Booles' Rings is dead, long live Booles' Rings!
Yesterday, Sam and I removed all remaining WordPress installations that we were hosting for people that are part of Booles' Rings, including the original multisite installations that started it all.
Booles' Rings is dead
My regular meetings with Sam are one of my great pleasures. Since our friendship is almost exclusively virtual, it's surprising that we have kept it alive for quite a while now. Almost weekly, we get on video to work on new ideas or and projects - or just chitchat about life, work and being young parents (or parents of young kids anyway).
Perhaps unsurprisingly given that we met at a Young Set Theory Workshop, it all started with us setting up Set Theory Talks which grew turned into settheory.mathtalks.org (and you can get a subdomain with the same semi-automatic features if you like). Nowadays, Assaf is handling the real work of grooming the site while Sam and I continue the little bits of technical support as needed. Later, I pulled Sam into maintaining mathblogging.org with me after Fred and Felix dropped out.
I suppose it was inevitable ever since I left research 6 years ago. But, really, life just got busier and hosting more complex so late last year, Sam and I decided that we do not have the time (nor the abilities) to continue hosting more and more sites. We let everyone know what's happening and helped them in their transitions.
Yesterday, we pulled the plug on all the WordPress goodness we had built over the years. And thus, Booles' Rings has passed - in its original form, a literal network of WordPress sites for academics.
Long live Booles' Ring!
Of course, none of the sites have disappeared. In many ways we're now where I wanted to get everyone to: not just researchers taking the web seriously as a fixed point of a research career, building a stable presence of one's research persona, overcoming the cacophony of ever-changing, dead-or-dying department pages where Google page rank inevitably yields the outdated ones.
No, I always wanted more: get researchers to take this platform seriously, embrace it as a medium with new (and old) idiosyncrasies. Take it seriously as a tool that you should wield confidently and, in need, wield independently, no matter what. No more lock in.
And this is where Booles' Rings is now. The people are still here, the site now merely works as lightweight connection (and an aggregator). And no matter how we all approach this medium, it's fine. Whether it's self-hosted WordPress installations or statically generated sites, whether slow-churning long form or near-daily activity, whether research-only or life's breadth. The point is not that one thing is better than the other. The point is that we are on the web, our shared and world wide web - and that we're here to stay.
Even though I left research years ago, I still love to follow this community. I look forward to the next 7 years of Booles' Rings.