I've survived my first few months back to work (after taking 3 months off to play Mr. Mom), and I've been spending more time reading my Bloglines account. A couple months ago I spent some time writing about what I do all day. So, I've been at work, I've been reading what others are doing, and I've been keeping track of what I've been doing... All this has me thinking about what I do with my time again. My day job isn't particularly stressful, I'm blessed with (so far) a really happy and well behaved baby, and I really don't feel like I'm overwhelmed with the other things I have to do each day. One of the best things about Bloglines is I get to see what everyone else is doing with their time. I see some incredibly interesting things being done by some really smart people, which has lead me to give some thought to what I do with LISNews, LISHost, and all the other stuff in my life.
The LIS triplets (LISNews, LISHost, LISFeeds) take up pretty much all my "free" time. Not that I really have free time any more, they just soak up all the pauses I take between all the other things going on. I have all the usual suburban middle class things to do, plus the added 24/7 responsibilities of LISHost, and I chose to spend some time on LISNews & LISFeeds. A while back I read about someone "unplugging" for a week, and it was then I realized I can never unplug. I can't just leave my computer turned off for a few days if I get sick of it. I suppose this just means I've made choices that have resulted in part time job that can never be ignored. (eek, LISHost is just like my baby!) I suppose could chose to unplug the server tomorrow and just walk away, but I'd have a helluva lotta angry librarians at my door with torches and pitchforks calling my name. LISHost doesn't pay well (just did my taxes last month), but I enjoy it, and I currently have the time it takes to run a small web hosting business. If I ever get overwhelmed with life LISNews will be the first thing I walk away from, but I'm not even thinking about that, yet.
That paragraph may have sounded negative, hopefully it didn't. I think the most important word I've used so far is "choice." I have made these choices, based on all the options I have available to me. I remember having a great conversation with Andrea last year at CIL on the Metro about the choices we made and how it lead us to our chosen profession. I have made these choices, and I stick with what I do because it's, for the most part, enjoyable. I dread getting up in the morning and dragging my ass to work, not because I don't like work, but rather because it's just not really all that enjoyable most days. I never dread going home and checking the email, or spending a few hours doing server work. I really enjoy the support work I do for LISHost, it's more like reference work than you would imagine. There are days I dread LISNews, so I just ignore it, but I have yet to feel that way about LISHost. That being said, LISHost takes up quite a bit of time. Having done my taxes last month I also see that it doesn't pay very well. Since I spend all my time being sysadmin, I have very little time to write, and though I ain't not a good writer, I do enjoy it. I have little time to work on creative projects like LISFeeds. And I have little time to think about cool topics like OPML, Library 2.0, Tag Clouds and Ruby on Rails, and all the other sexy projects I read about on Bloglines and elsewhere. Every time I see someone writing about some cool new project I get a twinge of jealousy. For a few seconds I think about how I want to work on that... and then reality sets in:
I have to update a Drupal install, figure out if mod_security is over blocking, install the new httpd-devel rpm from source, work on getting new hard drives on the server, see if I can figure out if the new logging system is working, think about how I'd ever move email off the server, how do I handle all those new security logs, why isn't that Wordpress plugin working, add a new name to DNS, check the security lists, figure out what function I killed wikis with in the php.ini file, is the server too full?
That list is just my to-do list off the top of my head. I have a written list next to my computer at home about a mile long of things I'll get around to some day, and an inbox waiting for replies. Luckily, I've long since given up on getting everything done, I'll get there though. Letting go of the fear of not getting everything done every day helped me survive this life I've built for myself. I have quite a bit to do on good days, and the bad days just make things a million times worse. Some days I just can't get to everything I feel I should've, but most days I get everything done that needed to be finished that day. Most days I don't feel overwhelmed, I just can't get everything done that I'd like to. I'd love to work on LISFeeds more, I'd love to do more real programming on LISNews, and there's always a million things I can do on LISHost. The most challenging part of LISHost is the constant battles with the bad guys. We're constantly being scanned, probed and attacked. Spammers, hackers, crackers, phishers, script kiddies and the rest are always on the prowl for easy targets. There is no shortage of smart, determined bad people on the internet. Unfortunately, some of them are smarter, more determined and have more time on their hands than I do, so bad things happen. It's no fun (to say the least) feeling like I just let a hundred people down because the server just got cracked.
Much of what I do isn't sexy like Library 2.0 or trendy like OPML or even interesting like Tagging. It's just super arcane geeky minutia that perplexes me some of the time, and might just bore normal people to death. There's nothing I can write about that would impress people, there's nothing to brag about, it's just typical Linux stuff, but I enjoy it. I don't want to make it seem like I'm complaining. All this stuff is still interesting and fun, it's always a challenge, I'm always learning some new trick, and it's all very librarian (really)! I regularly get super interesting and challenging "reference" questions, they just happen to be about computers all the time.
All this has also got me thinking about how I use the web now vs. how I used it a decade ago. Never mind the shock of realizing I've been using web browsers for over a decade now, I think my interaction with the internet has change drastically over the past several years. Specifically, I think I've become an old man. I know I've already come out of the closet as an old coot, but I may be even older and crankier than I first suspected. This past week I paid attention to what I'm actually doing when interacting with my computer, and the 'net, I wanted to see just what I'm spending all, my time doing, how I'm using the amazing technologies we now have. I think I may be in a rut, though I'm not sure it's entirely a bad thing or not.
I generally spend most of my online time focusing on LISNews, LISHost, and a few other sites I'm responsible for. Beyond that my usual haunts include Slashdot, Metafilter, Boingboing, various news sites, and several security sites. I probably visit Google more than any other single site. I check the echo chamber to see what's bouncing around, and that's about it. I never just "surf" any more. I can remember spending hours just looking for new sites and fun things to read.
As much as it feels completely natural and mundane, I am still continually amazed and the things my computer allows me to do, it still all has a sense of wonder for me. Though it's lost much of it's magic, using the web is still a magical experience many days. I can't imagine my life without computers and everything they bring. What the heck did I do with all my time before I had a computer & a baby?