2018 in review

30 December 2018

Inspired by others I'm taking stock of my 2018. I don't tend to count things like how many books I read, but it's good to reflect on where you've been before checking where you're heading. I felt a bit like not much happened in my life this year, but on reflection that's laughable.

In January I spent a couple of weeks in Singapore, which I didn't really know a great deal about prior to our visit. Whilst Singapore certainly has elements of authoritarianism, I was intrigued by the Singaporean approach to 'multiculturalism' compared with Australia. The uncomfortable feeling I experienced seeing familiar British imperial architecture as - well, imperial architecture - stayed with me when I returned home. It seems odd to write that visting Singapore made me much more conscious of the continuing physical (and therefore mental) presence of British Imperialism in present-day Australia, but it did. Perhaps it was also the cumulative impact of four years of First World War nostalgia 'commemoration', but on a visit to Daylesford's Wombat Hill Botanical Gardens later in the year I was overwhelmed by the sense that all of it - "Pioneers' Memorial Tower", the nineteenth-century rotunda, and the cannons placed about the hill (captured as war booty at various times) - was a bit grotesque.

I also delivered a talk and participated in some great conversations about 'generous GLAM' at LinuxConfAU.

In February I had the enormous pleasure of introducing Angela Galvan for her keynote The revolution will not be standardized at the VALA 2018 conference. Then I got to visit ACCA's Unfinished Business exhibition with Angela, her sister, and Andrew Kelly. That was a pretty good week.

In March and April I learned how React works and even wrote a little demo app, but I have to say I didn't love it and I'm not convinced it's needed in all, or perhaps even most of the places you'll find it being used. The experience did make me a bit more confident with my coding - I worked my way through the book I was learning from, created an app that worked the way I wanted it to and understood how it was working. I just ...don't like React. Especially the bit where you write JavaScript to create CSS 😒.

In May I set up my own Mastodon instance at ausglam.space. You should join.

In June I left local government and public libraries to take up a completely new role supporting librarians in the Academic sector. I now work four days a week and cannot recommend this strongly enough. It's had a huge impact on my stress levels, given me more perspective about what's important to me, and made me somewhat less insufferable to be around. Whilst it's certainly not possible for everyone, I'm convinced most people can afford and would be happier to work four days on 80% of the income they get working five days - if only more employers offered the option.

I had three weeks between jobs in July, and took the opportunity to think about life more broadly. I wanted to use social media - particularly Twitter - less, but still share links to and thoughts about things I was reading, listening to and watching. I was also a bit sick of my typical 'man pontificating' blogging style, so was looking to do something different with my blog. Thus Marginalia was born. Despite being unemployed for most of the month, I also managed to attend two conferences in July: Levels, which ironically made me more comfortable with coding just for my own amusement rather than needing it to be a career move; and APLIC, which stretched into August and was my first conference standing on a vendor booth - causing a few double-takes.

In September I tested the static site generator Eleventy and liked what I saw, spending the next two months setting it up and migrating my blog from Ghost to Eleventy.

In November I published my first npm package - a command-line program that creates a template, including stock image for social media posts, for static-site publishing (e.g. with Eleventy). It appears to have had some downloads on npm, though the stats are a bit opaque as to whether it's automated bots or real humans doing the downloading.

In December I started learning Python and created my first couple of scripts. Not at all coincidentally, one of these auto-deletes Mastodon toots after a certain period of time, and I also used someone else's script to do the same thing with Twitter. I make an effort to keep my blog posts available and their URLs permanent, but social media is supposed to be ephemeral, and I'm increasingly uncomfortable with the idea of it all being there waiting to be read without context some time in the future. I'm continuing to learn more Python, both by making my way slowly through the 1500 page door-stopper Learning Python and also by migrating the code that runs Aus GLAM Blogs from node/Meteor to Python.

Counting this one, I've published eighteen blog posts this year, which I'm surprised by, given I didn't manage to post every month for GLAM Blog Club. According to Pocket, I also read the equivalent of 96 books worth of articles on the web - which partially explains why I read a lot fewer actual books than that! World politics is a dumpster fire, but personally I'm feeling happier than I have been for some time, and I'm looking forward to seeing what 2019 brings. I'm expecting a lot more reading, coding, writing, and time to think, and maybe even a bit more exercise. But perhaps that's the Christmas pudding talking.