Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Some thoughts about posting on the internet

I love this long comic strip "Some thoughts and musings about making things for the web" by Oatmeal - but it also makes me thing about what I have been doing.

Have a look at the full comic strip before reading my comments, below. 

So its great to be free to write what you want, when you want, and publish it on the web. Well it keeps me busy and most of the time I find it enjoyable. I spend a significant time every day running the Genealogy in Hertfordshire web site and the associated Newsletter-blog. There is always a lot that can be done and I enjoy solving other people's problems. I spend less time on Trapped by the Box in past because I put more effort at being creative and this is where the the snags start to appear.

So what are the problems. As far as I am concerned they are related to enforcing targets about getting things done! Some aspects of the "I'm in control so I can decide what I will do next" date back to my early schooling - when I was unmercifully bullied and where I worked extra hard at my studies to please the teachers. My four years at Dartington Hall School (where there was no bullying) encouraged me to think creatively about science but did little to overcome my lack of self confidence. As a result I ended up as someone who relished hard intellectual work, to externally set targets which provide positive feedback. The successes and failures in my working career, and the voluntary work I did on retirement fit in well with this pattern.

Now in my 70s I am still a workaholic and spend a lot of time at the computer. I have been providing free help for people researching their family history since 1998 - and my website, www.hertfordshire-genealogy.co.uk, will get about 250,000 visitors this year, and has over 4000 text pages. The questions I get provide externally set targets and the questioners thanks, and the popularity of the site provide the positive feedback I need. However the site development has a problem which is illustrated in the cartoon.

The problem is that while it can be difficult to come up with new ideas to order, there is also the danger that you have a lot of "I need to think about it" ideas and rather than concentrating on one key idea which needs tackling you end up with lots and lots of interesting ideas - and try to put too many of them into practice at once . This means that there is a danger that the site becomes the task master as there are always a number of unfinished tasks to do - so that if you explore the site you may well come across pages labelled "under development," some of which have been there for years.

And then I decided to start this blog - basically to follow up some ideas about the inherent unfriendliness of computers which had got lost, In part this was because I need to be managed, and had too much freedom to try and follow up too many research ideas at once, rather than concentrating on getting funding.for one of them. This might not have mattered to much except that I effectively had a breakdown after a family suicide.

I feel I have something to say - but the fact that I can write about whatever I want means that recently I have ended up with large numbers of draft blogs that have never appeared - and in addition it has to compete with the genealogy website for time. In addition, because this blog is less well known I don't get so much feedback.

However, to use the words later in the comic strip "I have found, however, that I can plant the seeds of ideas in my head. Hours, days or weeks later these seeds will grow into ideas that I can actually use."

So today, the anniversary of Lucy's suicide, which was a major factor in my dropping my university research into CODIL, I have decided that while I will continue to collect ideas I will try a nominate one at a time for consideration - and hopefully get back to may original target of two or three posts a week. In addition I will continue my "Rural Relaxation" posts to add a lighter note - which will also encourage me to keep up my almost daily walks to keep fit.

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