Kicks Condor

LEECHING AND LINKING IN THE HYPERTEXT KINGDOM

I FIRST DISCOVERED
THE 【TECHS-MECHS】WHO
ARE A CLAN OF SOUTH
OF THE BORDER GUNDAM
BREAKING DOWN
IMMIGRATION FENCES
WITH THEIR
IMPRESSIVE MANOS
MECANICAS

PLUNDER THE ARCHIVES

This page is also on dat.

MOVING ALONG LET'S SEE MY FAVORITE PLACES I NO LONGER LINK TO ANYTHING THATS VERY FAMOUS

philosopher.life, the 'wiki'/'avatar'/'life' of h0p3. serious rabbithole.

ramblinggit, bumped into him, lots of crossover with this blog.

ᛝ ᛝ ᛝ — lucid.

whimsy.space v good zine by danielx.

caesar naples wiki social media website.

indieweb: .xyz, eli, c.rwr, boffosocko.

nostalgia: geocities.institute, bad cmd.

true hackers: ccc.de, fffff.at, voja antonić, cnlohr, esoteric.codes.

chips: zeptobars, scargill, 41j.

dwm, julia, tridactyl these are things you'll want on linux.

neil c very famous but should be a world icon.

the world or cate le bon you pick.

sammyclassicsonicfan the original teen rage adventure.

innovation.isotropic.org probly the best carl chudyk game.

and opinionated gamers for non-chudyk game analysis.

my twitter. my github. minor things.

#hypertext

THE WEB IN ALL ITS FORMS

Yeah, so, this is the primary tag that I use throughout this site. Anything tagged ‘hypertext’ refers to the Web: unique personal blogs and home pages and wikis, where modern hypertext is going, surviving the Internet and searching or organizing or creating hypertext. (The other primary tags are: garage and elementary.

Common tags beneath this one are:

  • linking: Discussion about mere ‘linking’—that direct linking suffices for ‘liking’/‘friending’/‘upvoting’, that Google has hindered it with its heuristic, and that I like TO DO IT.

  • catalog: How to catalog links and hypertext for yourself and others. Lots of discussion about link directories and wikis.

  • chain: Managing chains of links and conversations through hypertext.

15 Oct 2018

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After looking at TBL’s ‘Solid’ for several hours—I don’t follow. It is a ‘personal data store’—but it seems awfully complex. I was playing with making a static, read-only data store: well, there are a lot of strange tags involved. And many of the apps seem to use WebId-TLS (which doesn’t work any more?) Don’t even know where to begin to get help.

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12 Oct 2018

Reply: Those Darn Phantoms

Sphygmus

[to h0p3] I appreciate the exchange of notes! I feel the Dunbar Number problem; I think we can geek out together with informality, while also engaging each other on a higher level with the more formal, thoughtful, or directed letters.

I’m not really responding to your draft here—just testing the ‘whostyle’ I’m working on for your quotes. Of course, this is your idea, S. It’s simplified compared to what the two of you can do cross-wiki. I’m trying to decide if I want to copy h0p3’s complete letters over. I think I am against it.

I think about the Dunbar Number now and then. I’ve always felt resigned to it. There’s a limit, so why reach out? Maybe the point is to have few friends and find ‘depth’.

But I’m feeling awfully pluralistic—I just want to embrace the reverse as well. Can’t let a scientific number say how it should all be. ‘Knowing people’ seems like ‘all’ that should be. To make it easy to know me—say a bit here and there, but no need to be popping up all the time; to make it easy to know others—read many and try to develop the skill of ‘feeling’ for who they are, acknowledging their tones and colors.

There are people I’ve known my whole life who are still a mystery, whose relationship still feels tentative—I question whether depth can be. Perhaps there is only commitment.

A person changing changes the ‘depth’. When a singer’s voice or style changes, we have to start liking them from the place where they last were. But a singer who sang me a great song once—well, I could be devoted forever in sheer gratitude.

h0p3:
I quietly write this existentially isolating autopoietic self-idiom to (and seek the approval of) both current and future [conscious and non-conscious computational processes] which comprise my identity, the family I love, Humanity, The Others, the philosophers, my causal and especially memetic [sublators, descendents, and inheritors], any possible posthuman or AI-related demigods interpreting this text beyond some inconceivable (for me personally) techno-epistemic-blackbox singularity, and every appropriately fitting metaphysical object which transcends the limits of my mind or world.

Just testing another ‘whostyle’ here.

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09 Oct 2018

1080plus is Back

Previously known as ‘1080.plus’, this tri-dimensional VJ chat portal is still real—it is real.

What was a very underground tri-dimensional environment for exploring YouTube videos and playing Blackjack(?) together—hell, who knows what you’re SUPPOSED to do here—is now even more underground and abandoned now that it reappeared without any fanfare. I ADORED this place and went looking for it many months ago. Well—it’s back and now seems to have an otherworldly sister site i1os.

Screenshot of i1os.com

Strangely enough, the site was profiled in New York Magazine where the Canadian author (Michael Leonard) says 1080plus is “a project to make a multiplayer theater experience where you could join friends in a virtual world / virtual theater staring at the same virtual silver screen together, and talking about it as it plays.”

Ok, finally, something has survived of the old world.

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Reply to paulg

Paul Graham

[On the topic of Hacker News’ creation] At first it was called Startup News, but it was so boring reading about nothing but startups that a few months later we broadened the focus.

XDXDXD—imagine if the startup-related news was excised.

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Reply: Not Technically Salmentions

Eddie Hinkle

I don’t think it technically follows Salmention but it achieves similar results. Salmention requires each post to send it’s children posts up the chain. Since Micro.blog owns the whole thing it simplifies things. But the key is that if I’m not the originator of the conversation and someone replies to me, I’ll still be the replies to my post.

Ok, got it. It’s interesting—we kind of have to do this on our personal sites anyway. Like if I get a reply from myself further down the conversation, it’s useful to just use the post I ‘own’ directly rather than go parsing myself. 😄

It’s kind of tough to get it all working by hand—but it’s also amazing, so I’ll take it!

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Makefrontendshitagain.party

The name is odd; the campiness is tuned in.

So this thing starts off as a kind of old-school banner ad but—scroll, scroll—it’s a link directory! Pretty sweet—I like that it’s just a bunch of tiles and you have to wonder what’s behind them. (And wondering about its creator.)

Like here’s a personal homepage that was crammed in there. The counter says only 40 people have been there. And you might say, “What is even there? Why would I even spend time here?” Is bouncy text not enough for you? Is being the 41ST PERSON not enough??

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Reply: Brad’s Directory Project

Brad

Despite my earlier protestations, I am working on a web directory project on a different domain.

Thread about building link directories—sounds dry, but I am all about this right now.

Cool, cool. 😎 Hearing this has made me ramp up my work on mine as well. Looking forward to linking to each other when we get there.

I am nearing 200 links in my directory—that I’ve snapshotted and summarized—and my attitude toward the directory has changed a bit. At first, I simply thought, “Oh, I’ll just put any link in there that I like.” Which basically turns it into a big list of my bookmarks. (Which is fine—if it’s useful to me and helps the sites I really enjoy, then that’s a good angle to start with.)

However, I’m starting to see that I’m actually attempting to paint a picture of the Web—making a map of it, right? And so I’ve started branching out and including stuff that I may not visit all the time and that I may not even like, because I’m trying to show how ‘wide’ the Web is. As a result, I’ve started including a lot of controversial links across the spectrum of humanity—in order to make the directory more about the Web than it is about Me. (I’m a very passive person, so I tend to rule out posting anything inflammatory or controversial, because I have no idea what the ‘right’ side of an issue is and I just would usually rather not deal with it.)

Ok, so, it’s interesting how your previous sci-fi and horror directories weren’t at all about your preferences, but about mapping out a community. This is a lot tougher with a general-purpose directory because the Web is so big.

So, yeah, I wonder what your criteria are for what you are including. And what your mindset is while you are collecting and editing. I think it would be useful for us to write our thoughts so we can give some advice and encouragements to others who want to build their own web directories.

  1. >200 links

    I know this isn’t a race, but you are ahead of me. And I’m impressed because I’ve seen the detail you put into your descriptions. That’s a lot of work. I’m right around 100 links.

    Yeah, a general directory is harder than a niche. Fortunately, because of our discussions about the web, plus all the Indieweb philosophy, plus my own hobby horses, I have some themes to guide me in this first part of link seeding.

    I am building a directory to help navigate the web. I like your Little Free Library analogy – it is like building a public library from scratch: what needs to be here, what do I want here, what will my patrons enjoy and make use of?

    Themes: Rebuilding the independent web, the web as our social network, alternatives to silos, security and privacy.

    These first 100 links have been kinda from memory: so software to help a beginner build a website, computer security, better browsers, privacy search. I tried to provide links to the resources for those things plus just other stuff I carry in my head (ie. LibreOffice). You and I take this stuff for granted, but what about the average internet user? So I try to think like I’m advising a bunch of my friends around a table, what links would I give them as a starter set? I don’t need to include links to Facebook, Microsoft, Google – they already know about them, what do they need to know about?

    On top of this, I have categories that I don’t want to leave blank, stuff I don’t have in my head anymore so I have to dig. Oh the rabbit holes! There are lots of things I need to dig up more on but it can wait till later.

    Categories: This was hard, coming up with a hierarchy. And as I worked, I’ve added subcats and scrapped many that I can’t be bothered to fill. I started off with a starter set of categories. I’m trying to let subcategories and sub-subcats grow organically as I get enough links for them. I don’t want to overdo the hierarchy, because frankly I expect most people to use the search function anyway.

    PSA: At this point I should clarify some procedures:

    1. I’m listing both websites and individual web pages (sometimes known as deep links) in the directory. Sometimes both. In essence I’m giving myself the flexibility to say, “I don’t know about the rest of the site, but this one post on blue widgets is brilliant.”
    2. A link may appear in more than one category if it is relevant.
    3. At some point I will go back and cross index categories that are relevant to each other.
    4. Link descriptions: Right now I’m just making sure the description has the keywords in it that are needed for people to find it. I’m not trying to write a review although sometimes I do editorialize.
    5. The directory will be open for submissions at launch. Frankly, I’m not optimistic I will get a lot.

    Okay back to seeding.

    Now I’m going through all my bookmarks, read laters and likes looking for stuff worth listing.

    Then I eyeball it and look for gaps and reexamine my category choices.

