Reading and Writing Streaks

I started the year with a random fun challenge. StoryGraph hosted a January challenge which simply stated that if you read 1 page of a book or listen to 1% of an audiobook every day of the first month, you get entered into a draw for prizes. I didn’t win (and they handled the announcement for the results in the most horrid way – through an Instagram post), but it was a good enough boost that I’m trying to continue the streak. I’m at 50 days right now. I usually read more than the 1 page requirement or finish a few percentage points of audio at the very least, since it doesn’t make sense to gate myself to 1 measly sheet of text. I read till I can. Sometimes, that is when I fall asleep at night; other times, it’s when I reach where I’m driving to.

Anyways, I’m adding another challenge to my daily schedule – that of blogging every day. Now, I could have done it on this blog, but I also wanted to experiment with Ghost. In fact, I was just mucking around with an installation of Ghost, when the topic of naming the website and giving it a subdomain came up.

I went with The Daily and the goal is to post for a hundred consecutive days. Simple enough goal and the best part is, since it’s a separate blog, I don’t care if it’s drivel. I can just post random thoughts there and that’ll get counted as a day. Not that my posts on this blog are Nobel-worthy 😀

Right off the bat, I noticed that Ghost has positioned itself too much as a Newsletter platform with monetization. Sort of like a self-hosted Substack. This is fine, since anyways it needs a hook. For years, WordPress’ hook was that it’s the most prevalent blogging platform. With the introduction of Gutenberg, it’s shooting itself in the foot in that regard, but gaining a lot more – it’s now the most prevalent Page Builder platform on the web. Good for corporates, bad for indie blogging.

A LOT of competition has stepped in that pool in it’s wake. The latest one I’ve come across is Bear Blog. Seems nice enough. But I’ve gotten too used to being on my own domain and hosting things myself. Not backing down from that any time soon. Hence, Ghost.

So I’m exploring Ghost and I’m trying to blog daily on it for a hundred days. There’s no newsletter subscription on that site, there are no comments allowed, and I am not going to actively syndicate that site to anywhere else. If you find its RSS feed and want to follow along, you’re welcome to. Cheers!

Ghost: My comments

Ghost showed up on Kickstarter yesterday and like any good blogging platform, it’ll be judged, commented on, loved and hated. So let me start early. I don’t like it. I love the idea, I loved the beginning, I just don’t like the execution. Here are the two reasons why –

  1. NodeJS? Really?

NodeJS is all the rage right now. Every developer is discovering the strange and amazing things you can do with, of all the things, JavaScript and is running from pillar to post to launch a real-time, fast and easily scalable app as soon as possible. Of course, this means that there are some really nice apps out there. But is NodeJS ready?

Well, define ready.

Of course. Ready means that the next time some layman decides to set up a blog on the Internet, can (s)he purchase a simple hosting plan, upload a couple of NodeJS files and be up in 5 minutes? No. You have to rent a VPS or invest in Amazon AWS, upload files via git and then know how to develop locally and push out changes to the repo in the cloud(Notice all those keywords I threw there, developer?) In other words, you better be a developer and please don’t expect every Tom, Dick and Thorsten to be able to use this technology.

The ghost blog tries hard to defend its decision to go with JS based on the argument that it’s the future and is robust and allows innovation. It leaves out the fact that until the GoDaddies of the web hosting world don’t come out with NodeJS support in their basic plans, you’re not going anywhere with this blogging platform other than the few platforms that specifically support this technology. Oh, and your own computer.

  1. What about WordPress?

When Ghost was first introduced, O’Nolan talked about how WP changed his life and how it was awesome and awful at the same time and how his plan is to take the WP Core and rewrite parts of it to make it awesome-awesome. He meant it. He was going to fix WordPress with just a plugin. But then he didn’t. He’s going to keep the WP format, so that themes and plugins can be easily converted. He’s going to make tools to import from WP so that people can shift to Ghost ASAP. He’s going to take from WP and literally give nothing back. Ever.

I did not expect this. Well, the folks at WordPress probably did. They understand that WP is open source and people can easily add or take as they want. But I did not expect that instead of solidifying and giving better direction to WP, John would just steal from WP so blatantly and try to replace one good platform with another. He could have worked on the Core, he could have made it so much better as to force Automattic to consider his direction as the right path forward. He could have influenced the lives of so many WP lovers in such a positive way, but instead he chose to give up all that just because it would be a little more difficult to make the same stuff in PHP than it is in NodeJS. He gave up on the entire idea and instead focussed himself on getting people to drop WP and come to Ghost, leaving behind the entire essence of the platform that he’s clearly got a lot to thank for.

I’m a big proponent of WordPress. When friends come to me with even a semi-serious resolve to start a blog, I tell them of the cheap and easy hosting plans out there, how they can just upload a bunch of files and run an install script by opening a link in a browser and can search for and edit plugins and themes right from inside the web app and be running a blog in 5 flat minutes.

Now, when people will ask me about Ghost, the “better WordPress”, I’m just going to tell them that it’s not worth the effort and that it’s not ready for prime time. That’s because, NodeJS being such a nascent technology, we can’t expect to see large-scale adoption of the platform any time soon. We won’t see people being enabled to quickly setup a blog without too much hassle and we won’t see ghost being the de facto standard for someone just stepping into the world of blogging. You thought App.net was a country club? Wait till Ghost comes out.

 

This whole thing seems too much like a rant? As O’Nolan says, “Haters gonna hate.”