Over the past week or two, I've been working on a number of side projects that I've started to realize as a new and interesting project in and of themselves.
The first project is that I've been working on (re)designing a website with/for my friend Scott, who is a composer/voice actor/podcaster type. While he has a lot of HTML skills he's never done any of the--even very elementary--web-programging (a la the PHP code/templates that wordpress uses) that one needs to do to have nifty dynamic websites.
So I've been working with him to use wordpress to build a basic portfolio site and blog. It's a pretty straightforward kind of a site, but you have to know wordpress pretty well to know how to design a theme so that all of the right content ends up in the right place. I've been using wordpress, more or less since the beginning so it's the kind of thing that I'm pretty good at.
The second project has been to design and implement a version of the tychoish.com theme for a new wordpress installation that I can deploy for various members of my family who want to use wordpress as a note taking platform. While I use a wiki (with a blogging plugin) for this task personally, the editing interface for wordpress along with its metadata system (tagging and categories) makes for a really ideal notebook-solution. There are other features like comments for annotations and revision tracking for storing document history that have been really helpful, and make this a really good solution.
And of course the fact that I'm building these sites around wordpress makes a couple of things possible. First, it's open source so we can run these notebooks and portfolio sites on our own (or rented) hardware, and the data is easily exportable into a lot of very useful formats if we ever want to change. Second, the software isn't very resource intensive to run, particularly for lower volume sites like these, so it can run almost anywhere.
The truth is, that the biggest part of both of these projects was talking to the people who would be using the software to figure out what they already did with their existing websites/notebooks, and then figuring out how to do the same thing with the new solution, and finally also learning enough about what they wanted to do to be able to figure out with they might do that they couldn't do before.
I guess that makes me something of a consultant.
Even more wierd is the feeling that I actually like doing this. And I find it ties together a lot of things that I do. My "day-job," does similar sorts of things (for different kinds of "clients" with different sorts of problems), and what I've done thusfar is very much inline with my musings here about open source and productivity, which is kinda cool.
In a weird way, this is very much inline with my initial forays into the web-world which seemed to center around organizing creative types (in the largest sense) on the internet. This was nearly 10 years ago, but the threads are there. That's something that I've realized as I've started new projects and new directions recently: even when I think they're new and novel, I realize that they resonate with things I was working on and thinking about during high school.