    I’ll probably add most blogs after I publicly launch. I’d really prefer that bloggers add their own blogs and write their own descriptions. For example how do I describe Kicks Condor’s blog or Chris Aldrich’s blog? Blogs like mine and yours and Chris’ are about a little bit of everything. Much better if I can somehow convince bloggers to add their own listings and describe their own sites. If nobody comes to the party, I’ll start doing it myself but it will be a slog. And yet, and yet, these are exactly the blogs I want in this directory AND need to be in this directory. It’s easy to DUckduck for cooking blogs and find them, but what about blogs that are about every topic under the sun? They are hard to find by keywords but they do need to be found.

    Finally, there are topics I’m just not interested in or want to avoid: Politics, sex, religion – better served by a search engine. Sports? I can’t be bothered. But this too is cool, because there is room for sports, political and other niche directories. Just as there is room for thousands of small general directories.

  2. Reply: General-Purpose Link Directories

    Brad

    I am building a directory to help navigate the web. I like your Little Free Library analogy – it is like building a public library from scratch: what needs to be here, what do I want here, what will my patrons enjoy and make use of?

    Interesting—the ‘make use of’ part really doesn’t apply to what I’m doing because I’m not evaluating links on ‘usefulness’—I want links that are more of an experience or perspective. But I like that you’re doing that in yours. I think it will allow us to compare what draws people in—if that’s even possible.

    Themes: Rebuilding the independent web, the web as our social network, alternatives to silos, security and privacy.

    With mine, I’m specifically avoiding software and business links—because these dominate Google and already have a lot of directories. I’m not linking to technical posts of any kind, though I do have a section on free sites to use to participate on the Web and Indieweb.

    My themes are more: unique sites, colorful sites, bizarre sites (to some extent) and thoughtful sites. I love those pages that I read and they were so profound or beautiful that my life changed just being there.

    These first 100 links have been kinda from memory: so software to help a beginner build a website, computer security, better browsers, privacy search.

    That’s sweet. I’ve been loving the links you’ve been finding (like millionshort and findx—to which I would add wiby perhaps) and so I will definitely use the directory. Vivaldi has been great—I’m following along, Brad.

    On top of this, I have categories that I don’t want to leave blank, stuff I don’t have in my head anymore so I have to dig. Oh the rabbit holes! There are lots of things I need to dig up more on but it can wait till later.

    Yeah, so, this is a good topic. I started a few categories that I’ve decided to hold off on. I have an ‘Animal’ category, for instance, but I don’t think I’ve got enough quality material to make it happen yet. I’m close, but I might hold off.

    Like you, I found it useful to build my categories first, though. I’m only going two tiers deep. So I have a main category and then the actual category. I don’t put any links right under the top-level yet.

    Incidentally, here are the classification systems that I springboard from:

    • BISAC Headings List.
    • SeekOn—I feel like the categories here are similar to the old Yahoo!'s—not that that’s what I want at all, but it helped to think in terms of why I think this organization doesn’t work.
    • Cutter.
    • To some extent, Colon—though I could never seem to find a detailed category list here.

    I don’t want to overdo the hierarchy, because frankly I expect most people to use the search function anyway.

    Huh—I am skipping the search. I guess I’ll have to rethink this. I also have so few links that a lot of searches will draw blanks.

    I’m listing both websites and individual web pages (sometimes known as deep links) in the directory. Sometimes both. In essence I’m giving myself the flexibility to say, “I don’t know about the rest of the site, but this one post on blue widgets is brilliant.”

    Same. In fact, sometimes I link to just an image or a video and those are marked as such.

    A link may appear in more than one category if it is relevant.

    I don’t do this—I tend to link to the second category in the entry’s description instead. I do have some meta categories like ‘Blogs’ and ‘Wikis’ that will list all websites of those types from all categories.

    I do have some ‘secret’ categories that aren’t reachable from the hierarchy. For instance, I have a ‘Charlie McAlister’ secret section that goes into depth on his life—and which is only reachable from his link in the ‘Visuals/Zines’ category.

    At some point I will go back and cross index categories that are relevant to each other.

    Cool—not sure I have enough categories to do that. (Probably 30-40 categories.)

    Link descriptions: Right now I’m just making sure the description has the keywords in it that are needed for people to find it. I’m not trying to write a review although sometimes I do editorialize.

    This is where I go to town. I sometimes include five more links in the description. I am spending a lot of time making these juicy, giving history, including images. I may need to expand some of these into full-page articles.

    The directory will be open for submissions at launch. Frankly, I’m not optimistic I will get a lot.

    I think we need to look at this as long game. It might be good to give yourself a timeline to work with. Like I am giving Indieweb.xyz a year to see how it goes. I might go for two years. It requires a lot more maintenance and work because people interact with it—it’s not just static HTML.

    With this directory, I am committing to 20 years. I am definitely going to keep it up for the long run. It is designed to be a portal to the somewhat permanent Web and it needs to be there longterm in order to work. This means I can play a long game and just build it gradually. Maintaining links is the hard part—but if I keep it small, it’s fine.

    I’d really prefer that bloggers add their own blogs and write their own descriptions. For example how do I describe Kicks Condor’s blog or Chris Aldrich’s blog? Blogs like mine and yours and Chris’ are about a little bit of everything.

    Well, here’s my entry for your blog so far:

    Brad Enslen
    https://ramblinggit.com/
    Web/Meta Blog 10m
    I bounce ideas back-and-forth with this fellow. He blogs about web
    directories and web search---but in an effort to understand how else
    we could be doing this. Our conversations led me to make this directory.
    

    You might take umbrage with my description—it’s pretty low-key. I try not to pitch a site with too much fervor—if I say that every blog is ‘the best blog ever’ then it’s meaningless. But I also don’t want to judiciously decide that one is the best. I’d rather just say matter-of-factly why I visit a site. (I could see myself saying, “This is THE guy I go to when I want to read about organizing links and enhancing the Web these days.”)

    But I think if the description is written by me, it’s more likely to be interesting because self-promotion will always come off as marketing—this entry just comes across as an informal recommendation, like you’d hear in a conversation.

    You could also start with the description meta tag on your links.

    It’s easy to Duckduck for cooking blogs and find them, but what about blogs that are about every topic under the sun? They are hard to find by keywords but they do need to be found.

    Well, this is the advantage we have over Google. We can link to anything and it will be found because it’s never too lost in the directory—since we’re both only in the small hundreds of links.

    Finally, there are topics I’m just not interested in or want to avoid: Politics, sex, religion – better served by a search engine. Sports? I can’t be bothered. But this too is cool, because there is room for sports, political and other niche directories. Just as there is room for thousands of small general directories.

    Let’s hope! 😄

  3. >wiby.me

    Hey, thanks for that! Nice find. That’s just a different approach to what we are doing. Nicely done and good find.

    My themes are more: unique sites, colorful sites, bizarre sites (to some extent) and thoughtful sites. I love those pages that I read and they were so profound or beautiful that my life changed just being there.

    This is good. It has been evident that this is what you do well. This is a real strength for your directory, it will help you make a splash upon launch and will keep people coming back. I can see spending a winter afternoon just surfing through this directory.

    >search
    >20 years

    I don’t know how your directory is coded but the bigger it gets the more site search is needed. I suspect you want to encourage surfing, and that is cool, but my advice is plan to add search feature at some point if you can. There are ways to de-emphasize search on a directory: placement of the searchbox on page or even hiding it on a separate page, but it is handy to have when needed from a user perspective.

    In 20 years I’ll either be dead or so old I won’t care. My time horizon is a good 10 years, which is forever in Internet time and is part of why I’m doing this now rather than dithering. You are right this is a long term game.

    >description

    No umbrage. Low key works. Everyone is bombarded with marketing speak so it’s nice to have someone be dispassionate and neutral. I’m doing it a bit different: if a webmaster included a meta description I try to let it stand. If it is too market speak oriented I edit it and sometimes I add to it to make sure the searcher knows what’s all on the site.

    >categories

    I think I’m too hidebound in the past. You are going to bring a fresh approach to taxonomy which is needed and good.

    This is all good. The Indieweb folks are taking care of the social aspect, which is blogcentric sorta by definition. We can aid in discovery for the blogs and the non-blog sites. If there is to be an Independent Web X.0 somebody has to help map it.

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Reply: Verify and T42T

h0p3

I care about {Verify}. That doesn’t mean I’ve built it well or correctly. But it’s important to me that I can sign my wiki. This wiki is epicly portable, and I think signing makes good sense. Your tool makes signatures a bit more complicated, and I ask for your advice.

I realize you’re writing a draft 😉 but I’m going to say make a few squeaks and then go back to work.

So, {Verify} should actually be pretty trivial to add. Since the diffs are generated by this script, there would just need to be a step added to generate the .sig file (or add the hash to the .json file—the hash could be used by the loader to do the check there.) I will work on adding that soon—because my curiosity is peaked enough.

I fear I fail to T42T both you and kickscondor by failing to reciprocally build a useful tool for you. I’m trying to think of how I can contribute to your lives and art as much as you have for me. I apologize for not knowing how to do that. I feel inept like someone who doesn’t know how to buy a good Christmas present for their friend (and that makes me a bad friend). I don’t know you well enough to figure out how to create a gift that you’ll love and use. I’m sorry! I’m thinking about it.

So I think this is one of the possible misprojections of T42T—it leaves someone in ‘debt’. It is a very rational approach to relationships, because it reduces the interaction to numerical totals. But those numbers are very hard to derive—how much is the script I wrote worth? 2T? 3T? 16T? And how much are the thorough, immensely thoughtful replies that you write? Is that 2T? 53T?

Oh and: does 2T literally mean double? Or is it just a bit step beyond single T?

And–what is T? Does T represent “your last set of actions” in our relationship? So, if you just pulled off a 2T (doubled my T)—T is now 2T, expanding 2T into 4T from now on.

My take is that T is simply a ‘neutral’ action. It is a token of cooperation—it is not measured. I realize that 2T and perhaps even plain T imply a measurement, but I think that (might be wrong) measurement requires too much maintenance and is too difficult to sync (how do we keep our measurement identical?) so I see T as ‘neutral’ and 2T as simply ‘positive’—it will be hard enough for us (humans) to agree on the polarity of a T. So maybe let’s start there.

This way a simple ‘thank you’ for a massive gift can still be T42T. (If I were to remove the numerals: I might look at T4T as neutral-for-neutral and T42T as neutral-or-positive-for-positive. The question then becomes how to derive a polarity for an action—which brings us back to ‘the moral imperative’ and ‘the golden rule’ and the rest of THAT discussion that you are having.)

