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Accomplishment Paralysis - Elf M. Sternberg
Accomplishment Paralysis
For the past three days, I've been working about an hour a day on a little project that I launched a few years ago and never finished. At the time, I didn't have either the technology or the knowledge to work on it successfully, but now I do: I have a reliable application server for handling and storing the data, and I have a hug jQuery knowledge base that lets me construct the RIA front-end.

In the past three days, though, I've gone through four different revisions of the whole framework: is it server-based, with a light front end, or client-based, with a full-duty front end. I'm now at the point of having two back-ends: a functional one, and a theme-oriented delivery one. I'm also working on two front-ends, one functional and one theme-oriented. (It's a little weird in that the back-ends are compositional; the front-ends are inheritance-based.)

The idea is that the back-ends (1) deliver the HTML, Javascript, CSS, and graphic assets to display the program, and (2) handle storage for the program, while the front-end components (1) handle transactions with the storage engine and (2) drive the visual interaction. I'm designing the visuals around the Palm-Pilot/iPad model, where the convenience of input is most focused on those things you'll be entering frequently. Eventually, these pages could even be standalone, the thematic part downloadble and the functional part supplanted with WebDatabase client-side storage.

I can't tell if this constant stop, go back, revise, and start over is part of the necessary development iteration process, or if I'm using analysis paralysis as a way of expressing a more fundamental problem-- accomplishment paralysis.

Because once I've finished this thing, what do I do with it? I set out to repair a fundamental problem with my personal workflow-- not knowing what to do next. (Irony is a lifestyle, you know.) One of the things I wanted to fix with this project was to create a landing page with dynamic lists. I started with very concrete objects (Contexts, Roles, Projects, Tasks -- as per my current design) and devolved to a single thing with a tree-like storage pattern. I started with concrete equivalents on the client side and have now devolved those same abstractions for the functionality, with the concreteness being encapsulated only in the functional javascript component.

In one sense, this is satisfying. I've identified where the program needs to go from being abstract to concrete. But dammit, I should be done by now.

I can't help but neurotically complex about what I do with this project when I'm finished with it. Do I put it up in a public space? Do I let other people play with it? After all, there are plenty of nice personal landing pages, but most of them are about being in contact with your social network. I want one that's about what I'm going to accomplish. Maybe other people would like it as well, but that would mean switching from creative development to business maintenance.

And I don't know that I'm cut out to be a businessman.

Current Mood: frustrated frustrated

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rkda From: rkda Date: July 2nd, 2010 09:54 am (UTC) (Link)
A couple of thoughts about what might be next, based on the dilemma as presented...

1) This is intended for you personally. It's designed by you, for you, about you, and it's one and only purpose is to make your life a little better. Keep it that way. Enjoy it as part of your personal arsenal of widgets that make you into the super being that you are.

2) This is a great idea. Everybody wishes they had the mad skills, patience and the persistence required to get this just right. They should all be willing to fork over a few bucks to be able to use the system I have worked so hard to perfect. Put up some screen shots and If people want it, they can buy it.

3) Same as 2, but with license terms. In both cases, set up a store front and take paypal payments. If you use somebody else's back end, for the store, you can take credit cards too. (I say it this way because dealing with the credit card processors yourself is a whole lot of hassle unless you think you are gonna make a whole bunch of sales.)

4) There are a (large) number of people who could benefit from using these tools. They don't have their own web servers. The rent space on a hosting service and have the default template for their home page. These some of these folks would pay a dollar or two a month ($12 - $24/year) to be able to use this for themselves.

5) This is a great idea. There are at least a few people who could benefit from the work I have done. I will share this with the world, and let others benefit from the work I have done.

There are five different paths outlined here. The list is far from exhaustive, but I think it hits the big nails in the board.
1) it's mine - it stays private
2) sell it - zip up the package and make it downloadable for payment
3) license it - basically same as above, but you retain ownership rights
4) start up a service business - wordpress meets 43 folders, etc
5) open source it - under one of the CC licenses, others can use and tinker with it, but you get credit for the ideas and the original work

The one of the cool things about this set of choices is that none of them are mutually exclusive. You can try out each of them, or all of them, and see what works for you, and your prospective customers.

Bottom line...don't stress to much over what you are going to do with it when you are done. At the very least, you know you will have a cool tool that you can use yourself. If you choose to share it with others, then a bit more of the world will benefit from the work you have done.

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