you enjoy, and that's great. The best motivation. Simple Desks though seems like the kind of site that some might get great joy out of.


Hey Arnold,

Tried replying to you through email, but the email bounced back. Used the email on your Hacker News profile.

Cheers, Pat


odd. might have hit up against a spam filter. I added an alternate email to my profile if you want to try again.


Since when are a bunch of pictures of desks a moral issue?


> We have better things to do with our time,

That's a fallacy of consumption. The assumption that consuming media, whether it be art, movies, books, or anything that isn't the direct act of creating, is inherently wasteful.

> and much more beautiful works of art to get enjoyment from.

Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder. The words and hours spent on the Mona Lisa are wasteful when you consider what it could have been spent on. Practical things.

Alone, consumption is as wasteful as creation. Creating something no one uses or views... does a tree alone in the woods make a sound. In a very real sense, one cannot create without consuming.

Do not belittle consumption, for it is the beginning of creation.


"Is it a waste of time if an artist spends a lifetime only thinking, then in the end write one poem that turns out to inspire thousands of people."

If people are coming to the site, then it has value. What is detrimental is what causes harm. What puts a smile on someone face, even if it is a simple desk, is probably more therapeutic than Prosac.


Sorry, the title was censored.


That blog post really resonated with me. Thanks for writing it.


Oh well, I guess there's always http://www.deskography.org/ for everyone else's desk-porn fix.


Too bad. I liked the Simpledesks site.


What Do you mean here? "I kept it up because, baby, it paid."

You just put Google Adsense ads on the Tumblr page?


No, the site was a member of Fusion Ads starting in January 2011. Before that, a company that made hardware for managing desk clutter sponsored the blog.


Well, I have no idea who you are and what pages you are shutting down. Of course I wish you the best for your future. That being said:

"The real question is, who gives a fuck?"


I belong to a Facebook group for mountain biking in Ontario. People will propose rides on there, and of course the other folks who want to join in will use the comments to indicate that they’re coming, discuss the timing, carpool, and so on.

And then there are always a few folks who chime in with “Sorry, can’t make it” and “Sorry, not interested.”

What we’ve discovered is that such messages do absolutely nothing to help the group with anything. Unless someone has already said they are interested, we discourage saying you’re not interested. It simply adds noise to an otherwise productive discussion.

That’s my anecdote in response to what appears to be a declaration that you are not interested in this post.


Going a bit off-topic, this happens on Facebook because when you decline an event it shows a text box asking to "say why you can't go". If Facebook would remove that textbox from the dialog, this would likely happen much less frequently.


If that's what you think, just don't comment.


How much did it pay? If I may ask.


why does this post exist?




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