Reclaiming the Web

Excellent article by Molly White looking back at what the web used to be and forward to how we could bring that back: We can have a different web.

As a lifelong lover of the web, it’s hard not to feel a little hopeless right now. […] It is tempting, amid all of this decay, to yearn for the good old days.

[…] Nothing about the web has changed that prevents us from going back. If anything, it’s become a lot easier. We can return. Better, yet: we can restore the things we loved about the old web while incorporating the wonderful things that have emerged since, developing even better things as we go forward, and leaving behind some things from the early web days we all too often forget when we put on our rose-colored glasses.

I’m just one (very small) corner of the ‘net, but I do what little I can to keep my site as clean as possible. No ads, no minimal trackers (EDIT: Huh…Ghostery is telling me I have two trackers on my site. I’ll look into that. I try not to have any, and I’m not sure where these are coming from.), not even any metrics (I have no idea how many — if any — visitors I get here). Like Molly and the people she mentions in the article (I voted in the Mastodon version of the poll that she screenshots), I miss the “good old days”. I hope there are enough other people who also do that we can reclaim some of that outside of the walls of Meta (Facebook, Instagram, etc.) and others.

Or as Angus McIntyre said:

This excellent article by @molly0xfff reminded me of the sci-fi trope where everyone in the future lives in a domed bunker & gets told not to go outside because it’s a wasteland filled with Bad People.

Of course the protagonists leave the dome & find that the reality is a bit different: outside can be scary, but it’s not the hellscape they were told.

Big Tech walled gardens are the dome; outside them is a risky wonderland that’s ours for the taking.

Leave the dome.

New Page: Link Recommendations

I’ve just added a new Link Recommendations page, inspired by’s post:

…search is irreparably broken. Finding solid information about a topic is harder and harder. I think the only way we can fix this is to go back to relying on human curation.

The Yahoo model (not unique to Yahoo, but it’s a relatable example for people my age) was having a directory of websites based on topics. You go to the anime section, you get links to various anime websites. There wasn’t an infinite slop of fake blog results.

…my proposal was, and still is, simple. Do you have a personal website? Or just anywhere you can share some links? Make a page full of links to resources for things you care about. […] Then link to other people’s lists of links. […] Make a giant interconnected web of resources and get the word out in spaces you’re in for those topics that you’ve got a wealth of information gathered, and encourage others to do the same.

I’ve just started, so it’s far from finished (and as is often the case with these things, “finished” isn’t exactly a state ever likely to be reached), but it’s a start!

Bring Back Blogging

Monique Judge at The Verge, in “Bring Back Personal Blogging“:

In the beginning, there were blogs, and they were the original social web. We built community. We found our people. We wrote personally. We wrote frequently. We self-policed, and we linked to each other so that newbies could discover new and good blogs.

I want to go back there.

Hard agree. This blog got its start in the mid-’90s — the earliest “post” I can still verify was on December 29, 1995, and though it now lives in this blog, was originally a hand-coded entry on a static “Announcements” page — back before “blogging” was even a term. In fact, it wasn’t until February 8, 2001 that I first discovered the word “blog”.

So there’s a lot of what Monique writes about that I remember very clearly. And I miss a lot of it. Which seems kind of funny to say, because in a lot of ways, it really hasn’t ever completely died, but the shift to social media definitely impacted the blogging world.

I’m hopeful (if not optimstic) that just maybe the issues at Twitter, the rise of Mastodon, and the general upheaval in online spaces will actually lead to something of a resurgence of people writing for themselves and in their own spaces.

Buy that domain name. Carve your space out on the web. Tell your stories, build your community, and talk to your people. It doesn’t have to be big. It doesn’t have to be fancy. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. It doesn’t need to duplicate any space that already exists on the web — in fact, it shouldn’t. This is your creation. It’s your expression. It should reflect you.

Bring back personal blogging in 2023. We, as a web community, will be all that much better for it.

Blogging CMS Wishlist

High on my reasons why I wish I had the knowledge (or the time and energy to gain the knowledge) to code my own software: As far as I can tell, nobody has yet written the CMS I want to use for blogging.

Basically, what I want is early-2000s MovableType, only with some modern updates. I’ve long missed many of the tweaks and customizations that I could manage with MovableType that I can’t do on WordPress.

