Mostly Unstarted Projects

Wednesday 25 September 2002 at 20:10

I've always got a list of projects simmering in the back of my mind. Regrettably few of them ever make it to the foreground. This is a list of the most interesting among them.

SVG Animations
While I was an apprentice to Kim, I created a number of animations of line drawings using AutoCAD 9 and a good bit of AutoLISP. As animations go, they were nothing special. I was experimenting with the use of animation to communicate complex ideas, and in that respect they were very good. Although that was a lot of fun, and LISP eventually taught me a lot about recursion, I don't recommend AutoCAD as an animation tool unless you happen to like programming and weird geometry problems. I've been out of touch with Kim for a long time, but I would be very surprised if any of those animations have survived the onslaught of technological evolution. For many years I've wanted to try to recreate some of those animations with more modern tools. It's probably some of my most inspired work and I have no way to show it off. Most recently, I've started looking at SVG. It's certainly promising. But there are two immediate challenges to overcome. I'll have to detail those challenges in another post.
Update: one small step

Avalon Groupware
Roll a Turbine or Avalon version of various apps described in Practical Internet Groupware, hopefully connected to James as an IMAP server instead of NNTP. If I ever make that happen, it would be fun to see that become an example application instead of the TDK. I originally thought of this as a good way to grok Practical Internet Groupware, and a collection of toy problems to drive other learning, but as I've thought more about it, seems like a larger scale project. In fact, as I'm becoming more familiar with blogging, it seems like syndicating blog feeds into an IMAP folder could be a pretty neat trick to add to the tricks suggested by Jon.

Werkflow, not Valves
Experiment with using Werkflow in place of the valves in Turbine 3. This is two things: a toy problem to learn Werkflow, and confirmation about my claim that my pipelines and state machines are analogous. Update: That second bit isn't going to work out since Bob has moved to PetriNets instead of a state machine.

Experiment with combining Werkflow and Avalon and maybe Messenger to create a SEDA architecture. This is an elaboration on the previous idea. Another toy problem to learn Werkflow, Avalon, SEDA and apply Messenger to something. It's probably re-inventing a wheel, but I don't mind doing that if it helps me understand something better. There's an outside possibility that these things could introduce some very cool functionality too.

Online community development
I'd like to publish my mom's book on education reform electronically to create magnet content for an education reform online community. I was largely inspired by Phil and Alex's Guide to Internet Publishing. Hopefully this community would become a source of ideas for open source tools to support education reform. I'd like to find a way to connect some non-profit organizations with open source hackers to create tools that are affordable and stable, and to give us geeks something with more enduring social impact than yet-another-catalog-with-shopping-cart. I've been thinking about this one for a while. I described it in a slightly different way in the context of a personal vision I wrote a little less than two years ago.

Creation of a glut-o-meter to help individuals appreciate how the consequences of small choices can have substantial environmental impacts. Partly inspired by I'd like a site where an online app could incrementally request info from a user as they explore the resources on the site and generate a consumption profile based on the information provided. It would then offer small measures to adjust their lifestyle based on the information gathered. It starts to spin into the idea of centering an online community around these apps and content to gather and evolve information about reducing the gross over consumption in the US. There are other people working on the problem of overconsumption, for example Arcosanti, and Segway.