Morris Street Project: April 09, 2011

Morris Street Project, Week 4

The purpose of the Morris Street project was to catalog the coming of spring and if continued, the changing of the seasons. Instead it seems its going to be chronicling the construction taking place in our neighborhood. A week before these photos were taken, the neighborhood was given notice that there would be no parking available on the streets from 7am-7pm. That\’s it. No commentary in regards to driveway parking. What they (meaning the construction crew and/or the city) failed to say or even warn was that access to our homes would be incredibly limited and no provision for parking was indicated (if our driveways were being ripped apart). A few days before the photos below were taken, there was a 15′ deep x 10′ wide trench in front of the house. Our driveway remains the only inaccessible driveway on the block, with other houses at least having dirt laid down to allow occupants access.

The purpose of the city’s project was install new water and sewer mains. According to one of the contractors, they should be done with our block sometime “soon,” which soon literally means June. I shall expect loads of the upcoming weeks to be filled with construction process and hopefully, a new bud or two blooming in the background. Yay for spring in Michigan.

Morris Street Project: 04/09/11
Construction season (also known as spring), has started in GRap.
Morris Street Project: 04/09/11
We lost a driveway due to the pillaging.

A Blog With An Identity Crisis

Dear Internet:

I need your help.

Seriously.

The focus of this blog has had two major shifts of focus in the last few years. Forever and 10 days, it was all about me. Then I had the massive, emotional breakdown of a breakup with TheEx and felt it safer to blog about library school rather then vomiting up my emotional issues. Things smoothed out, I graduated and I’ve started back with the purging of thought again.

This in and of itself is not a bad thing, but that is how life works. You get engrossed in X, that fills up your time and then you move on to Z. Any kind of issue I’ve had with the blog in the last 15 (!) years has been mostly aesthetic, not technical. But in the last six months, I’ve noticed a few problems cropping up that need resolutions. This is where you, my dear Internet, come in.

