I find it strange and interesting when people tend to their “digital gardens”. Try as I may, I cannot treat this blog as a sort of self-referential wiki. A blog to me is a log, a journal. It starts afresh every time I begin writing in it. Perhaps if I wrote daily, it would make sense to me how everyone is always linking to their own posts?
But the fact is, I don’t do any real discovery on my own blog. I write, and I move on. I don’t forget, per se. After all, sometimes I link to my own posts. But largely, the process of writing here is one of growth. I write as it’s my way of thinking, or feeling, or seeing what my present looks like. When it’s written, it’s the past. We don’t dwell on that here.
In that sense, this is more a flowing river of thought than a digital garden. Whatever metaphors go with that, apply to this blog. It’s also why the interface irks me so. I want a sort of chat interface instead of this massive writing space. I want my blog to look like a journal, instead of published writing. But, since the frontend is not for me, but for others, and since others have told me that they like this interface, I don’t do the work of finding a new theme. Independent Publisher is a good theme and it does the job. Yes, I can customize it a bit more, but why? To what end? I don’t even look at the posts that often. Just read them once in a while when I discover them through stats or search. In those moments, I find the interface sufficient. Thus, it doesn’t feel like I should blow up the feel of the entire blog just for how I’m feeling right now. That’s counter-intuitive to what I said at the beginning of this post, but so be it.
Sometimes I envy the micro.blog interface. It’s a river of thoughts. This is not true for the individual blogs, since they sort of act exactly like this blog, though with smaller font sizes. But the main “home” interface is what I sometimes wish I had. But when I start writing on desktop, I tend to write longer sentences and in paragraphs. So the point of having a small writing and reading space is lost. It’s only when I’m on mobile that I feel the cumbersomeness of this interface. Also, I kind of do have that interface – on my LiveBlog. It’s got exactly that dirty sort of input mechanism that I’ve designed to be minimal and a front-end that’s obnoxiously simple. Only 30 days worth of posts are displayed on a page, due to a technical limitation in the backend code that I can’t bring myself to overcome. I keep wondering if I should look into extending that web app so that it doesn’t just post to twitter, nice.social, and beta.pnut.io but also here, to this blog, as well as mastodon.
Mastodon’s API is apparently very painful to deal with. Of course, I’d be using some prebuilt PHP library to do that work, but it’s still supposed to not be easy. So, I found a solution in a web app called moa.party, which cross-posts from twitter to mastodon. Good enough. I don’t want to move the entire work of cross-posting to third parties, otherwise I’d use pipedream to just do the whole thing instead of dealing with PHP. But I know this solution. It’s never been perfect, but it works well enough. I don’t want to touch it beyond this, nor do I have the time to do so.
Speaking of mastodon, I’ve been thinking and if I were ever to move off my liveblog and live on mastodon, I’d like to do so at a cost of $5-10/year. That’s yearly, not monthly. I don’t do pic/video uploads, I don’t do excessive posting and I’m not famous to drive a lot of traffic. I reckon a server with a couple hundred users paying that much would break even. Maybe I’m wrong. I’d love to talk to some folks running mastodon servers and figure out what their costs are like. I’ve not yet found any resources for mastodon servers by pricing. If something like that doesn’t exist, I’d like to create it and put it out there. People should be able to find servers not just by interest and community but also by cost.
Mastodon is making microblogging like email. It’s letting people create their own servers and run them as they want. The cross-pollination features are strong, but also have (apparently) great controls, to the point that some servers have or will decouple from mastodon.social to present freeloaders like me (but basically spammers and outrage pundits) from getting in the face of folks who just want a good time online within their own communities. At some point, some big entity will start a mastodon instance that will centralize power and wipe out competition (a la gmail) but till that happens, the social web is molting and it’s good. Services like Pixelfed are riding this wave and doing to photo sharing what mastodon is doing to microblogging. If all of these can begin to act like email, that’s all the better for end users like me. We don’t think about our email provider. It’s just there in the background. We used to not pay for email. Now we do. We don’t pay for social, till we begin and that’ll be fine too.
I’m thoroughly enjoying finding new audiobooks and sources of audiobooks, even though I know I won’t be able to get to most of them any time soon. I have quite a backlog in audible and Libby, yet I’ve recently discovered Open Library (run by Internet Archive) and through them, reminded of LibriVox. I have bookmarked a few audiobooks on there, like Dubliners by James Joyce. Maybe I’ll get to it at some point. But for now, I’m very happy listening to Rousseau and Revolution by the historians Durant. I also snagged a deal on audible and got Project Hail Mary by Andy Wier for a significant discount and I have an audiobook credit that’ll expire with a few days, which means I’ll have to get some other book too. I also have Kate Chopin’s The Awakening on my radar, after seeing its presence in the Netflix show 1899.
Plus, I’ve found that since I do all my listening through my iPhone, if there’s no good app to support LibriVox listening on there, I probably won’t use it a lot. But I’m most likely wrong. Why wouldn’t there be a good set of third party apps for LibriVox on iOS, if not first party?
I came across an old browser bookmark – a website called My Writing Spot for the epynomous app. The website is dated, the app is no longer available, but the domain keeps getting renewed every year and the hosting seems to be working fine (albeit without SSL). There’s a webapp (hosted on appspot) which can be logged into with a gmail account, but I don’t trust the permissions to muck around. From what I can see, the app was active on both iOS and Android between 2010 and 2014, with support even for Nook and Kindle (and even, it seems, Dropbox sync). There are tweets from around 2015 talking about how the sync functionality is broken. At first, I didn’t understand why the website would even be up. But perhaps it’s part of the developer’s portfolio and a deadlink is a bad idea in the freelancing world. But why the heck is the webapp up and running?? Surely it’s costing them money to host that?
Anyways, it’s an interesting glimpse into the heyday of apps, when it was painful to develop for iPads as well as iPhones (and the apps were separately priced), and when things like “Incredible iPad Apps for Dummies” existed.
It’s also a glimpse into the web of that decade. You can share the website on StumbleUpon (replaced by their new product Mix) and Delicious (domain now redirects to Delicious AI, an app for converting your pet photos into art using image-to-image), and you can read a blog that was last updated May 26, 2012.