Mohan Zhang

The places that made me are the places I love

The Internet

2000s-era Metaverse

The Lonely Tree by the Sea

The image you saw on the homepage is one that has evolved over the years from a rendering I did in Bryce 5 sometime in the early 2000s as a high schooler (shown above). It’s been a motif now through nine redesigns of the personal site that I originally launched in 2005. I’m not exactly sure what it represents, but the feeling it invokes in me is as powerful today as it was when I first watched the pixels appear row-by-row on a bulbous CRT monitor many years ago. Its interpretation is left as an exercise to the reader.

Netizen

I believe 1997 was the year I got on the Internet. I would have been 9 then. For all of the personal challenges it presented me, going to school in the Québec system is the reason I became tech-savvy.

I’ve never confirmed this with anyone who works in Québec’s government, but I suspect they made computer literacy classes mandatory as a strategic move to ensure that the francophone vocabulary for the Internet could take root. Québécois has pretty unique terms for computer-related stuff, like courriel for email (I believe France just calls it email).

In 1998, I found a book in the library describing how to write HTML. I made my first webpage in notepad at age 10. From there, I was hooked.

Favorite places on the Internet

Until 2009 or so, I would read Slashdot everyday. I never created an account and therefore never commented.

SInce 2009, I’ve read Hacker News almost everyday. I also never created an account and therefore have never commented.

HN is my Room of Requirement. It’s uncanny the number of times it’s surfaced the answer to something I’ve been thinking really hard about.

HN is the reason I started running all these personal development experiments. HN is the reason I took the plunge to become an entrepreneur. HN is the reason I got way smarter.

It’s possible that I’m a weak AI who has trained sufficiently on HN comments for over a decade.