I’ve also read Grim Trigger, but I’m not talking about a recovery strategy in case T42T becomes malignant—this about how to do it in a realistic but generous way. To live it sustainably in a relationship like ours (it’s a tentative, nascent arrangement; but I think we both just want to make it work long-term.)

At any rate, I hope that riffing on your thoughts counts as a plus; your thankyous are sufficient and your generous replies are 2T always!

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Reply: Webmention Improvements on Micro.blog

Manton Reese

Improved replying on Micro.blog to send Webmentions to any external site in the reply chain, not just the root post. This more consistently allows replies to be copied to multiple external blogs that are participating in the conversation.

Sweet! So this works identically to Salmentions?

Ok, let me see if I’ve got this right—if I reply to a reply that’s later in the chain, I try to track down the original post like this:

  1. Load the URL I’m replying to.

  2. If it has an u-in-reply-to link, load that page (repeat step 1 & 2, ad finitum).

  3. Once I hit the end of the chain, I am left with an array of the reply history.

This should work on micro.blog because the only actual h-entry on a reply’s permalink is the ACTUAL reply—the other entries shown on the page are just posts that won’t be picked up by the microformats parser? Pretty interesting approach.

  1. I don’t think it technically follows Salmention but it achieves similar results. Salmention requires each post to send it’s children posts up the chain. Since Micro.blog owns the whole thing it simplifies things. But the key is that if I’m not the originator of the conversation and someone replies to me, I’ll still be the replies to my post.
  2. Reply: Not Technically Salmentions

    Eddie Hinkle

    I don’t think it technically follows Salmention but it achieves similar results. Salmention requires each post to send it’s children posts up the chain. Since Micro.blog owns the whole thing it simplifies things. But the key is that if I’m not the originator of the conversation and someone replies to me, I’ll still be the replies to my post.

    Ok, got it. It’s interesting—we kind of have to do this on our personal sites anyway. Like if I get a reply from myself further down the conversation, it’s useful to just use the post I ‘own’ directly rather than go parsing myself. 😄

    It’s kind of tough to get it all working by hand—but it’s also amazing, so I’ll take it!

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05 Oct 2018

Reply: Discombobulated Blogroll

Cool—found your blogroll. This is great! I especially like the links to your diary-x blog. Really wanted to check out your links page from back then, but there appears to be none archived. (I also really appreciate your links to Blot things—was unaware of Blot.)

  1. @kicks thank you! They are a funny old relic from an earlier time. :)) I really do need to update the blogroll too—it doesn’t feel finished, but I guess they are meant to be evolving! :)

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Lobste.rs Sends Webmentions Now

But doesn’t receive them? Still—neat!

Sending Webmentions to other sites seems like an insane thing to turn down. Your blog software sends a simple message and now that blog can know to link back to you. (And go ahead and send pingbacks, too—way too easy.) But a site like this one, Lobste.rs, where there is a lot of discussion about a given link—seems even better, more advantageous, generally, usually, to bring the author in.

Now imagine if this continued:

  • Send a Webmention (u-syndication style) to https://lobste.rs to submit a link.
  • Send a Webmention (u-like-of style) to a lobste.rs page to upvote.
  • Send a Webmention (u-in-reply-to style) to a lobste.rs page to comment.

And you could verify these Webmentions (and attach them to a user) by verifying that the Webmention source is listed in the user’s ‘about’ section.

Just a quick mention that this is how Indieweb.xyz works and I am very anxious to see if it’s possible to really have a community work this way! (I’m not sure I know of any other community that is entirely built ENTIRELY from blog and wiki crosstalk—maybe the deceased ‘bloglines’ was one?—‘is’/‘was’ there one?)

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The GeoCities Research Institute

A gateway to the Old Web and its sparkling, angelic imagery.

I try not to get too wrapped up in mere nostalgia here—I’m more interested in where the Web is going next than where it’s been. But, hell, then I fumble into a site like this one and I just get sucked up into the halcyon GIFs.

This site simply explores the full Geocities torrent, reviewing and screenshotting and digging up history. The archive gets tackled by the writers in thematic bites, such as sites that were last updated right after 9/11, tracking down construction cones, or denizens of the ‘Pentagon’ neighborhood.

Their restoration of the Papercat is really cool. Click on it. Yeah, check that out. Now here’s something. Get your pics scanned and I’ll mail you back? Oh, krikey, Dave (HBboy). What a time to be alive.

But, beyond that, there is a network of other blogs and sites connected to this one:

Pixel art of woman onswing.

I was also happy to discover that the majority (all?) of the posts are done by Olia Lialina, who is one of the original net.artists—I admire her other work greatly! Ok, cool.

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02 Oct 2018

Taming Outlandish TiddlyWikis

A prototype for the time being.

I’m sorry to be very ‘projecty’ today—I will get back to linking and surfing straightway. But, first, I need to share a prototype that I’ve been working on.

Our friend h0p3[1] has now filled his personal, public TiddlyWiki to the brim—a whopping 21 MEGAbyte file full of, oh, words. Phrases. Dark-triadic memetic, for instance. And I’m not eager for him to abandon this wiki to another system—and I’m not sure he can.

So, I’ve fashioned a doorway.

This is not a permanent mirror yet. Please don’t link to it.

Screenshot of the h0p3 archive page.

Yes, there is also an archive page. I took these from his Github repo, which appears to go all the way back to the beginning.

Ok, yes, so it does have one other feature: it works with the browser cache. This means that if you load snapshot #623 and then load #624, it will not reload the entire wiki all over again—just the changes. This is because they are both based on the same snapshot (which is #618, to be precise.) So—if you are reading over the course of a month, you should only load the snapshot once.

Snapshots are taken once the changes go beyond 2 MB—though this can be tuned, of course.

  • Total size of the raw archive: 6.2 gigs.
  • Size of my kicksnap’d archive: 736 megs.

Shrunk to 11% of its original size. This is done through the use of judicious diffs (or deltas). The code is in my TiddlyWiki-loader repository.

A Few Lessons I Picked Up

I picked up this project last week and kind of got sucked into it. I tried a number of approaches—both in snapshotting the thing and in loading the HTML.

I ended up with an IFRAME in the end. It was just so much faster to push a 21 MB string through IFRAME’s srcdoc property than to use stuff like innerHTML or parseHTML or all the other strategies.

Also: document.write (and document.open and document.close) seems immensely slow and unreliable. Perhaps I was doing it wrong? (You can look through the commit log on Github to find my old work.)

On the Snapshot Technique

I originally thought I’d settled on splitting the wiki up into ~200 pieces that would be updated with changes each time the wiki gets synchronized. I got a fair bit into the algorithm here (and, again, this can be seen in the commit log—the kicksplit.py script.)

But two-hundred chunks of 21 MB is still 10k per chunk. And usually a single day of edits would result in twenty chunks being updated. This meant a single snapshot would be two megs. In a few days, we’re up to eight megs.

Once I went back to diffs and saw that a single day usually only comprised 20-50k of changes (and that this stayed consistent over the entire life of h0p3’s wiki,) I was convinced. The use of diffs also made it very simple to add an archives page.

In addition, this will help with TiddlyWikis that are shared on the Dat network[2]. Right now, if you have a Dat with a TiddlyWiki in it, it will grow in size just like the 6 gig folder I talked about in the last box. If you use this script, you can be down to a reasonable size. (I also believe I can get this to work directly from TiddlyWiki from inside of Beaker.)

And, so, yeah, here is a dat link you can enjoy: dat://38c211…a3/

I think that’s all that I’ll discuss here, for further technical details (and how to actually use it), see the README. I just want to offer help to my friends out there that are doing this kind of work and encourage anyone else who might be worried that hosting a public TiddlyWiki might drain too much bandwidth.


  1. philosopher.life, dontchakno? I’m not going to type it in for ya. ↩︎

  2. The network used by the Beaker Browser, which is one of my tultywits. ↩︎

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Nikita’s Collected Knowledge

Along with a discussion of personal encyclopedias.

There has been a small, barely discernable flurry of activity lately[1] around the idea of personal knowledge bases—in the same vicinity as personal wikis that I like to read. (I’ve been a fan of personal encyclopedias since discovering Samuel Johnson and, particularly, Thomas Browne, as a child—and am always on a search for the homes of these types of individuals in modernity.)

Nikita’s wiki is the most established of those I’ve seen so far, enhanced by the proximity of Nikita’s Learn Anything, which appears to be a kind of ‘awesome directory’[2] laid out in a hierarchical map.

Screenshot of learn-anything.xyz

Another project that came up was Ceasar Bautista’s Encyclopedia, which I installed to get a feel for. You add text files to this thing and it generates nice pages for them. However, it requires a bunch of supporting software, so most people are probably better served by TiddlyWiki. This encyclopedia’s main page is a simple search box—which would be a novel way of configuring a TiddlyWiki.

I view these kinds of personal directories as the connecting tissue of the Web. They are pure linkage, connecting the valuable parts. And they, in the sense that they curate and edit this material, are valuable and generous works. To be an industrious librarian, journalist or archivist is to enrich the species—to credit one’s sources and to simply pay attention to others.

I will also point you to the Meta Knowledge repo, which lists a number of similar sites out there. I am left wondering: where does this crowd congregate? Who can introduce me to them?


  1. Mostly centering around these two discussion threads:

    ↩︎
  2. Discussed at The Awesome Directories. ↩︎

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Reply: Strategy: Minimize

Tim Swast

Neat idea. My strategy has been to minimize the amount of shared headers and footers. Your method seems much more flexible.

Took a look at your blog—it’s sweet! I will be sure to include it in my next href hunt. I enjoyed the article about Dat and am interested in finding others who write about practical uses of the ‘dweb’—unfortunately, many of the links on Tara Vancil’s directory are ‘broken’ (perhaps ‘vanished’ is more correct?) and I’m not sure how to discover more.

At any rate, good to meet you!

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Reply: Owning Your Content

This is a great article! It follows all of the same things I put in my reply—which makes me nod my head, for sure—but it also goes into much more detail and thought, which I very much appreciate.

The war against the word ‘content’ is also rad. Yeah, keep that up.

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Fake HTML Includes (for Beaker)

My personal strategy for handling HTML on the distributed Web.

So, HTML is a bit different on the distributed Web (the Dat network which the Beaker Browser uses, IPFS and so on) because your file history sticks around there. Normally on the Web, you upload your new website and it replaces the old one. With all of these other ‘webs’, it’s not that way—you add your new changes on top of the old site.

