ThoughtAsylum is a web site created by Stephen Millard as a place to share various thoughts with the wider online community. To date this is in effect Stephen’s personal web site.
This site was born out of three separate blogs created by Stephen Millard.
The first began in July 2008 and was a personal foray into seeing what it was like to publish blog posts. As with most blogging attempts the initial impetus was great but dwindled over the time. Later that same year a conversation at a work event lead to an externally driven interest in things being done through work, and resulted in a second, WordPress-based blog called RebootIT - it was focused very much on IT.
While posting to the second blog persisted, a third blog called FlagIT came was authored as a micro blog, hosting ultra-brief posts about interesting IT things. This was in fact also accompanied by an RSS feed called SpotIT where interesting IT posts from other sites were curated and shared.
The FlagIT blog was posted to far more frequently and eventually the size and complexity of the post blurred until almost everything was being posted to the FlagIT blog. The popularity of the posts throughout continued to increase and the number of monthly visits continued to rise, seemingly independently of the posting frequency.
In the Easter of 2010 the cycle seemed to have come full circle. A decision was made to continue blogging primarily along technical lines, but to also to revisit some other areas and to venture out into some new areas. At this time a consolidation and change of platform took place, the aim being to amalgamate the separate blogs into a single coherent blog as well as to provide non-blog based content alongside. Thus the migration from WordPress to SquareSpace was enacted and with it a new name.
As anyone who tries to think of a name for a web site will probably tell you, finding a good name that someone else hasn’t thought of yet is really difficult!
The site was intended to be a place for Stephen to share his thoughts ideas and reflections. Initial explorations were focused around the phrase ‘think tank’, but unfortunately this was very much a dead end in terms of available domain names.
The next set of ideas oriented around the term ‘dark cascade’, it had a geeky appeal, but lacked a real association with the sorts of topics and intentions for the site.
After several other great ideas, which had already been taken up by others, the final destination of ‘Thought Asylum’ was reached. The idea of thought is obviously quite central, but the term asylum gives the idea of being a place where things are put for safety … and it has a darker connotation in many people’s minds thanks to the phrase “insane asylum”. The idea of it being a safe place to house what could in some cases might be crazy ideas had a definite appeal.
In late 2019 a refreshed version of the site was launched. It actually took well over two years to bring about the migration and rebuild on a new platform, SquareSpace being a good platform until the point you want to upgrade or leave it, at which point in becomes Shawshank. The new site is generated via Jekyll and while technically more difficult to maintain and with much less built in functionality, it offers up greater control and flexibility in how to maintain the site.