15 Alteregos

An idea on experimenting with voice and identity
Dec 6, 2021

In 2021, I published 108 essays to my Notion site. Since my essays cover a wide range of topics, mediums, and voices, I've been struggling to create "entry ways" for a stranger to understand the range within my body of work. I've heavily resisted the concept of presenting a singular "value-prop." As my site currently stands, it isn't clear how to dive in, or why you should. So here's my new approach:


I'm going to host my work under 15 alter-egos (perhaps more, perhaps less). The approach is very much inspired by Fernando Pessoa, who holds the record for 73 masks. The idea of producing writing for 15 accounts sounds daunting, but it won't require me to publish more than I already am. It's just a re-categorization. A re-brand. These characters came from reading through my website and looking for distinct themes and personalities that were already there. There are two key benefits of presenting my site through alteregos:

1) Clear Value Propositions

It becomes easier for a person to scan my landing page and answer the question, "What's in it for me?" Over the last year, I've resisted reducing my work to a single value prop. If I had to limit myself to one facet, it would suck the joy out of writing. But through publishing consistently, you can generate enough work to house multiple value "personal monopolies." This is a playful attempt at personifying each value propr.

2) Experiments in Voice

Writing with a "voice target" doesn't just make you a better writer, it's insanely fun. I can't wait to write about Notion in a vulgar and hostile manner. To my knowledge, no one has ever done Mark Manson meets PKM. I think that kind of fusion is where personal monopolies are born. So depending on the subject at hand, I'll know if I need to be earnest, grandiose, vulgar, chill, delirious, or serious. Given that many of these writing will be masked as "alteregos," it also gives me this subtle permission to reveal more than if everything were housed on the half-professional writing-focused "Michael Dean" mask.

Below are 15 alterego ideas that I could birth in 2022. I've grouped them into 3 buckets, each describing a reason you'd come to my site:

  • To improve your writing
  • To make sense of how society is changing
  • To get a glimpse into my life

I'm convinced that it's worth dividing up my body of work into categories, and making the value propositions for each one clear. I'm not convinced yet that characters are the sure-fire way to do it. It's fun, playful, and attention-grabbing, but could face some challenges, confusion, and bottlenecks.

Some questions and thoughts:

  1. Which alteregos are you most interested to follow? Assume each of these were standalone newsletters - which would you subscribe to? I'm curious to see how interest is divided among them.
  2. What's the right number of alteregos? Should it eventually grow into 30+? Or less? I have some ideas on how to combine a few together. I could even reduce it down to 3 alteregos, one per each of the value props above.
  3. Is it confusing to label these facets as characters? I could easily have 10-15 topics all nested under Michael Dean. Additionally, instead of sliding in and out of a thousand voices, I could develop a single voice that I use across all the topics.

Here we go:

To improve your writing

  • 1) Michael Dean Value: Using visuals to help you become a better writer Cadence: Weekly, Newsletter Distribution, Polished Miro Video, Quality Topic: WRITING + MIRO Voice: Friendly, honest, natural Inspirations: Paul Graham, David Perell

  • 2) Onionhead Value: Advice for the pseudonym-curious (and those weary of social media) Cadence: Bi-Weekly, 500 words + artwork Topic: IDENTITY + SOCIAL MEDIA Voice: Angry, Visionary, Rogue, Impatient, Naive, Inspirations: Satoshi Nakomoto, John Oliver, Lawrence Ferlinghetti

  • 3) Tango Borte Value: How writers can use Notion to improve their info-capture and publishing systems Cadence: Bi-Weekly, 500 words + Miro maps Topic: NOTION + PUBLISHING Voice: Vulgar, Rabble-rouser, Loud, Abrasive Inspirations: Mark Manson

  • 4) Howie Silicon II Value: Lessons from the history of online self-publishing (unlimited freedom) Cadence: Bi-Weekly, 500 words Topic: INTERNET + HISTORY Voice: Awe, Nostalgic, Sad, Earthly, Grandfatherly Inspirations: Howard Rheingold