Things tend to pile up. You’re filing these networks with files. So, with a blog, for instance, there are these concerns:

  • I want common things like headers and footers to be in separate files—because they bloat every one of my pages.
  • I also want them in separate files so that when I change something in my header it doesn’t change EVERY PAGE in my site—pushing lots of changes onto the network.
  • The trend with Dat seems to be that websites are delivered more as applications—where you could potentially access the underlying posts in a format like JSON, rather than just having a raw HTML dump.

Ultimately, I might end up delivering a pure JavaScript site on the Dat network. It seems very efficient to do that actually—this site weighs in at 19 MB normally, but a pure JavaScript version should be around 7 MB (with 5 MB of that being images.)

My interim solution is to mimick HTML includes. My tags look like this:

<link rel="include" href="/includes/header.html">

The code to load these is this:

document.addEventListener('DOMContentLoaded', function() {
  let eles = document.querySelectorAll("link[rel='include']");
  for (let i = 0; i < eles.length; i++) {
    let ele = eles[i];
    let xhr = new XMLHttpRequest()
    xhr.onload = function() {
      let frag = document.createRange().
        createContextualFragment(this.responseText)
      let seq = function () {
        while (frag.children.length > 0) {
          let c = frag.children[0]
          if (c.tagName == "SCRIPT" && c.src) {
            c.onload = seq
            c.onerror = seq
          }
          ele.parentNode.insertBefore(c, ele);
          if (c.onload == seq) {
            break
          }
        }
      }
      seq()
    }
    xhr.open('GET', ele.href);
    xhr.send();
  }
})

You can put this anywhere on the page you want—in the <head> tags, in a script that gets loaded. It will also load any scripts inside the HTML fragment that gets loaded.

This change saved me 4 MB immediately. But, in the long run, the savings are much greater because my whole site doesn’t rebuild when I add a single tag (which shows up in the ‘archives’ box on the left-hand side of this site.)

I would have used ‘HTML imports’—but they aren’t supported by Firefox and are a bit weird for this (because they don’t actally put the HTML inside into the page.)

I am happy to anyone for improvements that can be made to this.

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New technologies always seem to, at least initially, create more problems than they solve.

  1. @kicks We have no problems. What we have are "unresolved situations." Heh.

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29 Sep 2018

Reply: The Narrows

h0p3

Very cool! My Recent pushes edited tiddlers to the top; I am not yet convinced your tool has the same behavior.

If it doesn’t, it’s a bug. I use the mtime of the post’s file to arrange these, so I cannot sneak around it. If you can give me an example of the difference, I would really like to know!

Thank you for the Robustness principle. It’s beautiful.

I’m glad you see it! I find it very profound—however, it is also somewhat cliché you could say, because it is only another sighting of ‘yin’ and ‘yang’ in the system. (I say ‘cliché’ not to belittle it, but to underscore how commonplace this strain of epiphany seems to be in the ‘eastern’ ways of thinking. I often think of the expression ‘if you meet the Buddha, kill him’—how do you both attempt to follow an archetype and to avoid archetyping that ideal too closely? But it does seem wise.)

I wonder if you can also help me find some philosophical discussion about dichotomies and tradeoffs. For example, I find both socialism and capitalism very appealing—I truly can’t say which I prefer. I like that the library exists; and I like shopping for boots. I know there is a lot of negativity around this dualism (“this isn’t free-market capitalism”/“socialism hasn’t really been tried”) except that there seems to be respect for Denmark which has both free markets and high taxes, which certainly looks dualist (pluralist?—not sure the proper term) to me.

So I wonder where in literature I might look for more about living/thinking pluralistically. My friends seem to see it as being hedonist, non-committal, ‘lukewarm’ and impossible. Well, yes—but it’s much more than that. It’s pluralism after all.

I want to apologize for my constant ninja-edits. I have a thousand evolving things to say to you, and my drafts are just never done (as you have probably noticed).

Change anything you want! You have my full trust. We are in a process of mental and lingual refinement. The tradeoff here is that I won’t be responding too closely to your words. I am going to not pick them apart—unless I want to tease out more understand or to encourage further ninja-edits.

Had to look that song and lyrics up. I keep an almost full size oil canvas reproduction of The Starry Night about four feet to the left of my desk.

Yeah I guess now that I think about it, my thoughts were more on the painting than the song. But both are very intertwined for me. I had an uncle die of AIDS in his twenties. I was in third grade at the time. He was the rare uncle who is a friend—and he was a sensitive and stylish person. He was a painter and this was his favorite painting. My first experience crying emotively was when this painting and the song came on to the screen during a school assembly in fifth grade.

I felt that he was ‘trapped’ in the painting—I looked into it and saw him. And also did not see him—just the dark, brilliant world without him. So he was also ‘free’ in the painting. I knew of Van Gogh’s troubled end and this added to the swirling spectre. It was as if the appearance on the screen of this image was an appearance of them—an impressive outward display of their presence in my soul. (Of course this was just a random slide that was thrown in there—I knew that even at the time, but it was as striking as if their photographs had been displayed.)

I am not asking the same from you, since I consider it unreasonable to ask it of you (but not of myself here). I hope to ‘go with the flow’ of your conversational style.

This, along with the coincidence of the painting by your desk, is immense common ground for us! The principle of “my rules don’t apply to you, but you are free to look through them” (is this accurate?) seems woven throughout your wiki and I try to adhere to this perspective, too.

I’m considering adding compression internal to TW, but it violates my goal of keeping the source maximally readable. Unless I go for some alternative non-TW oriented loader, I’m like 99% sure I’m just going to stick to gzip and make people patiently wait (probably good for bouncing impatient trolls as well).

So you don’t want to separate the wiki into separate pages? Or can’t? I thought there was a way of splitting tiddlers up. Or exporting or something.

The monolithic file is the central issue I’d think—it contains an opaque filesystem. This is convenient for a lot of reasons: editing, transporting, searching.

I have started a prototype for an idea I have—I will report back to you next week with some results. If I can somehow get access to some snapshots (say the last month’s worth)—that would be very useful.

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28 Sep 2018

I’m starting to arrange my tags into a Sierpinski triangle—there are now three primary ones: hypertext, garage and elementary. These act as sub-blogs—other tags may be looked at as sub-sub-blogs to these, cross-sections to these three and assistive search until I find a ‘better’ way to index everything.

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25 Sep 2018

Reply: Ham and Cheese is Key

Ron Chester

Even with Facebook, the hated silo, I have posted some brilliant things over there about Bob Dylan over the years. As far as I’m concerned, I own all that content, regardless of what their TOS says. I would have no backoff at all on posting those same comments here. […] I think the emphasis around here should be to write, write, write. Don’t worry too much about the technical nuances or the careful splitting of hairs in the definition of terms. Just write blog articles and post them. Repeat. Repeat.

Mmmnhmm—ok, good, good.

See, now I just really want to read your Bob Dylan stuff. I watch Don’t Look Back like once a month. Wish I could have experienced those days.

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Reply: H0p3styl1n6

h0p3

The CSS fragment idea is very interesting; it celebrates and signifies our participation in each others’ identities and work. It is a gift to try to represent someone’s aesthetic point of view or voicestyle in quotation. It’s like reading a letter in someone’s handwriting that you’ve seen many times before, conjuring memories like the smell of cinnamon rolls.

Ok, great start to our discussion about styling citations from each other in matching CSS.

I am sending this reply with a musky pork pie smell. See the attached WIFF file.

Yet again to my ignorance: I clearly do not appreciate Art as well as others. I’m an uncouth pig here. I love consuming it as a drug, and I’ve (very poorly) made plenty of it before. Trying to emotionally communicate the cognitively ineffable is something I do take seriously (enough to be very particular about it). Forgive me for being the joyless buzzkill rhetoric-hawk.

Ha-ha! Well, you are becoming very endeared to me, hawk. And you are right to keep us all in check. The buzz that you do kill—and it’s certainly not a buzzard-sized buzz—is not any buzz that was killed just 'cause.

I’m especially interested in form as it relates to function; I want something productive (pleasant workspaces help me work, of course). I don’t think I’m obsessed with minimalism (though I appreciate it), but rather plainness irwartfrr. If it works and it looks good enough: cool, I like that. I’m the kind of dude that will buy 5 identical shirts if I know they are cheap and comfortable. I want the majority of expressive work in my wiki to be in my words. Ideally, I want my words to carry as much of their meaning as possible without relying upon appearance (which I think can be nearly all of it), and only then do I want to work on appearance beyond as function as the delicious bonus.

Oh, I see this in you and I applaud it—loudly, standing—an ovation which goes in a great arc, knocking over the drinks of everyone else standing around me. (Part of this ovation is a simple appreciation of your last epic missive, which is due.)

I only side more toward art because I get so much out of it. I can’t think of a reasoned argument that has transfixed me as much as “Starry, Starry Night” has. And I don’t reach for a reasoned argument when life has fallen apart, but for Neil Young. (I am not arguing with you here—I know you have these things, too, and that you love cartoons and songs and shows and all that. And, come on—you are nuts for ASCII art, amirite? Alas, I also do fall into the trap you’re talking about of form over function.)

Alright, so with all those caveats in mind, we may end up doing this all by hand and passing tiddlers around—I’m also going to play with some styled RSS tonight and see what happens. And we’ll toss some ideas around.

One thing I know for sure: I don’t want to go too crazy on fonts, because I don’t want readers to have to load ten Web Fonts to make this work. That would be EXACTLY fonts over functions. But the basic colors and stuff—worth a try, yeah?

(One time you asked if you should read Vigoleis—no, don’t. He’s mine. And it’s like Infinite Jest, it will take you way too long to read and you’ll never want to read it again. Infinite Jest also wasn’t for me.)


Oh, also, from the footnote:

In a blind, stripped-down test, I’d prefer to make it so even a paraphrase of something I’ve said would evoke: ‘that sounds like h0p3’ or ‘h0p3 would like that’ or ‘you know who probably wouldn’t stop blathering on about this if he were reading this with me right now?..h0p3’ or ‘omg, this sounds like that asshole h0p3, lol.’

I feel this way about the words, too, for sure—but also the appearance. It’s like remembering The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch for both the chitinous foreheads inside and the orange-red cover of the bug-eyed man with the robotic hands. It all comes flooding back like that.

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Sphygmus

Another promising introspective TiddlyWiki appears on the horizon of the network.

