Vacuum and Recover

I’ve reached a condition of information frustration and I’m not sure how best to recover. Over the last two to four months I became frustrated with weblogging. I could spew a lot of material and links onto the site but this never was my goal, I wanted a system that would let me enter information and return to it easily for further annotation and markup. But the weblog model has a bias toward publish once and forget. There are ways around this problem but each one of them has a clunkiness that doesn’t quite appeal to me. Categories are a challenge to maintain or develop. Taxonomies and faceted classification, though interesting, are more effort than I want to expend. Calendar views, or posting old entries in the sidebar don’t give me enough context or searchibility.

So I spent some time scouting out different ideas in markup, especially XML. There are some really cool tools and examples out there that people have put together on their own. Syncato, Norman Walsh, Tim Bray, and others have rolled their own systems and gotten them to work for them. Some are further along with their integration of XML than others.

I investigated a couple of interesting simplified markup solutions, some for html and others for xml. Textile, Markdown, Slip and more.

Very lightweight solutions such as del.icio.us appeal because there isn’t much effort needed to add items to your list. The keyword handling approaches the simplicity I crave and the ability to watch how links get picked up and carried forward is very interesting.

Spam has slowed me down as well. Though I haven’t received nearly as much as some of the more popular weblogs it still has had an effect. Probably 40-60 messages over the past two months. Although MT-blacklist has helped to eliminate the results it really hasn’t done much to slow the onslaught. There certainly is more I could do to address the problem but every thing I have to do is another irritant, like sand in the wheels, preventing me from reaching the frictionless information nirvana I seek.

Other sources of frustration are political and personal. I spent a week trying to keep up with Minnesota politics but gave up having lost interest and become frustrated with various inanities. Not the least of which is this (evolution link). I tried to write about national politics just after the Dean scream but the energy for that has wound down as well. The excitement is over and the long drag to the November finish line is underway. I know I’ll be voting against Bush because on too many issues he’s lost any trust I had for him. So what’s the point in continuing to watch. I’m not going to change my mind and I don’t think my arguments will be changing anyone else’s mind any time soon.

Personally I’m struggling with the perennial question: what am I going to do with the rest of my life? I’ve been talking with my boss and reached the conclusion that the opportunities I have at my current job aren’t really congruent with the areas that interest me long-term: specifically knowledge management and creativity. I’ve been scouting for PhD programs but have been holding back a bit because I know that the market for humanities PhDs is pretty dismal. Reading the experiences of others in graduate school makes me wonder if it is right for me. I also have a perennial fear of closing too many doors by choosing a particular specialty or program. Intellectually I know that the danger of not making a choice and regretting inaction is greater than making a choice and backing out at a later date. But emotionally it’s sometimes hard to keep that in mind.

To those still reading despite the infrequent updates: thanks.