My first web site was something I did for work in about 1998. I was trying to solve a problem of information dissemination from a government agency where we needed to respond regularly to requests for county-level information across southwest states. It was something of the wild west days of web publishing, and I got permission to host a “server” off a hub at my own desk. I spun up the application using a very early version of Allaire Cold Fusion that I got from a CD attached to a book on how to build apps in that scripting language. The app was a hit, I started getting lots of traffic, and then the trial version of the server software ran out, and I had to get serious about what it meant to host web applications online.
One thing led to another, and I ended up shifting my career path from environmental contaminants biology into what’s recently developing into the field of data science. Doing a stint in an organization where I worked on network architecture, IT security systems, big storage networks, and web application platforms helped give me an appreciation for operational realities and the engineering rigor needed behind any production data and information system. I’m happy to be in a job these days where I get to dream big about how to add more and more data to a distributed network of observations, measurements, and models that characterize the complex earth system and our evolving knowledge of its processes.
Spinning up this latest iteration of my own personal web site was an interesting dynamic, thinking back along that chain of events from the early days of posting something online. We’ve somewhat come full circle in this process from the days when someone fortunate enough to have someplace to plug a machine into the internet could do just about anything they wanted to online, through a time when that capability became more and more restricted to a handful of corporate entities back, and then to a time when almost any individual around the world can spin up an “appliance” online and again do just about anything they want to add data, information, and knowledge to the web. We’re doing amazing things in the world of information as more and more of humanity contributes something of themselves to the worldwide consciousness. The big challenges of today are sifting through all the cruft to tease out just those bits of data and information that contribute to some goal or particular context.
I’ll try to do my part in my own contributions to organize the stuff I contribute through various venues here in my own personal space.