What excites me about sphygmus is: first, that she’s confronting this fear and we get to see what happens. (We out on the Old Web all have to confront this: that we might not find anyone here without the self-advertising infrastructure that the big networks have.) It’s uncertain why we are reading each other, why we are writing, who we are—there is a lot of uncertainty that I’m feeling, too, and I have this strange belief that someone else might have the answer. (In a way, OF COURSE SOMEONE ELSE HAS THE ANSWER—you out there are the ones who choose to ‘ignore’ or ‘respect’ or ‘dismiss’. Or to ‘jump right in’.)

But I am running a blog with comments—it’s easier to get feedback. A TiddlyWiki is genuinely on someone else’s turf. It is AT ODDS with the Indieweb. The ‘Indieweb’ is attempting to solve personal interaction with additional technology. But a TiddlyWiki like this is attempting to solve personal interaction by—well, it’s not trying to solve personal interaction. It expects you to learn its system and, in a way, the technology works against you, because it has a learning curve.

In other words, it’s all on us to understand and read each other. (The entire Twitter network is built on the idea that you can take someone’s 140 characters on its own, out of any context, as an independent statement—there is no need to read back on the history there. But with a TiddlyWiki, the system requires you to dig—it is possibly the literal opposite.)

We must bear in mind that, fundamentally, there’s no such thing as color; in fact, there’s no such thing as a face, because until the light hits it, it is nonexistent. After all, one of the first things I learned in the School of Art was that there is no such thing as a line; there’s only the light and the shade.

— Alfred Hitchcock

On the Web, we are the light to each other’s faces.

Aesthetics In The Info

Second, sphygmus’ entrance adds to our midst another person really thinking about how visual style is a non-verbal form of personality. That it can augment our discussion—maybe even be necessary!

I don’t think of it as part of my artistic practice but I think you are right to see a connection. My relationship with my digital spaces is deeply connected to what suits my visual eye - I’m on an absurdly out-dated version of Chrome simply because I hate the way the new Material Design Chrome looks […]

She has already made the innovation of posting all of her material in her own dark-gray-and-cornflower-blue CSS styling. When she posts h0p3’s replies, however, they are in his dark black style and narrow monospace font. (See the screenshot above.) This conjures him in that moment when we read!! (I address this in Things We Left in the Old Web, where one of my criticisms of RSS is that it cruelly strips our words of their coloring. Cruel!)

So: I am interested in how we can cement this. I want to style my h0p3 quotes and my sphygmus quotes similarly—can we come to an accord on how to do this so that I can give YOU control over how these things look? Perhaps we could share CSS fragments on our respective sites?

Documents Are Us

I covered this a bit in Static: the Gathering, that this HTML might actually be us, might be a model of our soul. But, let’s tilt on the topic a bit.

We are all more or less public figures, it’s only the number of spectators that varies.

— Jose Saramago, The Double

So, yeah, thirdly—what h0p3 and sphygmus are tackling is an approach for being a fully exposed, well, let’s just say: a human. A wikified human. There have been attempts to do this in video or blog form—to keep the camera on a person. In this case, though, the camera feels to be focused on the mind, the internal dialogue. (In h0p3’s case: the family meetings, the link histories, the organizational workings—all the behind-the-scenes discussion—maybe it’s ALL behind-the-scenes discussion. I confess that I’ve also started a personal TiddlyWiki to store all these same kinds of materials.)

So, what is ‘oversharing’ and what is just ‘sharing’? Oh, GENEROUS ‘SHARING’—what would that be? What is ‘public’ and what is designated ‘private’? Are these pointless distinctions?

Might it be time to pause all the needless labelling of information and to just read?

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Reply: The Kid With My Car

Ron

Food for thought. Suppose you bought a shiny new car, then flew to Seattle for a business meeting, leaving it at the airport. Do you still own the car while on the plane at 24,000 feet? What if you give the keys to a kid for valet parking out in the Avenues and he parks it somewhere in the neighborhood while you eat, so you don’t have any idea where the car is and don’t even have the keys. Do you still own the car while you’re eating your ham and cheese?

Haha—ok, well, I definitely own the ham and cheese! Am I close??

With my car, it depends on the legal jurisdiction, the name on the title for the vehicle, the ability of the government to enforce my ownership—and maybe ‘owning’ a car isn’t nearly as important as ‘controlling’ it.

I wonder if that might be the issue here with Micro.blog—perhaps Belle feels like she can’t ‘control’ her stuff enough. I guess I’m trying to draw a parallel between the public_html directory and Micro.blog. If a platform ultimately just feels like a folder that I can sync ‘in’ to and ‘out’ of—then I think it reaches the ideals of ‘ownership’ and ‘control’ on the Web. But that’s me—am I missing something?

(This is also clearing up why I’m seeing TiddlyWikis spring up—that’s a platform where EVERYTHING is local and is likeliest to have longevity because it doesn’t rely on ‘anyone’/‘anybiz’ else.)

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Reply: Worried About the Title

Manton Reese

I was worried when I saw this title until I realized it was a reply to another post.

Oh boy—man, I am sorry! FWIW I think you are doing great with micro.blog. I already have my own setup and I’m just glad I can still participate in the network from the outside. What a gift! I actually think you’ve figured out a great way to keep the Indieweb humming AND build a nice smaller network. You deserve a lot of encouragement—and Belle could use it, too, I’m sure. It’s difficult to build these things.

I think the larger problem right now is that there are so few good choices. This puts a lot of pressure on you and your team. But I think that your work could encourage more small networks like this—just as you said in your recent post. This all takes a lot of patience to wait out. Let’s hope you, Belle and the rest of us can see this through. Peace, brother.

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Reply: Highlights of Web Directory Building Past

Brad

I’ve built a lot of different niche web directories over the years. Frankly there are some that I have forgotten about. But here are some highlights.

A little directory of personal directories—sweet!

Ok, this is seriously insane! What a ton of work. Serious respect for your past lives in directory building!

Couple questions:

  • How much fanfic did you read while building these? I guess I’m wondering how much of this job bordered on literary critique or editing.

  • Scifimatter refers to ‘HipRank’ in the links—what was that? It seems that you used this to order the links.

  • You say on Scifimatter that you want to help ‘the surfer’, the ‘amateur and semipro websites’ and—most importantly, perhaps—to ‘encourage fans of SF/F to start their own website’—did this play out? (These are definitely my goals, too—I wonder how to accomplish them.)

Also, I’m a pretty big Godzilla (and monster movie, Kaiju, Biollante) fan, so I loved looking through those links on the Planets Doom. Also, I have to say: it’s impressive that many of the outgoing links in the directory STILL work thanks to the thoroughness of the Wayback Machine! Another benefit of static HTML—even if these directories are static versions of the original dynamic ones.

  1. Hi Kicks,

    I’ll try and answer your questions.

    >>fanfic

    I read a lot. But generally after the site got listed. As an editor you get into a routine of how you spot check a site for inclusion. For a fanfic site that meant checking to see if it was really fanfic and how extensive it was. I did not really judge how go the fanfic was, only that it was readable, navigable, legit. It was up to the visitors to judge how good the fic was. The other interesting category were the serialized fiction blogs. These were original fiction with each post being a chapter in the story. Again, they just had to be reasonably competent at least back then. I think my criteria for inclusion would be different today.

    > Hip Rank

    This was my parody of Google’s Page Rank. A lot of directories were starting to organize their listings by PageRank. There was a tiny search engine called Search Hippo that offered a free API of Hip Rank. I decided to sort my listings by Hip Rank, in mockery of Google. It was never popular. Nobody understood it, and if you have to explain the joke it sucks all the funny out of it. I think I only used HipRank for about 1.5 years then gave it up.

    The problem with sorting a directory listings by PageRank or AlexaRank is that it is not a mark of quality, it is only a opinion of popularity. So if the most popular sites are always first they tend to stay the most popular. Probably alphabetical order tends to be the most neutral and fair.

    >>encourage

    Well I hope I did. Directories in the later years did not inspire fan mail so I don’t know. I do know that I sent a lot of traffic to some sites because the directory script logged clicks out. Some sites got thousands of visitors from me. I’d like to think that helped.

    I think writing a series of easy how to guides would be good today. ie. How to use SeaMonkey Composer to make a site on neocities. Also having a category in your directory of free and easy resources for web building helps.

    >>Godzilla

    I love all those monster movies. One of my favorite sites is still around Stomp Tokyo. See, I remember it 18 years later! Any B monster movie, no matter how bad it is, is good. Plus the Universal Studios monsters from the 30’s. Plus anything with Vincent Price. Good times.

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Reply to pfrazee

🔹Websites are encouraged to follow SEO guidelines. 🔹Google decides that ‘excessive’ linking effects your PageRank. 🔹Blogs stop linking to each other, blogrolls disappear. Think this might injure the open Web?

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Reply: Million Short

Brad

This is a search engine that lets you dig deeper into the search results. It lets you exclude the top 100 to 1 million most popular search results, getting you into the deep meat of the web.

Tremendous ‘search engine’ discovery!

What a tremendous discovery! I’m really impressed with this and am already finding it useful. I think this is the first search engine that I’ve been excited about in a decade.

You’re doing fantastic work, Brad. New discoveries all the time. Way to surf!

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Reply: Why I’m Leaving Micro.blog

Belle B. Cooper

First, Manton’s business model is for users to not own their content. You might be able to own your domain name, but if you have a hosted Micro.blog blog, the content itself is hosted on Micro.blog servers, not yours. You can export your data, or use an RSS feed to auto-post it to somewhere you control directly, but if you’re not hosting the content yourself, how does having a custom domain equal self-hosting your content and truly owning it?

Couple questions about ‘owning’ your content on the Indieweb.

A few follow-up questions to this:

  • In the old days, when an ISP (or your college or whatever) would give you a public_html folder to put your website in—did you own your content?

  • In modern times, when you rent a virtual server slice to run Apache and serve your website from a Wordpress database—do you own your content?

  • If you put up an essay on a pastebin site—do you own your content?

I don’t really see the difference between using FTP to pass your stuff ‘in’/‘out’ of a public_html folder and using Micro.blog’s API to pass your stuff ‘in’/‘out’. If you can get your stuff ‘in’ and ‘out’—isn’t that the key? The API is just a different kind of FTP.

The public_html folder isn’t owned. The virtual slice isn’t owned. The domain isn’t owned. The pastebin isn’t owned. The API isn’t owned. What does it mean to ‘own’ anyway?

This is one thing that is really cut and dry with Beaker Browser. You do own the content because it originates directly from the machine under your fingers that you own.

(Not trying to defend Micro.blog or weigh in on the other interesting matters of this post—perhaps I should just shut up—just thinking about this one thing.)

