Your stuff on The Web in 2018
I’ve been recently thinking about this and if we really want everyone, not just the nerds, to have their own stuff on the web and not settle on joining the social networks akin to Twitter and Facebook, we need to have easy solutions for each step in our web-citizen self-development.
- Set up a blog on third-party’s subdomain. You can choose the template for the thing - is it a blog, microblog, photo blog? In all cases you get a website with RSS feeds. Yay.
- Out-of-box comments, working webmentions, or some other means to enable conversations, so your own social network emerges.
- Want it on your own domain and you’re ready to pay up for that? Click - find domain - pay - done. All traffic from the subdomain is now redirected to your new place.
- Want to customize your blog? Click - stylesheets and templates appear for you to edit. Your template editor holds your hand the whole time, shows any issues with the template (both the template markup and the resulting HTML) so you don’t get a broken blog in the end. Messed up anyway? Revert, reset, no problem.
- Want to go further? Click - the web app that drives your blog is revealed and you can now dig in and modify the code. Don’t want to maintain it after all? Reset, revert, no problem.
- Want to move to another provider or host on your own? This should be easy, or at least possible. The building blocks, like docker images, are there. They just need to be put together in an elegant fashion.
- There is the issue of storing the blog posts so they don’t get buried in a binary file of a perhaps obscure database that may be hot now but will go unmaintained in a year (that, or SQLite which, although is one of the greatest technical achievements of all time, is still an SQL database with a binary storage file). The filesystem with plain text files seems to be a simplest and most portable solution. My blogging system does that and the flexibility is amazing. But perhaps instead a Perkeep store if a plain-text one is not possible in case the provider doesn’t allow access to a writable filesystem. Those solutions are actually much better also because they are much more reliably syncable - Perkeep’s ability to sync stores is one of its main goals and features. That allows you to keep the content you produce locally, since currently most of the time the content on the host’s side tends to stay there exclusively until you remember to back it up. Very often that’s much too late.
- Another issue is scalability. In the good old days, if a post on your blog got popular enough, i.e. got Slashdotted, your host would simply melt under the sudden spike of incoming transfers. I’m not sure how modern hosting solutions stand up to Reddit/Slashdot loads, but then again, if the blog is based on static files generated upon edit, it’s mostly bandwidth that’s needed, since serving static files from fast storage should be enough for everybody who’s not Google.
Glitch, for example, is a move in the right direction. It doesn’t check all these boxes, but they have the tech to do so. It would have to be wrapped in a less of a hack-your-thing kind of a product, and more like a set-up-your-stuff-on-the-web-easily one.