I’ve signed up for two different courses at college dealing with Free and Open Source Development: Humanitarian FOSS and Advanced FOSS. You know what that means: blog posts!
My format for these classes is going to be a bit different than how I normally write, so I want to give a heads up.
Just in case you’re unfamiliar with this blog, my normal posts universally tend to take on an essay-like format. My usual approach is to spend around 1-2 weeks thinking through a topic to make sure that the subject is both somewhat interesting and that I have a clear point to make, and then anywhere from 3-4 days compiling those views and writing the post.
It’s not uncommon for me during that process to partially finish a post and then leave it for as much as a month while I rethink what I’m saying, or just check to make sure that my views don’t change.
When a post is finished, I’ll usually sit on it for at least another day both as a final check to make sure my views don’t change last minute and to try (often unsuccessfully) to catch any errors in my grammar or structure, as well as do a little bit of revision for readability.
With FOSS posts this semester, I can’t do that, because I’m going to need to do on average somewhere between two and four of them per week – and obviously my normal approach is not a good fit. So in this section, we’re swapping things around a bit! I’m looking to make much shorter posts: anywhere from around 2-4 paragraphs, or at max 400-500 words (yeah I know I broke it already).
My goal with the longer format has always been to make sure that I tackle every subject I present wit h a large amount of breadth and a large amount of detail. I like to address edge cases, and I worry about not addressing or clarifying possible points of contention – and I am more than willing to sacrifice brevity, clarity, and structure to avoid oversimplification.
One of the problems though is that these posts tend to be very weighty, not necessarily in content, but in tone and style. With FOSS posts I want to focus more on brevity and on information density. I’ll spend less time editing, and a ton less time on preparation. In exchange, I’ll try to make the posts easier to read, and to cover a broader range of information – more code samples, ideas and theories rather than conclusions, and so on and so on. And of course, the frequency of updates will pretty much skyrocket.
In case you like the old format, it’s not going anywhere; in fact I’ll probably cross-post between FOSS and my normal stuff occasionally if I run into a topic that I feel like would be interesting to tackle in more detail.
I’ll give some more updates with that as I figure out exactly what I want to do though. I have some plans, but nothing concrete.
One last thing: I’ve always been clear in everything I write that my views on these subjects are highly dynamic – anything I write represents only a snapshot of me and what I believe, and nothing I write captures those views in entirety. On top of that, many of the subjects I talk about are complicated, multifaceted and interdependent. I write 1200 word posts because I can’t write anything longer – not because I ever believe that I have addressed everything that needs to be said about a topic. I will frequently say things that are wrong and stupid, and it is perfectly OK to cherry pick views you agree with and disagree with.
I bring that up, because all of those rules go quadrupally true for anything I write in here. One of my hopes with the FOSS page is to provide more of a steady stream of thought and less of a highly edited and self-censored message. As a consequence, and indeed by necessity, I’ll be spending far less time thinking about what I post here, so you should know that going in and adjust your reading glasses accordingly.