Just learned from Mary Bitter that my opensource.com article "Typing at 255 WPM shouldn't cost $4000: Plover, the open source steno system" was doing well, with over 1,300 views the day before it hit Hacker News (update: now with over 7,000 views on the original article, 236 points and 68 comments and still climbing on Hacker News, and on LWN as well). I don't write many articles for opensource.com, but tend to be proud of the ones I do - they're longer and probably a bit more thoughtful than the average, and this shows up on view statistics, which has an impact on the things I write about. (This just in from Josh, Plover's main developer: "The latest release outpaces the other releases by so much that I'm still not convinced it's not the result of a spider downloading the tarball every hour.")
I love Plover as a project, and I'm glad they're getting lots of attention (well-deserved, and particularly important now that they have a feature-complete product!) - but this was very much not something I was consciously designing for. I don't think about social media propagation or eyeballs or click counts or anything of that sort, and I'm not sure if I should, honestly. Certainly not on this blog; I've turned down multiple advertising offers (they seem to increase in frequency each year) because I made a decision many years ago that my personal blog was for me and for an audience of one - my future self. This means I've always written what I felt like writing about, when I felt like writing... it's an outlet, it's a place of peace and questioning, it's many things, but it is definitely mine. And that feels good, having something I do only for myself.
I think that my primary vocation these days (graduate student) may have enough writing-for-other-people that I don't want to add more to that load; if I want to make things for other people, I might want to try another modality first to balance out my production-portfolio: making physical things, like food or book covers or caricatures - or making intangible things that aren't writing, like music or talks. Still, the thought of freelance writing or blogging (again, not on this blog, but on another) or creating information products as an income stream is fascinating, although I feel a little... uncomfortable thinking about it. I gotta get over this "thinking about money makes me feel all dirty" thing.
I'm squirming a bit, so it's time to switch topics. It was a fun three-day weekend, spent back in Glenview with my parents; we went to a casino that's recently opened not far from our house. Not to play, mind you. I know how the math works, and besides with all the blinking lights and beeping noises I don't think I could last longer than 20 minutes before nausea overcame me. However, they did have an amazing buffet, which was what we were checking out. Ah, Chinese families!
Also, via Kevin Mark, I found my next German language minilearning project: a telenovela. It's designed for language learners around my level, and it's subtitled (in German). Let's see how quickly I can get through this one! Afterwards I'll probably work through the second grammar book (this one entirely in German) that Sebastian picked out for me in Hannover, and then... we'll see. As a potential fun-for-later thing, Kevin Cole sent along Duolingo, which I very much want to try once my account gets an invitation.
And now back to Plover. When I got back to my apartment by Purdue, I unpacked a box that's been waiting for me for a week, and... well, this picture is for Mirabai.
I finally installed and tried out Plover (worked perfectly), and yes, that's masking tape on my brand-new Sidewinder X4 keyboard. As for what I've learned so far... well, uh, I'm struggling to remember the vowels, actually. So the answer there is "not much yet."
Pressing two keys with one finger on this setup is awkward, but I guess it's ok for initial learning... and if I get really into this, I do have an office in the same building as the student project laser cutter. My tentative Plover goal is to be able to use Plover for my dissertation research -- which for the record is at least two years from now since this is my first year of grad school. I don't care if that means transcribing interviews or writing the actual paper or whatever, but I'd like to be able to think of Plover as another tool I can just use by then (rather than something new that needs to be learned).