This is the backstory of this blog.
And it is where this blog begins.
I set up my first web presence in 1996. By 2019, I had accumulated 20 websites. Each had propelled a venture of some sort in its day. Some were brochure sites selling specific development services, some proof-of-concepts, some portfolio sites targeted at certain markets, and some were hobby sites (monetized with AdSense).
10 months ago, all of those sites suddenly went offline. Not my doing, not something I needed to fix (even though I easily could have), and not the story I’m telling here. The story I’m telling here begins 10 months down the road. A road that passes right through the COVID lockdown.
I have had no web presence for 10 months.
This blog—this blog post—represents my return to the web.
So that’s kinda fun.
The last few years, it became clear, it was time for me to get out of the website business. Associates would call me, and say “The boss’ niece wants to build us a new website with WIX! How can we talk them out of this madness?” and much to their surprise, I’d talk them out of talking them out of it. “Let ’em try”, I’d say. “If they blow it, we can do it the old-fashioned way. If they don’t blow it—then we have better things to do with our lives, wouldn’t you say?”
I had already moved on to better things to do with my life when I entered my 10 months of not having a web presence.
I’ve never really had a blog. At least, not in the “classical” sense of the term. When I say, “classical”, I’m talking the very definition of the word. “Blog” is derived from “Web Log“. Which, in my estimation, is a derivative of “Captain’s Log”. It’s like a diary. It is personal, first-person, chronological, and slowly unfolds as a textual recording of a journey, voyage, quest, or adventure.
The closest thing I had to a blog was a website at 3dspace.com. It was a free-range collection of thought pieces about the impending emergence of consumer-grade virtual reality. What I loved most about that site was how the companies that were developing that technology would link to my articles, to help them unpack ideas they were talking about elsewhere on line. And thanks to my established SEO chops, the site contained several things like the #1 result on Google, for years, for the term “tool agnostic”. I felt so scholarly. I really liked it! But it was certainly not a blog, not in the classical sense.
I do not know if this will STAY a classical blog. But given that I am transitioning from not having a web presence, back to having a web presence—it seems like a good place to start.
I write. I love to write. I’m pretty good at it. And it helps me to think.
I’d even like it, if writing were to become a bigger part of my career.
Back when I had a raft of websites, I could shoot you links to things I’d written. I could shoot prospective associates links to things I’d written. Without any websites, I can’t do that. That may be the biggest reason I’m setting this up. Though, the biggest reason may also be that I need to write. I write, so that people can read. If I’m making nothing for people to read—there is something missing in my life.
I’m writing this retrospective post first. Just for me. A whole bunch of “backstory”, so I can be clear with the Universe about where I am, so I can set out from here. The plan is just to launch a platform where I can write stuff for people to read. On the web. Through a link. In the manner to which I have become accustomed.
Metaphysics and Machine Learning
My first idea about what to call this blog is Metaphysics and Machine Learning.
To anchor this idea, something I’d like to put on the table is the idea of a Markov Chain.
A Markov chain is a mathematical system that experiences transitions from one state to another according to certain probabilistic rules. The defining characteristic of a Markov chain is that no matter how the process arrived at its present state, the possible future states are fixed. In other words, the probability of transitioning to any particular state is dependent solely on the current state and time elapsed.https://brilliant.org/wiki/markov-chains/
How does this apply to me, and my first blog post of re-entry to the web?
It does not matter that I have been programming computers since the 1970s. It does not matter that I have been creating websites since the 1990s. It does not matter that I had 20 websites a year ago, and it does not matter that they are now gone.
All that matters is the chops I’ve got, and what I want to do with them. One of my chops is that I write. And I want to write. And that is precisely why I am now the proud owner of a blog with one (explicitly, glaringly anti-Markovian) post.
Welcome to Metaphysics and Machine Learning.
Transitioning to Another State
In keeping with the Markov chain perspective, how I wound up here is not a factor. I wound up here after graduating from a top-flight award-winning machine learning program straight into the heart of the COVID lockdown.
The factors are where I am, and what I have at my disposal.
I am—trying to find new people and new projects. I have at my disposal—a cool certificate, a whack of skills, and ambition. I need—a lot of things. As odd as it may seem, after all my years of being a website hoarder, a website is one of them.
A few times I’ve needed a link for something. A project, a blog post, something. Even just to demonstrate that I even can write.
The First Steps
This post is getting pretty long. At this point, I’m documenting the first things I did, the first content I added, to get this brand spanking new web presence off the ground. This is what I did to start moving forward.
There are things that I wrote while I was in school that make excellent starter content for this blog. Especially if this blog is to wind up being called Metaphysics and Machine Learning. I’m liking that. This stuff fits. Like using a Markov chain as a lens for my attempts to enter a new career field.
First thing I did was to serialize my Machine Learning Ethics assignment into a thread of blog posts with its own category. This will give me a few of the things I need:
- A sample of my writing I can link to
- SEO petegray.ca towards my new interests
- Establish a starting point for the scope of the blog
- Let me play with the newest WordPress.
Each mini-essay is written to a different hypothetical audience. Because some of them are very technical, their Fleisch reading scores range from 22 to 64. This long leisurely post gets a 76.
And just like that, I have transitioned to another state. I have a website again. I can link to something I’ve written.
Check out my 10 mini-essays on machine learning ethics!
Onward, to the next transition.
Metaphysics and Machine Learning Revisited
This was the quick-and-dirty provisional proto-title I fired into the WordPress setup, as my mind was distracted by setting up my new WordPress. It took 2 tries to set it up, as there was some junk in the directory. I’d left it blank the first time, but filled in that name in on the second try. Whole thing took less than 5 minutes.
I’d like to settle on that name. I suits the content so far, for sure. And it suits what little I know about where I’m going with this.
The big question looming over it was, is someone else using it? If they were, I’d, uh, find something else. So I checked that with the Google:
Looks like it’s mine all mine.