Over a period of
almost 3 more than 9 years, I (BMcC)
have put well over 1,000 3,000 hours into working on this website.
To what purpose and use? What value has accrued from the effort? I think these are
important questions to ask about anything one does. From a personal
perspective, it seems especially important to ask these questions about things into
which one puts a substantial number of the hours of one's always
too-short lifetime. From a societal perspective, it seems
especially important to ask these questions about hi tech activities, since
a key purpose and outcome of technological development ("progress") should be to free up persons' time,
not to use it up.
These questions started to "bother" me for the easy-to guess-reason that I began having doubts about the value of having put so much time into this activity. Especially: Doubts about the value of continuing to put more time into it. Are there ways I can make doing this worthwhile: more worthwhile than the other things which thus do not get done (reading -- serious engagement with books -- is one activity from which I find working on this website takes time away)? Are there ways I can continue to get value out of the results of the time I have already put in? What can I do to feel with good warrant that the time has been well spent -- that I have not just "put", but worthily invested my time developing and continuing further to develop (and maintain...) this website?
One obvious use of the text and images I have already placed here is as "added material" for email I write to persons ("For further information about [whatever], see [whatever page] on my web site..."). I also hope persons will continue to find things of value and use here, e.g., by getting "hits" on my site in response to Google, Altavista and other "search engine" queries.... That I get pleasure from the activity is a consideration, but I find I cannot fully enjoy anything that uses up significant time or other resources without producing value for others as well as for myself. --In The Human Condition, Hannah Arendt noted that, for the classical Greeks, anything that was merely private was by its nature: deprived.
I have just begun to work on this page (18 Oct 98); I play [that's a typo: I meant to type: "plan", but maybe the "error" is significant...] to elaborate these thoughts over the coming months -- a process which, I hope, will unfold in dialog with others (including, yourself?) --as of 29 Mar 06, it so far has not. I hope you will check back to see how my thoughts progress, and whether they have anything to say to others (perhaps including to yourself?)
Curiously, as of late March 2006, I have unexpectedly come to feel that this website is finally "complete", after unexpectedly receiving a picture of the IBM "How to Stuff a Wild Duck" poster, which I had been looking for -- for years. Adding that one item seems to have brought a sense of closure to the site. Lots of stuff can still be added, but, after adding the "wild duck", I feel that it's "basically" a complete whole (mature?). Getting the "wild duck" was a big -- and entirely unanticipated after so many years of not finding the poster -- step in this work, a big "piece of the puzzle"....
One thing to note: I rarely delete anything from this website. Thus there are things here that are outdated, and which I would not do the same way if I was re-doing afresh. Perhaps it is conceited, but I consider these "fossils" to be archeological sedimentation. In that way they may have value other than as directly addressing [failing to address...] present concerns. --As for starting afresh, I think the only way this site has grown so large -- and hopefully and far more importantly: so deep --, is that I did not undertake to make anything so big, and thus I was not discouraged from making small steps that have turned out in retrospect to be steps in such a long journey. Crescit eundo.