I spent a lot of time this summer working with colleagues on designing new websites for the LSC and Langscape (new versions go live in Sept). This made it clear that my own home on the internet had become painfully primitive. I was ahead of the curve when I built my first website around 1995, but the roll-your-own HTML that I learned back then is terribly inefficient nowadays. So it was time for an extreme makeover.
This isn’t simply about graphical styling or vanity. Let’s face it, we read differently these days. You’re busy, you have instant access to many more interesting things than reading my papers. (It’s ok, I’m not up-to-date with yours either.) And even if you did read some of my papers, that wouldn’t tell you the story of how they fit together. A personal site provides a rare opportunity to explain what we do, or what we are trying to do, or what we value. Long-form publications don’t do that, and CVs are soulless. For example, where else do I get to talk about the fabulous people who I’ve been lucky to work with, and how they have shaped me? Putting together this site was both harder and more useful than I had expected, because it forced me to figure out how the pieces fit together. I had not done that before. And I realized that although this site isn’t a “reportable” CV item, it’s far more likely that you’ll learn about what I do from this than from any of the dry papers that I post here.
In case you care: the site is built using WordPress (free), plus the Divi 2.0 theme from Elegant Themes ($69), and free plugins from Redirection (boring but useful), teachPress (for papers: excellent), and MaxGalleria (jury’s out – it’s causing headaches). It was fun to work out how to put it together, as a summer evening hobby. Thanks are due to Ilia Kurenkov, for encouragement, for discussion, for some crucial technical hand-holding, and for pushing me to put my toes into the blogosphere. I was already creating bloggy content, but it was hidden in emails or presentations to tiny audiences. And also thanks to Julia Buffinton, for valuable help in the home straight.