834 years young and still going strong.

Feb 20, 2012

Well, another year has come and gone and it's time to look back once again across the calendar and see how things have changed for the Time Lord. This past year is likely one of the busiest of my whole life and shows few signs of slowing down or grinding to a halt. To put it simply I don't have the time or space on the database server to outline everything from 2011, but suffice it to say that the world is undergoing some profound changes outside of the control of the existing system, and in some small way I've been a part of that. I've learned a great deal about other aspects of the world that I had no contact with before and perhaps I've been able to help people who needed it most. I've learned the advantages of finally having decent bandwidth as well as how to put it to good use. It's long been my observation that kindness is to be shared, never hoarded, and that in itself is one of the most powerful ideas in the world. Small wonder why we're taught to forget such things.

I've learned that all of the planning and documentation and policy writing means nothing if you don't have the knowledge or wherewithal to actually put it into action, and that higher levels of complexity are not always good. In fact, they're often deletarious once a system hits a certain size and the smaller, more nimble, and more loosely connected groups can accomplish in mere hours what groups with traditional static internal structures can't pull off in months or years. It never fails to bring a tear to my eye to say to someone, "You're wrong. We do (foo) every day."

In the last year I've been a part of three major software releases, one F/OSS project at work (even though I'm just the sysadmin I'm also the only one active in the Open Source community), one commercial project which is beginning to take off (go ahead and take up your torches and pitchforks because I also work on closed-source software, but I ask why you never say anything about all of those security patches...), and one major collaboration that I've bent your ears about for months on end. The first is in a holding pattern now, the second approaching its next major release, and we're hammering on the third as fast as we can. Bugfixes take time to characterize, doubly so when you're already up to your neck.

In the past year I've been invited to a number of conferences and I've learned the value of making and keeping good contacts. It's a lot of work, and even social networks as we think of them today make it neither as fast nor as easy to do so as most people think. It's my considered opinion that the deprecation of RSS feeds is actually a bad thing because RESTful search APIs don't lend themselves as well as linear data formats do for statistical analysis, indexing, and timeline generation. To put it another way, it sucks when your net.spiders get throttled because they drive certain online services too hard, in fact far harder than the "less modern" services so often quietly deactivated which tend to be more responsive than the latest and greatest interfaces. Oh, well, the beat goes on.

And the beat has indeed gone on, a drumbeat underscoring a profound change in narrative around the world. No longer are people willing to be scared away by people in riot armor holding guns, they're willing once again to stand for what they want and lay their health and lives on the line to get it for everyone. I'm proud to be a part of this sea change, and it's going to be a wild ride right up until the end of this year no matter what side of the 2012 debate you place yourself on. In the past year I've seen governments fall, legal black ops narrowly averted, and the old guard of the corporate media terrified because they aren't being protested, aren't being fought, but are being written out of the group mind by being ignored entirely. It's a frightening thing to be treated as if you don't exist because, in the simpler and more influential circuits of the brain at least, identity depends upon the acknowledgement of others to maintain the internal feedback loop. No interaction with the others, no existence. This is a time of reinvention for everyone and everything on this planet and all of us had best get to it. The last year has also been a time in which the traditional powers that be have finally realized that the membrane between the online world and their world is far more tenuous than believed, and that they are under a powerful microscope indeed. The other end of the eyepiece not only has sharp needles and the will to apply them, but precise control over the flow of nutrients in the petri dish. Insert classic quote from V For Vendetta, et cetera, et cetera.

It should come as little surprise that this particular post is a few days late in coming. Work being what it is these days I wasn't in a position to sit and write about what it means to me to become another year older (or even think much of it, really). I was blessed to spend the weekend with close friends celebrating my 834'th birthday, though it was somewhat of a bittersweet time. As we all know life runs in cycles. My life has been on an upswing but I'm sad to say that those of some of my closest friends are not, and I'd like to help them somehow if I could. Also, a group of us invaded Spellbound on Saturday to dance the night away. I wound up spending the first hour or two talking with an old friend from the BSD community and then hitting the dancefloor at precisely the right moment to blow the gates wide open. This also means that most of us didn't get home until 0500 EST5EDT and we're all trying to recover, if not from the sleep deprivation than from overworked joints inflamed connective tissues.

So, enough of the past, let's make with the future. What's in store for the Time Lord in 2012? I've got a few irons in the fire that are going to work me until I break, and probably past that point. It is my medium-term goal to get Byzantium Linux to beta by HOPE and to do some more independent research before then. I may even make some progress on that book I've been writing for the past couple of years. I don't have any more specifics than that because I don't have any yet, but I'm working on it. Truth be told, a lot of this stuff scares me - a lot is at stake, not just for me, but for a lot of people - but if things are going to continue to grow into a future that doesn't read like a rant by one of Warren Ellis' avatars they have to be done.