Connectedness and Independence

My websites ebb and flow. After 23 years of writing online, I am recognizing recurring patterns.

I am keeping ancient hyperlinks intact. All articles I had published here before 2020 are still available elsewhere, also under the former main domain used at WordPress – elkement.blog. My frustration about other referenced websites’ ever changing and abandoned links ebbs and flows, too.  To strike a balance, I am going to let some links die, like the elkement.wordpress.com URLs of the migrated articles. [Edit: Some weeks later, I change my mind again. Resurrecting and duplicating everything.]

Like living organisms, like seasons, like universes in a crazy cosmological model my websites breathe. Growing bigger, growing more tentacles and connections, categories, FAQs, lists and explanations … then shrinking and withering again to enigmatic and confusing experiments, borderline artistic. I start out with a philosophical-artistic-pseudonymous secret escape in a new corner of the web, then the semi-professional science-y content creeps in. I feel responsibility, I get feedback. Mostly encouraging, partly increasingly tiresome – following the principle I coined The Internet Sharing Paradox: The More Information You Share for Free, The More Requests For Even More Free Information You Get.

Including social networks, all my online stuff oscillates between interaction/connection and the desire to craft my own, very minimalist and decidedly non-interactive and 1990s-style presence on the web. I enjoyed all the features WordPress and its associated de-facto social network gave me. Until it freaks me out so much that I hide in my programmer’s cave. In 2015 I have merged the three old sites, developing my own textfile-based database in .NET, replicating some blog-like features like nice URLs, archives, tag clouds. In 2019, I have crafted a static site generator from scratch, that turned all of our content including the WordPress blogs into one big collection of static HTML sites, trying to tame and codify all the hidden tentacled relations, between “personal” and “company” sites, between “our” German articles and “my” loosely translated English versions of them. One goal has been: No code – not on the server nor the client, no cookies at all, no content from other sites, not even Wikimedia public domain images.

elkement dot wordpress dot com popped up in the middle of my online life. My first website went live in 1997 – created with FrontPage and tested on a so-called Personal Webserver, when I hardly knew what a web server was. My old pages bifurcated a few times, using three different domains, not yet counting the company-only ones and the other project sites “in the family” for whom I was just the webmaster. In 2004 I was ready for a professional change, and these three websites had vibrant lives and designs of their own. I made the change, I re-developed them all in .asp, then content creation ceased. In 2011 I was ready for another change again and signed up on WordPress. In 2012 I emerged at the other end of a worm-hole, and took elkement.wordpress.com blog live. These were the early days of a quirky community of fellow blogger-philosophers and search term poets.

The original title was:

Theory and Practice of Trying to Combine Just Anything

The original tagline was:

Physics versus engineering
off-the-wall geek humor versus existential questions
IT versus the real thing
corporate world’s strangeness versus small business entrepreneur’s microcosmos,
knowledge worker’s connectedness versus striving for independence.

When the site turned into that serious research blog, I changed it to elkemental Force
– Software, Energy, and Anything Between.

The original tagline is still – yet again! – apt. Following the empirically proven pattern, I suppose I am enjoying the virtual blank of sheet of paper again. Where’s the next worm-hole?

5 thoughts on “Connectedness and Independence

  1. When I read your posts on my smart phone I cannot usually sign in to my WP account to leave you likes and comments, so I will try to catch up on the likes. I was quickly over at your website, following it by the link associated with your gravatar. I saw the one in IT Security called “Cyber Something.” It was interesting to see the cyclic nature of those spikes in the searches. Because one of my daughters is going to be studying in a program called cyber security, I wonder if: 1) the language changes are formalized and mainstreamed when educational institutions begin naming courses and certificates accordingly, and 2) if spikes are related to graduation periods and job searches in respective fields?

    For this post, as lock downs began, I was thinking a lot about the WordPress social experience when we were more active as bloggers. It seemed natural to be thinking of returning here, like a reunion, and wondering about everyone. Then your post came up in my reader and made me smile.

    1. Another reader explained the Google cyber spike to me – it correlates with the Cyber Monday online shopping events ;-)

      The term “Cyber Security” still feels a bit alien to me. I have been thinking to update all the mentions of “IT security” in my online profiles. but Cyber Security sounds like a marketing buzzword to me. On the other hand if this is what that is called today you probably need to use the now common term so people understand what you mean – so a dinosaur as myself has to adapt :-). I guess it’s the same with all the learned statisticians that “have to” call them data scientists now.

      I am still working on the perfect interplay of my websites and on my little software :-) I better do not make any grand announcements anymore, but I guess this place here (wordpress) will change again and again.

  2. Good post; welcome back!

    I share much of this story, from the very first emergence of the web and self-publishing. I only have memories of my first content, some of which would have been museum worthy. Overall, it’s a graveyard of broken links, abandoned websites and content lost in the deep dark maze of hard drives on computers long discarded. Knowing my inability to maintain such material orderly, over the years I have printed the most import stuff which is kept in a cardboard box, to be sorted in a distant future. Or not.

    Your online history and mission to maintain is amazing to me. If only I had done so!!!

    I’ve been waiting since the start of the lockdown to find my wormhole and last week I found it… I started my second novel! The first was unpublishable without some serious editing which I couldn’t face. But this one might the one I can put out there. Feeling much better for having found my lockdown wormhole to be free again.

    Take care Elkement.

    1. You writing a novel – this is just so logical and expected! I think even essays from your blog could already be published as a book! Good luck and a lot of motivation!

      Oh those broken links (of sites run by others) … you cannot imagine how much work I put into correcting them over and over! In the end, I nearly replaced every external link on my old articles by its archive.org counterpart, or I re-wrote paragraphs and used other references. Not only because of my perfectionism but also to protect readers from malware – seen that too often that recently abandoned websites had been taken over. Maybe the most important reason I do not let go of my bunch of domains that now all point to the same site …

      As you might have guessed, I may also see my personal worm-hole already … something I had seriously considered in the past months before Coronavirus. But here I try to break a pattern of mine: In the past I had often announced changes and new projects before they were due, maybe also to motivate myself further and hold myself accountable. Now I’ll maybe so something more stealthily and less publicly …

      1. I’ve done that, announce something to the world and as a motivation. Sometimes it worked. But sometimes I knew it wouldn’t be enough.

        I’m sure that lockdown wormholes have staying power. There isn’t enough distraction for then to be frivolous. So I will write and you will …

        Enjoy and be happy

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