I’ve been consolidating my many web presences that have developed over the years. In particular I want to raise the visibility of my current professional identity, as it appears on Google Plus and at my professional site (Applied Information Design LLC.) I love my Portland Ground photography project, a wonderful midlife detour, but it is now inaccurate as an expression of what I really do. Yes I still sell stock photo images at Portland Ground but I’m mostly busy providing services in the health information technology space, via Applied Information Design LLC.
Proud to announce a new web site I’ve created: The Art of Epilepsy (artofepilepsy.com). It’s for all those who have epilepsy or know someone who does, and want to think about the artistic and cultural representation of seizure disorders. If you can create a link somewhere that points to it, I’d be grateful. It’s still in early stages with lots of design work needed (feedback invited!) but I’m excited to have it online, so I’m sharing it before it’s “perfect.”
Documentedlife was born as a bunch of static html pages somewhere in the misty reaches of 2000 or 2001, and must be at least 10 years old by now. The last time I bothered to post anything under the heading of “Welcome” was more than five years ago, in 2006. Looking back at my ruminations then, I see in 2011 that my thinking about the purpose of this blog hasn’t become a whole lot deeper. It’s still a project in search of a reason. It’s amusing how in 2006, “blogging” was still a noteworthy thing to do. Who even says “blogging” just five years later? And much of the record keeping, books read, and movies seen, is now off loaded to other social media sites: Facebook, GoodReads, Delicious, and Twitter. The main value I derive from this site is periodically upgrading my php and css skills every year or two. Still I’ll keep doing it just a little longer, I think.
For example, in an actual blog, I would have a point, or something to say. I, in contrast, am interested only in the form of the blog, not in any particular content. I fill it up with stuff about myself not because I find myself interesting, or think that anyone else will, but rather because I like to arrange objects and elements on a page and to change them occasionally, and my stream of consciousness and life is the most convenient set of objects lying around with which to do that. Objection to that premise is something up with which I shall not put.
Why does this Documented Life blog even exist? I’m not really sure. Originally I created an online visual autobiography because it seemed like a cool thing to do. I wanted to do it just because I could and because, believe it or not, it was original at the time. It’s still a unique document, but one that grows and changes very slowly and is rarely viewed.
So why does this blog exist? I’m a 46 year old man with rich life. I’m not particularly looking for social connections, although I enjoy hearing from people who find my site and comment on my posts. I don’t imagine anymore that I will increase my circle of friends through blogging. It has not been my experience that connections develop that way. I’m not interested in publicity. I don’t care if people know about me or my life, and in fact I’m not sure if I want to be this exposed at all.
So why do I blog?
I blog to create content for a blog that I have designed. Sometimes I’m more interested in CSS and PHP than in anything I have to say, so I create content to manipulate with code. That’s a legitimate reason to blog, don’t you think?
Ultimately, I think the name of the blog, Documented Life still comes closest to explaining the reason.
I’m keeping a log of my life, the movies watched and books viewed, the passing hyperlinks and ideas, because I believe in observing my life and my consciousness of my life, and I find that the process of documenting life helps me to be conscious. I blog to experience my life more fully and to be aware.
Perhaps I also blog because I imagine that someday I might like to look back. I’m not sure about that however. The future ability to see backwards in time is sort of secondary motivation.
That’s about it. This blog is about documenting some of the parameters of my life. I don’t document the most personal experiences. I’m not into turning my life inside out or any kind of exhibitionism. In fact all of the things I document are rather impersonal… books, media, weblinks, photos. These are the surfaces of life, albeit surfaces that I am momentarily engaged with in a very personal way.
I blog because to observe, note and document enables me to be conscious and to feel alive.
All of that leaves open the question of why I do my note taking and documenting in a public way, as opposed to privately in a diary. And there, I would speculate, there is an element of performance. It is not that I have readers, but that I must view myself as if I have readers. I am embarassed by misspellings and unclarities (some of them) that in theory might be seen by others. Blogging publicly forces me, perhaps even shames me, to have some standards for what I write. Perhaps this is a weakness. Surely my own critical eye should be enough? But, the thought that someone else might catch an error, or be confused by my writing, makes me a better observer and a better documenter, I think, than I might be scribbling in my own private diary.
The downside of engaging in so public a process is that I do not devote sufficient time to developing my ideas in private. l limit myself by considerations of my own twisted notions of propriety and my own desire to be seen in this way and not that way. Feeling a responsibility to the public performance of blogging (even if I have very few readers), I am drawn away from the private and inward writing that I might otherwise accomplish. The desire to go deeper as a writer may be the thing that will ultimately lead me to stop this blogging.
Portland Ground is the other blogging project in which I’m intensely engaged, and that is a very different activity, focused on Portland Oregon and on documenting the urban environment in which I live. There, I am motivated by the enthusiastic comments that people send me from all around the world when they find themselves missing Portland and then find my site, and I am motivated by the occasional sale of images, and by the fun of going out in the city and exploring it with my camera. Portland Ground is another story entirely.
Documented Life is a blog that is still searching for a reason to be, and may very well have none. That’s OK I think. I do it because it feels like part of being aware of life.
Ever since I, a man of minimal musical talent and no musical intuition, first learned decades ago of the idea of “harmony” (two or more musical notes that work together), I have struggled to sing in harmony. Sometimes I succeed, usually I fail. But I have also struggled to find examples of harmony in other realms. I have long fantasized about writing parallel texts, one under the other, each of which followed its own logic, but which together spoke to each other. Maybe they could even be read simultaneously, and the rise and fall of two voices would create a kind of music, and a kind of harmony. Has it been done? Probably, but I’ve never heard anything like it. I found something like it in the study of Talmud, with its central text and circling commentaries, all speaking to and about each other. I tried using that model for writing too. All of this explains why I was so excited to realize that in creating the new design of Documented Life, I had created a semantic platform for writing intertexts, parallel text that speak to each other. Each post becomes a new component of the intertext. In the future the location on the page may shift. Each text is a part of a larger whole, and speaks to the other texts. I don’t know where this is leading, but I see potential.
Documented Life is right in the middle of a redesign. It’s going to look funky and exhibit strange characteristics for a while.
It will build on the back end management capabilities of Word Press 2.02. My modifications will enable it to function more like a more sophisticated content management system (CMS). On the front page you can view the most recent article from each of several content categories. The position of each category window is hardcoded, but you could easily modify it so that the webmaster or even a logged in user could rearrange the content windows to suit his or her preferences. (If this post doesn’t make any sense, I’m sorry. It is being used to test a new theme I’m developing. You can safely ignore it. It will be relevant soon.)