Sometime last autumn, I got the itch for change. As is typical for me, the itch was preceded by a rethink of my PIO, short for Personal Identity Online. It’s good to periodically reassess your PIO, especially when changes to your goals, your practices, and your tools crop up. In my case, each of these was relevant. The result of the change was a shift in technology (a move from Drupal to WordPress for my main website) and an integration of apparently disparate components in my PIO.
Although I had a number of reasons for switching to WordPress, none of them were problems with Drupal. I continue to believe that Drupal is one of the best solutions for building a robust web presence. I still manage a couple of Drupal sites. And if I was tasked with building something more demanding than a small personal website, I’d turn to Drupal first.
Back in 2007 (which feels like a long time ago even to me), I needed a solution for a small frontispiece website. I’ve got a modest communications consultancy and I really only needed for people to be able to find me easily so that we could work together. Some years before that I had started a blog on Google’s blogging site. There I mostly blogged about technology and open source matters, both of which were relevant to my work at the time. I wanted to continue with that blog but draw the feed into my frontispiece website in order to make the content easily available there as well. Drupal handled these tasks gracefully. Plus using Drupal, despite the steep learning curve, gave me access to web management skills that I could deploy elsewhere. It wasn’t long before I had a number of Drupal sites that I was helping to build and maintain.
Time passes and we change. Most of that change is just getting older. But some of it involves new interests and new activities. Here are some of my changes: After 2009 I started writing fiction in a more serious way than I had previously. I also started reading fiction more seriously and, given some recent experience working with exceptionally cool librarians, I wanted to have a simple way to catalogue my reading. So I joined LibraryThing. I also wanted a venue for writing short pieces that weren’t fiction but were often about literature. At the time I didn’t know where that would lead, so I didn’t want to simply co-opt my technology blog. The easiest solution was to set up a new blog nested inside my main web domain, but without any strong connection between them. That was the beginning of the Transformative Explications blog. In 2011 I joined a group on LibraryThing called the 75 Books Challenge. (You’d be surprised at the number of people out there who read more than 75 books each year.) Part of the standard practice of that group is to write a brief review of each book that you read. Starting in 2012 I took on that practice. And that became a fun project in itself (I’ve written more than 175 reviews now). Eventually I decided that some of those reviews might easily find a home on my Transformative Explications blog. They did. Then the last motivator for change came from attending a writers’ conference at which self-identification, as a writer, was recommended. So there you have it. There’d been a change in practices, the tools that I used, and, as I began to realize, in my goals. Definitely time for a rethink of my PIO.
The fun thing about communications rethinks is that by the time you realize that they are necessary, they practically run themselves.
It was clear by late 2013 that my principal blog was actually Transformative Explications. Moreover, I was spending the vast majority of my free time reading, writing, and thinking about short stories and novels. Yet my PIO masked this. Having established a modest, if mostly hidden, identity as a reviewer and writer on Transformative Explications, it seemed the simplest thing would be to use that as the basis for a revamped web presence. This would mean that a blog would be the main component of my website. And that meant that I might as well move to a platform that was principally built on the blog model, thus WordPress.
So much for the decision about technology. It wasn’t that hard at all.
There is more involved, of course, in rethinking one’s PIO. I no longer wanted to bifurcate my PIO between my interests in technology and my aspirations as a writer. I’d need integration. And that meant merging my blogs together. But it also meant accepting that these apparently divergent interests could be encompassed in one integrated identity. And that’s why the revised version of Transformative Explications covers all of my interests. I also decided at that time to finally start using Twitter, but again with a unified PIO. I am a writer who also thinks seriously about technology and openness.
One last question remained. Having thought through a revision of my PIO and the consequent choices that afforded for a different web platform, would there be any useful transfer for others? The short answer is, yes. I’ve added a WordPress client site to my communications portfolio.