A confession–over the last few years, I’ve basically lost the ability to effectively manage my use of the internet. Especially those parts related to email, email lists, groups, blogs, and so forth. Let me explain a bit…
Day to day, I spend a lot of time teaching courses and dealing with family life. I’m not always immediately available to engage in communication. For example, when I’m teaching a class, I usually can’t just stop mid-stream and answer an email in front of a class. By similar measure, it’s not practical for me to just be hanging out on IRC or Slack. The end result of this is that messages tend to just pile up in my email inbox. I often mean to reply, but then things get busy, the message gets buried deeper and deeper and eventually forgotten about. If you’ve written me and never gotten a response, I apologize.
Email lists for software projects face a similar problem. I have previously used things like Google groups for software related discussion. However, those groups direct everything to my inbox. It is easy to fall behind or to lose the context of a discussion. For high-traffic lists, I almost always end of flipping everything to email digests. Maybe I read them. Often I do not. Then there are other problems with email groups such as spam, membership problems, and so forth. I really don’t want to be doing that.
And blogs. Oh. What a pain that is. I’ve previously had a Blogger account, but I haven’t updated my blog in ages. Frankly, using Blogger kind of sucks. I’ve often thought about moving everything off of that platform. And then there are various issues curating comments, spam, and other things.
In thinking about all of these various problems, I’ve decided to take a cue from some of my non-technical interests such as biking. How do bike geeks deal with the internet? Well, a lot of them interact with each other on forums like this. There are long running discussions on all sorts of esoteric topics that are actually pretty easy for me to follow. I can subscribe to topics that might be of particular interest and ignore others. I can check the forum on my own time. If I’m away from the forum for a week or two, I’m not lost when I come back. Yes, forums. Forums are great.
So, this forum is a bit of an experiment to see if I can consolidate a bunch of fairly disparate things into one place. All of my software projects tend to be highly niche tools like parser generators or concurrency frameworks. The last time I checked, there wasn’t any kind of arms race involving LALR(1) parsers. It’s exactly the sort of thing that people might have a lot of weird questions about, but it’s also not likely to be high-traffic. I think a forum is perfect for something like that.
Teaching classes, I’d like to have some place for students to have further discussion after the class is over. Again, I think a forum makes a lot of sense.
I think a forum might work well for something like blogging as well. It’s a bit less formal perhaps, but it’s more than me dropping random brainfarts on Twitter.
Anyways, view this forum as an attempt to regain ownership and control over various parts of my online world. Just so you know, the forum is something that I pay for, manage, and curate. There are no ads, SEO, or other stupid crap. It’s supported by people who buy my books or take a class.
All feedback is welcome!