Indieweb musings

My era of the web was pre-tools. If you wanted a website you wrote it yourself. In a text editor.

Sometime in the mid to late 90s I saw my first blogs. A combination of Emma Story’s https://caoine.org and Jamie Zawinski’s episodic posts on https://www.jwz.org/gruntle were staples.

The great thing about these sites was that they were static. You could just download using wget their entire sites for offline reading. I remember spending a flight from the UK to Boston reading JWZ’s site in offline form which was a great way to pass the time for the hour or so that laptop batteries lasted in those days.

The thing about the web in those days was it taught you that distributed was good. Having control over your own content was good. If you had a website the chances were it was because you knew someone who had a web server and they’d set you up with a url using their own domain name because domain names were expensive in those days. https://www.blah.com/jim for example. And this was great for a number of reasons. Everyone was their own little island but if you found a website you liked you could chop the /jim off the url and see what else lived there.

Everyone has their barrier to entry and in those days the skills weren’t my issue. Feeling like I had something to say was the problem. That and the fact I was obsessed with print media and graphic design.

JWZ did a really good job of standing up some HTML and making it look NICE, not quite print quality but for what passed for it in the dotcom era. In print media you had things like the REDEYE column from EDGE magazine and the like. Beautifully designed to an inch of its life and words crafted to the new games media genre of the day. And that’s the paradigm I wanted. A perfectly crafted 500 page article with some good design chops. That wasn’t really sustainable as a model.

The design I could spend a day or two getting the look I wanted, overcoming technical limitations or exploiting design quirks in the browsers of the day to achieve the particular look I wanted only to find the theme I’d chosen to write about wasn’t going to pan out or by the time I’d overcome the technical hurdles the muse had left the building.

My new paradigm is simple. I’m going to dump my brain. Words first. Going to try this for a year and see what happens.

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1 Response to Indieweb musings

  1. Neil Mather says:

    Words first, I like the motto! I’ve been doing my personal wiki as plain text only, pure brain dump, and really enjoying it that way. I also like the idea of being able to wget a site. The wiki I’ve got all the content in a git repo too – I like the idea of someone being able to clone it, or at least cherry pick bits they want.

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