Unfortunately my Textpattern driven website collapsed over the last week or two. While trying to implement some changes the database decided to give up the ghost.
As I have been using Textpattern for a number of years now I never had the need to use FTP to access the server. Due to the recent breakdown I decided to look directly at the server and found some old gems that have been sitting idle since around 2005.
The idea of returning back to a static website has been on my mind for quite some time now. With the likes of Jekyll and other static site generators becoming fairly straightforward to implement, it was just a matter of getting the time to properly grok the thing. My, now dead, database does herald the loss of around 7 years of lazy blogging, but ultimately adds a new lease of life to my site as I am forced to put something else up. Serendipity and what-not.
I have sometimes questioned the usefulness of having my own web space, especially with nice platforms like Medium for writing and Zerply for showing off your work. However, the issue that I have with a lot of these third party services is ownership of content. Not ownership in the sense that they will sell on my content (that is another issue), but more the ownership of the canonical copy of my content. Yes third party services allow anyone with an internet connection to publish to the web, but is it all as open as it appears? Gifting all of your content to a third party and relying on them to store it and use it in an ethical manner just doesn't sound like a good idea when you step back and really look at it.
The tech industry and its press have treated the rise of billion-scale social networks and ubiquitous smartphone apps as an unadulterated win for regular people, a triumph of usability and empowerment. They seldom talk about what we've lost along the way in this transition, and I find that younger folks may not even know how the web used to be.
~ Anil Dash
Jeremy Keith spoke with Jen Simmons on The Web Ahead a while back about Anil Dash's thought's on The Web We Lost. The so-called empowerment of users via social media is somewhat of a lie. If you do not own the content that you publish where does the power really lie? Tim Berners Lee proposed an open web, one which would prove the downfall of 'walled gardens' like AOL. But the proliferation of the social web as we know it today, brings individuals closer to the walled gardens of the past.
Spit it out man
Where am I going with all of this? I suppose what I am getting at is having my own web space and publishing, canonically, to that space does give me some level of ownership of my own content (knowing the guy who hosts my content makes me feel better too). The only further step that I could take from here would be to set up my own server in my house, but I think I'll put that on the long finger.
So for now it's back to web design circa 1998 for me. Static all the way. I'm sure I'll get around to Jekyll at some stage.
27th November 2013