Thursday, November 23, 2006

Lost in tweakland

I spent far too much time yesterday and this morning on a self-assigned task to create a 'portfolio' map that links to various publications, maps, etc., kind of like my own mini-portal. Using Compendium for this was pretty satisfying. I did it in a portion of my phd database, so all the materials I put together in there can be reused in other contexts in that database.

Like a lot of people, I can get lost in tweak-land, whiling away hours making little fixes and improvements to something like that. It feels like I am doing something at least sort of useful, making the thing better, more communicative, more informative, more links, better icons, headings, and so forth. And, I was able to test out more of the Compendium 1.5.1 Mac beta, finding a bunch of little quirks and bugs, so I'm being useful there too (I still feel quite guilty that neither I nor anyone else did much testing for v 1.5, which now has almost 4000 downloads and has some problems, though also a ton of good functionality). And, as almost always when I spend a lot of time in Compendium really working on something, I came up with a bunch of new ideas for features that would help in creating artifacts like the portfolio map and its web exports. But -- what I SHOULD be doing is not any of those things. In my discretionary time I should be a) writing up my Dewey, Schon, Wright/McCarthy etc. notes, which I have worked on some this week, or more urgently b) writing the chapter for Ale's book. I have some more days off this week and weekend so I will -- I hope -- I trust -- work on both (a) and (b).

Amazingly there were some comments, from someone I don't know personally, on one of the previous posts. Nice to know someone out there has read some of this. One of the comments (from someone I do know personally) kind of questioned why someone would have a blog like this. I don't want to get into a self-reflexive debate (writing blogs on why to write blogs), but I guess it's a reasonable question. The main thing for me is to try to write about knowledge art in an everyday way, not only in an academic or theoretical way (as much as I am also doing that). I don't spend enough time doing this (or, as noted above, many of the other things I should be doing) to get as far with it as I'd like, but each little piece does help me be "real" about some aspect of what knowledge art means to me, and how the idea plays into some piece of my day-to-day life. I will spend some more tweak-time over the next couple of days writing a more clear entry on the phenomenon I was trying to get at in that post, about different kinds of knowledge and effectiveness at work.


MXS said...

Al, I am actually pleased to see that you used my off the cuff comment about bloggers, and talked here about why you are actually doing this blog. I know realize that you might not be doing it to pontificate, but more as the activity of writing something to better understand the things you are thinking about. The other use seems to be having a debate using the Socratic method, applied to your examination of concepts important to you. Our comments might actually help in you personal understanding.

This last sentence is an interesting one to think about. So, am *I* wasting my time doing this, or does it make me feel good to help *you* in understanding what *you* are tihnking about. Will have to think about that one. Since I know you so well, and we have done this in our many face to face debate sessions, I don't think I feel I am wasting my timing doing this. However, what about someone who does NOT know you at all?

Doei ... MXS

Al said...

Primarily I view this as a way to get me to think through things by writing about them in a public way that isn't (or only) pitched at an academic audience. If there is dialogue that is a bonus. You never know how people will understand or respond to things, of course, or what direction that might take.