Hello, everybody! If you flip through my archives, you may notice that I haven’t updated this site regularly in, well, years. There are various reasons for this, but I’ve become more focused in the past few months, and I’m hoping to bring the Thinkulum into that stream of activity.
What has brought on all this focus and activity? Largely it’s been the realization that, as always, I have a long list of projects I want to complete and that some of those projects are prerequisites for others. So if I want to get anywhere, I need to get busy and accomplish the prerequisites. For example, a lot of my projects involve programming, and I’ve decided I want to switch from Perl to Python as my everyday programming language. So I needed to learn Python. I was eager enough to get to my programming projects that I was pretty dogged about learning it. And now I know enough to continue my education by doing those other projects.
One major project that’s tying a bunch of the others together and giving them some urgency is my plan to go back to grad school. My first graduate degree was in biblical studies. This one, unless I change my mind again, will be in artificial intelligence. I want to start in the fall of next year. But I have lots to do before then, and I still want to squeeze in some other projects along the way. All of that forces me to think carefully and constantly about my agenda. It also makes me excited about the things I’ll be doing and gets my mind’s wheels turning. My mind is like a train that way. A runaway train.
How does the website fit in? Well, basically I see this site as my publishing platform, a way to share my ideas with people and to give my projects a concrete objective—posting each project’s results online. When my mind is in an active, organized, sharing mode like it seems to be now, my impulse is to make it a goal to post more. So that’s what I’m doing. I’ve also been thinking lately about how short life can be, and I want to share as much as I can in that time and leave a somewhat organized legacy of ideas for anyone who can benefit from them.
So after much neglect, my website has become a project again. Stage one in this renewed attention was to migrate the site from Drupal to WordPress, which I completed Friday morning after several weeks of work. I used Python, SQL, and a tiny bit of PHP to do the migration. Drupal is a sophisticated and flexible content manager, but it’s not the easiest to use, which was a mental barrier to me whenever I thought about posting here. WordPress is much friendlier, and the reasons I switched from WordPress to Drupal several years ago are no longer compelling to me. So WordPress is back, and I’m happy. I feel like the road before me has been cleared. If you subscribe to my feed, you got a long set of updates when I made the switch. Sorry about that. You’ll probably have to put up with more before this is done.
Stage two will be to add a wiki to the site and move my essays from the blog to the wiki. I’ll be using MediaWiki, which is the software that runs Wikipedia. Though it’s more cumbersome to use than WordPress, it has a some information architecture features I like, and right now that’s more important to me than ease of use. (Drupal didn’t offer me enough to counterbalance the difficulty.) But a wiki does make it easy to navigate among articles by topic, which makes it a natural fit for my concept of this site, a network of material on diverse but interconnected topics. I expect to install MediaWiki sometime soon after I research grad schools, which is my next major project.
In the meantime, I’m collecting a list of topics I want to write about, and I’m exploring how to treat my writing as a project. I’m learning that’s how I have to approach tasks I normally avoid, centering my attention on them and planning for them rather than trying to do them casually, hoping I’ll be in the mood when the time comes to do them. I’ll also make some other tweaks to the blog, such as finding a different theme. This one is the WordPress default.
Woops, the train’s leaving without me. Next stop, what’s been happening in the last few years!