  • 5) Rhythm Reptar Value: An child-like approach to practice writing that rings Cadence: Daily, 100 words Topic: RHYTHM & RHYME Voice: Hard to read, easy to sing, Invented words, Non-logical, Nice-sounding Inspirations: William S. Burroughs, The Beat Poets, Dr. Seuss, Hunter S. Thompson
  • Example

    "Chingo fling in the bop sock oranga-tong. Subtle and diffuse? Or tarantula ting-blong? The rates at which we sing and partake is straight up bollingorian - seven twelve, seven shelve - the ring cop and lock block. The floosy cat in the suede-capades. Tillingasaurus! Get out of your head you snuff muffle goose-bot! Rot or not, the number six is fine. The flix of net and long-shore bets dine on galore, as truffle-butter slips on slang grenade-time."

To make sense of how society is changing

  • 6) Duke Value: A sneak peak into the underground VR societies of 2022 Cadence: Bi-Weekly, 500 words Topic: VIRTUAL REALITY + AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL FICTION Voice: Cynical, Imagery, Technical, Satire, Prophetic Inspirations: Hunter S. Thompson, Marshall McLuhan

  • 7) Bobo.eth Value: Perspective on investing in a delirious space Cadence: Bi-Weekly, 500 words Topic: CRYPTOCURRENCY + INVESTING Voice: Peacekeeper, Voice of Reason, Middle Way, Beginner, Unexpectedly Ballsy Inspirations: TBD

  • 8) St. McKenna Value: Updates on how the psychedelic renaissance is unfolding through the 2020s Cadence: Bi-Weekly, 500 words Topic: PSYCHEDELICS + DESIGN Voice: Visionary, Heavy, Preachy, Naturalism, Metaphor-Rich Inspirations: Terence McKenna

  • 9) Googl Googl Voodo Jet Value: A project showing how AI can bring images out of an artist's subconscious Cadence: Daily, AI-Image + AI Text Topic: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE + ART Voice: Chaos, Confused, Trippy, Parody (NFT-angle), Mysticism, Paranormal Inspirations: TBD

  • 10) Inspector Doink Value: Using sprawling mind-maps to consider unusual conclusions on popular conspiracies Cadence: Monthly, with Miro Topic: CONSPIRACY + VISUALS Voice: Self-aware, Satire, Self-Sabotage, Brilliance with Ludacris, Level-headed Inspirations: If Sam Harris and Alex Jones had a baby

To get a glimpse into my life

  • 11) Delirious Dean Value: A playful glimpse into the everyday realities of an Internet friend Cadence: Bi-Weekly, 1,000 words Topic: AUTOBIOGRAPHY + MAGICAL REALISM Voice: Linear stories, Soaked with imagery, Run-on sentences, Irreverent Inspirations: Kurt Vonnegut, Jack Kerouac, Virginia Woolf

  • 12) Astral Ali Value: A window into non-ordinary states of consciousness Cadence: As experiences happen, 100 words Topic: DREAMS + VISIONS Voice: Dream-like (non-linear), Poetic fragments, Reverent, Pre-Cognitive, Schizophrenic Inspiration: Carl Jung's Red Book, Franz Bardon, Salvador Dali

  • 13) Matsuo Kasubi Value: Compressed wisdom designed for Twitter Cadence: Daily, 100 words Topic: INSIGHTS + ADVICE Voice: Concise, Stoic, Philosophical, Stern, Naturalist, Profound, Clear, Repetitive Inspiration: David Whyte, Matsuo Basho

  • 14) Dick Matthews Value: Learn storytelling principles while keeping up with my day-to-day Cadence: Daily, 100 words Topic: MICRO-STORIES + DAILY BLOG Voice: Transparent, Self-sabotaging, Pragmatic, Goofy, Puns Inspiration: Matthew Dicks, Justin Hall, Gus Mueller

  • 15) Derby Records LLC Value: Learn about composition from the visualization of music Cadence: Weekly, audio recording + writeup Topic: SONGWRITING + DIAGRAMS Voice: Academic? Inspiration: Lee Hazlewood

Weekly Newsletter:


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