(Anti-)Social Media Meta-blog

Something to Always Keep in Mind

Regular readers of Dhole Moments should always keep this in mind:

I’ve written a lot on this blog over the past three years. In my inaugural post, I had said:

You can expect less “here’s me explaining a thing I’m an expert in” and more “here’s me writing about learning new stuff”.

Me, in April 2020

Since then, I’ve written a ton of material to help newcomers get up to speed with real-world cryptography, a series to help people start a career in the tech industry (with zero experience for as close to $0 as possible), and even led a coalition of queers, furries, and/or tech workers to save a library from a homophobic mayor in Mississippi.

Grin Sticker
Art: CMYKat

Despite all the fun we’ve had, I need everyone to keep something in mind as they read this blog: I’m just some guy, and I do this for fun.

A protogen offers you a cupcake.
Art: Harubaki

I’m glad that people enjoy my writing. It’s great that people find it a useful resource for explaining tough technical issues in a way that a general audience can understand and absorb. I’m delighted when people tell me that my blog helped them in their career, or helped their company avoid a security disaster due to misused cryptography.

But I’m just some guy, writing about things for fun. I’m probably going to get things wrong, and you should always consult an expert if you’re taking my writing seriously for the design or implementation of anything that might matter to anyone. They’ll spot errors or omissions that I missed.

Furthermore, although I’m somewhat knowledgeable about some topics, due to having worked in a field for many years, I’m also incredibly bad at a lot of things.

Clipboard Sticker
Art: CMYKat

I’m opinionated. A great deal of the things I care about in my writing are nothing-burgers for most of the people that will read them.

“Exclusive ownership? Who cares? I’m not using signatures that way!” is a valid response to my latest blog post about asymmetric cryptography. Most users will never need to even care about this property.

“Confused deputy attacks? Yawn,” is probably a bit more alarming though, especially if you’re writing code to encrypt databases. Given sufficient growth or time, you’ll eventually need to rotate keys, or let your users bring their own key. Better to solve that one up front.

Art: CMYKat

I’m bad at self-promotion. A lot of people try to spin this sort of negative into a positive. I’m not going to do that.

I suck at getting people excited about topics I care about. I don’t know how to get anyone’s attention, and I’m not going to pretend to care about it.

Further, I have no incentive to get better at this skill.

I pay the same amount each year to not have to care about my hosting infrastructure for this blog whether I get 1 reader per month or 1 million. I’ve gone out of my way to avoid any financial benefit from this blog, too.

FursonaPins does sell a pin with my fursona on it, but I also have a box with like 200 of them sitting next to my computer desk. I plan to give them away to anyone who wants one at furry cons. You don’t have to shell out for them unless you want to support an independent furry business. (Which is a good and valid thing to do.)

Soatok Fursona Pin

I’ve kicked the idea of writing a book around before, but I haven’t pursued it because every time a blogger sells a book, they fall into the pit of always trying to sell their book to their readers, and that feels gross to me. So I’m probably not going to do that anytime soon.

Blue Screen of Death Sticker
Art: CMYKat

I’m not a role model. Or rather, I detest the very idea of role models.

Be your own person. Embrace weirdness, if you happen to be weird. Embrace normalcy, if you happen to be normal.

Nobody who matters is keeping score either way.

Whatever you do, don’t look up to me. I’m a peer, not anyone’s hero. We’re all in this mess of a life together.

We may all have unique strengths and talents, but there are so many possible variables that when you average them all together, we tend towards mediocrity. Most natural hierarchies are not pyramid-shaped, and anyone who claims otherwise is trying to sell you fascism.

If you don’t know what it means to be yourself, you haven’t spent enough unsupervised time on the Internet yet… which would also make me wonder how you discovered this random furry blog to begin with.

Blep Tongue Sticker
Art: CMYKat

I don’t write about my employment. A few people have contacted me since I started blogging to ask if I worked for a specific tech company. And my answer will always be the same: Radio silence.

Part of what makes blogging here fun for me is that I’m not bound by any obligations to any company.

When I publish security vulnerabilities, it’s in the interest of protecting end users from the products and services that could harm them. I don’t give a damn if the company in question gets egg on their face. I similarly don’t give a damn if I make them look good. Not my circus.

If I started talking about work, I’d lose that freedom, which would make blogging less fun for me. I might as well shut it down if I do that. This leads me into a broader point.

Drakeposting No Sticker
Art: CMYKat

I’m nobody’s mouthpiece. I’m not here to react to the evening news, or banter about topical issues.

Yes, governments and corporations around the world continue to say and do stupid things about user privacy and encryption. If you want to hear about it, subscribe to the EFF. They’ll explain it better than I could ever hope to.

To the people that really want me to write about a topic you care passionately about:

Art: CMYKat

Go start your own blog and write about it. I generally don’t do requests.

I mean, once you’ve internalized the things I said to keep in mind, it probably doesn’t even make sense anymore to request blog posts about topics you care about.

I’m nobody important, after all. I’m just some guy, doing this for fun!

Ultimately, I don’t want to set anyone up for disappointment. If you keep these things in mind, you’ll avoid that trap.

Soatok Hugs You!
Art: CMYKat

With that said, back to your regularly scheduled dholeposting.

Header image includes art by creeps and AtlasInu.

By Soatok

Security engineer with a fursona. Ask me about dholes or Diffie-Hellman!

3 replies on “Something to Always Keep in Mind”

The book thing is one I absolutely relate to, because I have fallen into that very trap. I don’t mention it in every blog post, but I do mention it regularly, because I feel I have to do *something* to promote it. I love the idea of embracing one’s weirdness.

Big Agree to your note on being yourself. The immortal words “Know Thyself” were inscribed in the forecourt at the Temple of Apollo at Delphi as guiding advice from the sages for the ages. It is a most worthy pursuit.

On the book thing…. A while back Bruce Schneier published a book that simply contained all his blog posts. He didn’t spend a lot of time or effort promoting it on his blog, he just put a small side panel on the main page that mentioned the book (he changes that panel each time he comes out with a new book of which there are many). If you did the same I would enjoy having that on my bookshelf. The subjects you cover in your blog can be very dry and boring, but your style of writing, including the injections of opinion, make reading your blog enjoyable, anything but dull or boring. It is fun reading and educational. You touch on of the aspects of various algorithms that people might not otherwise be aware of. The only thing that would disappoint is if you decided to stop blogging.

Bark My Way

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