How much is 100?

100 words should not be a hard concept. I mastered counting to 100 at least a decade ago. Yet, I have absolutely no idea whether any of my “100 words” contain 100 words.

WordPress claims they’re all exactly 100 words long (not by intention, honestly). Word disagrees, claiming routine overshooting. It really isn’t that simple.

After all, should 100 be one word? And what about &? Is two-fold one, or two? These are not questions I expected to be asking, but I’m enjoying their idiosyncrasies (so far).

For now, I’ve decided that WordPress is the word count that actually counts. If you see what I mean…

A different WWW

Yesterday, we returned to Dartington Hall for a longer sampling of the myriad topics on offer from Ways With Words. From holocaust miracle babies to disruptive political leaders, our day was wonderfully varied.

I found the differing methods used to convey ideas almost as fascinating as the talks themselves. Alice Robert’s “formal”, university-style lecture – an effective Deep Homology 101 – contrasted immensely with the chaotically informal, poetry infused discussion with Ben Okri that concluded our day.

Yet each utterly fascinated, imbuing a desire for more: more time to read, more time to learn, more time to listen. More time in general, really.

An ounce of hope

On Thursday, I attended a talk from George Monbiot, given at Ways With WordsDartington Hall. I enjoyed it immensely, which isn’t surprising. I’ve been a fan of Monbiot’s pet philosophy, “Rewilding“, since before my age held double digits (before I, or indeed Monbiot , had even heard the term).

Still, his talk not only reinforced my love for rewilding, but also introduced a new favourite ideal: that for environmentalism to succeed, it must promote a future that is more amazing than the present, not just the least worst-case scenario. Because, ultimately, hope outweighs despair as a rallying cry.

Also: charity.

 

The Raw Web Diet

I should probably mention why this site is so, well, bare. Basically, I like the idea of starting with a blank slate, evolving the site over time, allowing it to build itself. I think it’ll be a lot more fun, and interesting, that way.

I’d planned to install “Starkers” by Elliot Jay Stocks, a theme I’ve utilised in the past. Alas, if an up-to-date version exists, I couldn’t find it! For now, “Blank Slate” will do, though honestly I’m not even sure I’ll stick with WordPress in the long run. That’s the joy of a blank slate though: no commitments.

The humanity of it…

I just spent the evening at Bill’s, catching up with good friends over good food (and better beer, despite the confusing nomenclature).

During, we discussed Baz Luhrmann’s divisive Romeo + Juliet. Is the film a brilliant, modern retelling of a classic, or a disjointed mash-up that missed the mark? Personally, I’m strongly “Team Baz”, and Peter Parker gets why. The famous webslinger once argued (Ultimate Marvel Team-up #16 – oh yeah!) that Shakespeare’s greatest trait is that his work can be transposed indefinitely, without change, and still hold up. I think that’s true.

So yes, Spiderman is my authority on Shakespeare. Who knew?

 

A Sisyphean task?

When does play become work? Personally, I definitely empathise with Sisyphus in relation to modern media. Whether it be video games, books, TV or even my RSS feed, as soon as I get close to a finish line something new appears on the horizon and extends the racetrack.

The problem isn’t even about “keeping up with the Jones'” any more; it’s a fundamental lack of time to indulge in personal interests. I guess I have to learn to be even more selective. Or accept that, sometimes, you can’t have it all.

 

Modern day Sisyphus, creates footprints as he mops them up.
“Modern Day” Sisyphus – Author Unknown

Ground rules.

100 words for 100 days: that is my challenge! Well, sort of. In reality, though I like the 100 word restriction, I’m not so sure about it as a goal.

Basically, I see the 100 words akin to the Vlogbrothers‘ 4:01 video limit. No post can be over 100 words, but it also doesn’t have to be 100 words.

So far, I’ve had to edit down each post (significantly), but if I have a thought worth sharing that’s only 99 (or 98, 64 or 25) words long, I don’t want to have to resort to “filler”.

Preferably, these posts should be fast, lean and free – not heavily edited or sweated over.

100 x 100

100 words a day, for 100 days. That’s the challenge that Jeremy Keith has just completed, inspiring my own imitation.

I’ve attempted similar projects in the past: monthly comics, weekly videos, daily Tumblogs. Ultimately each failed. Tumblr came closest to success, for two core reasons:

  1. I cast a wide content net, ensuring inspiration remained plentiful.
  2. The queue.

Life is unpredictable and frequently more enticing. By writing/queuing multiple posts at once, I created buffer zones; I achieved my goals without restricting my life. But, then I moved and the buffer ran out…

Hopefully, by further refining that model, I can complete this challenge.

 

One Small Leap

Yesterday, I implied that this site was ugly by design. See, my retreat from web development wasn’t due to lack of time, nor waning interest. My love of coding, designing and experimenting with the web never dulled nor guttered out.

Instead, it was smothered. Overwhelmed by a quest for perfection; a fear of failure. Any new website had to be visionary, perfectly executed, uniquely my own.  Predictably I failed, instead becoming paralysed. But by starting with the bare minimum – naked, imperfect, raw HTML – I can finally sidestep my mental blockade. I can finally return to the web. I can finally… start.

A Big Deal?

So for the first time in nearly seven years I officially have a website. An extremely ugly website, admittedly, but that is largely by design – honest! Regardless, it’s definitely a website and, crucially, not a Tumblog, Tweetfeed or anything else vaguely “social media” related. Nope, this is just some HTML and CSS that I wrote, on a server I paid for, found via a URL that I decided on.

In a very digital sense, this is real. Somewhere I can do what I want, write what I want, code how I want. I guess that’s kind of a big deal.