Back to Blogging, Elsewhere

I have achieved the dream of every geek: I have become a professional blogger. Well, sort of. In February I was hired as the Assistant Director of the new Program on Law and Technology at Columbia Law School. I’ll be doing a mixture of programming, web design, and administration for … whatever we decide to do. I’ve spent the past two months putting together a new website for the program itself, including a blog covering news of interest in the intersection of law and technology.

Currently I’m the only one writing for the blog. Since I’m not a lawyer myself, I’m mostly limiting myself to linking to news stories and blogs by law professors. But I’m trying to encourage some of the faculty at Columbia to try blogging as well. Hopefully they’ll get excited about it and we’ll have a great new forum for discussing tech law issues.

As you can see, of course, I haven’t had much time to contribute to my own personal blog, but I have a few ideas that I want to write up some time soon.

Ruminations on Planet Lisp

To clarify for some respondants to Voted Off the Planet: As far as I know, the decision to remove my blog from Planet Lisp was not made collectively by readers but solely by the site’s maintainer. As is apparent from comments on the announcement, some people approved of the decision and some did not, but those comments came after it had already been done. The emailed responses I’ve gotten have been uniformly positive — thank you to those people, and to anyone who is still reading.

I was never actually notified either when my blog was added or when it was dropped. I think that’s revealing: I was not being invited into the community, I was being tested. According to one person’s standards, I failed. That in itself does not surprise me. I was not ready for such a large and demanding audience. I only started this blog a few months ago, and I am definitely still feeling my way towards a writing style.

What did surprise me was the viciousness of the criticism, some of it from people who were clearly only skimming my posts anyway. E.g., I was “hassling” Planet Lisp by announcing “UFFI bindings to a C library.” Well, 1) It was CFFI, not UFFI; 2) only half of it is bindings, the rest re-implements bits of the Perl API in Lisp and translates data between the two; and 3) I said it was just for fun.

Or was the idea of embedding Perl code in Common Lisp just too heretical? ;)

But the lesson I can take from all this is that I still have a long way to go. So bear with me, gentle readers, as this page (hopefully) evolves into an interesting and enjoyable discussion.

Voted Off the Planet

So I have been dropped from Planet Lisp, scarcely two months after being added. I wonder if that’s a record of some kind? Apparently, the maintainer found my tone too didactic and my knowledge too lacking. Fair criticisms both, but I meant no harm. I’m certainly not trying to set myself up as a Lisp guru. I’m just trying to learn things, and one of the ways I do that is by writing out explanations as if I’m teaching myself. Publishing them on the web is the fastest way to find out where I’ve made mistakes.

I only started this blog a few months ago, so I’m still exploring the form and what I want to do with it. I won’t let the infamous Common Lisp “community” scare me way just yet. I’ll continue writing, I hope others will continue reading.