I don’t know whether it is the sudden hot weather, or the fact that I’ve been having problems sleeping, but today I’ve been feeling somewhat lethargic and very tired. I expect that it shows in my writing, much less the delay in getting the second release out of Wordform. I wish I could be inspired to finish one of the half-dozen writings I’ve started; but after checking with each one today, they all let me know that they weren’t in the mood to be done, so there you go.

Seeing no hope for productivity in writing or code, I cleaned house this afternoon and made potato salad and fried chicken; I also cleaned up my TiBook by burning close to 10G of photo CDs and removing most of the pictures from my hard drive.

Now all I want to do is sit in my chair and watch old, old movies and sleep. But I’ll be good and try to get out for at least a little walk, and do a little code and post a few more photos out at flickr. Maybe by that time one of my drafts will be ready to ‘come over’ to the light and stop resisting my efforts to finish.

So easy to start, but so hard to finish at times. I’m talking abour writing, of course. All it takes to start a post is to get (enraged, inspired) and write a sentence or two or five; then the intial enthusiasm begins to stall and all of a sudden you wonder if the writing is really any good, or the topic of interest, and why are you writing this, anyway? So you click the ‘Draft’ button and add it to the other pile of good intentions that sit there in your weblogging tool. They don’t even have the decency to be hidden or out of the way with WordPress and Wordform. No they’re all there, at the top of all admin edit pages–like dead fish hanging off a fishing line. Dead fish eyes looking at you every time you start a new post rather than finish one of them.

I think I’ll change Wordform to only allow two drafts at most, and if you try to add a third it brings up a message saying, “Why don’t you finish one of your drafts, first, before starting another work?” Or, “Are you sure you want to start another writing? You don’t have the best record of finishing, you know.” Or even, “Too many unfinished weblog posts is the leading cause of deviant behavior in men and women over 40.”

After all, we’re talking about Web 2.0 here; what better start than to build in a nag mode? Think about the possibilities of a nag mode. If you don’t post at least once every few days, it automatically sends you an email crying out, “Feed me!” Connect it with a telephony backend and it could be programmed to call you, too.

“Hi dear, this is your weblog. I’ve missed you! How come you never write to me any more?”

You know, if I didn’t warn people about this, it could be worth a giggle. In fact, you know what else would be funny? If I were to add….

No, no, no. Never mind.

Hey, how about that. I just finished a post. Miss Energy USA, that’s me.


The power of staying home

After reading about Halley’s and Liz’s reception in Seattle for Search Champs, and in particular the lovely goodies they’ve received and the receptions they’re attending, I had some wistful regrets that I declined my invitation. It would have been nice to be pampered and treated as a respected guest by a software giant like Microsoft. It would also be nice to get a free copy of the Window’s software, as I can’t afford to buy it.

However, in the end, I am not unhappy that I stayed home. This week I’ve been inspired in my own work on Wordform, and also in my writing and though I’ve been recently sidetracked into a discussion that I now regret, for the most part I am content with how I am spending my time. I have a possible job interview tomorrow, I have finished another book proposal to start shopping around, and I think I’ll go out looking for dogwoods later today. Or clean the house, and this act has its own rewards.

I have never been much for traveling to events such as Search Champs. I have been to events at Microsoft in the past, but these were more meeting with a small group of techs and maybe going out for pizza afterwards — their treat. I can understand Microsoft inviting people to see their products, provide feedback, and hopefully both sides benefit from the experience. But for me, in this circumstance, I can contribute just as effectively from home.

It’s somewhat the same for wanting to meet people. There are some folks who I have ‘met’ in weblogging who I want to meet in person someday because they, personally, have become very interesting to me; I would be unhappy at not having the chance to meet with them at least once. Consider it a form of beer truck test, but for meeting people rather than project management: I would regret not having the opportunity to meet these folks before the proverbial and preferred vehicle of blame does its dastardly deed.

(The only reason why I’m not out now on a frenzied world tour is that I am convinced of my own immortality. Still, I’m not sanguine about the continued existence of any of you.)

On the other hand, I wouldn’t want to meet people just because they are webloggers, or popular webloggers, or even because we have shared either passion or acrimony on a specific subject. In fact I would find that rather than enrich our shared experiences, personally meeting with those who I have exchanged strong views could actually detract from the exchange.

For instance, I have a strong interest in the lowercase semantic web and folksonomies and have written about Clay Shirky’s work many a time in the past–almost universally in disagreement. However, I have no particular interest in meeting him, and though I wouldn’t run from a meet, I wouldn’t actively seek one out, either.

Some might think this is a mistake, and say perhaps we would be less critical (or indifferent or antagonistic) toward each other if we were to meet. I can’t speak for Mr. Shirky, but I find that my personal detachment from him actually enables me to write, as I will, on a particular subject without worrying about the possible consequences to a ‘relationship’. More importantly though, our detached and somewhat adversarial position with regards to each other forces me to consider every word and every concept I put down in opposition. I know that any slip, incomplete thought, or fuzzy brain storm I put into written word is going to be subject to the intense, and most likely, scathing review; if not by Mr. Shirky, by others who are his supporters.

Some of my best writing has been in disagreement with Mr. Shirky and other supporters of folksonomies and RDF-less semanic web activity; not necessarily because they inspire me to write, but because they inspire me to write well–with a great deal of caution and careful consideration.

The same can be said for attending technology conferences and the like. Though I would enjoy meeting with my peers, and understand the critical need to network at times, not doing so does not negatively impact on my technical creativity; nor does it inhibit my exchange of ideas and concepts with others. (Especially since the better organized conferences provide the presentation material and even audio and video recordings of some, or all, of the sessions.)

I do miss presenting at conferences, as this is something I enjoy. However, I don’t need to present at, or attend conferences or other formal groups, in order to have a rich existence; or to achieve respect for my work, or to feel respect for the work of others. As long as I have access to their work, they have access to mine, and we share an active form of communication, I am content.

The power of the internet is that it gives me the power of staying home.