One of the tasks when you do transitions is figuring out what happens next. I’m going to try to be overly open in making some of that process visible, rather than doing it just privately, since it’s an interesting thing to go through and since the modern working world pretty much demands that you get good at changing relatively frequently. Some of the details may get cloaked – you don’t want to reveal too much works in progress – but since I actually like the time spent between commitments a lot this seems to be a good time to document it.
A piece of that challenge is zeroing in on some technologies that I’d like to be better versed in, either for the purposes of developing things in those frameworks and toolkits, or at the very least for understanding how those systems work to the point that you could do technical marketing for them. It’s something I’ve done in the past, I’m pretty good at it, you spend a little bit of time spinning up and a lot of time describing how you did something to someone else. My usual coding skills can be described as pretty good in anything where all the code fits on one page, so figuring out which frameworks have a lot of expressive power makes a huge difference. (As an example of this, compare doing complex transforms of RSS feeds in Feedburner vs. writing the code to do it yourself.)
The other key bit of that challenge is establishing the necessary routines and practices to actually get things done and not just think about them and noodle around. While I don’t have a life-long timeline of everything I’d like to ever do in my life, I do have some reasonable expectations for what say the rest of the year should lead to, and what sort of opportunities I might want to have available to me after that long. Once upon a time I started up a “1000 days” mailing list for life planning at that scale – I’ve scaled back and now think that about 100 days of head start should do the trick, and that a weekly review is about the right frequency to keep projects on track.
A big goal in all of that, and one of the big items on my “Ed’s perfect job” checklist, is finding some people who I can work with who are actually really in the same place I am – same time zone, same city, same meeting room or office. I know that sounds hopelessly old-fashioned in this world of virtual communities and outsourcing, but after two and a half years of being the person at the other end of the wire, I’m looking forward to a little bit less cyberspace for a while. I know that’s not permanent – my 20 year computing career has always been dominated by thinking about things that are far away – but as a temporary spot to be in it’s appealing.
So to sum up: I’m thinking about projects that might last through until maybe the beginning of November, that include people who I can see in person here in Ann Arbor, with lots of opportunities to dig into powerful but simple systems. That’s about where my head is at right now. I’ll be planning an ice cream social for when I get back from vacation and hope to talk to some people then.
Thanks to Nano for the first draft of “Ed’s Perfect Job”, which has been a great touchstone for all of this, and to “How to Solve It : A New Aspect of Mathematical Method (Princeton Science Library)” (G. Polya) (Amazon), (AADL) for a general path to problem solving I’ve used before to good success.