Monday, October 01, 2007

Something To Blog Home About...

History has been on my mind today.

History of personal, local and international proportions. Today is the one year anniversary of this blog. I also bought a book today at Word on the Street about a favourite subject of mine, Toronto history. Later in the day, I read a chapters of a book by Tim Berners-Lee on the history of the World Wide Web.

I thought these three events provide an intriguing perspective on where my life stands right now and a look at my future.

I started blogging a year ago as the momentum of recent developments in the Internet had got me excited about the field again. Since starting in this field I have loved it tremendously - no regrets ever. But the dot bomb was hard to live through, having a kid brought a whole new level of responsibility, and frankly circumstances had not handed me exciting online opportunities.

To fill the void over those intervening years, I spent a lot of time reading about Toronto history (I have about a hundred books on local history most of which I've read). I joined Heritage Toronto and maintained their website. I'd even thought about starting my own Toronto walking tours company and started planning some tours. I also started working on a possible print book on famous Torontonians.

Glen 2.0

But last year my life started to change course, back to my love of the Internet. I started really getting excited about some "new" (for me) Internet developments. First del.ici.ous, then blogging, RSS, accessibility, social media, the Semantic Web and microformats, etc. I also had my company's website relaunch that I lead that solidified my views on good web design and allowed me to put some theory and my thoughts into practice. And this blog was a great way for me to share all this.

I wanted to take this knowledge and newfound passion to the next level and as such decided to do my Master's and hopefully PhD focusing on Internet as much as possible.

I was excited to meet others who shared my passion and who I could learn from. And so I made a real effort for the first time ever to go to industry events and try some social networking. This has had some ups (I have met some cool people and got to know some industry friends much better) and some downs (like pretty much all the real world Internet groups in Toronto and I tried out a lot of them. CaseCamp is the only good one for the record. I've been working on a blog about how crappy they are but have been reluctant to as it seems awful to be so negative to people that are trying not matter how shitty of a job they are doing). I attended Mesh last Spring, the first Web conference I had been to - it was amazing! I also spent an insane amount of time on Facebook, reconnecting with old friends and friended some people that I really wasn't friends with (not like I'm the only one guilty of that).

Corny as it sounds I feel like I had a flash of light where one's future is revealed to them. I am certain now that I want to spend the rest of my life working in the Internet - learning about it, talking about it, sharing info, building in it.

I really felt that doing this meant that I had to focus completely on the Net and give up all my old "time-wasters". My Toronto book in progress was transferred to a wiki (one subsequently neglected). Haven't watched much TV in ages - even the box sets of BattleStar Gallatica, Dukes of Hazard or Scrubs. I felt like I had kicked my travel addiction and swore off travel. I stopped all reading other than about Net topics - hence my reading of "Weaving the Web" by Tim Berners-Lee (a great read and now I'm dying to make a pilgrimage to CERN, the birthplace of the Web).

This weekend I'd planned to get a head start on some online modules for my program and to spend a long time on this blog anniversary (as it is, I'm working on it in the wee hours - so the date will appear as a day off the actual anniversary). But the weather was so damn nice and my daughter was dying to spend time with me, so we decided to got to some cultural events that my wife and I used to go to a lot of before having a toddler made it too difficult. We went to Nuit Blanche and Word on the Street. It was great to participate in something creative and cultural and in complete different spheres again.

The article I wrote for work on Toronto's outdoor art (and posted here last week) got me thinking that I do love Toronto and its art scene and its history. I love spending time with my family too.

So I'm getting the sense that following my passion for the Net doesn't mean I have to wear hard-wired blinders.

I guess I'm feeling lucky that I know what I want to do with my life. I know what things are worthwhile to spend my very finite time on. I also feel happy that I have so many cool things in my life and the opportunity to partake, to various degrees, in them all.

The title of my first blog entry ever was "Nothing to blog home about" but ironically this blog lead to changes in my home, so it was indeed something to blog home about.

Man, this blog was so sappy. Thank God no one reads it!


Anonymous said...

Well … I guess it’s not fair to say no one reads this blog!

One of my growing nigglies about so much I read on the Web is that there’s such an emphasis on getting data out fast, in ways that look flashy and sexy, that it can tempt us into forgetting about the importance of taking time reflect on where we’re going, and why. That’s a problem in our whole society, I think … the need to produce produce produce can mean that we don’t take time out often enough to think about the whole forest. The demands to examine a tiny piece of bark on one tree are just too intense.

So given that, I really appreciate reading somebody who’s taking the time to take stock of life and figure out what’s working. I have a growing sense that being truly alive means carving out time for that kind of introspection regularly throughout life … surely I’m still doing it (and missing it when I don’t give it the necessary time!)

It also never ceases to amaze me how so many of my interests and hobbies, that seem so unrelated to each other, come together in weird and wacky ways to make a significant contribution to my life. Nobody trained me for ½ of what I do at work – a lot of the time, I feel like I’m following my nose and integrating skills and interests I never would have thought would be relevant. I’m coming to the conclusion at my advanced years (grin!) that nothing’s been wasted.

So bravo for taking an anniversary seriously! And bravo for following your passion, and using it to make communication clearer and richer. That’s surely a specialty that’s essential, especially in such a fast-paced environment where the temptation is to give a lot more attention to flash than to substance.

LavenderandOnions said...

Hey - I read you blog too. I'm so glad to see your newfound sense of balance. Eating, sleeping and breathing the internet can't be healthy for anyone, whereas keeping up your other interests and passions lets you continue to see your career with a fresh and refreshed eye. It'll keep you from burnout and make you a more interesting person!

Glen Farrelly said...

I admit the last sentence of this blog posting was baiting my readers to declare themselves - particularly nice for an anniversary edition.

Thanks for the comments!