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"The .plan Project of 1997"

Currently the count of late Soapboxes stands at 7. That's a lot of work. And I know the inactivity from my site over last summer has probably caused me to lose some regular readers. Hopefully they will come back now that everyone's back in school and life settles back down again.

But I've been feeling like that's not enough, to simply make up the old Soapboxes and move on with it. I've thought I should contribute something a little extra to those who DO continue to read, because I'm aware that benturner.com does not exactly make itself worthy of peoples' time. Those who stay are entitled to a reward of sorts for checking in regularly.

So starting today, and hopefully for every day for the next month and a half, I will be posting another entry in the .plan project I maintained this same time last year.

What was the .plan project? Well, first of all, a .plan file is the file that people used to update before they had webpages. It is accessed primarily using the 'finger' command, which requests the .plan file through searching for an e-mail address. It used to be that you could finger friends and see if they were online, and that sort of thing. Webpages have rendered finger .plans near obsolete now.

I decided to start a little project on the side after I was stuck in my home during the summer last year. Usually, when summer starts, my mind is so blown out from school that I have no ideas for things to write. But as summer carries on, my mind recovers and all of the sudden, I'm filled with excess energy for writing, and only one real method to diffuse that energy, my Soapbox, updated only weekly. Last year, I was dying to write just before school started, so I began writing regular .plan files and posting them up for a select few to see.

I found the finger .plan files to be more private and more engaging, not linked through any other pages or search engines. I only invited people who I had corresponded with on the Web to the point that we knew enough about each other to share secrets. The privacy in having a select few reading what I wrote gave the .plans changed the tone of my usual writing completely.

I feel now that the .plans were more engaging than my site was. The .plans were, in fact, diary entries. With a slant. So all that talk I do against diaries isn't just some phobia or irrational dislike. I've done diaries just like the people I've ranted about. The diary entries were shorter than the Soapboxes, more compact and more open. But I do feel like they added more than just recounting the days -- I tried to make every entry have a nuance to it of some sort. I attempted to fill every .plan with a certain opinion I held...with only a basic explanation and sufficient evidence to leave to the reader to decide. It was easy to do, fun to do, and satisfying for my writing energies.

The span of the .plans is about three months, starting about when I began my sophomore year of school at UT Austin. I updated less and less as the school year got more intensive, so I eventually stopped updating. But the .plan had gotten me through the summer, and I needed that.

The .plan details, most importantly, my early feelings for Anna, the woman who, a year later, continues to fill my heart with a love for life that I'd overlooked before her. I was still withdrawn after meeting her for a week in London. I really missed her. I really miss her now. The .plans also talk about my impressions of the sights to see around UT Austin, and of the apartment I'm staying in even for my junior year.

The people I invited to read my .plans did not even begin to read the .plans, I think, except for Anna. When you contribute a part of yourself to someone you entrust something with, and they ignore it, it should be easy to understand where the bitterness begins.

Part of me wanted to keep this private and to a few people who kept up with it while it was a work in progress. But now, I think, that this shows another slight difference in how I act and react, and it adds perspective to me. Regardless of whether you think that's true, I personally believe the .plans allowed me to explore a less in-your-face writing style. And that, indeed, is very good for me.

Okay, okay, I won't say anymore. The rest is up to you. Soapboxes will continue their weekly rotation, but the .plan files will be updated until I run out of them.

Here's the permanent link to the archive:

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