Dusty Digital and Forgotten Ideas

Posted on October, 28 2019

Dust and cobwebs appear to have a distinct glint in the digital era. After you've left something digital alone for some time, returning to that virtually legitimate concept of space has a certain effect. Lists of to-dos and this-thats that were once rummaged, written, and rethought on occasion are lost to the dry-erase eraser and poor organizational skills. As with the slow crawl of the calendar year, slowly these idle ideas and tasks collate and begin to grow the puzzles I had initially perceived.

Imagine bits of scribbled ink on a napkin for what the first mass-producible product design might look like - now, in the modern era mass production is an absolute keystone. An idea discovered, tested, and embedded into the very fabric of what allows you to see this transmission upon a computer screen. Paralleled with those scribbled bits of ink on napkins, are scribbled bits of ink on napkins that are tossed into trashbins, puddles, or eventually lost to the piles of oversight. Keying on this, there are entire universes within the notebooks of our generations.

Focused upon my endeavors, ideally as this is a personal transmission from yours truly on a site where I am the sole maintainer: I have found my small index of thoughts scattered among notebooks and unfinished projects a treasure trove of inspiration and self-humiliation. I spent some time to revive an effort to implement this microcontroller architecture in Logisim I named "tisc" which is short for tiny instruction set ccomputer. The whole mess of it was an undocumented circuit with vague instruction set definitions and cryptic hand-assembled test programs, complete with an absolute failure of an assembler half-assed in C. The catch was that it was indeed my past self who had created all of this mess, so how hard would it be to, y'know, remember it all?

To pick this project back up and breathe life back into the idea took determining what was working, what was broken, and where the work needed to be done. These tasks were at one point clearly pictured when this project was new to me. Simply learning what I haphazardly threw down was a unique experience in that, there was a kind of dust upon this digital form. The kind of dust you really notice after the attic hasn't been seen in a few years. Once you get those layers of dust off, you get a better idea of what you are looking at.

After virtually dusting off a large portion of this project, wrapping up loose ends and actually writing the assembler, I got to a vantage point with the project and my work on it slowed to a stop. I really didn't know what to work on next, or where to take the project. Besides, I have a fear of unnecessary work, I tend to challenge any idea of work without clear results. The results of this project had already came in the form of seeing what left the project in the dust in the first place. SO, I had hit the notebooks and started to fork this initial idea into something a bit more exciting and useful and gave up.

Instead, I wrote this bit explaining what picking this project back up meant to me, and what I hope it may eventually mean to you, reader. These universes of ideas within the notebooks of our generations are a dormant seeds in my eye. If not seeds then if approached appropriately these ideas exist as stepping stones to great, big ideas that can help this world grow and unfold in positive ways.