2023: Reflections and Looking Forward

Follow up on "My 2022 In Review".


Being in the software industry, I must consider the relationship of my work to the launch timeline of ChatGPT. In January we all had about one (1) month of experience using ChatGPT and many people were already calling it a life-defining technology.

In December of 2022, I used the OpenAI API to build a tech demo for product description generation. Teammates of mine proposed similar GenAI shopping solutions. Come late January, my team and I were given the go-ahead at work to pursue GenAI+Shopping full-time. This decision was representative a pretty significant shift in Google-wide prioritization and defined about 1/3 of my life this year.

In terms of personal work, I finished up some miscellaneous tasks that remained on util.fyi and prepared to immerse myself in GenAI for the next 12 months.

February - March

In Feburary I only consumed content from black creators. My favorite piece of media from this period was "Do the Right Thing".

My first GenAI "product" was a game called AI Impostor / Turing Jest. You can play it here or read my writeup on it here. It didn't go "viral" but it most certainly is my most successful side-project to date, accruing 30k unique pageviews on launch day and sitting at around 100k at the end of the year. AI Impostor is a game where you pretend to be an LLM while catching who the real LLM is.

My work on AI impostor carried through February and March and involved my first collaboration with my new Bay Area friends. Development was fun, it was thrilling to get so many visitors, but the show must go on.

April - May

My friend, Mansidak managed to nerd-snipe me into helping him build an AI powered resume generator / job board. This locked up my dev time for about two months. Unfortunately neither of us had much passion for the project and it fizzled out - not before a rejected YCombinator application though. We will see if I never end up sending in a second accelerator application.

I also went to LA in May on a boys trip. I had a ton of fun! Being my first time in LA, I got to see a ton of cool things, the Getty Museum being the coolest of them all.

In this period, I found myself burning out. I realized that I was only historically able to tolerate my long programming days because my time was split between work and my personal fun projects. With 19th street converting that all to work, I grew tired very quickly. Lesson learned.

June - July

After some period of recovery from 19th street, I began picking up coding projects again. Mostly uninteresting experiments but one artifact did emerge: getbrutalui.com. It's a component website made entirely from AI generated tailwindcss + HTML components. Fun to build, interesting domain, potentially problematic - especially so, considering I put ads on this purely AI generated website.

Towards the end of July, two close friends and I went to Pitchfork the music festival in Chicago. I had a wonderful time and discovered a lot of good music. (MMMOOOAAAAAYAYA!)

August - September

I built out Personal Dictionary, a small webapp utility for my friend Adam. I threw it up on Product Hunt and managed to get #27 product of the day. Very exciting! And I built a product that actually has at least one user.

In late August I also put together llmformat.com, a LLM template storage, sharing, and form generating platform. This time I hit #20 on Product Hunt. Unfortunately, I feel that the niche is a little overshadowed by the release of GPTs from OpenAI so I stopped developing the project.


Built forgotmoviesearch.com pretty quickly and shared it around online. Not much usage but my first project to get organic search traffic, so very exciting! There is a small feature list I would like to develop to expand the functionality of the website but it is perfectly usable as it is right now.


Previously, I published a blog post on my design for an LLM MMORPG. In November, I built it! You can play with it here as a GPT. I think it's fun but unfortunately OpenAI GPTs are still a little early and the AI messes up when trying to propagate game state to the server often. Still a great tech demo.


Using Material for MkDocs, I threw together thornewolf.dev. Target content is lower effort blog posts, maybe more technical writeups. Still TBD.

I spent a week in Las Vegas, my hometown, seeing family and childhood friends. Shortly after Christmas, my grandmother passed. I was fortunate enough to get to see her one final time with my family.

Reflections on the Year

In 2022, I set the following goals for myself:

  • Journal 80% of days
  • New blog post every two weeks
  • Read one book every other month
  • >$0 MRR or >$100 total

I failed everything (almost). I did read enough books this year but fell notably short on all other metrics.

For journaling, I ended up with a 20%-25% success rate, or once every 4-5 days. I started the year off strong by writing every day, but just tapered off. I picked up Twitter as a hobby towards the end of the year which counts in some way, but it's just not the same. This goal did inspire me to write a lot more throughout the year. Even if I did not explicitly journal, I consistently write down work-happenings, TODOs, and ideas. I think it definitely helped me make these cool projects. I consider this a success.

I wrote 20 blog posts out of my annual target of 26. 77%, I'll take that.

I made $0.50 in ads from getbrutalui.com. I'm going to consider it to be zero.

Looking Forward

Honestly, I don't have any goals set for the next year. I've been telling myself for the past two weeks that I am going to come up with them and my mind keeps drawing a blank. I think I am significantly burnt out, despite pretending not to be. I feel compelled to work, because if I don't, I will be wasting my time. I think the fleeting nature of time is my deepest neurosis - it controls almost everything I do. I just don't want to waste time.

So sure, my 2024 goal is the same as my 2000 day goal - I want "control". But I have to confess that it's not an objective approached from any level of rationalism, it's a panicked mind trying to justify that its flaws are in actuality, hyper-aesthetic.

I fear making a poor decision, not because I fear embarrassment or judgement from my peers, but because I'm scared of doing something useless. I have trouble relaxing because it all just feels like time wasted.

I'll turn 25 next year. I want to relax. I want to focus on creating things that have no goal other than to make something I find beautiful. No ideas of money, clout, or influence. Maybe I just want to have control over my emotions.

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