Moving house

I have decided to move this website to WordPress. This may seem like no big deal, but it actually means a significant change to how I am approaching and using this site/blog.

My intention for the 2017 incarnation of my website was to use it as a tool for learning html and CSS by coding the site by hand. In some ways I did partly achieve this goal – I have learned a lot. However, I also found that I wanted to use the site as an ongoing repository and record of my writing, plus to find a way to syndicate it with social media feeds as I move away from using Facebook, Instagram or Twitter as the place I post thoughts and instead write first on my own site. I have an inherent distrust of companies that make their money off the data gleaned from the users of their services, and I hate all the advertising that I’m barraged with on the big social media channels.

Recently I stumbled across the ‘IndieWeb‘ folks who embrace a similar ideal of pushing for an open web as opposed to the ‘walled gardens’ of Facebook, Twitter, and other social media companies. Many of the people behind this movement are programmers who code their own solutions to enable interaction with other on the open web and I’m certainly not in that sort of league. But they have also created tools to make life easier for average bloggers like myself, tools such as WordPress themes and plugins – stuff that I am able to implement (if I use WordPress to drive my site).

Discovering these plugins and themes added additional weight to a problem I was facing in having a completely static website; how to notify people of new articles posted on my site. The typical mechanisms to do this are via RSS feeds or email lists, both of which are tricky (as in not possible for me) to implement using html and CSS, the only development tools I have mastered enough to do anything useful with. I did try using a flat-file CMS called Grav last week, but after a lot of fiddling to move my files across to it found that it is still not straightforward to use as a non-programmer.

Another factor in favour of WordPress is that having used it for many years now it takes hardly any thought for me to maintain a blog with it and I really want to put more focus into actual writing and creating content, not spending most of my efforts in trying to get my site simply functional. The articles I had on my static version of the site were mostly ones I had written in the past and I found that there was some good stuff in amongst the trivia I have written over the years. This is the big advantage of cultivating a discipline of regular writing – if I write a lot there will end up being something good produced occasionally. I want to get back to this.

7 thoughts on “Moving house

  1. Behind you all the way, Mike. I think you did great getting as far as you did with your hand-coded site, but, having played around with static sites myself, I understand the limitations. WordPress is still a great choice, and it’s looking even better with the new editor that’s in beta.

    I like a lot of the Indie Web ideals, and, at some point, I’ll probably start implementing some of them myself. I’ve started by not being on Twitter or Facebook. 🙂

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  2. Hi Chris,
    Thanks for the encouragement! WordPress is a great way to get a site with a tonne of functionality and know that it will work well. I’m enjoying using it again.

    I remember when you pulled the plug on Facebook and it has stuck in my mind often when I use that platform. For me it is where a lot of my family and other folks I want to keep in touch with hang out but I don’t post much there myself so it is an easy step to write first on my own site and then push links to that out to Facebook. The tracking and advert targeting from FB is really quite creepy, something that will get much worse and even more invasive I’m sure. I don’t use Twitter at all, but have kept my account in case I want to push stuff there as well, though the amount of noise on Twitter makes that a bit pointless really.

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    • I never really got past ‘go’ with Facebook, but I can understand why people use it. I’m just increasingly uncomfortable with the addictive nature of social networks–and the way they use people’s data (amongst other things).

      On another note, I’ve just noticed the Webmentions box below. That’s pretty cool. This particular theme is geared towards the IndieWeb, right?

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  3. I’m just having a look at some of the pages you’ve just added. Really cool. I like the IndieWeb idea of having a single site that represents you on the web (that seems to be what you’re creating here).

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    • Hi Chris,
      I dug out some backups of my old blogs and have imported all the old posts to this blog so that it will effectively be my ‘home base’ on the web. I will have to do some tidying up of broken links and prune some posts that are now irrelevant, but at least I do now have most of my stuff all together. The next step might be to set up some sort of ‘micro-blog’ as a substitute for Facebook/Twitter updates, or I may just post short updates on the main blog (haven’t decided on that one yet).

      Regarding themes, yes, the one I’m using is ‘SemPress’ which is designed to integrate IndieWeb micro formats. There is also another called ‘Independent Publisher’ which is also good for the same sort of stuff.

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  4. It’s pretty cool seeing all of the posts you’ve written over the years in one place. That’s a lot of writing!

    Yeah, I’ve used Independent Publisher before. I might have another play with it.

    Look forward to seeing your site as it develops.

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  5. I thought having a clean slate would re-ignite my blogging and give me the chance to do things better (this time), but all it brought was pressure—and the feeling that something big was missing.
    And it was: nearly 50 posts of context, history, things God had shown me, work, thought, research, prayer, (mostly) not-bad writing, and reflections that many people had appreciated.
    That’s something worth celebrating, not hiding.
    It’s also something worth building on.

    That’s me back in 2014. Since then I’ve written (easily) another 100 posts—and reset my blog many times, most recently when I decided to focus on poetry.
    It’s embarrassing to admit, but I’ve made the same mistake over and over. And each time I’ve felt the same way.
    The good news is, I still have most of those posts, and with a few days of (what should have been unnecessary) work, I’ve managed to reinstate them.
    Sorting through them, I’ve been encouraged by what I’ve written: both the substance and the quantity. I’ve also been encouraged by the many comments that are still intact. It makes me want to keep blogging, and to earn an audience again, even if only a small one.
    I can’t guarantee that I won’t be lured by the reset button again, but I think I’ve been through this enough times now to have learnt my lesson. I really admire those bloggers who have been around for years and stuck with the same domain and built a body of work. I want to be one.
    As for poetry, I’ll keep at it. Over the last two-and-a-half months I’ve really begun to see its value—especially in the current cultural and political climate. But I also like sharing quotes, photos, and videos, and writing reflective prose, so I’ll do that too.
    The point is to capture the journey and to, hopefully, build something that will be of value to others too.
    And now I have something worth building on—again.
    A few things to note:

    I’ve reinstated just about all the posts I had in my archive, including my TinyLetter ones and a few others I’d had locked away for quite a while. I’ve also moved across the posts from my 2009 blog Kiwi Barefooter, which—apart from one other false start—is really where my blogging began. The only posts I haven’t reinstated are the ones with song lyrics in them (too risky copyright-wise) and most of the boring, now-irrelevant ones about all the blog changes I made.
    I’ve removed most of the notes about when/where things were originally published and just reinstated the posts against their original dates.
    To some degree, my friend Mike is responsible for this, because he reinstated a lot of his old posts and made me realise how cool it is to have them all in one place. 🙂
    I still have a lot of tidying up to do.

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