Daily Phil
Wednesday 7th June 2000

This networked life thing is fantastic, but it takes so long to just run my life these days. I feel a little like the guy in that Borges story who spends his whole time writing detailed diaries of his life, so he doesn’t have time to actually *do* anything. (That might not be a Borges story, but it sounds like it should be. I bought a cheap copy of Labyrinths a few weeks ago so I could push myself over a $40 barrier on bn.com and thus save $10, but won’t get round to reading it this year.)

So there’s reading haddock mail, which is around 2-3,000 messages a month. Most of them are one line comments on previous posts, so it doesn’t really take that much time. Unless a discussion breaks out over the merits of capitalism, what we’re all doing with our lives or other equally pressing matters of the day. When I’m in Houston it’s lovely to wake up at what works out to be mid-afternoon in the UK, and have a few dozen messages from friends to plough through as I dozily munch the lowest-sugar-content museli I could find in Kroger. Back in London, and it’s a daily drizzle of usually fun stuff to read and occasionally reply to.

I save up any URLs posted until maybe the end of the day and churn through them, adding them to the Directory, but rarely looking deeply at them; not enough time. People have often asked me how long it takes to update the Directory, but I’ve never timed it as I’m scared of how long it takes to maintain a site of little use and with low traffic. Every few weeks I’ll undergo the painful process of downloading the updates, importing them into Frontier, rebuilding the pages, rendering them, and uploading them to the server. Pain. In. The. Arse.

Then there’s Byliner which was designed from the beginning to require as little manual labour for as much benefit to the most people as possible. So maybe five to ten minutes a day, assuming things have gone well. If a site changes its layout or something breaks, it’ll be much more. And there’s so many little things I want to add, tweaks to make, which takes more programming. I’d like to track more websites, but each one increases the daily and occasional maintenance, and it just isn’t worth it from my point of view unfortunately.

Futurelog is dying on its feet. I stopped doing a daily round of a dozen or more sites a while ago, so I don’t actively look for new stuff to add. I’m trying to think of a way I can make the process of regularly scanning for items as painless as possible, as I really should be keeping it up for my own sake.

This stuff, what you’re reading here (to get all bloody “meta” for a moment) is a bit erratic, as I can’t decide whether to keep it up. Do I really need more things to do? I’ve just spent half an hour writing this, when I should be catching up on my diary, which I’ve been writing for ten years or so and which has seen only two entries in the past six weeks. That’s more important to me than this random nonsense. This is never going to be an utterly personal and open site, so what’s the point? What’s it *for*? Do tell me if you’ve any idea. Admittedly, though, it served more of a purpose while I was alone in Houston, so maybe it’ll pick up again in a month or so.

On top of all this regular crap I’ve set up to eat away the hours that I could spend in the fresh air skipping over hillocks, there’s other random stuff the networked life makes possible. Like dragging photos through the serial connection from my digital camera, selecting and cropping some, uploading them and pointing them out to friends who endured my trigger-happy clicking. I barely read anything online these days, my “Frequent” folder of bookmarks now much neglected, and I’ve thankfully weaned myself off all those increasingly self-referential weblogs everyone and their mother are running these days.

Don’t get me wrong, this is all fantastic stuff, but it makes me wish I could get by on three hours sleep a night, not to mention never having to work again, something that’s always a distraction. And it’d be nice to do other, real world, things too, but there’s simply not enough damn time to do it all.