I tend to use footnotes on a regular basis when they are presented as an option. I find them to be rather useful to further flesh out my ideas without letting the main body of writing go too far off track. After all that is their purpose. I consistently struggled in K-12 to concisely communicate my ideas, mostly because I always felt like the reader needed additional context.
The other reason why I find them useful is because it allows readers to self-select how much of my writing and thought process they want to involve themselves in. Just curious about what I'm up to? Don't worry about reading anything beyond the body. Interested further? Sure read on. As such, they offer a fork in the road to readers where they can choose what is right for them. When I have footnotes, I am able to add more of my personality to my writing which I am all for.
At some point it would be an interesting experiment to allow people to "inline" my footnotes while reading if they were interested in that, or just leave them at the end for folks who aren't.
The Yamhill County Transit website homepage (https://ycbus.org/) takes over 5 seconds to start displaying something on the page. This seems crazy to me, given that it is a WordPress website serving static content. A WordPress website I manage and host takes less than a second to fully load on a bad day.
It is well documented how important having a reasonably fast web presence with up-to-date information is. I continue to wonder why it is so difficult for small government sites serving effectively static content to hit these marks.
I think about how expensive it would be for me to build out the infrastructure to host such a site, and it makes me start to question the exorbitantly expensive consulting services most governments currently use. If I only had more time, I would totally start a business to just do it better than the current systems. HealthCare.gov had at least some reason to struggle (it was a complex system), but static website hosting should be very straightforward by this point.
Two months in, I think this concept of "shorts" appears to be going well. I have posted less than I originally intended to, but I still think my rate is acceptable. This has also shown to be a great way to stop myself from saying stupid stuff. If I have a sudden eureka moment, instead of sharing it with someone or saying something stupid, I'll end up writing it here. Most of the time I write maybe a sentence before I realize that my thinking was flawed in some way or that it doesn't make any sense to post. Helpful in may ways.
Anyway, I'm excited to continue writing short thoughts!
I just watched Alan Alda's interview about a year ago on Stephen Colbert and it made me realize just how much I appreciate people who communicate well. Ever since I was young, I was drawn towards people who could effectively communicate with an audience.
I'm not entirely sure where this value came from in my life, but it is part of the reason why I am so drawn to performers in any medium. TV, film, theatre, music, you name it, I'm interested. Being able to communicate their feelings and intent dynamically to an audience requires critical communication skills.
*start rant* This is also the reason why short-form content isn't as appealing to me. There isn't enough time to effectively communicate something with nuance or strong emotion without leaving something out. If it's a fictional story, it would be better served by at least several minutes of video. If it is non-fiction, then a brief article or more than 60 second continuous video is simple a better medium. *end rant*
One of the other reasons why I value communication skills is because they are something that I sometimes feel like I lack. I suck at small talk and casual conversation, components of interaction that are critical to practical communication. And when it gets to technical topics, I'm often unnecessarily verbose.
Succinct, powerful communication is something I place high value on because of how impactful it can be at making a difference.
On the OSU campus, and across the nation, therapy services are under-provisioned to meet the needs of their constituents. There are several online services attempting to bridge that gap, but never the less the gap remains. The reasons for this gap are complex and I won't talk about them for now. I'm currently taking a single credit CPR/First Aid course in my last term at OSU which made me start to think. I now know CPR and other life saving techniques until more qualified professionals can get to the scene. What if the same sort of thing existed for mental health?
Having someone who knows basic first aid is valuable even if they aren't actively treating a wound, their presence and state of mind alone can be very helpful. I imagine the same thing would apply for mental health. If someone is starting to struggle, then someone applying basic mental health techniques in a low-risk fashion could be vastly beneficial for general well-being. They couldn't be the end of the chain of care, but they could at least provide a helpful start. "Mental Health First Aid" (https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/) already exists, and though I haven't fully vetted it, I imagine it could have significant impact to well-being if widely deployed.
Essentially, I wish schools and other places had a required curriculum of "common care" (to add on to "common core") which provided at least a bit of education on physical and mental first aid. The knowledge a single course could provide would be life-saving.
The following is a vast oversimplification, but an interesting concept:
A great deal of programming content I learn doesn't have wide applicability to day to day life. Golang's garbage collector improvements that came in 1.19 don't help my social skills at all.
If my degree was in a liberal arts subject (and thus the classes I'm taking would follow), I wonder how much stronger my social(/soft) skills "muscle" would be. Or, is it because my social skills are so weak that I chose to enter a major that developed my technical skills instead.
My exposure to non-programming related courses and content continues to demonstrate that improving my soft skills helps my social skills develop, and I'm also finding improvements to my technical skills.
I'm finding more and more freedom by breaking from the nerdy computer guy archetype and taking on other challenges.
"Learn from your elders" is a common phrase. When people are growing up, all of their teachers are older than them. Sure there might be a time on the playground where Janice taught the rest of the class how to play soccer but generally when people are under, let's say, 10 years old, they learn from their elders.
Then there is the transition from 10 to 22-ish. Suddenly, the 13-year-old might know something the 15-year-old doesn't.
By the time most people reach 22 or so, the focus on age goes away. Mostly because the difference between a 21 and a 22 year old is minimal and very different than the difference between the ages of seven and eight.
I feel like I've reached this point. I am starting to focus more on what experience a person has instead of their age. Especially when it comes to the career path I've chosen, age is a pretty bad indicator for talent. The people I look up to range from those in retirement, to those younger than me.
I haven't hit it yet, but I'll be curious at what age I'm learning just as much from those younger than me as those that are older than me. Maybe in my early thirties?
A dream tool for me would be a graph of indicators (like percentage of population going to pre-K, average road maintenance cost or any other indicator for society at large) where I could set relationships between them and see the impacts as they change.
My long-range problem-solving mind works best when I don't have to keep all of the things I need to be aware of in memory, but I am reminded of them if they get too out of wack. If I had an impact graph of sorts, it would let me quickly iterate and experiment with different changes or policies without having to do so in the real world which would take much longer. Additionally, as I found new indicators, I could add these and they would retroactively apply to previous experiments.
As soon as something is used as an indicator, it is no longer a valid indicator (much more likely to be gamed or otherwise abused). However I feel being able to privately and quickly test out the impact of a change among a set of mostly useful indicators is able to offset the decrease in quality.