Thursday, February 28, 2019

February 2019 Development Update

It's been an eventful couple of weeks for me, in Chicago, and in State of the Union world, but not so much for SOTU-db.

My new position at the Chicago History Museum is in full swing, including some recent and upcoming weekend events. It's also been a wild few weeks of weather as the "polar vortex" and plenty of snow have blanketed Chicago. Together with a busy year in my personal life, this has prevented me from getting as much work done on SOTU-db in recent weeks as I would have liked.

Sadly, this work-slowdown coincided with one of the more interesting periods of SOTU news in recent memory. Originally scheduled for January 29, President Trump's 2019 "State of the Union" address was postponed when Speaker Pelosi delivered a Jan. 16 letter to Mr. Trump postponing the address until the conclusion of the then-ongoing partial federal government shutdown. By January 25, the federal government was fully re-opened (quite possibly temporarily - stay tuned) and the SOTU was quickly rescheduled for Tuesday, February 5.

"The Daily" podcast by the New York Times ran an episode about the State of the Union the morning after Trump's SOTU, which included this wonderful exchange:
Michael: "I really don't like this language people use: 'SOTU.'"
Mark: "Yeah, it's really awful --"
Michael [crosstalk]: "awful, so let's not use it..."
Mark: "... it's kind of a dismal evening anyway, and calling it SOTU just sort of deepens the gloom that hangs over the whole thing."
So that was fantastic - but the overall episode tried to address how the last four POTUSs have responded in their SOTU addresses to losing their party's majority in Congress. It was definitely worth a listen and speaks to one of the original questions SOTU-db was meant to address: do State of the Union addresses actually matter, and is there a correlation between what a president says in a SOTU with their actual policy decisions? The podcast suggests that they do matter, and that the correlation does exist.

Sadly that must be it for this post - it's already Feb 28 so I'm out of time for my monthly update. I'm hopeful that I can get back to a more regular SOTU-db update schedule once History Fair season wraps up for this year.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

January 2019 Development Update

A quick update on SOTU-db:

  • SOTU-db's servers were offline for several weeks around the new year, but have now been restored
  • I successfully defended SOTU-db as my Master's capstone project, and have now completed my MA in Digital Humanities
  • I recently took a new full-time position working with the Chicago Metro History Fair (blog post about the new role here)
  • Due to a combination of the above three factors, development of SOTU-db has been at a standstill in recent weeks
I'm hoping to resume work on SOTU-db now at a pace that reflects its status as a hobby/passion project. I'm not committing to further development milestones right now, but I plan to post on this blog at least once a month with the latest updates. I will likely also be making much heavier use of commit messages and version tags on GitHub. I still fully intend to bring SOTU-db into a "full release," but it could be quite a while before that happens.

It's not realistic to think many more features will be completed or bugs will be squashed before the 2019 SOTU address, whether postponed due to the partial government shutdown or not. Nevertheless, I would like to be able to promote the site via hashtags whenever the SOTU actually is delivered, so for now I think a focus on clarity and usability will be my main focus, so that new users can figure out what the site is doing.