Pie-in-the-sky featureset:

  • Self-hostable or installable on a hosted server (Dreamhost, etc.)
  • Micropub compatible so I can use MarsEdit or other such third-party editors
  • ActivityPub/IndieWeb compatible for federation (at least outbound, ideally bidirectional so that federated replies could be appended as “comments”)
  • Generates a static website instead of building every page when its called
  • Only regenerates necessary pages when updates are published, full-site rebuilds available on demand
  • Some sort of templating “building blocks” system for assembling different pages, posts, or sections thereof
  • Basic templates that are fully standards-compliant and accessible (HTML5, ARIA when/if necessary (since static pages shouldn’t have much dynamic content), etc.)
  • Templates should also be microblogging compatible
    • Example: Titles are optional, and shouldn’t be the only item used for permalinks to any given post, something that bugs me about my current blog template but I haven’t figured out how to fix yet
  • Markdown for writing and storing posts
  • The ability to generate multiple versions of posts/pages on rebuild
    • Example: Output both .html and .md versions of a blog post, so a “view source” link could be included in the post template; readers could then easily click through to view the Markdown version
  • Import posts exported from existing common blogging or microblogging systems (WordPress and Twitter, in my particular case)

Things I don’t want or care about:

  • Fancy drag-and drop “block” editors like WordPress’s Gutenberg
  • Comments (beyond pingbacks/trackbacks/federated responses)
  • Having to do everything on one machine (edit locally and upload)

I’m sure there are plenty of other things that I could put in the wishlist or the “no thanks” list, but those are the first ones to come to mind. Every time I’ve done a survey of static site generators, they consistently fail one or more of the above.

Honestly, I think I could live without much of the above, if I could find a static site generator that would allow me to blog and manage posts and pages from anywhere (my desktop, my laptop, my iPhone, my iPad, etc.) through the Micropub API; logging into a web interface of some sort should be possible if necessary but not required for general day-to-day post publishing.

Oh, and it needs to be installed and managed by someone who has a higher-than-average knowledge of computing and tech geekery, but doesn’t do this stuff for a living. Someone who gets annoyed when they call tech support and have to start with the “is it plugged in?” level of questioning, but who also gets annoyed when software assumes that you’ve been immersed in this kind of stuff for decades. There doesn’t seem to be much out there other than WordPress that does a good job of bridging between “it just works” and “I eat, drink, and breathe code in all my waking and sleeping hours” levels of capability. I don’t mind, and even enjoy, poking at the guts of things when I have the time and energy, but I don’t want to be required to do a week of research to figure out what the terms in the “how to install” documentation mean.

So — I don’t suppose that anyone knows of my magical unicorn blogging software actually existing anywhere?

Don’t ever stop talking to each other

This is a long rant by Cat Valente – and it’s really, really good. Though I’m quoting a particularly good bit from the end, it’s worth reading the whole thing.

Don’t ever stop talking to each other. It’s what the internet is really and truly for. Talk to each other and listen to each other. But don’t ever stop connecting. Be a prodigy of the new world. Stand up for the truth no matter how often they take our voices away and try to replace the idea of reality with fucking insane Lovecraftian shit. Don’t give up, don’t let them have this world. Love things. Love people. Love the small and the weird and the new.

Because that’s what fascists can’t do. They don’t love white people or straight people or silent women or binary enforced gender or forced birth or even really money. They want those things to be the only acceptable or even visible choices, but they don’t love them. They don’t even want to think about them. They want them to be automatically considered superior and universally mandated so they don’t have to think about them—or else what do you think the fury over other people wearing masks was ever about? The need to be right without thinking about it, and never have to see anything that wakens a spark of doubt in their own choices.

Obey, do not imagine, do not differ.

That’s nothing to do with love. Love is gentle, love is kind, remember? They need the attention being terrible brings them, but they don’t love it any more than a car loves gas. Sometimes I don’t even think they love themselves. Sometimes I’m pretty sure of it. They certainly never seem happy, even when they win. Musk doesn’t seem happy at all.

Geeks, though. Us weird geeks making communities in the ether? We love. We love so stupidly hard. We try to be happy. We get enthusiastic and devote ourselves to saving whales and trees and cancelled science fiction shows and each other. The energy we make in these spaces, the energy we make when we support and uplift and encourage and excite each other is something people like Musk can never understand or experience, which is why they keep smashing the windows in to try and get it, only to find the light they hungered for is already gone. Moved on, always a little beyond their reach.


Introducing a new blog: Vinylicious! I’m no hardcore vinyl collector, but I do keep an eye out for fun oddities to add to the collection I do have (which itself owes a large debt of gratitude to my dad), and I’m planning on using Vinylicious to share some of the goodies I’ve found.

The plan is to update weekly on Sundays with another album. We’ll see how long I can stick to that schedule. ;) For now, I have two albums to get started: Discotheque for Polka Lovers and It Happened in Sun Valley.


With all the different specialized blogging, pseudo-blogging, or linking websites and services available these days, I’m starting to lose track of how I’m ‘supposed’ to do this one-to-many online communication thing.

It used to be easy. Back in the ‘old days,’ you’d hand-edit a simple HTML file with whatever you wanted to put on it, whenever you wanted to put something on it. Maybe it’d be a link, maybe it’d be a screed. Maybe people would see it, maybe they wouldn’t. Pretty simple.

Then blogging arrived to make everything simpler. Gone were the days of hand-editing HTML and managing pages directly, now you had specialized software that handled the details for you. Databases to store the information, automatically dynamically generated pages, comments, the whole shebang. Still, content-wise, it was still a grab-bag. Some posts would be long, detailed, and in-depth; other posts would be a single small link or quip; sometimes you’d get lists of links that caught someone’s eye.