  1. Reply: Worried About the Title

    Manton Reese

    I was worried when I saw this title until I realized it was a reply to another post.

    Oh boy—man, I am sorry! FWIW I think you are doing great with micro.blog. I already have my own setup and I’m just glad I can still participate in the network from the outside. What a gift! I actually think you’ve figured out a great way to keep the Indieweb humming AND build a nice smaller network. You deserve a lot of encouragement—and Belle could use it, too, I’m sure. It’s difficult to build these things.

    I think the larger problem right now is that there are so few good choices. This puts a lot of pressure on you and your team. But I think that your work could encourage more small networks like this—just as you said in your recent post. This all takes a lot of patience to wait out. Let’s hope you, Belle and the rest of us can see this through. Peace, brother.

  2. @kicks Food for thought. Suppose you bought a shiny new car, then flew to Seattle for a business meeting, leaving it at the airport. Do you still own the car while on the plane at 24,000 feet? What if you give the keys to a kid for valet parking out in the Avenues and he parks it somewhere in the neighborhood while you eat, so you don't have any idea where the car is and don't even have the keys. Do you still own the car while you're eating your ham and cheese?

  3. Reply: The Kid With My Car

    Ron

    Food for thought. Suppose you bought a shiny new car, then flew to Seattle for a business meeting, leaving it at the airport. Do you still own the car while on the plane at 24,000 feet? What if you give the keys to a kid for valet parking out in the Avenues and he parks it somewhere in the neighborhood while you eat, so you don’t have any idea where the car is and don’t even have the keys. Do you still own the car while you’re eating your ham and cheese?

    Haha—ok, well, I definitely own the ham and cheese! Am I close??

    With my car, it depends on the legal jurisdiction, the name on the title for the vehicle, the ability of the government to enforce my ownership—and maybe ‘owning’ a car isn’t nearly as important as ‘controlling’ it.

    I wonder if that might be the issue here with Micro.blog—perhaps Belle feels like she can’t ‘control’ her stuff enough. I guess I’m trying to draw a parallel between the public_html directory and Micro.blog. If a platform ultimately just feels like a folder that I can sync ‘in’ to and ‘out’ of—then I think it reaches the ideals of ‘ownership’ and ‘control’ on the Web. But that’s me—am I missing something?

    (This is also clearing up why I’m seeing TiddlyWikis spring up—that’s a platform where EVERYTHING is local and is likeliest to have longevity because it doesn’t rely on ‘anyone’/‘anybiz’ else.)

  4. @Ron @kicks @Manton I co-sign Kicks’ response: “I actually think you’ve figured out a great way to keep the Indieweb humming AND build a nice smaller network.” I also felt the original petition was too personally hostile given the relatively abstract nature of the complaint.

    OK, class, there's the bell. Remember, two paragraphs for tomorrow comparing Locke and Bastiat’s theories of property and notions of ownership, enjoy the rest of your day

  5. @donmacdonald Ohhh, no, not Bastiat again. Can I write mine on Henry and Edsel Ford?

  6. @kicks Yes, the ham and cheese is totally key! I can't speak for Belle, but I found myself unable to sleep for six hours after I read her going away message. It tore me up. She stated many times how much she liked the folks here, but was going to have to leave anyway over some very technical points of programming and the definition of some words. Fortunately I'm a tax accountant, so I can keep my blogging very simple and don't find myself having to deal with any moral or ethical crisis in the meantime. As for the cars in my examples, keep it simple and you know you still own the car in both of cases, even if you don't currently control it, or even know where it's located.

    Even with Facebook, the hated silo, I have posted some brilliant things over there about Bob Dylan over the years. As far as I'm concerned, I own all that content, regardless of what their TOS says. I would have no backoff at all on posting those same comments here. And do you think the FB attorneys would come after me for stealing the content I put over there, which "they own?" Of course not, they couldn't care less.

    I think the emphasis around here should be to write, write, write. Don't worry too much about the technical nuances or the careful splitting of hairs in the definition of terms. Just write blog articles and post them. Repeat. Repeat.

  7. Reply: Ham and Cheese is Key

    Ron Chester

    Even with Facebook, the hated silo, I have posted some brilliant things over there about Bob Dylan over the years. As far as I’m concerned, I own all that content, regardless of what their TOS says. I would have no backoff at all on posting those same comments here. […] I think the emphasis around here should be to write, write, write. Don’t worry too much about the technical nuances or the careful splitting of hairs in the definition of terms. Just write blog articles and post them. Repeat. Repeat.

    Mmmnhmm—ok, good, good.

    See, now I just really want to read your Bob Dylan stuff. I watch Don’t Look Back like once a month. Wish I could have experienced those days.

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Reply: Where Will the Current State of Blogging and Social Media Take Us?

Jacky Alciné

Using these isolated services make it hard for us to express ourselves in the days of MySpace (for my generation) or even further back. It has created ingenuity in terms of content production within these constraints but the act of being forced in a box for the sake of revenue reeks of that post-industrial content creation farms.

Your blog has been a big inspiration to me because of its design. Part of it is that you’ve used color and photography to craft a unique place. It’s nothing like a ‘a revenue box’—it’s like a lovely novel that stands out on the shelf.

And it goes beyond aesthetics and colors—it’s well-structured. (I really like the metadata section you have on each post. The layout is appealing and it makes me want to explore your site.) Sure, if I’m posting all pictures all day, then Instagram might have everything I need. But what if I’m writing essays and conducting interviews—I want to have the freedom to structure that data so people can find their way around. (In a way, I’m saying that I want to own the ‘algorithm’—I want to just do it by hand.)

And, yeah, I was using Jekyll, too—and left it partly because I want to start doing more blogging outside of the console. I think the Indieweb toolset is still so far behind social media’s—this is why people generally don’t hang out here.

I don’t know what existed before hashtags outside of planets but those two concepts were ways to find people and content on things you were interested in. Reddit’s plumbing is built around this notion. Twitter is compartmentalized around this notion too. Even platforms built on the notion of decentralization and federation uses a centralizing tactic of federating hashtag content to build community. It’s a bit inevitable.

Really great observation here. You’re right—we don’t have a way of tagging and community forming in the Indieweb. I have been building Indieweb.xyz as a way to kind of do this—but it’s hard to know if the approach is right, it hasn’t managed to draw people in. Maybe we need a crawler you can sign up for that will index all your tags and hook us all together.

This thought of yours also brought me to the rel=tag page, which I hadn’t seen before. Not sure what to do with it. Perhaps brid.gy could start adding these hashtags to syndicated posts? Don’t really know.

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21 Sep 2018

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Reply: Steelwomaning

The text of my second private reply to h0p3’s ‘hyperconversations’—I am saving my own copy of this here after many days have passed.

(This letter was previously sent privately to h0p3, since I felt that I had bungled up a productive discussion. Now that I can see the overall waveform of our discussion, I think there are many things I’m learning about conversing through writing and reading—in fact, I really think my failures so far are more the failures of input rather than out!—and this immense dialogue is becoming a satisfying start to all the dialogues I would love to have with more of you out there!)

(Apologies in advance that I do so much talking here—I swear I’ll never write anything this long again. No one should feel compelled to read this. I will shut up and go back to silent, stoic reading for the rest of the weekend.)

Hi h0p3-

So I am going to try to rewind and do as you say: to take a better shot at addressing your part of our ‘hyperconversation’. I am sending you this as a private letter so that you can censor it if you like. I feel like I am starting to border on a troll of some type 😉 and feel like the nature of my blog would turn this into a type of ‘broadcast’ that can still receive ‘thumbs up’ and such sordid things. (Ed.: You can comment on this post, but ‘likes’ and ‘mentions’ are disabled to respect this sentiment!)

I hope I can preface these remarks—even if it seems like a bad idea, because it can perceived as changing the topic, taking time away from the ‘meat’. I will get to the topic(s)—but I wonder if some other items might be more pressing (might even be the ‘meat’) because it seems they might be preventing the main discussion from occurring fruitfully.

On Being ‘Intellectual’

Ok, so stepping back—I’ve jumped headlong into a discussion with you. (And might I just add: this is a rare opportunity for me and I feel fortunate to have the chance to converse—for you to respect my communications enough that you will give them the thought you have. I have NEVER had the opportunity to correspond in a strictly written way with anyone ever before—to attempt to come to an understanding with them—hmm, well, maybe once, but not to this extent—and this whole time I am wondering if the medium has its limits. I guess this is where Socrates chimes in. Well, of course it does—but I am probably the largest of those limitations—and that feels good. Perhaps my ability to write will strain under the pressure, perhaps yours—and it requires even more of our abilities to read and internalize each other’s writings! For this reason, I would like the conversation to remain written and for us to find some kind of resolution this way.)

This correspondence has had about three major episodes from each of us. I saw this encounter as a foray into a ‘pen pal’ type thing—which is to say: ‘informal’, ‘inconsequential’ and ‘probably frivolous’. (I hope you will let me say all three of those things in good ways, very good ways. I also admire that you are reaching out through/with your autism to speak with me—I do worry about aggravating your own pain, of putting you under unreasonable expectations of my own and of not seeing the full picture of ‘you’—who you are past ‘h0p3’. But only if you need it—I would rather just see ‘h0p3’ for now—this creation is by design and I intend to take it in.) I don’t feel that I want to ‘wrestle’ —I want to ‘pen pal’. After all, this is a work of fiction. The contents of this letter are products of the reader’s imagination. This letter is for entertainment purposes only. Although the form of this letter is autobiographical, it is not. Although this letter may appear authentic, it is not. What appears to be ‘wrestling’ may actually be a new type of sophisticated ‘pal’ engagement maneuver.

Now, I am not an intellectual by any stretch—I have idea no who Kierkegaard is and I can’t keep Kant and Hume straight. I do read a lot—fiction by a wide margin. I do read Vygotsky and Piaget and, sometimes, Jung. Of all the philosophers, I am most fond of Socrates—and feel a brotherhood with you through him. But the writers that I spend my time on are fiction writers - Albert ‘Vigoleis’ Thelen is someone I speak to in my mind very often. To call out to him: ‘Vigoleis’ when I see his place in the world. Denton Welch and Robert Walser are like this for me. But even these closest—I cannot speak intellectually about them, only romantically.

