I’ve made some life updates and am gradually updating my website to reflect them, so please excuse any messiness.

The plan for notlaura.com v5

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notlaura.com will be getting a gradual reworking over the next few months because I’ve got big plans for it.


Last Update 7/22/22

This fall, I will be starting a PhD in Human-Centered Computing at Georgia Tech. Throughout the experience, I intend to learn in public and catalog my intellectual journey on this website.

Sharing this journey publicly is primarily for my own benefit. If I write about what seems interesting and important in my research from the get-go, over the course of 4-5 years, my dissertation will have written itself, right? That is highly unlikely, but I’ve referenced my own blog posts enough times to know that what I write on this website will be valuable to me someday.

That said, I am not only sharing for myself. There are many, many industry friends and acquaintances from my 12 or so years in web development who are interested in my journey. So, if you are one of them, these posts are/will be for you, too!

Digital gardening

Given this new (is it really new?) direction, notlaura.com needs some updating. I succumb to perfectionism when it comes to publishing posts on the blog of this website. In the last few months, I’ve been learning about digital gardening, that is, an approach to sharing content online that is not oriented around a publish button. In a digital garden, content is imperfect (it is on a blog too, just appears pristine very often), not chronological, and evolves over time with careful tending and consideration.

Before learning about digital gardens, I’ve followed a couple of digital garden-esque practices on this site. One is working really well, and another one resulted in mild traumatization. The one that’s working is my practice of accumulating and gradually updating content on the static Now, Reading, and Mission Compass pages of this site.

The second practice that resulted in mild traumatization was including WiH or PiH in the titles of articles published on the blog and shared on Twitter and LinkedIn, which indicated content was “written in haste” (WiH) or “published in haste” (PiH). While this enabled me to publish more, the mild traumatization happened after the content I shared hastily sent me into a shame vortex, particularly the the Non-Zero Anti-Racism Days series I authored during the summer of 2020 (these posts are password protected now – I might revisit them, someday). Another traumatizing experience happened with WiH posts in the Designgineering Chronicles series when I received harsh and poorly delivered criticism from an ex-coworker that I, unfortunately, took very personally at the time. Of course, all of this is probably rooted in the FizzBuzz/hateful Reddit trauma of 2015.

These experiences resulted in the perfectionism I now experience when publishing articles on my blog. It’s getting better (I just published this!), but still, I share a lot less than I used to, and I intend to write about less benign topics in the coming years. What’s really working now, though, is how I write on the static pages listed above. I quietly accumulate and update (“tend”, if you will) content without blasting it to social media outlets or to RSS. The kind of sharing and thinking in writing I intend to do on my website during my PhD journey needs to be quiet and gradual, otherwise, it will be too demanding to actually happen.

The plan

Unsurprisingly, looking into others’ digital gardens has left me feeling an urgent temptation to scrap WordPress for a static site builder. So far, though, the losses outweigh the gains for that path. I think I can get by without bi-directional linking, and performance is not a major concern for me – this site will be fast enough.

Here is an in-progress list of changes I intend to complete over the next couple of months:

  • ✅ A new theme that uses Full Site Editing, probably the default theme again – TwentyTwenty has been a great success
  • ✅ Decide on a personalized system of categories that indicate a post’s maturity
    • A description of the category shows at the top of posts that are part of it
    • A warning for “strong opinion that will surely change and might already be outdated” won’t do
  • ✅ Removing the chronological Blog page in favor of posts curated by maturity
  • On the homepage:
    • ✅ A description of how I write posts, who they are for, and how/when to contact me with comments on the website home page
    • ✅ Making the Now page more like usual Now pages with a brief description of the main things I’m doing at the time
  • Possible new static pages that will collect content in the way of the current Now page:
    • ✅ Updates (moving what’s been on the Now page)
    • Other themes that appear to be recurring in the updates I post e.g. Nepali learning, garden photos, research updates, or life design things – considering creating a 🪵 Log category for things like the updates posts
  • ✅ Removing WooCommerce (if you want a monster and you don’t see me in real life to ask for one, order one here)
  • ✅ Posts can be excluded from RSS and from Jetpack email blasts with a category (this capability already exists, but I will use it more)
  • Decide on a flexible set of categories and organize old content according to them

Working out my writing process

I think the process will be something like this:

  • Write a blurb on a static page first and give it a bit of time to exist and potentially be refined.
    • Or! Everything is written on the homepage – or a single page – then moved somewhere else after some time. Basically, driving all content with the Now page structure.
  • When it seems like the right time, or like the blurb has become its own idea, move it into a post with some kind of status.

Okay, that’s it! I’m going to publish this post, and I will share it with all the medias, but I will likely update it later.