Yep. You heard that right. I'm actually going to attempt to learn one thing this summer. And one thing only. All else is subordinated (or more likely, folded into) that. We will see how it goes.

I'll probably delve into writing, photography, film, sound recording, drawing, transcription, editing, site metrics, surveys, graphic design, and tons of other things while doing this. But the end goal is to find out how to capture things and place them online for maximum documentation effectiveness - the smallest documentation-time-to-impact ratio possible.

Documentation time is everything from packing the camera bag to writing a script to designing slides to uploading my film to YouTube (or a similar service) to subtitling it and setting up a ratings system to responding to comments to... you get the picture. Impact is loosely described as how well it fits these kind of criteria:

  • is it easy for me to search for, find, stumble-upon, discover, and re-understand it later?
  • is it easy for other people to do the same?
  • even if I don't tell them about it?
  • can I tell "how well it's doing" easily, at any time? Can I get feedback on, and tweak, the things I put up in response to feedback on how to make it more effective?
  • can other people do the same without me being a bottleneck?
  • if there was some other goal of the project being documented, is that goal achieved better or more easily after it's documented in this manner?

Since I need not-to-do lists as much as I need to-do lists, here's stuff I won't be learning this summer. This is not to shut off opportunities as they come up, but it is saying that I won't chase these down, and that I'll deflect them into my actual summer learning project if they're really stubborn.

Stuff I will not reallyreallyreally learn this summer

  1. Another language
  2. How to dance (partner, break)
  3. Becoming an actual decent runner
  4. Engineering in the "traditional coursework" sense (this one is hard for me to say no to, since I keep going "but I should learn VLSI, I should go through Strang's text on wavelets..." but these are all things that I keep on blathering about and never doing, so I'm just saying NO! for 4 months and seeing whether absence makes the heart any fonder.)
  5. Electrical/mechanical fabrication. Also incredibly hard. I will probably be dragged into a machine shop at some point by virtue of the people I am living with, which will be awesome.  If so, I will push it into my actual summer learning project by documenting the heck out of it - but I won't seek to spend every waking moment!!! chasing this stuff down. See #4.
  6. Becoming a better coder, tester, software engineer in general. If this comes as part of my job, awesome; it probably will,  same rationale as #4 and #5.
  7. Art. Again, hard to say no to. Again, probably will casually sketch anyway. Again, won't feel guilty about not seriously studying it right now. Sketches are a great form of documentation, though. As is photography and film. So. A bit of wiggle room, here.
  8. Business (in the formal "let us study things and open books on operational theory huzzah" sense). Same as above.
  9. Acting/stage presence/speaking. Ditto. Also plenty of wiggle room if I ever videotape a presentation of mine.
  10. Cooking.
  11. I'm sure there are more things.

This is active as of now until August 31, 2009. Ramp-up starts now, should be going full-blast by June 1st. Hup!