Overhauling any website is a lot of work, especially when one migrates server and software at the same time, and isn’t a specialist at that. Although I grew up with computers and actually did my first attempt at what would later be called a “hack” way back in time, as early as 1974, my professional specializations eventually became, of course, creating music and educating musicians on a professional level. But as I also strongly believe in the Renaissance humanistic ideal of homo universalis, I allow myself to pursue endeavors in other, somehow related, fields as well1.
Completely new structure
After first having searched the Internet on automated conversion possibilities from MediaWiki to WordPress, I came to the conclusion that, if at all available, these were at best unreliable, so I decided the work had to be done by hand. This meant of course, preparing a test site and configuring it to my wishes, to see how things would look, and if it would actually work, but also: how would I ideally have to (re)structure my content in another software environment? My former website format was in MediaWiki, employing a.o. Lilypond and Semantic MediaWiki extensions, which allowed for a more atomic database-like approach to the presentation of content, over approximately 400 pages. In the present website, all this is completely restructured to presently less than 15% of pages, most of which are longer and much more comprehensive. With pages now being on average quite a bit longer, I sincerely hope this new approach will eventually facilitate reading, as at least the amount of mouse-clicks needed to find the information sought after has in fact been greatly reduced by this new approach.
With a little help from my friends
4 Days ago, on Wednesday 24 October 2012 I finally finished my preparations and “unplugged” my Wiki. Next I hastily replugged the DNS to another server, where I set up the website you are currently viewing, powered by WordPress. Even though my former MediaWiki engine was designed as software for collaborative writing and hence for online communication par exellence, that system (at least in the form it is used on Wikipedia) is far too open, and to generally allow people to log in and contribute would require too much moderation: no single person can singlehandedly monitor and fight the possible vandalism it would attract were it open (as alas one sees in all too many Wikis online). In the present WordPress website however, I decided to allow for some more possibilities of feedback in situ, and not just through the contact form.
On both this and the former Wiki-format of this website I was helped by friends in different aspects, and I would like to use this opportunity to sincerely thank some of them here:
- first of all my partner, visual artist Elise van Rosmalen, for inspiration, for her outspoken view and critical open mind, as well as for her patience, when I am continuously working, even during what are supposed to be holidays together;
- Bernard Hulsman and Gabriel Wicke, for their technical support of the former Wiki;
- Nikola Smolenski, for his help and MediaWiki expertise;
- my former students Jean-Luc Jossa, Jeanne Schmartz, Daniel Hahnfeld and Mirre Valkenburg, for generously allowing me to publish their theses here;
- my former student Orkun Ağır, for his help and expertise in setting up a section on Turkish music;
- and many others for various forms of support, help and patience, I received along the way.
Last but not least, I want to thank my son Bran van der Meer for his patient help and advice in setting up this website anew, it is thanks to his professional expertise that I was able to avoid and circumvent traps and pitfalls which would probably have proven quite time-consuming.
Not yet done
At present I am not yet done rebuilding the old content, but have now at least reached a presentable form, having focused first of all on the outline of basic music theory and the tools for students, both of which you find in the main menu above. In the weeks to come, you can expect me to continue adding and rebuilding content, while revising and restructuring it at the same time, as well as evaluating and possibly improving the presentation of the content along the way.
The main bulk of work consists of cleverly adding the hundreds of (formerly semantically embedded) whiteboard images, which are at present still missing. For now however, it is still possible to access the old images here, but not for long. As the content is being rebuilt here, that old Wiki will eventually disappear altogether, and the link will no longer work, nor be needed. I am looking forward to that moment as well, not to lean back and enjoy, but in order to be able to move both back and on to more important work for me to to do: to continue working on my music, writings, projects and art…
Oscar van Dillen
- such as formerly running a CD-label, formerly co-developing Wikipedia and the Wikimedia Foundation (of which I was both a steward and a trustee), but also continuously writing in general (even some poetry from time to time), and of course creating original works of visual art for over 30 years, which I am now presenting online for the first time. ↩