Looking ahead

It is now just about a third of the way through the first month of the year. I’m not really one for resolutions so I didn’t make any. In fact, I didn’t do anything by way of preparing for the start of a new year. However there is one thing that I’ve been wanting to do for years that I hope to finally get around to doing: concentrate more on my writing, in particular, paying more attention to this blog.

I’ve never really wanted to be a full-time blogger, not even a technology blogger. I’ve always preferred to be someone who wrote code (or at least studied writing code) and wrote about those experiences on the side. By and large, that’s been true. However the thing is that I really like writing. It’s a good break from coding and thinking about computer science research and I enjoy communicating directly with people instead of machines for a change (which is why I refuse to pander to search engines and write SEO-directed stuff). Anyways, despite my not being a very regular writer this blog has been moving along nicely. I get around 400 hits on an average weekday and that number has been going up steadily. I’ve been on Hacker News more than once and that’s always generated a good burst of traffic.

I’ve also been discovering technologists and scientist writing interesting and very useful blogs. These are people like danah boyd (Senior Researcher at Microsoft), Matt Might (CS Professor at the University of Utah) and Andrea Kuszewski (a researcher at the George Greenstein Institute). I admire their blogs and their writing but I also admire them for being dedicated scientists and researchers. These blogs reaffirm my belief that writing on a regular basis is important (and healthy) for everyone especially if you’re involved in research and development of new technologies.

All that is a way of saying that I would like to blog more. Looking over my archives for last year I’ve only made about one post a week. Ideally I would like to increase that to two or three a week, not including the Sunday Selection link posts (I doubt I could keep up quality for anything more than that). I also want to start tackling more technical subjects. I’ve been talking a lot about the intersection of technology and productivity for a while now, but I’m starting to get a tired of the productivity aspect. Long story short, I’ve found the small set of everyday tools and environments that I need to get work done. For the foreseeable future it’s more a question of being able to stick to habits and schedules than of using the right tools. When I do speak of tools I want to give concrete examples (like my post on showing Git information in your Bash prompt) rather than handwavey suggestions.

On a related note I’ve been considering moving off WordPress.com. WordPress is great if you’re using their web-based interface but is harder to use if you live in Emacs. I’m starting to itch for a writing system that integrates well with Emacs. I’d like to be able to include my own HTML, CSS and JavaScript in my posts and be able to customize things a bit more than WordPress.com allows. I haven’t given much thought to this matter, but I’m looking at alternate systems such as Jekyll and Octopress. Whatever I decide to do I’ll probably test it out at my personal website before doing anything over here.

While this blog is definitely my most serious writing project, it’s not the only one. I took a few creative writing classes in college and enjoyed them immensely. I would like to be able to continue writing fiction (and maybe even get in shape for NaNoWriMo 2012). But for I’ll be content with just regular blogging output. Glad to have you all along for the ride.

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