  • Problem One: The name.
    The blog was started in 1996, the first domain was bought in 1998. While domain name has changed numerous times over the years, the title of the blog has more or less been The Lisa Chronicles. I say more or less because two shifts from that has been when I bought this domain (shesgotplans.net) in 2006 and renamed the blog thusly (And Lisa! She’s got plans!), second name shift in 2008 when I started library school (lib schooled.) and then back to the beginning with The Lisa Chronicles last summer.
    This is a problem because I discovered last year, after changing back the blog name, that a woman registered the domain thelisachronicles.com and blogs very occasionally about her family, adoption, and faith. The complete polar opposite of me. There is also the erotic works of the same name, also not me.  While I come up in Google search as the primary person, I find myself thinking of myself as “brand” and I’m finding myself slightly despising myself for that. I’m not a brand, I’m a person with a sparkling personality! So do I say eff the others and continue on as I am, grab a name that is a bit more encompassing of my content, change the domain name or what?
  • Problem Two: Content.
    This is not a problem in the I don’t know what to write or really a focus anymore category. This kind of ties into problem #1 above. During the two year period I wrote mainly about library school, I received more love from the internets then some critique on pop culture, book reviews or sobbing my heart out. To wit: Bobbi Newman of Librarian by Day showcased numerous of my “So, You Want to be a Librarian/Archivist” posts on her blog, coupled with writings from other people around the web on the same topic wrapped up as a one stop guide for all things MLIS related. The link love is awesome, don’t get me wrong, I got a lot of commentary and emails from people about my work. I’m more than happy to have done this, so much so I included a tab at the top of the front page as a direct link to all the posts in that category. So the problem?Not only has Bobbi sent me nearly thousands upon thousands (She’s the library equivlent of getting /.’d) of people to my site, the number one pages on my site are the library school related ones. It’s not just Bobbi’s site either, its via search engines, other library related peeps conversating on the subject. The primary, and seemingly only reason, people come to my site (regardless of domain, name, etc) is for the library related stuff.This is a problem because when I stopped writing about library related stuff last summer, blog readership has dropped, comments dropped, everything dropped. If I write a blog post on something library related, it goes back up and then drops again when I stop on the librarianating. When TheHusband and I talked about this, he says it’s evident the people have spoken! Write more about library related stuff! But I bristle at that because for me personally, having a blog on one defined topic is just not my cup of tea. I’ve tried doing it in the past but it just doesn’t work out for me. The current idea I am having is transferring all the library related content over to Dewey District Library blog, the joint blog that Kristin and I are writing and just shoving everything over there because what has become clear is that there is a huge difference between the readership for my regular content and readership for library related content.
  • Problem Three: Archives.
    A couple of years ago (er, yeah, that’s it), I decided to put all entries pre-2006 up on modgirl.net, and then whatever domain I was on, keep that as organic as possible. The thought process is that keeping things up at modgirl.net as it was originally posted (static HTML files) meant that once the back log was up, I’d never have to touch it again. Well. Not necessairly true. The problem with this is the domain, modgirl.net, was my primary email address and domain name for a very long time (until I got onto gMail sometime in ’05?). Checking the stats for the domain, the files were seemingly no longer being deep searched by search engines (truth be told, I could have done something to the robot.txt for that to happen) and the only email I get at modgirl.net these days is spam. Lots and lots of spam. While I’ve had the domain for over 10 years, I can no longer realistically justify keeping it anymore. My first domain ever purchased, simunye.org, was hijacked by Belgian registrar (a small company owned by a friend of a friend) when it stopped communicating me with regards to my payment (I wanted to pay, they wouldn’t respond to facilitate payment, they hijacked the domain and then RENEWED it under their name). My attachment to domains is now broken. Within the last year, I removed all the static files on modgirl.net and now modgirl.net redirects to shesgotplans.net. And of course, I never uploaded the archives into the WP database system. I don’t think this is necessiarly a problem, I think this is more of a whine of not wanting to do the work of the damn archives. 🙂
  • Problem Four: Consolidation. People collect coins, stamps, shoes, fan items: I collect domains. The number of domains I’ve purchased, hosted, worked on and dropped is in the dozens. When I worked for ISPs or knew people who had their own servers in the ’90s/’00s, it was far far worse. I’m now down to 8. Two of them (modgirl.net and geekgirlinc.org) I’m letting expire for sure this year. Two of them, rabey.net/org I’ve kept for a zillion years, never did anything with but will probably keep. excessivelydiverting.net and deweydistrictlibrary.org are projects I’ll be keeping on, so they can stay. That leaves biblyotheke.net and shesgotplans.net. I think confusion lies because I use an email address on biblyotheke.net as a primary email, but I direct blog links to shesgotplans.net. Also, I styled biblyotheke.net as a portal of sorts, but with a name (digital.biblyotheke) and biblyotheke is the most used username that I use. I also wanted to use biblyotheke.net as a professional site, but right now I’m thinking that instead of sending people all over the internet, take advantage of sub-domains and just splice everything under one roof. I’ve got a couple of months until shesgotplans.net expires, but knowing me I’ll renew it for one more year to keep pointers working.

So internets, since this is looming (if not already) in the tl;dr category: Your thoughts? Comments? Am I overthinking this? Any tips or tricks? Ideas? Etc? Merci!

Of flying cars and saucer rides

Image courtesy of The National Archives / Flickr creative commons

When the clocks turned over from 2010 to 2011, in addition to the plethora of “Best of 2010” lists and posts, there were scads of posts across the interwebs that dealt with disappointment that now we were in 2011, where were our flying cars? Trips to the moon? Why can’t we move our molecules easily from one location to the next ala Star Trek? Why were all the things we were promised that were to happen by this time haven’t happened yet?

Was there something specific about the year 2011 that I missed? Some kind of anniversary for something? The sheer amount of posts on this topic were enough that it seemed that nearly every blog or website I crawled, someone was making a glib joke about the lack of whatever we were supposed to be having now or likewise, pointing out they were not going to make a comment on the topic but dammit, where were our phasers!?

I got to thinking about things I expected to have happened by now, when really, the list was nothing more then a litany of complaints about current services and offerings in my #firstworldlife. While there seemingly does seem to be an app for just about everything, there is still so much that is firmly quaint with antiquity.

Here’s an example: The New York Times has digitized and indexed their entire archives dating back to 18something something, but it took four months to update my phone number on my bill. Why? Because it’s manually done. Seriously. Even if you login to their website to update anything, the system is not automated. It’s passed on to someone and it is updated manually. Customer service rep confirmed it for me when I asked what was taking so long to update billing information. She wasn’t joking.

