OK, so right about this time last year, I was announcing the Year of Living Socially, in which I was planning to:
#1 — Really focus on just three content areas I think are important. They are cloud computing and social media, which I believe will be big in 2012, and intelligent search, which I’ve been championing in one way or another for a long, long time. (I’ll get more into exactly how I define each of those topics in future posts.)
#2 — Finally build a project I’ve been kicking around for years: an information aggregator that tames the information overload that gets worse every year. (The project has yet to be named, but I’ll talk about what it actually does — and solicit feedback and priorities — in a future post.) I will build this out in public, with deadlines anybody can see. I probably won’t open-source the code itself, but I will likely write articles and tutorials about the different technologies I use as I go along.
#3 — Implement best practices for using social media, including regular postings to Twitter and either LinkedIn, Facebook, or both. (I’ll do the analysis in a future post.)
I did set some ground rules, though. In doing that, I would also have to keep these things in mind:
First and foremost, client work can’t suffer; I’m a professional and if you’re paying me to do something, you take top priority. (Plus I have a family and they can’t suffer, so this will also have to be ‘the year of living within time management best practices’.)
Second, I’ll be using open-source and publicly available software, preferably cloud-based, unless there’s a good reason not to for a particular task, which will be a discussion in and of itself.
Third, all decisions, from what software development methodology to what search solution to use, will be made “in public”, so to speak, with analysis and conclusions out there for everyone to see.
So the big question is, how did I do?
Well, from the outside, it looks very much like the answer is “not too well”, but it’s actually not as bad as it looks.
#1 — I was right about cloud, social, and search being on the rise, and I did actually focus on those three technologies in 2011. About 2/3 of the work I did involved either search or social media, and just about everything was cloud-related in one way or another (if you’re really generous in your definition of “cloud”.) Unfortunately, most of that was client work that I couldn’t post here.
#2 — I did actually build the project, NoTooMi, and quietly launch a first beta of it. Unfortunately, it was built on a product that has subsequently changed its architecture (I knew that was a risk when I built it) so I need to rebuild a few parts of it before I can relauch. Also, while it does integrate Twitter, I haven’t yet finished Facebook integration, so it looks a little anemic right now. I’m hoping to have a public version up in the next couple of weeks.
#3 — OK, I’ll admit it, I definitely fell down on the job here as far as regular postings to Twitter and Facebook. (I did get my LinkedIn profile filled out enough that I picked up a client from it, however.)It’s my personality; I don’t like to talk unless I have something to say, and I get a little weirded out about whether people want to actually hear it. I promise to try and loosen up in 2012.
And what about the requirements? How did I do there?
#1 — Well, giving client work the priority definitely worked. There was not one instance all year in which client work suffered because of this project. If anything, it’s the opposite; I’ve been so busy with client work this year that I haven’t had time to do what I wanted on NoTooMi. (I even got my corporate website redesigned and rewritten.)
And on the personal front, I’m happy to say that while my last remaining children at home drive me nuts at times (which is, I suppose, their job) my marriage is better than ever, and after all these years, that’s saying something, especially since we spent November opening Sarah’s gift shop to try and beat the Christmas rush. (Website to come shortly; we barely got the doors open in time.) (Oh, and for you Doctor Who fanfic fans, Sarah and I were finally were able to launch a huge and ambitious story I’ve wanted to write for a couple of years. When it’s done we’re going to tackle a novel. Seriously.)
#2 — NoTooMi is based on Apache Solr, so in that respect, yes, it’s based on open source. And the service that I built it on was indeed cloud-based. And it worked pretty well, too, but now it looks like I’m going to bring it back to pure Solr. But I admit that thanks to client requirements on something else I have been seduced by IntelliJ and have been using it instead of Eclipse as my programming environment. Sorry guys.
and #3 … Well, yeah, not so much. Sorry about that. See #1.
So where do we go from here? Well, first, I’m going to try and get out of my head a little bit and not worry so much about whether I’m boring people. If I find it interesting, I’ll post it. I would like to think that there are people out there who are interested by the same things I’m interested by.
And I am also going to try and obsess a little less about what I do write. One piece of advice I got from a book about blogging was to do short tips — and to get good at just banging them out. I learn about a ton of different little things over the course of a year. Not every post about them has to be a tutorial. Just a quick tip will do. Really. (Nick takes a deep breath….)
As far as technologies, “cloud” is still a great buzzword, but I think that it’s pretty well established at this point, as least as far as I’m concerned, so I’m going to start focusing on mobile, which is where I think the bulk of innovation will be in the next couple of years. I spent the last couple of weeks really delving into eBooks as a prelude to app-building (tips, I know, tips!), so I’m hoping to have something to show for mobile in 2012.
OK, so those are my goals for 2012. As for measurable objectives:
- Post something, somewhere, once a week.
- Get my new office at the store furnished and ready for receiving clients. (It’s cool, there’s a separate room and a back entrance just for me.)
- Launch a private beta of NoTooMi before March 1.
- Go to public beta before July 1.
- Finish the Doctor Who arc we’ve been working on, and start planning a novel.
- Publish at least one “pay to download this” item, whether it’s a mobile app or a Kindle Single, even if it’s also available here for free.
So that’s where I am today. How did you do on your goals for 2011, and what are you planning for 2012?