After a much-needed holiday break, I’m back–and finally sat down to brainstorm projects. People who actually code keep asking me if I have any personal projects, and when I say “no,” they really pause. I completely understand; if someone were trying to become a book publisher and wasn’t currently reading anything, I’d be a little concerned, too.
But I’ve been nervous about starting a project, partly because I want to make a Beautiful project, with sexy graphics and an intuitive UI. I want to be proud to show it to people, and when they see it, I want people to say, “Wow! How useful and attractive!”
I’ve finally realized, though, that it’s just like a term paper: you can’t start with your conclusions, because you don’t know anything yet. You have to flounder around for a topic, because some (“Hinduism and Buddhism: A Comparison”) are entirely too broad, some (“Religious References in Ender’s Game“) aren’t sturdy enough for serious application, and after throwing out maybe a dozen potential topics, you’ve learned enough to choose a sufficiently narrow but interesting topic (“The Role of Feet in Christian, Buddhist, and Hindu Traditions”).*
And my personal projects will be like that, with false starts (I get HTML in theory, but in practice, how do I set up a website?) and wrong turns (I want the form to auto-generate a mad-lib style description, but people don’t like being told what verb tense to use over and over) and hours of digging through references. But at the end of it, I’ll have acquired some new skills!
I’m excited, really, to break my coding out of the box. Outside of my obsession with clearly named methods and variables, I’ve never made a user interface. I’ve never made something for other people to use that didn’t have a series of instructions (“First enable macros, then log in to retrieve your report, save it there, then click this big button….”)
My real dream, right now, is to develop language software for mobile devices, because mobile devices are the future and languages are hot. Especially when your device knows where you are and can adjust accordingly! But first, I will figure out HTML forms, then AJAX forms (still want something pretty), and then I get to figure out how to store all my new data. Woo-hoo!
*Yes, this is an actual list of topics I considered for my Intro to World Religions class.