upcoming changes — roadmap and rationale

Over the coming months, I plan to make a number of changes to the way my family and I connect with the world. The first change will be to our email server. Last spring, we quit using our Google accounts for anything except access to Google’s Android application store. I moved all our email, contacts and calendar to a server “in the cloud” that I administer myself. That’s been a successful experiment, and I’m ready to move it into the next phase: Bringing that server down out of cloud and under my physical control at home. It’ll save us a few dollars, too, and that’s always welcome.

In addition to bringing the mailserver home, I will be merging my online personae. For a number of years, I’ve maintained a public/private persona split. I’ll begin bringing those together in coming weeks, and eventually all of my email and blogging will move to The Melton Plantation. That merge is as much about consistency and values as it is about simplicity. It’s time everyone who finds me online sees the same picture, for better or worse. I’ll also be closing down Kristina’s eponymous site, moving her email and blog to The Melton Plantation.

These moves will, among other things, allow me to continue teaching myself a few new things. I like server administration, and this is going to be a good stretch for me in that respect. I have no experience in building, launching or maintaining personal websites, and I plan to move our blogs off free hosted services (Tumblr and Posterous) to self-hosted solutions. This will give me an opportunity to work with a number of different blogging platforms. My reasoning for consolidating our domains, then, is in part to keep the task manageable. It will also save us some money. Just as I don’t need compartmentalized sharing, having come to realize it’s inconsistent with my other values; I don’t need vanity link-shortening. And so the five domains we now own will point to one for a time, after which four of them will revert to ownership by others.

At the same time, I’ll be closing my Twitter accounts, moving to an account at App.net. There are few people with whom I regularly interact only on Twitter, and all of you know how to find me elsewhere. I’ll not go into great detail here about that change. That may best be served by a post of its own, but those of you who know something about my philosophies on technology, privacy and the internet won’t need much of an explanation. The rest of you will be utterly and irreparably confused. [waves at Mom] There are precious few of my close friends and acquaintances who both understand and agree with my positions, so I’ll not waste our time pontificating. My App.net username will likely be changing during this transition, as well, but I doubt that will matter to many of you. If you want to find me there, suffice it to say it’ll be linked from my blog. Kristina will, as far as I know, be keeping her Facebook and Twitter accounts live.

I also expect I’ll be implementing significant changes to my mobile connectivity over the coming months. Once the transition is complete, I won’t be checking email, IM or whatever-else while I’m out, and I probably won’t respond to text messages. That will most likely mean you’ll need to pick up the phone, dial my number, and talk to me live if you want to get in touch with me right away. I’m out of contract on our cellphone plan, so it’s a good time for me to consider other options. I don’t need constant connectivity; I probably never did. In fact, I’m not convinced it’s healthy for any of us, but that’s another rabbit trail I won’t chase just yet. I’ve talked about moving to a no-contract pay-as-you-go service with a top-end smartphone — and I may yet do that — but it’s looking less likely by the day. It would be simpler, of course, if I kept the phone number I’ve had for nearly 11 years. But that has its own philosophical and practical implications. So my number is likely to also change as part of this process. In fact, I may eventually take a cue from a friend on App.net, and eschew myself of a mobile phone altogether, in favor of a portable HAM radio. I recognize many of the limitations and complications of taking a step like that, and I understand there are probably issues I’ve yet to consider, so it’s not a move I’ll make lightly. Kristina will — again, as far as I know — be keeping her mobile phone and number. As with the internet-based changes, my motivations here orbit primarily around simplicity and economics. There are deeper philosophical motivations, perhaps, but those aren’t well-formed enough to yet be put into words, so I’ll leave them for now to percolate.

I’m still mapping out some of this in my head, and since a good bit of this is new territory, I’ll be taking it slowly. It may be an ugly, frustrating process, during which I expect to curse a great deal, either publicly or privately. So it is with new endeavors, valuable as they may be. I’m posting this everywhere in hopes that no one will worry or get left behind. I may take as little as three months to get all the server work done, but I’d say it’s more likely to take me six. The unused domains will probably (hopefully?) redirect until November-ish, when they’ll revert to other owners. The Posterous and Tumblr blogs may stay live through the end of 2013, solely to point stragglers to the new site. We’ll see. Any phone transition will happen over a relatively short period of time, and is more likely to be sooner than later. Since I don’t yet have an amateur radio license, any moves I’d make to HAM will take somewhat longer.

As always, you’re welcome to ask questions. I may not answer them at all, or to your satisfaction. Such is life.