Leapdragon 2016 - Aron Hsiao Was Here

A decade later, Leapdragon.net draws to a close  §

It's been 10 years, 2 months, and 27 days since the November afternoon in 1999 when I made my first online diary post at Leapdragon.net, which I didn't yet realize would become my longtime personal website. Since then I've published a small pile of books, earned a small pile of undergraduate and graduate degrees, lived in a small pile of places around the country, become a Ph.D. candidate, married a wonderful woman, held a variety of jobs, and basically grown up.

Not that too many people ever read my blog or anything like that. It's been a personal project, literally my diary/journal, a space where I kept track of myself and my thoughts and where at any given moment somewhere between zero and a handful of other people periodically stopped to check in on me, to see what I was up to and what I was thinking.

But it was really just my journal. And with my life becoming ever more a professional one, it was time for my journal to evolve.

The problem was this: I am becoming an academic. I need to keep an academic journal as well as a personal journal. Yet my personal thoughts often bleed into academic thoughts these days. Furthermore, I need to keep current files on my projects, and lists of resources in my files. And this are often indistinguishable from or connected to the aforementioned academic thoughts, which share the same relationship with my personal thoughts.

Personal Journal <-> Academic Journal <-> Activity Log <-> Files/Resources

Tricky, from a data management perspective. They all bleed into each other, have different core structures, and it was getting really difficult to figure out what ought to go where. Often my "files" would end up including what ought to have been blog posts at Leapdragon.net. Meanwhile, my blog posts would wax so academic that no-one would want to read them, yet these thoughts would be lost to my files, caught somewhere in the web of the web, which has been the only way for me to record thoughts and ideas when away from home.

At the same time, as I attempt to grow into professional life, I've found that I need to maintain a more professional web presence. So I opened AA-Hsiao.net (this domain), whose front page is a kind of resume and CV profile site to which I can send colleagues, students, and employers.

I was keeping my life data (which included a variety of data ranging from the personal to the professional) in a pile of different places: folders of varied data on my own Linux system, posts and thoughts and ideas at Leapdragon.net, all of these plus resources as well in another "academc journal" filing habit and system, and the AA-Hsiao profile site. And I was loathe to try to use some third-party "cloud" system that (a) I didn't design myself and (b) I didn't have total control over, especially in terms of the ability to back up and store my own data.

There was a lot of duplication, a lot of confusion, and a lot of unneeded, left-over complexity.

The solution was and is to consolidate. So as of today, Leapdragon.net is over (though it'll remain online just for historical purposes). The academic profile has moved to AA-Hsiao.net where there is now also a new "blog" called Leapdragon § Academe (this thing you are reading right now), which looks the same to the outside world (like a blog), but which under the hood (i.e. for me) is a vastly different system.

Unlike my other "blogs," Leapdragon § Academe is a fairly deeply specified relational database that holds my ideas, projects, courses, files, research, reading resources, index of books, funding sources, online bookmarks, and a bunch of other things that are tagged in a semantically powerful and interrelated way. It is my professional workspace and system, now hosted on an unlimited storage/unlimited bandwidth account. It currently already has records numbering in the thousands.

Like my previous blogs, however, 

Leapdragon § Academe can also be used to communicate with those few family and friends that want to drop by every now and then and see what I'm up to.

From now on, whenever I am logged into my database at AA-Hsiao.net and mark something as "public," it will appear for the rest of you on the Leapdragon § Academe blog (right here), as well as in my academic resources, since they are now one and the same system.

Meanwhile, everything I "post" publicly is also entered into and contextualized within my single, unified semantic world of files and resources.

In short, my personal journal, academic journal, and "files" have been married into a single, web-based system that allows me both privacy and publicity, connects to other online resources, and can be accessed from wherever I happen to be in need of note-taking facilities or of access to my records.

It's all based, for those who happen to be interested, on Drupal and MySQL, and is hosted at 101sitehosting.com, who I've been with for a very long time now and who are inexpensive, responsive, and reasonably robust for my purposes.

I am a bit sad to see the end of Leapdragon.net, I have to admit. It is a domain that has served me well and been my online identity for fully a third of my life. Others have in fact come to identify me with it and I've already heard several cries of "Noooooo!"

But all good things must end if new good things are to arrive.

And AA-Hsiao.net and Leapdragon § Academe will hopefully quickly acquit themselves as good things for me, for my academic career, for (by extension) my state of mind and organization, and (by further extension) for everyone that knows, relies on, or is interested in keeping in touch with or abreast of me in this thing called life.

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