qzhuyan responds to me tweeting Emacs on PocketCHIP.

Which is, er, very true. And wonderful.

But this haunts me continuously, as I explore the Mind Traffic Geometry of tools that support me tracking tasks and outlining ideas.

Will I one day end up simply falling into Emacs Org Mode? Isn’t that basically everything I really want?

Am I wasting my time with quixotic effort of writing my own software for this stuff when I could be writing something newer and more important?

Another thing that’s pushing me to think about this : this week I’ve been playing with Faust. A wonderful language for writing signal processing networks (ie. synthesizers, audio FX etc.) that compiles to multiple back-ends … including PureData, Supercollider, VST plugins and stand-alone programs.

It’s basically where I imagined Gates of Dawn eventually going.

But rather than a Python library, its a very nice “little-language”, with great operators for describing composition of data-flow blocks. It’s well developed and supported. I’m trying it out for writing small synths / FX units I can run on small boards like CHIP and Raspberry Pi.

I can see myself doing a lot with this. But it’s basically going to kill Gates of Dawn. Maybe there’s room for a Python library for those who don’t want to learn Faust. But for me, Faust is looking extremely viable.

So … another wasted project?

Perhaps I need to look at this positively. I’m not old. But I’m not as young as I used to be. I don’t have so many projects left ahead that I can afford to squander them. Perhaps its time to pivot. Time for a cull. A “spring-clean”. To remove some more cruft projects that occupy too much of my mind, but are actually just weak “me-too” versions of existing things that I would use perfectly happily if I made the effort to learn them. Enough with the Not Invented Here syndrome.

I’m not saying that OWL or MTC are going anywhere yet. I use them, and they work for me. And they are DIFFERENT from OrgMode, or todo.txt or any similar thing out there. They are what I want.

But I need to embrace this change. There are so many exciting NEW opportunities, there’s no point getting hung up on the old stuff.

Dawn is over. For me it’s 2PM. And there’s plenty of work to be done.

Today I killed the old Mind Traffic Control on Google App Engine. And replaced it with a new, fairly basic, site. (Though one that’s quite pretty, in a Packt Publishing kind of way.)

This is the beginning of a whole new MTC ecosystem.

1) I’m no longer interested in hosting your todos on Google App Engine. The only functionality that’s left on the site is the “export”. You can get the tasks you put into the old MTC in one of .txt, .csv or .opml formats.

.txt means you can use either an ordinary text editor, todo.txt or the new command-line based mtc program on your own machine.

.csv means you can use a spreadsheet if you prefer

.opml can be read into an outliner such as OWL.

2) The site has a new mission. Right now, it’s simply pointing visitors to the two pieces of software that I use to manage my todos and information : MTC command-line (in Racket) and OWL (in its three different versions : desktop, Android and web-served).

These are currently all simply source-code, hosted on GitHub. (Both MTC-racket and OWL are free-software, under the GPL).

It’s a geek view. But going forward, I’m going to be preparing, packaging and documenting these for actual users.

3) Right now, I still don’t know the relationship between MTC and OWL. They’re different programs, with different “mind traffic geometry”, in different languages. But I use both and I’m constantly musing about how they can and should interact.

The only thing which is clear to me at the moment, is that they should be brought together under the common Mind Traffic Control “brand”. As a statement of intent.

The question of 2014 is getting resolved.

4) “What about Project ThoughtStorms?”, you ask.

Well, I tend to think of “Project ThoughtStorms” as the developers’ view on my knowledge management / personal productivity software. While “Mind Traffic Control” is the user perspective.

There’s more to it than that. Project ThoughtStorms covers my experiments and add-ons to the Smallest Federated Wiki and thinking about wiki in general. MTC heavily emphasizes the dynamic flow of tasks. But that’s the broadest overview.

In practice I’ll continue to refer to MTC-racket and OWL within the contexts of both Mind Traffic Control and Project ThoughtStorms.

5) I am VERY happy to be deleting code. And collapsing several different overlapping ideas and codebases into … er … fewer. It’s a therapeutic decluttering that’s clearing space in my mind, and helping me focus and drive the surviving projects forward faster. It’s good.

But there is just a slight twinge of sadness. As I realize that this is a mile-stone in letting go of Python, a language I had a long and passionate engagement with. Both the old MTC code-base AND the server-side PageStore of OWL are Python.

But since porting OWL to Electron I can see that its future is very much in the Javascript (node / CoffeeScript) camp. Meanwhile the new MTC codebase is in Racket. And my latest quick conversion script persuades me that Racket is a good language for other small-scale tools. I have about a dozen of them in Python. But I’m pretty sure that new development in these areas will almost certainly be Lisp. (Racket or Clojure).

(Actually there is a project that’s still in Python where you’ll see some further development soon … but I’ll leave that to another post.)

I’m starting to immerse myself more in the Racket world these days. And recently, I’ve had more troubles with my server and WordPress blogs. So I’m looking into Greg Hendershott‘s Frog (Frozen Blog) to see if this would be useful.

I’m thinking of porting some of my lower-traffic, not very visually sophisticated, blogs to it. So … first step, a quick and dirty wordpress-to-frog script.

It’s a hack and there are caveats. But it more or less worked. After a bit of tidying, expect to see some of my online blogging move to Frog.

OK. At this point I’m now officially confused by the Dave Winer road-map / strategy.

I’m sure it’s evolving and exploratory. But Dave’s productivity means that I’m no longer keeping up with how this is meant to go down.

So we had an outliner. (Fargo). And then an open-sourced version of the editor (Yay! Concord). Dave got the religion of “Unhosted” apps. running entirely in the browser and using various back-end storage. (Cool). Although he has a node server for that too.

Meanwhile, there’s a radio3 which is … what? … blogging software? an RSS generator? based on the outliner? And river4 which is an RSS reader. Or is it radio4 and river3?

And now there’s a MyWord which looked like a way to format long-form essays to make an open competitor to Medium. And Little Pork Chop to cut long stories down to Tweet-size chunks to post on Twitter.

But MyWord is also meant to post to Twitter. (I think)

And now MyWord also seems to be blogging software. (Following the path of Medium?) But when I asked about how the outline editor would connect to it, Dave said he wasn’t thinking about it. Instead MyWord is gaining an ordinary in-browser text editor. But it’s also getting a “front page” which shows an ordered list of posts … pulled from an RSS feed.

Dave’s own blog seems to be outline based. There’s a liveblog version for “narrating his work” that basically IS in an outline. But MyWord seems to be going off in a different direction.

So what’s actually going on here? Are these all pieces of a single jigsaw puzzle that can be put together to make a comprehensive whole (a version of Radio Userland as a swarm of Unhosted apps)? Or is Dave running a bunch of experiments in parallel, pursuing an outliner-first strategy on the one hand, and chasing Medium and Twitter on the other?