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13 Jul 2022

Throwback Tuesday: 2017-07-23

Just about 5 years ago, when I was particularly bored at work one day, I took an afternoon (and if we’re being honest, a good chunk of a weekend) and migrated this blog from Blosxom to (then-cool-thing) Jekyll.

And what a half-decade it has been. My “Lessons Learned” are like telegrams from a more innocent time.

  • HTML is still just as much of a pain as it was ten years ago (or twenty years ago); all the new tools and frameworks have basically been offset by an increase in demands placed on pages, such that creating one with a modern “easy to use” framework (e.g. Bootstrap) is still just as nerdy a task as it’s always been. There’s probably a lesson here.

Still largely true in 2022, I think. Although there seems to be a slightly rekindled interest in simple HTML pages, easy-to-use frameworks, and general web usability, which is nice to see.

  • Blog comments seem to be dead. I don’t know if I’ll re-enable comments on the new iteration of this blog; it doesn’t seem like many people use them anymore, and there’s a significant overhead involved in spam control, or you have to farm out the whole thing to a service like Disqus.

Blog comments are, like Francisco Franco, still dead.

There seems to be a better understanding today of the costs of hosting a public forum; it’s no longer a zero-cost option that you just tack on to your requirements for the new website. Any unmoderated space quickly turns into a cesspool / attractive nuisance, and competent moderation is expensive.

Easier to just set up shop on Twitter and keep the “discussion” there, while still driving clicks to the same pages. This is the stance that most news organizations seem to be taking (with a few exceptions, like the Washington Post and NYT, which can apparently afford to maintain human-moderated discussion sections).

  • Jekyll and static generation tools are cool. […]

Still useful, maybe not cool. Though I’m not sure what’s really ‘cool’ in 2022. Maybe spinning up a cheap droplet to host a Mastodon instance for your friends, when everyone was leaving Twitter after Musk said he wanted to buy it? (In the future, I hope this will be looked back on as the “First Musk-Twitter Fiasco”.)

  • Git is amazing. […]

Still true, although now it’s just a thing that’s there, if you do software development or work in a development-adjacent role. Of course you use git for version control, everybody does. Now it’s about which semi-commercial git-based collaboration suite you use: are you an Atlassian shop, or more of a GitHub place? Or GitLab? Cloud service or purely on-prem? How do you like their CI/CD?

  • Hosting has gotten cheaper. […]

That was nice. Although plain-old static web hosting is dirt cheap if you know where to look for it (AWS Free Tier, GitHub Pages, etc.), the cost of cloud services seems to have suddenly become very relevant. Maybe it’s because so many companies’ free tiers went away? But it seems like everyone has started to realize that “[Thing] As A Service” companies are charging a significant premium for the convenience they provide. (At some point, if you’re using enough high-level web services, it might be cheaper just to hire good administrators and self-host. Commercial organizations don’t seem to be there quite yet.)

  • Blogging is dying; long live blogging. […]

“Blogging” as an occupation seems to be dead, or dying. (Yes, at one point there were Professional Bloggers.) I don’t know what cool but ugly people are supposed to do these days – all the money is in video, so you’d better hope you’re pretty. (So much for the revenge of the nerds.) I guess if you’re ugly but in a cool way, there’s always TikTok, which might just be world’s most elaborate phishing app, but apparently is where the Kids These Days hang out. I wouldn’t know; I watch all the memes 3 weeks later on Instagram.

  • Microblogging sucks and Twitter is a dumpster fire. […]

Called it. (Though stating for the record that Twitter was a dumpster fire in mid-2017 is probably not going to win me any awards.) But yeah, Twitter… It could have been a better year for Twitter. When Russia invaded Ukraine, it seemed for a minute like Twitter had again become a legitimate source for ground truth, the most direct way to understand what was going on in the world. And then the Twitter Board decided to sell themselves to Elon Musk for $44 billion dollars. As one does.

But we’ve got Mastodon now, so that’s something! (I actually do unironically like Mastodon, or the “Fediverse” if you insist on calling it that – it brings back some really great old-school dialup vibes.)

And if Jekyll gives me as many years of service as Blosxom did, I shouldn’t have to learn a new back-end system for a while.

Yeah, not sure about that; I’m starting to feel like Jekyll is a bit “high friction” for the sort of blogging / journaling that I want to do. I haven’t quite decided what platform or software I want to use, but I’m looking for something that permits much more frequent, short- to medium-length posts with heavier use of photos—still minimalist in general, but easier to use than my SSH+emacs+git Jekyll monstrosity.