A phase transition is the point at which enough energy is introduced or taken away from a system for the contents to change state. The concept of a phase transition has been co-opted by other disciplines beyond its original definition from chemistry. It refers to the point at which things reach a critical change, the narrative of the before and after. In much the same way as in chemistry, this change could be caused by pressure, temperature or free energy. It is such a complete metamorphosis that the outcome is hardly recognizable from the previous incarnation.
The equivalent of the three states of matter in terms of writing might be considered; the short-form, the long-form and the book-form. Some might argue that the 3 states might be; not writing, crap writing and not so crap writing. Then again, there are three states of matter (well actually four) because of the laws of nature and the cosmos, where as forms of writing and not writing have infinite ways to combine, merge and transition between. So the analogy is far from perfect.
This site is an attempt at the long-form of writing. Microblogs and tumble blogs are ideal for short-form writing, bookmarking services and photo sharing sites are good for collecting and displaying their own constituent parts. So this is to fill the gap in those other state of writing, this is the long-form. The articles and essays here will be more of the thought provoking, pointing out interesting ideas and phenomenon rather than the tutorial or daily minutia of so many other sites. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for those other forms of communications, just as not all things are a solid or a gas, this site has different aims, goals and pedigree.
The name optional is required came from an off comment someone once made. Their assertion was that the number of completed form submissions was inversely proportional to the number of form fields.
Translation: for every new hurdle/task you make your customer complete, a portion of your customers would rather give up. This lead to the some what oxymoronic axiom: the only thing that is required is for it to be optional.
I seem to always been an edge-case, which is far from true, but all of those times I am a special case sticks in my mind more prominently. Sometimes this is due to circumstance, others by choice. With this site, in some small way, I am testing those edge-cases. With an official site title of “(optional.is)” with the parenthesis, it is pushing back on the concept that a name can only contain A-Z and 0-9. Other punctuation shouldn’t be discriminated against! Some databases, tag clouds, and software might choke, but I’ll accept it as a compliment and take solace in that a small lesson has been taught to other developers that the world is a vast and diverse place-Be liberal in what you accept.
I didn’t want this site to be directly connected with my personal website, suda.co.uk, the reason being, that someday (optional.is) might be more than one voice and while it is only me posting my thoughts at the moment, it might not always be that way. I thought it best to keep a clear division about what Brian Suda says and does, and what this site is designated to do.
Finally, I have turned off comments, but you are always free to email your thoughts and if I missed something I will update the post. Don’t go crying censorship if your contributions are not used, this is just editorial control or more likely laziness on my part, you are always free to start your own site and say what you think and link back to here. The conversation should not be controlled by any one party or forced to exist in only one space.
Some cultures were initially afraid of photography, they believed that the camera stole their souls. In this digital-age, we still conflate copying with theft. Theft is denying the owner the use, where as digital copies are exact replicas of the source, nothing has changed with the original work. Even if you consume my ideas, you are in no way denying me the use of them, so I present them here for all to ponder.
There is something very primitive and slightly perverse about being able to open-up someone else’s mind and peek inside – to open a window into their thoughts. This site acts as that small crack in the fence-line were you can peer in. It will never be the full panorama, but instead a more cleanly packaged tour on certain concepts and ideas.
This blog exists partly because of the contributions of others, letting the rest of us gaze through their keyholes and windows to see inside. I want to pay homage to some of those blogs and show you the model in which I am attempting to emulate. So if you can’t stand any of the following sites, this one probably won’t be your cup of tea either.
I can only hope to contribute to the web in such a way as they have.
Nothing stays the same forever
This site is a phase transition a change from not writing, to something else; a new form, a new medium and a new message, but a phase transition only occurs at the point between to states. Now that this site has begun publishing, it is critical to keep the entropy in check. Entropy is the loss of energy do to work. As things become more and more chaotic, both in our daily lives and in the Universe, energy is lost. Without energy, it is possible to slip back through a phase transition, back to the previous state, back to not writing.
I have no idea where this site will lead or how long it will last, but I want to create a forum for the ideas that interest me. What these thoughts and ideas are will certainly change over time, so to will the themes, but at least they will be preserved here to everyone to read and discuss, rather than be locked away in our currently inaccessible minds.