So yes—I think you want to have a philosophical debate with me, but I am not equipped to do it. And I wonder if it is possible at all. I can’t read all those guys and read your wiki and read the things I want to read and pursue my current ambitions. I don’t think you want to have this discussion unless I am an equipped intellectual. We are both trying to sing and shatter a glass—but your voice is trained. So while I might still be the one to shatter the glass here and there, it’s a hell of a lot more painful having to hear my notes along the way. So this is my opening question: am I misrepresenting what this discussion is—and what do you want out of it? (In a way, I feel I can almost ‘steel’ this because of the statement: “There is a lack of fairness in the dialectic here; I’ve had way more practice thinking about the nitty-gritty, and I must be extremely cautious not to assume others can or will see what I do.”—I agree with this and I feel like I am only fleshing it out further above. And this: “I can’t see far enough to know if he can see what I’m saying (which is a fairly technical claim in moral philosophy).”—I don’t see it, I had no idea there was some central claim to ‘hyperconversations’—I thought it was a series of different claims with some riddles mixed in—which is, I think, where the central claim is nestled? “I am failing this man.”—Dude, I don’t rely on you—I have my own system of living—I’m not just an imbalanced pinball lost in your machine! 😄)

And this: “Hedonic Kierkegaardian Aestheticism is here; it’s inaccurately factored into the eudaimonic calculation.” I’m not going to even try to parse this—if I tried, my reaction would be: I don’t feel like my aestheticism is hedonic at all, but quite virtuous! So I think your phrase is going to be misunderstood by me and I am just going to sound ridiculous. 😄 Perhaps this comment is not meant for me but for the audience, k0sh3k included. (Hey kid! If you exist! Hey! I /will/ you to exist for a single ‘Hey there!’)

Some classic Romanticism in here. Reminds me of that fighting phrase: “Brawl a boxer, box a brawler.” I’ve seen this shift many times against my arguments.

I do think we are paired as boxer vs brawler. That was what I trying to say when listing out some of our opposing polarities—you are codifying me in your statement above as well—no harm, just part of trying to understand someone. I don’t feel that you are degenerate and I don’t think you (yet) believe that I am either. I don’t sense that you are trying to assimilate everyone as boxers. But I do think that not being a boxer would forfeit my scrappy end of the ‘wrestle’ or ‘debate’ side and leave us to the ‘pen pal’ aspect strictly.

This is not a small aspect: while I have not been charitable with argumentation, I believe that I have been charitable with the effect you’ve had on my own work and charitable with the credit I give you for stirring up my inventive mind and stimulating me to materialize it. This will last beyond an argument.

For my part: I am not as interested in some of the topics we’re touching on: stuff like emotion/reason (I have spent almost no time thinking about my arguments there, I am going off half-cocked and I do appreciate/embrace your sayings), what ‘the good’ is (I am trying to figure out what the thrust of our discussion even is, man I can’t even begin to sort that out) and even T42T—I still think they are all very worthy topics, but I don’t think I’m your foil on those. I agree with you that I should be required to defend my ethics—but I also don’t have a list on hand like you do—and it’s changing too much for me to even know how to nail it down. I like the part which explores the texture of our online avatars, but even there—I think I need to sit in the presence of them longer before trying to mouth off about them.

On ‘Sadness’

I am going to try to make this quick and to the point—which isn’t “you can’t make me sad” but that “momentary sadness doesn’t register as much when there are more permanent sorrow in place” something like that.

But what’s so bad about this sorrow anyway? A woman crossed the street yesterday, waving to me, so I stood and waited for her. She said she knew someone—a name I recognized. She was pleasant and warm to talk to, so we talked. She said that her son had been murdered many years ago. If you just listened to her for five minutes, you would have thought she was insane. Very pleasant and insane. In a good way, a very good way. A whirlwind of details about trajectories and cover-ups. But if you listened for an hour, you could finally she her—and her sorrow. It wasn’t disgusting or repulsive—but familiar and natural. Just a sorrow—as plain as a pleasantness.

I wanted to show her something in the yard, so I motioned for her to cross the gutter—which is quite wide and was rushing with water—it’s more of a canal than a gutter. But her legs were short and she said, “Oh I don’t know.” I held out my hand and she made a move to try to cross. I realized that she was wearing flip-flops and trying to avoid some spiky weeds. I held out both hands—I probably shouldn’t have tried to persuade her—I don’t know, I began to pull her across and she kind of panicked and made a squeal! She stumbled over—she made it—and we laughed out of relief and I felt stubborn, but it was good to move abruptly from sorrow to laughter like that. Like we had come up for air. We are still in the ocean but we are in the air too.

And I wouldn’t like it if you held back some criticism. I should love to be rebuked! When you are in the freezing ocean, it is probably the best time to hear that you have made a grammatical mistake. What a helpful distraction that could be! And you may never forget to make it again.

And children, when they are rebuked—so often they simply drop their head down and say slowly, ‘Ohhh kay…’ For me, this embodies such an ideal—first, to acknowledge that criticism DOES sting, direct criticism truly can, possibly always does, it makes us drop our heads to hear—and, secondly, to simply ‘ack’ the criticism with no further commentary or defense. Perhaps to go without defense would be too submissive—on the other hand, can we endure any criticism as adults? Any?

I probably am doing my own sidestepping and defensiveness of criticism in this letter. I do know I am better to just drop my head and say slowly, ‘Ohhh kay…’

All of this context to say: I realize you aren’t making fun of me at all here, and I appreciate that very much.

Yes, but if we can find a way to truly make fun of each other—wouldn’t that be such a grand achievement?

On ‘Hyperconversations’

The shadow over our eyes is a serious problem: I believe it costs us the ability to be cognitively and emotionally vulnerable (even to ourselves). We don’t really get to know each other when we are engaged in good opsec (that’s kind of the point). The public/private adversarial tension does seem contradictory, but I hope to find a middle way; surely there is a linear logical framework from which geometric social cooperation can arise (I must hope).

Continued here:

You can always doubt, and you can only ever improve your Bayesian odds. The inductive step in trust is a leap of faith in Humanity, in The Other, sir. Building trust and real relationships is exactly why I reveal myself to you and everyone else. I want people to see how I conduct myself and my relationships across the board.

And then:

With diamond balls, I really aim to be practically transparent in my practice of saying what I mean and meaning what I say directly because my integrity is at stake.

And also:

We are each cameras, in a sense. I think of this wiki as an external, reifying camera of my internal camera states. I do hope to wield both wisely. I do not think I morally own either of them all the way down except insofar as I am constituted by (exist as an extension or instantiation of) The Moral Law.

If I were to try to identify this central ‘claim’ you are making and to ‘steel’ it: You feel that true and real relationships demand radical transparency. More than that, you see it as a virtue—embodying bravery, integrity and honesty. You see it as a direct solution to prevailing mistrust and misunderstanding in the world. You model this behavior for others.

To you, h0p3, this has a blissful and fortuitous collaboration with modern surveillance. You aren’t saying, “What do I have to hide?” It seems that you are saying, “You can’t make me hide.” And I do not think you do not see it as the ‘correct’ choice—you seem to acknowledge that it is a trade-off—but that you are willing to pay the price. But you believe you have sorted it out: you do believe that the reward will always be greater than the price.

Am I in the ballpark? I don’t really know how to do this!

To this, I have no response. I can only hang my head and say slowly, “Ok Mister H…”

I felt no need to respond to that claim after the letter—I found it well-reasoned! I did wonder how much of it is grounded in the tech ideals of ‘open source’ and ‘gratis’/‘libre’—I’ve had other tech friends dabble in transparency (sharing bank account info publicly, cataloging life activity publicly.) I stand by what I said:

The remarkable thing about your wiki is that you have turned your camera on. In fact, your wiki is defiantly personal—I think it goes beyond a mere camera. Your history. Your conversations. Your letter to your parents. Your thoughts about people—about me. A person can turn on a camera and never say these things. You are on to something. I have no desire to talk you out of it.

I realize now that saying nothing is a failure. You need an ‘ack’. Even if it is a repetition.

I think there is something unanswered here, though: Do you have any adaptations to ‘Gentle ClearNet Doxxing’ after the events of the last month? I have wondered if you were going to write more about this—maybe I missed it. To stand by a rule too doggedly is to be—well—dogmatic. Or has the rule functioned properly? (On the other hand, I might also aspire to be dogmatic about FOSS - just for myself and not for anyone else.) Feel free to just link me to the correct answers that I cannot seem to locate.

Ok, that is the end of this letter. I ran across the “business card” page on your wiki while researching “transparency” and loved it.

-kicks

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Reply: Good Ole Static HTML

Brad Enslen

You did lead me down a rabbit hole: I searched around and found that Seamonkey is still free and still has a working copy of Composer, the WYSIWYG HTML editor, so I downloaded it since I have a Windows computer now. Just in case. WYSIWYG is pretty much my speed in HTML.

Seamonkey is still alive?

I saw that on Wikipedia, but thought it was probably old and didn’t pursue it. But, hey, sure enough! This isn’t bad at all—it loads my site (seemingly perfectly) and allows me to straight-up edit the whole thing. I wonder if it would be difficult to merge this into Beaker somehow… (This plainly uses contentEditable—which makes me realize that I’m quite wrong—there are some lingering read-write features latent in Chrome, Firefox and so on.)

I’ll research what Jekyll and Hugo are, I’ve seen them mentioned.

I wouldn’t go too far into either of these. I previously used Jekyll, but it got too slow for me to regenerate all my HTML. Hugo is faster, but configuration is just too difficult. There is nothing yet as simple as Wordpress. I’ve ended up writing my own because Indieweb features had to be mixed in pretty tightly.

I think the most promising things right now are TiddlyWiki and Beaker. I think that, as Beaker continues to develop, we will see something as solid as Wordpress come out. But until then, I’d stay where you are comfortable writing.

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Static: the Gathering

Thinking harder about the surprising return of static HTML.

Static website and blog generators continue to be a very solid and surprising undercurrent out there. What could be more kitschy on the Web than hand-rolled HTML? It must be the hipsters; must be the fusty graybeards. Oh, it is—but we’re also talking about the most ubiquitous file format in the world here.

Popular staticgens sit atop the millions of repositories on Github: Jekyll (#71 with 35.5k stars—above Bitcoin), Next.js (#98 with 29.3k stars, just above Rust), Hugo (#118 with 28.9k stars). This part of the software world has its own focused directories[1] and there is constant innovation—such as this week’s Vapid[2] beta and the recent Cabal[3].

