2016 Reflection and 2017 Goals: Retrospective and refactoring

Welcome to the Ashley Blewer annual report! It’s that time of year again, where I start thinking about where I was at this time last year and where I am now. Here were my goals for 2016.


So. What did I do?


Two projects I worked on shipped: LaMaMa Digital Collections and Screen Slate. Honestly I ended up doing basically zero work on Screen Slate other than attend meetings and complain about things and fretting but not actually write code. However, so happy to see its success. And so happy for LaMaMa’s success as well!

My job @nypl continues to be diverse and exciting, working on a myriad of applications both existing and new, public and non-public, in multiple languages and parts of the tech stack, for patrons and for staff. I am happiest this way. I continued work on MediaConch and QCTools signalserver. MediaConch has been a big part of my life for the past 3 years and it’s strange to realize that this project will come to an end later this year.


I gave a talk at Code4lib with Dinah Handel called Free your workflows (and the rest will follow): community-driven AV solutions through open source workflow development. I also did a LOT of work organizing and ensuring a successful conference video streaming experience for everyone. I do not think I will do that again, but I am glad that I did it.

I gave a talk at iPRES 2016, Status of CELLAR: Update from an IETF Working Group for Matroska and FFV1 based on a whitepaper written by Dave Rice and me, available here.

I gave a talk (without being there) at Northeast Historic Film with Travis Wagner. Thanks, Travis, for dealing with the a/v headache of playing a video of my portions. The talk was entitled Buying Lobster Rolls With Linden Dollars: Virtual Tourism and Digital Visions of New England in Second Life and Beyond.

For AMIA, I didn’t talk this year but helped with organizing two streams, Digital Preservation and DIY Community Archiving. I will also probably not do this again, but I am again glad that I did it.

Finally, I (along with Dave Rice and Jerome Martinez) organized a symposium called No Time to Wait!: Standardizing FFV1 and Matroska for Preservation. All the videos and slides are here. I never want to do this again but also will probably do this again.

I also taught THREE workshops: at iPRES, at Tate, and at NYU. Phew!

Travel (not for work)

I went to Disney World for my birthday with some top-notch pals. I spent a week in France with another top-notch pal. I took a weekend trip to my home state to see other top-notch pals and get a friends-tattoo! I was afraid of using all of my vacation days for other-work-obligations, but I did not do that! Also, several pals came to visit me! Friends are important and I’m happy to have so many great ones, near and far.


What did I want to do?

I wanted to take on less new projects and I wanted to work less (or work less on compensated things and more on personal projects). I did not do these things, but I also knew I wouldn’t do these things. I joined a gym and went regularly, but then I quit going regularly. Now I am going again. But this is like a 50% success rate for goal accomplishment.

Some terrible things happened to me in 2015, although didn’t really start to cause damage until 2016. I do not want to carry these ghosts with me into 2017, but I’m afraid that is not totally preventable. I cut myself some slack for the time lost dealing with these things, but didn’t manage to not feel guilty for not working all the time.


What I said last year still rings true: I have two problems: I care a lot and I care about a lot of things.

Overall, I don’t think much has changed. I suppose the theme for 2017 is “refactoring.” I’m beginning to get nervous. I am afraid of becoming lazy, becoming complacent, of taking things for granted, for getting too comfortable. Although when I started drafting this post, I felt like I hadn’t accomplished anything in 2016 but now I see that I actually did a lot, and did many of the things that I set out to do!

Anyway, hello 2017. I will be succinct and vague.