Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Novelizations of the Icelandic Sagas

To demonstrate how easy it is to share your a-ha ideas, I thought I'd share one of mine.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Share Your World Changing Ideas

Every once in a while I get an idea that really knocks my socks off. It is an idea that sweeps my imagination and gets me passionate about seeing the idea through to completion. I will usually spend at least 100 hours of my own personal time doing research and coming up with a plan to ensure its execution. These are the a-ha moments, the ideas you just have to act on.

As for actually seeing them through to completion, I have a dismal record. After all that effort on all those projects, there are only a few successes that I can point to. When I consider the difference between the ones that make it and the ones that don't, though, it has nothing to do with how excited I am about an idea. It is whether I worked on it with someone else.

Monday, December 28, 2009

The Creative Urge

I sometimes get funny looks from people when I refer to computer software as "elegant". For most people, I think, the notion that creating software is something creative goes against all their preconceived ideas about what a programmer's working life must be like. After all, people just sit in cubicles and tell a machine what to do day in and day out, don't they? What could be creative about that?

For these people, the existence of open source software is a complete mystery (when they bother to take notice of it at all). It seems like some kind of socialist conspiracy. Why are all these people doing this boring work in their spare time and then giving it away? Orders from their communist overlords? Are they trying to undermine the capitalist system?

With this in mind, I thought I'd offer a gentle introduction for the general populace about why geeks work all day writing code and then go home and write more for free. There have been many excellent analyses of this phenomenon written for those within the geek culture (see particularly The Cathedral and the Bazaar) but I'm not aware of one that takes the time to explain to people who are outside the hacker tribe exactly what is going on.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

What to Expect - Yet Another Blogger's Manifesto

Before starting on this blog, I thought I'd take a moment to reflect on what I expect from these posts. My intention is to make this blog an eclectic one, not focused on any particular topic or even a consistent way of presenting ideas. Sometimes I plan to write a long essay, other times I'll just mention ideas that strike me as Quite Interesting.

As you may have realized from my last post, though, I have strong opinions about what constitutes a worthwhile blog post and a sensitivity to the needs of someone reading them. If I am just spouting off about my own opinions then I am just wasting my time and I shouldn't even bother making the effort.

With that in mind, I thought I'd try to discover a set of guidelines that reflected the patterns in the posts of other blog writers that I appreciated.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Why Write a Blog?

I wrote my initial blog post here two years ago, but I knew at the time that it was unlikely that a second post would follow it. No one is more surprised than I am that there will now be more. The reason I was so sure back then that I wouldn't use this site for actually blogging is that, at the time, I hated the whole notion of blogs.

This might seem an odd attitude given that I ran a blog long before the word had been adopted. Originally, I ran a site based on Squishdot. This was an add-on for the Zope web publishing framework which at the time I was quite impressed with. Squishdot was a clone of Slashdot whose user interface I thought to be perfect for a news site. Hence, I ran a Squishdot site that aggregated news on a subject that was important to a community I belonged to. The site ran collected news items and also my own take on the import of some of those items. It was a blog before the notion of blogs existed. Eventually, when its purpose had been served, it was retired.

So if I am an early adopter who saw my blog benefit a community of people, why did I bear such a grudge against the whole concept for all these years? The simple answer is signal-to-noise ratio.