Seven Year Itch

Seeking fresh online excitement

Digital relationships? That's the topic for February's Indieweb Carnival, and for a long time -- 28 days, in fact -- I did not think I had much to say on the topic. Sure, I've made a couple of real-life friends from people I originally met online. But no more than that. And then it occurred to me that I have been fretting lately about ignoring my most important digital relationship. I've been thinking, the other party ought to change while knowing, at the same time, that the only one who can change is me.

I'm talking, of course, about this website.

The latest round of introspection was prompted by a little discussion that has blown up around a website design thingy called Tailwind, but it started a bit before that, when I noticed that in an effort to catch up on a lot of important-but-urgent things that I had let slide, I had written barely anything here. Ok, we all know that life happens, but there is more at play, including a little more friction than is necessary and a slight dissatisfaction with how things here look and work. But back to Tailwind.

The consensus among people who know seems to be that Tailwind is too darn complex and makes too many fundamental errors. Back in August 2019, though, I fell on Tailwind like a thirsty man on water. It took me a while, working in the interstices, but eventually I came up with what you are seeing here, which looks equally good/bad on all sizes of device, the original trigger for the whole enterprise. Along the way, I got bitten by one aspect of Tailwind, a prefix of h- on some elements which interfered with my microformats. I didn't give much thought to it, just changed some stuff and carried on.

Now, though, I am both a little bored by how the site looks, five years on, and a little frustrated because there are things I want to do but haven't started because I think they will be too complex.

Then there's Grav

Another frustration is with the engine that underpins the site, Grav, which I adopted nine years ago. That, too, offered me the power I thought I needed along with the simplicity I desired and, don't get me wrong, it has served me well. But I am closing in on 4000 posts and it all seems to be becoming a bit unwieldy. My server sometimes struggles to keep up, I sometimes struggle to keep up, and, as with Tailwind, I'm just not in love with it any more.

So, in the spirit of online dating, I wonder whether I can both describe what I am offering and what I am looking for in a couple of new digital relationships.

I am offering

  • A desire to learn and a willingness to tinker.
  • Open to moving some of my stuff to another home.1
  • Strong views, weakly held, on typography and design.
  • A bit of money, if it will buy me what I seek.

I am seeking

  • True IndieWebness; data on my own site and portable.
  • Robust responsive design that will mostly resist my tinkering.
  • Automated, selective (tag-based?) POSSE an advantage.
  • Micropub endpoint desirable.

It is worth saying that thanks to a monumental effort almost all the posts that survived various historical CMS (NucleusCMS, WordPress, Octopress, Grav) are here now, with YAML frontmatter that could, I am confident, be munged into a format suitable for any other CMS.

Right now, a paid subscription to (which I have been using from its start to, er, microblog) is looking very attractive. It will import Markdown files, which is what I have, albeit in relatively small batches. It has pages. It offers multiple themes and allows tinkering with a very clever test-blog. So far, I have followed people only in the app, so I have no real sense of the visual possibilities. My first step will be to follow some of their sites instead, and see if there are any that might rekindle the excitment of my own digital relationships.

In the end, that's the beauty of digital relationships. You can borrow someone's partner without harming their relationship.

This is a submission to the Indieweb Carnival for February: Digital Relationships, hosted by Manuel Moreale. I hope it squeaks in under the wire. There are already more than 30 contributions, so kudos to Sara Jakša for getting the ball rolling.

  1. The obvious things that spring to mind are photos, which are way too time consuming to display well at the moment, so I don't, and my record of podcasts I have listened to, which I'm not even sure why I keep any more, but I do. 

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