Now, however, you’ve got a veritable plethora of specialized sites to handle all the different types of information you might want to share. The ones that I either use (in some fashion) or have pinged my radar strongly enough to trigger this little round of rambling, in rough order of depth:

  1. Twitter: 140-character messages originally meant to be IM-style ‘status updates,’ but now often used for ‘nanoblogging’ — short, pithy messages. No more, no less. Since brevity is the soul of wit, we will all tweet brief.

  2. Social bookmarking that has evolved far more towards the social side than the bookmarking side. While I’m sure there are plenty of people that actually use their account as a substitute for the ‘bookmarks’ menu in their web browser, I see far more who use it as a ‘microblog’ (often displayed as a sidebar to their main weblog) wherein each post is a single link with short commentary.

  3. Tumblr: “The easiest way to share yourself,” according to their splash page. I’ve not bothered setting up a ‘tumblelog’ for myself, but this appears to fill in the ‘miniblogging’ niche, with an emphasis on simple link and media inclusion. Apparently, “this format is frequently used to share the author’s creations, discoveries, or experiences without providing a commentary.” Honestly, I’m still a little confused by the niche that this one fills (or attempts to fill).

  4. Weblogs (the usual suspects): Finally, the sites and software packages that used to be simple ‘blogging’ tools are now…what? Is this still ‘blogging’? Or is it now ‘macroblogging’?

I’m starting to feel like I’m losing track of what kind of post is ‘supposed’ to go to which service, and I’m more and more wondering if it’s even worth continuing to keep them all separate. However, there are occasional advantages to the specializations of the services (’s tagging and quick bookmarklets, the dedicated clients that are available for many of the services) that keep me using them instead of just using ‘old-school’ weblog posts for everything.

If I had the time (which student life prevents) and design skills (which simply don’t exist), I’d love to put some effort into seeing if I could assemble an über skin for my site that would streamline everything into one stream-of-consciousness approach (along the lines of what I see on Daring Fireball and but still allow me to use those services that I find useful. It doesn’t seem horrendously complex: plugins (some of which are probably available in some form or another) that would automatically convert each post at one service or another into its own post on my weblog, default posting options for each type of post (perhaps tweets don’t need comments enabled, for instance), and possibly some CSS work that would distinguish the types of posts.

But then, would that still be too complex? There’s always the question of what happens when one service or another is having connection issues (which I keep running into with Twitter — apparently there’s some avian flu going around over there). Perhaps I’d still be better off just coming back around to using my weblog for everything. Consolidate everything in one place — after all, there’s absolutely no real reason why I “have” to ramble on for a certain length for the post to be worthy of going on the blog, rather than being posted as a tumble, link, or tweet.

There’s a few things I’d miss, though, which may keep me from doing this. The in-built social networking of places like Twitter are nice, though not necessarily a dealbreaker. Being able to have my tweets and links show up on my Facebook profile is nice. Sometimes I like the compartmentalization (on the weblog, for instance, ‘big’ posts in the center, tweets and links over in the sidebar), sometimes I feel like it’s unnecessarily over complicating things.

Meh. I’ve gone on to just rambling now. Maybe that 140 character limit isn’t so much of a bad thing, huh?


A couple years ago, I made a rather weak stab at participating in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), in which participants attempt to write a 50,000 word novel during the month of November. Unsurprisingly, given how I constantly seem to have multiple projects going on at any one time, I didn’t get very far. I’d still like to try again at some point, but I think that’ll have to wait ’til I’m out of school.

NaBloPoMoThis year, I think it’s worth trying for something a little more possible: NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month. Inspired by NaNoWriMo, it presents a much more feasible goal for most people. Given that my posting lately has been rather sparse (assuming that my links and my Twitters don’t count), I think it’s worth a shot. Here’s my profile, since this drops me into yet another social networking site….

Of course, I’ve already missed a day, since I didn’t find out about NaBloPoMo until today (indirectly through cygnoir, more directly through Thom), but better late than never, right?

coComment Enabled

I’ve been seeing rumblings about coComment for a few weeks now, but finally decided to take a closer look when I noticed it up and running on a post at The Republic of T. coComment is a service that lets you track the comments you’ve made on other weblogs, keep track of when people have responded to them, and so on…basically, trying to make sure that those comments you leave don’t just disappear into the great bit bucket of the ‘net.

So, I’ve signed up, and have enabled coComment integration on this site (for all future entries, at least…all entries on the main page have been rebuilt, the rest of the 3801 entries will be rebuilt eventually) — Movable Type integration was a snap with their included instructions. I don’t figure a huge percentage of my readers will be using it, but it’s there for those who want to.

iTunesBring on the Dancing Horses” by Echo and the Bunnymen from the album Pretty In Pink (1985, 4:00).