But most of my complaints, ahem, were exactly that: complaints. My issues had more to do with poor software execution/training then say something grand that is lacking in our current reality. Sure, my complaints are legit (Really, New York Times? I can’t update my own g-d phone number?) for the most part but they aren’t that important. So the post I was writing on the topic was left languid in the draft format. Over the last few months, however, I realised that it is not so much that what I was planning on saying was not relevant to the conversation of 2011 and the future, but that much of what I was having issues with was plain old information overload. Coupled with that I’ll freely admit I’m an information hoarder and you can see the problem that I’m having blossoming even larger. Whenever I start to feel anxious, which is more often than not, much of what I’m feeling anxious about has a leg in information overload. Maybe not a whole leg, but at least a toe. While I’m fantastic for information management, I’m piss poor at absorbing all this information I’m managing. Instead of managing it in a healthy way, I choose to let it build and overflow while I go hide somewhere else.

I know I’m not the only one: dozens of friends have told me over the years that occasionally they do a email/RSS/Twitter/Facebook whatever amnesty and just clear out the backlog and move forward from that day on because there is so much fucking content. Who can keep up with it all? I have a really, really hard time with letting go because you may never know when you need $it, whatever $it may be. This is also the same thought process of hoarders of things in the physical realm and I’m waiting for my turn on the television show of the same name where I’m confronted by concerned friends and family, urging me to give up one of my dozen email accounts. I just shuddered at the mere thought.

One example of my information hoarding is such: I subscribed to the main mailing list for a professional organization I am a member of and that list is incredibly active. So active that within a year nearly 2000 messages (probably much more as that is just the number gMail gave me for unread messages) had been posted to the list. How do I know this? Because I rarely, if ever, read the damned things and just let them pile up in a gMail folder allocated for said group. I finally let go and unsubscribed from the damned list. Another folder, which is a consolidation of mailing lists from various professional interest groups, is currently sitting at 1500+ messages, dating back to over a year, most of them unread. I tell myself I will go back and play “catch up” but in reality, I never actually do. The longer I wait on reading said messages, the less relevant they become but I continue to convince myself that this is not so. And with me, it’s just not email; it’s also Facebook, RSS feeds, Twitter, LiveJournal, Tumblr and the list goes on. When I get up in the morning, In order of checking for new information it goes email->Facebook->Twitter->RSS feeds->Tumblr->Friend Feed->LiveJournal->everything else. This does not include wandering around the interwebs when someone passes on a link of interest to me personally or I find something via one of my other outlets. And most of the time, it stops after Twitter because I have ended up spending most of my day tracking down bits & pieces of superficial interest rather than read up on my passions.

Sometimes, I don’t get me.

Parallel to this problem is that I’m interested in A LOT of stuff, with some of it specific (Jane Austen) and some of it very broad (music). To compensate, I subscribe/obtain to everything I can find my hands on that may cover the topic in some form. This is how it always begins and thusly gets me into trouble/panic mode: I get interested in something (medieval history) and instead of cultivating to a specific niche (the role of women in the middle ages) or context (life in northern England from 800-1100 CE), I grab everything that broadly goes on the topic, get overwhelmed by sheer amount of information and then walk away, letting it rot. Then I’ll come back some period of time (days/weeks/months), revive my interest in it again and the cycle starts all over. While everyone seems to wish for contact with Martians, flying cars and ability to transport in microseconds from one side of the world to the other, I think the only thing I would like is more human contact. Less time attempting to play catch-up with the internets and more time playing catchup with friends. I wish to move way from the constant Tweeting/texting/Tumblring/Facebooking and more to random drop-ins with friends/postcards/phone calls. More face to face time with people I love and less stress about missing out on supposedly important information. Less time correcting the internet and more about spirited conversations at coffee shops and pubs.

You know a nod back to the good olde days when technology was supposed to free of us and make us less dependent on the very premise to spend more time with friends and family and instead, technology has enslaved us. We’re so busy upgrading, downgrading, unfriending, unfollowing to manage our lives that we forget that our lives are passing us by but we keep thinking that by consolidating, informating, streamlining we’re going to be able to get that time back we have missed.

We are the fools – the time is never coming back.

Ever.