And I keep seeing comments like this:

I recently completed a pretty fun little website for the U.S. freight rail industry using Hugo […] It will soon replace an aging version of the site that was built with Sitecore CMS, .NET, and SQL Server.[4]

Yes, it’s gotten to the point that some out there are creating read-only web APIs (kind of like websites used by machines to communicate between each other)—yes, you heard that right![5]

Clearly there are some obvious practical benefits to static websites, which are listed time and again:

Webmonkey logo

Fast.
Web servers can put up static HTML with lightning speed. Thus you can endure a sudden viral rash of readers, no problem.

Cheap.
While static HTML might require more disk space than an equivalent dynamic site—although this is arguable, since there is less software to install along with it—it requires fewer CPU and memory resources. You can put your site up on Amazon S3 for pennies. Or even Neocities or Github Pages for free.

Security.
With no server-side code running, this closes the attack vector for things like SQL injection attacks.

Of course, everything is a tradeoff—and I’m sure you are conjuring up an argument that one simply couldn’t write an Uber competitor in static HTML. But even THAT has become possible! The recent release of the Beaker Browser has seen the appearance of a Twitter clone (called Fritter[6]), which is written ENTIRELY IN DUN-DUN STATIC JS AND H.T.M.L!!

Many think the Beaker Browser is all about the ‘decentralized Web’. Yeah, uh, in part. Sure, there are many that want this ‘d-web’—I imagine there is some crossover with the groups that want grassroots, localized mesh networks—for political reasons, speech reasons, maybe Mozilla wants a new buzzword, maybe out of idealism or (justified!) paranoia. And maybe it’s for real.

Screenshot of Beaker's editor.

No, my friends, Beaker marks a return of the possibility of a read-write Web. (I believe this idea took a step back in 2004 when Netscape took Composer out of its browser—which at that time was a ‘suite’ you could use to write HTML as well as read it.) Pictured above, I am editing the source code of my site right from the browser—but this is miniscule compared to what Beaker can do[7]. (Including Beaker’s dead-simple “Make an editable copy”—a button that appears in the address bar of any ‘dat’ website you visit.)

(And, yes, Twitter has given you read-write 140 chars. Facebook gave a read-write width of 476 pixels across—along with a vague restriction to height. And Reddit gave you a read-write social pastebin in gray-on-white-with-a-little-blue[8]. Beaker looks to me like read-write full stop.)

Now look—I couldn’t care less how you choose to write your mobile amateur Karaoke platform[9], what languages or what spicy styles. But for personal people of the Web—the bloggers, the hobbyists, the newbs still out there, the NETIZENS BAAAHAHAHAHHAAA!—yeah, no srsly, let’s be srs, I think there are even more compelling reason for you.

The Web is the Machine

Broken software is a massive problem. Wordpress can go down—an upgrade can botch it, a plugin can get hacked, a plugin can run slow, it can get overloaded. Will your Ghost installation still run in ten years? Twenty years?

Google's 503 error.

Dynamic sites seem to need a ‘stack’ of software and stacks do fall over. And restacking—reinstalling software on a new server can be time-consuming. One day that software simply won’t work. And, while ‘staticgens’ can break as well, it’s not quite a ‘stack’.

And, really, it may not matter at that point: the ‘staticgens’ do leave you with the static HTML.

The more interesting question is: how long will the web platform live on for? How long will HTML and JavaScript stay on? They have shown remarkable resilience and backward compatibility. I spend a lot of time surfing the Old Web and it’s most often Flash that is broken—while even some of the oldest, most convuluted stuff is exactly as it was intended.

Static HTML is truly portable and can be perfectly preserved in the vault. Often we now think of it simply as a transitory snapshot between screen states. Stop to think of its value as a rich document format—perhaps you might begin to think of its broken links as a glaring weakness—but those are only the absolute ones, the many more relative links continue to function no matter where it goes!

And, if there were more static HTML sites out there, isn’t it possible that we would find less of the broken absolutes?

Furthermore, since static HTML is so perfectly amenable to the decentralized Web—isn’t it possible that those absolute links could become UNBREAKABLE out there??

Your Death

A friend recently discovered a Russian tortoise—it was initially taken to the Wildlife Service out of suspicion that it was an endangered Desert tortoise. But I think its four toes were the giveaway. (This turtle is surprisingly speedy and energetic might I add. I often couldn’t see it directly, but I observed the rustling of the ivy as it crawled a hundred yards over the space of—what seemed like—minutes.)

This friend remarked that the tortoise may outlive him. A common lifespan for the Russian is fifty years—but could go to even 100! (Yes, this is unlikely, but hyperbole is great fun in casual mode.)

This brought on a quote I recently read from Gabriel Blackwell:

In a story called “Web Mind #3,” computer scientist Rudy Rucker writes, “To some extent, an author’s collected works comprise an attempt to model his or her mind.” Those writings are like a “personal encyclopedia,” he says; they need structure as much as they need preservation. He thus invented the “lifebox,” a device that “uses hypertext links to hook together everything you tell it.” No writing required. “The lifebox is almost like a simulation of you,” Rucker says, in that “your eventual audience can interact with your stories, interrupting and asking questions.”

— p113, Madeleine E

An aside to regular readers: Hell—this sounds like philosopher.life! And this has very much been a theme in our conversations, with this line bubbling up from the recent Hyperconversations letter:

I do not consider myself my wiki, but I think it represents me strongly. Further, I think my wiki and I are highly integrated. I think it’s an evolving external representation of the internal (think Kantian epistemology) representations of myself to which I attend. It’s a model of a model, and it’s guaranteed to be flawed, imho (perhaps I cannot answer the question for you because I consider it equivalent to resolving the fundamental question of philosophy).

God, I’ve done a bang-up job here. I don’t think I can find a better argument for static HTML than: it might actually be serializing YOU! 😘

I am tempted to end there, except that I didn’t come here to write some passionate screed that ultimately comes off as HTML dogmatism. I don’t care to say that static HTML is the ultimate solution, that it’s where things are heading and that it is the very brick of Xanadu.

I think where I stand is this: I want my personal thoughts and writings to land in static HTML. And, if I’m using some variant (such as Markdown or TiddlyWiki), I still need to always keep a copy in said format. And I hope that tools will improve in working with static HTML.

And I think I also tilt more toward ‘static’ when a new thing comes along. Take ActivityPub: I am not likely to advocate it until it is useful to static HTML. If it seems to take personal users away from ‘static’ into some other infostorage—what for? I like that Webmention.io has brought dynamism to static—I use the service for receiving comments on static essays like these.

To me, it recalls the robustness principle:

Be conservative in what you do, be liberal in what you accept from others.

In turn, recalling the software talk Functional Core, Imperative Shell—its idea that the inner workings of a construct must be sound and impervious; the exterior can be interchangable armor, disposable and adapted over time. (To bring Magic: the Gathering fully into this—this is our ‘prison deck’.)

Static within; dynamic without. Yin and yang. (But I call Yin!)


  1. Certainly there is an ‘awesome’. But also custom directories, such as staticgen.com and ssg. Beyond that, there are loads of ‘10 best staticgens’ articles on the webdev blogs. ↩︎

  2. A tool that builds a dashboard from static HTML pages. (Think of it: HTML is the database schema??) Anyway: vapid.com. ↩︎

  3. A chat platform built on static files. I do consider this to be in the neighborhood—it can die and still exist as a static archive. See the repo. ↩︎

  4. Original comment here by slathrop, July 2018. ↩︎

  5. Build a JSON API with Hugo’s Custom Output Formats, April 2018. ↩︎

  6. If you’re in Beaker: dat://fritter.hashbase.io. ↩︎

  7. The DatArchive API, which any website can leverage if it runs inside of Beaker, allows you to edit any website that you own FROM that same website. A very rudimentary example would be dead-lite. ↩︎

  8. The “gray on white with a little blue” phenomenon is covered in further detail at Things We Left in the Old Web. ↩︎

  9. My apologies—I am pretty glued to this right now. Finally there is a whole radio station devoted to the musical stylings of off-key ten-year-olds and very earnest, nasally Sinatras. ↩︎

  1. @kicks I like seeing sites done in good ole static HTML and I hope it has a revival. My biggest problem with static pages was going through and updating the navigation manually when I added a page. Well MS Frontpage did that automatically if you had Frontpage extensions on your server. (Tripod did which was cool.)

    I'm not sure I'm buying into this newfangled CSS stuff yet though.

    Good article, I think you hit all the right points. I don't really have anything to argue for or against. There are so many websites that would be better served by just having a few static pages instead of a blog or CMS.

    You did lead me down a rabbit hole: I searched around and found that Seamonkey is still free and still has a working copy of Composer, the WYSIWYG HTML editor, so I downloaded it since I have a Windows computer now. Just in case. WYSIWYG is pretty much my speed in HTML.

    I'll research what Jekyll and Hugo are, I've seen them mentioned.

  2. Reply: Good Ole Static HTML

    Brad Enslen

    You did lead me down a rabbit hole: I searched around and found that Seamonkey is still free and still has a working copy of Composer, the WYSIWYG HTML editor, so I downloaded it since I have a Windows computer now. Just in case. WYSIWYG is pretty much my speed in HTML.

    Seamonkey is still alive?

    I saw that on Wikipedia, but thought it was probably old and didn’t pursue it. But, hey, sure enough! This isn’t bad at all—it loads my site (seemingly perfectly) and allows me to straight-up edit the whole thing. I wonder if it would be difficult to merge this into Beaker somehow… (This plainly uses contentEditable—which makes me realize that I’m quite wrong—there are some lingering read-write features latent in Chrome, Firefox and so on.)

    I’ll research what Jekyll and Hugo are, I’ve seen them mentioned.

    I wouldn’t go too far into either of these. I previously used Jekyll, but it got too slow for me to regenerate all my HTML. Hugo is faster, but configuration is just too difficult. There is nothing yet as simple as Wordpress. I’ve ended up writing my own because Indieweb features had to be mixed in pretty tightly.

    I think the most promising things right now are TiddlyWiki and Beaker. I think that, as Beaker continues to develop, we will see something as solid as Wordpress come out. But until then, I’d stay where you are comfortable writing.

  3. @bradenslen If by new fangled CSS you mean CSS Grid I hope you run to it fast. So much better then failing with floats.

  4. @jgmac1106 What is this Grid of which you speak?

    Um, I started with HTML 3.?? where the style sheet was right on the page with the rest of the code. Then somebody slipped in this CSS stuff and I started hiring web designers. :-)

    Seroiusly, I can edit bits of HTML but hand coding a page from scratch would be beyond me without a WYSIWYG editor or a page builder. Maybe, maybe I can edit CSS a little, I'm experimenting now, waiting for a cron job to update and see if I did it right.

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