You might think of this as a Weekly Assemblage for 2023 Weeks 51 & 52. You’re also very welcome to hear Pearl Jam’s “rearviewmirror” in your head as you read this.
This was my first full calendar year working as an instructional designer, rather than as a (mostly instruction) librarian. I’ve enjoyed the shift even more than I anticipated.
Being able to take a “user-centered” perspective goes a long way in each position. One thing I’ve carried over from my library instruction is to highlight repeated patterns and ways of knowing, aiming for transparency and clarity about what you’re doing and why.
What I didn’t expect was how much more frequently I’d do project management-type functions. Aspects of this come naturally to me, like brainstorming, or recognizing which aspects of something reinforce or distract from the main ideas. Other aspects, like working on a “rally mode” rather than a “sprint mode” and providing supplemental executive function for other people, don’t come so naturally.
So that’s a major thing I’m aiming to work on in the next year: developing patterns that help me reinforce my intentions and ways of working.
Website Changes and Experiments
This year I’ve made a few changes, updates, and experiments here on my site. I’m proud of the outcome of all this tinkering and pattern-examination, so here’s a quick review! (The next section has more abstract reflection, so skip there if website nerdery isn’t yr jam—but the reflection does build off what’s in this section.)
I’ve recently added a bookmarks page, inspired by what I’ve seen other people do with services like Raindrop. I ended up lifting & adapting Franck Chester’s code to give my bookmarks workable tags that are separate from Jekyll’s built-in tags for posts. I’ll probably continue refining the Liquid code, since I don’t think the current method is the most elegant or efficient way of doing it… but it is effective—and for now, that’s the important thing! I’ve also just updated the layouts to include the IndieWeb Bookmark markup, as well as make better use of Minimal Mistake’s Post Link format.
Just yesterday, I also adapted Maxime Vaillancourt’s bidirectional links generator plugin. Now when I use a in posts on my site to refer to a note, it will make a workable link and also show up in the “Other places I mention this note” section (which I also just reworded to reflect this change).
This last month I’ve also been experimenting with
backcombing Plausible analytics. I think I’ll use Plausible in lieu of self-hosting Matomo, the other option I’d been considering. Plausible at least claims to be lighter weight and more privacy-respecting than Motomo, so if I’m going to use analytics at all, it feels like a better choice. I might end up trying to self-host Plausible somewhere (like Hugh Rundle does)—but for now, after learning how much more it would cost to self-host it with my current host rather than use Plausible themselves, I’ll pay Plausible for the service (as well as supporting the tool and having them do the labor).
As of this week, I’m also experimenting with Giscus-based comments. I used to use Staticman, but eventually got so annoyed by the continual spam that I removed comments entirely. I’m not entirely thrilled by a commenting system that requires commenters to have a GitHub account, but that’s a tradeoff that makes sense for something entirely optional. As much as I love the idea of using webmentions or using Mastodon-based commenting, I can’t wrap my head around how I’d handle spam with those. (The amount of spam—and occasional very ugly abuse—I see through a certain Wordpress site has made me decidedly jaded when it comes to comments sections.) An open question is whether or not I’ll add comments to the notes in my digital garden… but before jumping into that, I’m going to see how it goes with comments on the posts in my blog. I’m slowly learning to take website tinkering
bird by bird yak by yak.
I also added my reading page and have mostly kept it updated, taking a more POSSE approach than using Goodreads or even Bookwyrm. As much as I love the idea of Bookwyrm, I’m more interested in doing something closer to Mandy Brown’s A Working Library by adding book notes and annotations to my blog, my notes pages, or something else along those lines. (I still want to figure out how her site creates the “related reading” and “related writing” sections.)
I’ve similarly been refining the styling of my links rhizome page a bit throughout the year, after initially adding it in the last week of 2022. It’s nice to have something functionally similar to a LinkTree page, but entirely my own. (If I had all the time in the world, creating a LinkTree-style theme for GitHub Pages seems like it would be a great way to introduce people to creating static sites.)
Patterning for Motivation
Looking back on all these additions to my site has me thinking about not just the patterns of how the files and code fit together, but also the patterns of how days and weeks fit together to encourage or hinder things I aspire to do.
When I’m someone who’s often motivated by the give-and-take of conversation, discussion, and experimentation, how do I channel that impulse away from the short bursts of social media interaction and toward less-immediate but more substantive patterns for motivation?
I’m thinking both of tools, like those made by DSri Seah, as well as intentional communities, like those on Mastodon or Discord, or the audiences of things like Rua Williams’ Neurodivergent Burnout Series. What other communities, patterns, and interactions can we co-create? What can I do to make them more likely?
I expect I’m going to keep casting about for better patterns into the new year, and probably well beyond. But it’s good to clarify that these sorts of interaction and motivation are a large part of my aspiration with this site, even as adding comments feels somehow both “too small” and “more likely to invite spam than substance.”
Consider this an open invitation to reach out—through a comment here, on Mastodon, in Discussions, etc.—if you’ve got ideas to share, if you’re looking for something like a dissertation writing group, or etc.