This is the 26th edition of People and Blogs, the series where I ask interesting people to talk about themselves and their blogs. Today we have Herman Martinus and his blog, herman.bearblog.dev
Herman is the creator of the super minimal blog platform bearblog.dev—it was included in my recent list of blog platforms—and he's based in Cape Town like my long time friend Rob and they actually know each-other, something I didn't know when I first contacted Herman to be part of the series. I love how small the web world can feel at times.
To follow this series subscribe to the newsletter. A new interview will land in your inbox every Friday. Not a fan of newsletters? No problem! You can read the interviews here on the blog or you can subscribe to the RSS feed.
Let's start from the basics: can you introduce yourself?
I'm Herman, a maker and game developer living in Cape Town, South Africa. I grew up and went to school in a small town outside of Johannesburg, then went to university at the University of Pretoria where I studied Computer Science with a focus on Multimedia. This led me down the path to become a game developer, and later a maker of neat things for the Internet.
My primary hobbies currently are writing on my blog (and maintaining the platform Bear Blog), building games for the Play.date, and riding motorcycles (I live in a very beautiful part of the world and this is, in my opinion, the best way to see the landscape).
What's the story behind your blog?
I've always been a writer. In high school I started writing short stories, all of which have been lost to the ether, thankfully. As a young adult I started writing the kinds of things that young people full of new knowledge and self discovery generally do. I started keeping a journal around this time, about which I've written a few times before.
Later on, as my experience in my field grew and I felt like I had more to share with the world, I started blogging on a semi-regular basis. During this time my blog went through many different iterations. I was on Wordpress, Proseful, wrote in plain HTML for a bit, then finally built my own platform as a way of procrastinating.
What does your creative process look like when it comes to blogging?
I generally write about what has been on my mind lately. My partner, Emma, listens to me blab on at length about things like traffic circles, building frustration into products, and the like. This is only for a few days, generally, but sometimes spans months. Then, after I've thoroughly interrogated the concept it finds its way to a rough outline in my notes app where I start sifting through the thoughts in a more structured way. This is usually turned into the first draft the next day (I like to let the outline marinate overnight), edited, and published.
I also keep a Trello board of writing ideas for when I'm feeling particularly uncreative.
Do you have an ideal creative environment? Also do you believe the physical space influences your creativity?
I am highly affected by physical spaces and sound. For a decent period of my life while I was travelling I worked out of noisy coffee shops. I'm surprised I got any work done. Now when I'm travelling I shell out the extra cash for a quiet co-working space where I can think without being interrupted by the loud Australian tourists three tables over loudly talking about how wasted they got last night.
At home we have a "day room" which has big windows overlooking Table Mountain. This provides a lot of natural light and is my favourite place to work. There is, however, a primary school across the road, and when the kids come out for recess, chaos breaks loose as they fight for school-yard dominance. For those two half hour periods, I have a set of noise cancelling headphones.
A question for the techie readers: can you run us through your tech stack?
I use Bear Blog as my blogging platform of choice. Not only do I use it, but I am also the creator of it. I was very unimpressed with the options available with their infinite customizability and bloat. All I needed was a quick and easy way to get my words up on the internet. I also wanted people to be able to read them without all the cruft that surrounds modern content. So I built Bear, and it's now loved by tens of thousands of writers worldwide.
Given your experience, if you were to start a blog today, would you do anything differently?
This is an interesting question, since I've been considering starting another blog that is more specific to no-nonsense information about climate and environment-related technology (think geoengineering, green energy generation, and the like). And the conclusion I came to is that I'd build it in the exact same way I have with my own blog: Running on Bear, writing in a semi-casual and personal tone on technical topics, injecting my own personality where possible.
Financial question since the web is obsessed with money: how much does it cost to run your blog? Is it just a cost or does it generate some revenue? And what's your position on people monetising personal blogs?
Because I run the platform, my blog is, naturally, cost free. My blog is not meant to generate revenue and I do not intend for it to do so. However, because I regularly write about the development of the Bear Blog platform, and the trials and tribulations of building out the small web, sometimes people look at it and, maybe, start a blog. If I'm particularly lucky, they even upgrade. So while my blog is not monetised in the traditional sense, there is a small financial reward for posts that do exceedingly well.
Time for some recommendations: any blog you think is worth checking out? And also, who do you think I should be interviewing next?
I follow a handful of small- to medium-sized blogs, but the one I'm always the most excited to see in my RSS reader is coryzue.com
This is a blog by a maker in my city who writes about similar themes to me, but also muses existentially at times. His blog is a great read, and he would also make a good candidate for an interview.
Final question: is there anything you want to share with us?
Right now I'm just fascinated with the play.date and will be building games for the next few months. You can see a list of running projects on my blog's project page.
This was the 26th edition of People and Blogs. Hope you enjoyed this interview with Herman. Make sure to follow his blog (RSS) and get in touch with him if you have any questions.
You can support this series on Ko-Fi and all supporters will be listed here as well as on the official site of the newsletter.
Want to support P&B?
If you like this series and want to help it grow, you can:
- support on Ko-Fi;
- post about it on your own blog and let your readers know about its existence;
- email me comments and feedback on the series;
- suggest a person to interview next. I'm especially interested in people and blogs outside the tech/web bubble.