table of contents

Introduction


originally posted: July  7, 2004
last updated: January  5, 2010

Welcome to the Great Green Room.

My objective in starting this site is to create for myself a platform on which I can develop and share my thoughts on a wide range of topics.

I've found that the best way for me to clarify my thinking on a subject is to write my thoughts down for a critical audience. The process of trying to construct a clear explanation or argument forces me to refine my thinking to a degree I am otherwise too lazy to achieve. It also provides a permanent record that I can come back to months or years later to pick up the threads of my earlier thinking on a subject.

Publishing these essays provides several benefits. First it pressures me to keep the quality as high as I can manage. Second, if I'm lucky I'll get some useful feedback from readers to help me find and repair weaknesses in my argument that I overlooked. Finally, I may actually manage to convince and inform other people of something, a possibility that makes the whole process seem a bit more useful.

A basic rule for all writers is "write what you know." I plan to violate this rule outrageously on this site, writing almost exclusively about subjects that I am not at all an expert on. This is actually the point of the whole exercise. Writing these essays is a way to develop my understanding of the subject. For me, this counts as fun.

These goals drive the architecture of the web site. Unlike a normal blog, the format is not diary-like. I don't write something once and the let it roll off into obscurity. Instead the intent is that I keep coming back to articles, to refine and improve them.

I encourage readers to post their comments. After all, few of you know much less about my subjects than I do, and some of you know quite a bit more. Everyone should understand that the articles themselves will be evolving with time, so any comments you read may well have been directed at a previous version of the article. I'll note major changes I made in the comments section. I reserve the right to delete useless comments.

The name of the web site is, of course, inspired by Margaret Wise Brown's classic children's book Goodnight Moon which I have read an unreasonable number of times. Fond though I am of explaining things, I know some things are not improved by explanation, and this name is one of them.

In case you want to know who is writing this stuff, I should introduce myself. As of January 2010, I'm a 50-year-old father of three children, ages 2, 7 and 11. I am a freelance computer programmer, mostly working on developing websites. However, I rarely work full time, because I'd rather devote time to my children and stimulating projects like this one. I have a PhD in Computer Engineering and used to be a professor.

The software here is my open source backtalk web conferencing system, though in a rather unusual configuration. There's quite a bit more fixing up I want to do on it, but for the moment I'm going to be focusing on writing more content.

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