I became a dev because I had a head for it and the money was good, but I do lots of other things. My education is in literature, and I write and read a great deal. I also have several research topics (some related to dev, many not), and I cook, bake, travel, and happily fail at playing guitar. I try to offer my dev skills to artists and writers, to provide them with functional web presences. And often when I'm learning a new language or framework, I'll build something related to my other interests as an exercise.
That's really awesome that you find ways to help other artists and writers! Back in college I had a lot more artists and writers in my personal network but now it's a bit harder to get those types of connections. Do you mind sharing some examples of how you have built something related to your other interests when learning a new language/framework?
Mostly it's consisted of designing/deploying websites, more often than not a WordPress instance. I also provide support/maintenance for a variety of arts/nonprofits websites (typically just minor stuff like upgrades, conflict resolution, security issues, etc). In grad school, I built a "thesis repository" system to allow fellow grad students to easily share their thesis projects, and comment on each other's projects. I've built lots of little "toys" for friends (and for myself), including mad libs-type apps, a silly virtual slot machine, that sort of thing. I was involved in a couple of projects I loved, but that died on the vine. The most interesting of them was an "aleatoric parser," a system that would index a lengthy manuscript to determine frequently occurring and/or unique words, then use that lexicon to populate mad libs-like poem templates. The templates themselves were to be generated from sentence fragments, using Markov chains to assemble the complete work. The intent was to create an application that could take your vocabulary and a machine-driven framework to generate the basics for new and surprising texts. It fell by the wayside because of time constraints, and the realization that others had done it better than we would have done it.
Wow, those are some awesome sounding projects! They sound like a ton of fun.
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