Applying to be a part of a Recurse Center (RC) retreat/batch was high on my to-do list for my personal sabbatical this year. I finally applied in early August and participated in two rounds of interviews, which, I thought, went swimmingly. I was shocked to be summarily turned down the following day. The interviewers were very nice to me, and though I wish I could learn the reasons for why I was rejected, I know that I will never know. I tell myself that accumulating a pile of rejection letters is a telltale sign of my actually trying to accomplish the bigger goals in life. I hope that the next time I get a NO that I will indeed be able to take it less personally.
As the Recurse batch for which I applied starts today, I express my gratitude for the Recurse Center. The process of applying to RC, of forcing myself to write down what I want to do and why, was the hard work that I needed. I even told the interviewers (a blunder?) that I was going to work on the project I described in my application regardless of whether I got into RC or not. I recognize that because I'm not in RC, I need to create my own support structures that will buoy me this fall.
So today, I'm kicking off my 12 week sprint, which I code-name "MyInfoCamp" or "MyInfoCamp23" -- for good or bad, I've taken to giving names to my projects (and electronic devices). I'm devoting (roughly six hours each weekday) for the next 12 weeks to work publicly on "MyInfoNet", which I described in my RC proposal.
MyInfoNet is my early-stage project for developing software services to simplify individual-level information, data, and knowledge integration. It seeks to apply enterprise integration principles, such as those found in Apache ServiceMix, to personal information management and small-scale IT solutions. The challenge lies in leveraging the robustness of enterprise integration without introducing undue complexity.
Because the clipboard and web browser are key hubs of information and data exchange, I will create two exploratory prototypes:
MyInfoNet-Clipboard: I'm developing this scriptable clipboard manager to streamline the exchange of text-based data across applications and platforms. Currently, it's a Python script that uses Pandoc for markdown and HTML conversion on the system clipboard. I plan to enhance it into a professional-looking, macOS desktop app that can be controlled via AppleScript and features relevant Shortcuts. Initially, it will handle markdown, HTML, and rich text before progressing to images.
MyInfoNet-Browser: This web browser controller automates, scripts, and scrapes web interactions. It's currently a Jupyter widget that lists open Google Chrome tabs and allows selective focusing or closing. I envisioin this as a tool to simplify and automate web-based information gathering and integration into a user's knowledge base.
There's a lot to unpack in what I compressed into my description of MyInfoNet -- that's a big part of what I will do during MyInfoCamp. My answer to the question "What do you want to be doing in two years?" in my RC application should provide some larger context to MyInfoNet:
I've carved out this calendar year as a self-funded personal sabbatical to reboot my life personally and professionally. In two years, I would like to be writing software to support my work as a consultant or entrepreneur, while still finding time to scratch my own itch. I would like to see where wholeheartedly designing, prototyping, and building MyInfoNet (which had its genesis about twenty years ago) will take me.
I'd love to see a practical path for generating sufficient revenue out of services or products that flow out of MyInfoNet. I'm prepared for MyInfoNet to continue only as my passion project. I'm currently exploring which of the fields that I've worked in to prioritize: academic research data, publishing, data engineering for small and medium businesses, services and products for older adults, and disaster preparedness, among others. Returning to the University of California system is also a live option for me, as someone who is just short of 10 years of service credit in the system.
In all cases, I'm hoping that the time I spend at the Recurse Retreat will allow me to consciously and deliberately improve my craft so that in two years, the scale and skill level at which I'll be operating will more closely match the ambition of what I imagine in, say, MyInfoNet.