Looking ahead: 2024

So we’ve made it to the end of another year. Somehow, "we" includes me, despite all odds. Since I never planned to see the end of 2023, I never really thought about what I wanted to accomplish in 2024. That means this post is going to be more of a stream of consciousness than usual, as I try to work out just what I feel I can reasonably manage in the year ahead.


First, to recap my goals for this year. I never did go back and finish The Prison of Ignorance, unfortunately. So we’ll put that at the top of the pile for 2024. The same goes for the draft of On the Stellar Sea; Pitch Shift is more of a stretch goal, because I feel like writing has become more of a chore than a passion these past few years.

The "Great Books" idea was great…in theory. In practice, I only managed 6 of the 12. That wasn’t because I didn’t want to read. But trying to hold a relationship together when you constantly have to fight for it tooth and nail, well, that takes a lot out of a man my age. Between spending the morning looking for a job to support myself and my beloved, spending the evening with her, and spending the afternoon working on solo projects to make myself look employable, there’s not much time for casual reading. I still want to read the classics. It’s just finding the chance to do so.

Last, development has been hit or miss this entire year. I did work on Pixeme, but it’s not quite to an alpha release. It doesn’t need much more, so maybe I can get that out the door soon.

What’s next

Thus, most of 2024’s goals are the ones I didn’t achieve in 2023, but I still have a couple more to add to the list. First, I’m working on interactive fiction again, and there’s one I’m writing that I’d like to get done soon. If that goes well, I know I can write The Anitra Incident without much trouble.

Second, while Pixeme is probably the most "marketable" of my solo projects, I’ve recently been wanting to revamp Liblio, the federated creator platform I worked on all the way back in 2019. It was a decent pre-alpha back then, but technology has advanced, and I’m more experienced. There’s an underlying motivation, too: Patreon, Twitch, Youtube, and all the other homes for "content creators" have become even more repressive and regressive in the past few years.

The whole point of Liblio—and, for that matter, any communication application I design—is to allow people to connect without fear of censorship. As centralized platforms become more censorious by the day, I feel that this is even more needed. For that reason, I think Liblio is the better option for benefiting humanity as a whole, even if Pixeme has a greater chance of benefiting me personally.

There’s another project I’m working on, which I’ve called Clef. It is, in effect, a messaging protocol for local applications. My idea here is to abstract APIs by using servers to present standardized request/response messages. Instead of linking to, for example, a video encoder library (or calling it through a fragile series of shell commands), an application could just send a Clef request saying, in effect, "I want this file transcoded to MKV." The receiving server doesn’t even have to be local, though it probably will be. And it doesn’t have to matter whether the encoding was done by FFmpeg, VLC, or whatever. That choice would be up to the server, the abstraction removing one more decision a developer has to make.

For 2024, then, the goal is to have at least 3 applications written to communicate using Clef. One is a simple client demonstrating the possibilities. The second is a server with a switchable back-end, similar to the video encoding scenario. And third, I’d like to write a "metaserver" that can be used to register and discover Clef-aware services on a user’s local machine.

Maybe these aren’t the most ambitious goals for the year, but…I’m tired of ambition. I’m tired, period. Just making it to 2024 has been more than I expected. Anything else I can accomplish seems to pale in comparison to just living another day, week, month, year.

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