Sunday, June 25, 2006

On Writing Better

The only way to become a better writer is to write a lot, and so that is what I am doing. I will admit I learned little about writing in high school and am determined to learn what I should have learned then, now. So far, I am at various stages of reading several books on the craft of writing: _On Writing Well_ by William Zinsser, _The Elements of Style_ by E.B. White and the _Prentice Hall Reference Guide to Grammar and Usage_ by Muriel Harris. Of the three I have made it the farthest in on "On Writing Well", because of its conversational tone and its novel like qualities. The author, Mr. Zinsser, writes as if he were expressing himself by gesturing in the air and jotting down quick examples on the blackboard as a teacher would. He succeeds as I can see even now my writing is improving, becoming more refined.

Does any body actually read this blog regularly besides myself? Probably not. The reason I write is to become a better writer which I see is becoming a more and more valuable skill in today's dilapidated culture in which grammar and style are less important than the length and structure of a piece of writing. Expressing myself in words is something I need to be able to do not just for the sake of being a good writer but also because I need to be able to get my point across to people who have no idea what I am talking about. Later this summer I will attempt to write a piece about Open Source that focuses on the non technical computer user, because this is an area in which little writing seems to have been done, despite its importance.

This is one of the many positive effects of the blogging movement: it strengthens peoples writing abilities by making them write more. This has lead to a new generation of writers who would otherwise not even attempt to write an article for a local paper or periodical. Not only are more people writing but they are writing about more specialized topics. Many blogs are like mine in that they are just journals but more and more blogs are specializing in an area, in particular company blogs which keep customers and the public informed about products and the inner workings of a project. Other specialized blogs such as the painting-a-day blog and a homeless persons blog serve as cornerstones for different communities that otherwise would have remained separated, despite the entirety of the Internet.

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Saturday, June 24, 2006

Nighttime Running

Me and my friend Jeremy went for a run tonight (er... this morning), my second for the summer. My first was two days ago. We even went to see my other friend Papa on the way. It's amazing to me how good a shape I'm still in considering I haven't done much in the way of a workout for years. It's also amazing to me in how bad a shape Jeremy is in considering he actually does work out occasionally and is going to boot camp in the fall.

The fact that Jeremy is joining the military is a tender subject to me because of several reasons. The first and foremost reason is the why he's joining the military. He says its because he wants an education, but the sad fact is the only reason he isn't going to college is because he never felt like applying. There may be other reasons that he is joining such as money and job security or even a chance to travel but these are not worth joining an institution which causes pain in peoples lives all over the world on a daily basis. I know a lot of readers will kill me for saying so but the military exists for one reason: force, and thats exactly what it gets used for.

The next reason why Jeremy should not join the military is because of who he is. Jeremy is an individual. He may think that the military is a safe place for him, actually he does think that it is safe based on what he has told me. "They won't ship me off until I get x years of training." "They will let me do programming." "It is illegal for them to even touch me." (on the subject of drill sergeants and boot camp.) "I will be an officer as soon as I join based on my ASVAB scores." All this drivel he has fed me is disgraceful as these kinds of comments are all spoken in defense of his joining, whenever I bring the subject up and ask him questions. These comments don't mean anything without real experience; and I would gather that he is actually just repeating whatever the recruiters told him. I am afraid that he will get a wake up call during the first few days of boot camp, though that will be a few days too late. I am afraid that after his training he will be assimilated for life in the military and that his own unique self will be lost forever.

For those of you who don't know me I am a radical pacifist, and joining the military is against all of who I am. I am disappointed that Jeremy could do this without even consulting his friends or even his family first. Not only did he not consult us but he shrugged off any advice we offered him after he was sold by the recruiters spiel.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

The Obligatory First Post

As it is written in chapter 1 of K&R:

"Hello, World!"

And the world and all the things in it were brought into being. But that's just my digital side taking advantage of me, a common problem for a natural born geek, and also the reason for the naming of this blog. 'Dyplex', is just a take on the word 'Duplex' combined with my name: 'Dylan'. Duplex means many things in different contexts, but the most simple of these is like the one found on wikipedia:

"Duplex is the having of two principal elements or parts."

In my case, the thing that is duplicate is myself, or at least my whole self. I must admit to you that I have a split identity, but not of the medical or mentally unstable variety. I have a physical identity and a digital identity. Those who spend a lot of time online will recognize what I am talking about, but for the unitiated it can come as somewhat of a shock.

Aren't the physical and digital identity the same thing? In most people, yes. But in those of us who spend sufficient time on the internet, they might as well be 2 different people. On a similar note, spending time on the internet is the root cause for the development of a digital identity. Symptoms of developing the digital identity include: repetitive visits to social networking sites such as myspace or facebook, community based news sites such as slashdot or digg, and remembering more passwords and logins than you could ever imagine possible.

Is a digital identity a bad thing? Hmmmm... trick question. If you are using your digital identity to deceive it is generally a bad thing, and often such use of a digital identity is considered petty fraud. But if you are using your digital identity to collaborate and give back to the internet and its rapidly expanding community then a digital identity is just as healthy as having a physical identity. Us geeks often get harassed about having such an active digital identity and a less active physical identity but we are more concerned about the well being of the internet community than what others think of us.

And so now, I end this post by remembering those duplexed people, that have suffered for what we have today: a lively internet community, one where I can hop on the internet and whip up this blog within a few minutes. One where sharing and respect are important themes and where all voices are heard. But enough with wishy washy talk of the past, we have so much to look forward to! So much to do! So don't be afraid about spending too much time on the internet and developing a digital identity yourself. It has nothing to do with being a geek anymore, it has to do with what you want the internet to look like in the future. So get out there and tell people!