Waning days

I was just looking back at some hilarious December 2001 – January 2002 posts here, and its lot of fun to see what I was doing and thinking back then. Sorta makes me want to start writing more of those diary-like posts, the sorts of thing I’ve done less frequently since entering the working world.

But hmm, what to write. It’s a little harder to do this sort of thing when you’re employed, when your friends are out of college and more cognizant of the lasting effects of internet notoriety, when your coworkers and others might read what you write, when people might misinterpret and misconstrue with actual consequences, and when you’re busy on a big project.

Aha! The project! I’ll spare you the details, but suffice to say that my dreams for a new Berkman web site are finally coming to fruition. I have a deliverable scheduled for end of day Monday that is huge and looming. I’m pretty proud of the site in concept, although the execution is closer to 60% of what I want. However, in the last week or so I’ve learned a ton more about Drupal and how to harness it to do crazy things.

I’ve basically been re-implementing in a few days a site that took several weeks to build out the first time through. My way is cleaner and more flexible and easier to manage, but its still a big hassle to get everything working right. That said, doing it this way is *far* more fun, and thus I find that I can spend nearly every waking moment working on it and still be excited, vs before when I was unconsciously doing everything I could to avoid working on it, hating the ugly spaghetti code and silly architectural choices that I had to deal with.

This site is interesting because it is an attempt to organize 10 years of information using a relationship system I designed that lets you drop in content and relate it to various other bits of content (John Palfrey is the author of the paper, the paper was released at the Beyond Broadcast conference), and then various side blocks and bottom bits and list views are dynamically generated and updated bidirectionally. The disappointment and 60% functionality figure is because our contractor was not able to deliver the relationships functionality as specced, and in the interest of a timely launch the choice was made to give up a lot of that functionality and try to implement it later (which in truth I find unlikely to ever occur).

Despite this major setback, a lot of what I envisioned is going to be in there, at least in some form, and my design made it through the process relatively unscathed. And with several thousand pages of content, this is the largest site I’ve ever designed and implemented.

I promised to deliver by Tuesday because that was the third or fourth unrealistic deadline that had been set, but more so because I want this project finished, wrapped up, launched, and off my plate. When it is done and delivered, I will feel like I’ve fulfilled all of my big obligations to the Berkman Center and will be hitting a high note. A clean and comfortable place to set a break point and start thinking about what my next steps are, personally and professionally. In truth the thinking is already there, its just not concluded. I have a general direction, though, and every day that I come in to work at Berkman I get a little more sad that it is one day closer to my last.