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On the form of these musings, reflections, and rants

When I started writing these musings and rants, my inclination was to put them on a Web site. Why? Well, I’m enough of an old-school Web person that I didn’t think of other options - when I want to make something public, I put it on a Web site. As I started writing, I realized that what I’m doing fits the model of a ’blog [1]. And I reflected on the decision, I decided I made the right one. Let’s think about why.

I intend to group these essays by topic. (Yes, I am writing them in a different order, and I’m numbering. But, in the end, they are supposed to be groups of related essays.) A Web site seems more appropriate for that form of organization. Although ’blogs can be organized, they are inherently sequential.

I like to keep control of my content. Since these essays are on my site (well, Grinnell’s site), I have much more control than if they are on a site run by Google or Wordpress (are they the same? I can’t keep track) or whoever. I know that I can set up my own Wordpress site (or think I can), but this seems easier. It also means that I can play with different ways of creating this content. For example, when I want to write programs to generate or manipulate part of this content, I can do so.

Here’s a small one: I like to write in Markdown. I’ve written using many ’blogging platforms. I’ve written raw HTML. The vi editor plus Markdown is currently my preferred authoring form. That form also gives me a bit more control over the appearance and structure of my site.

More importantly, I want the essays to stand by themselves, without comments or dialogs. the norm with ’blogs is to allow comments from others. While I welcome comments on any of these essays (via email, Facebook, or Twitter), I don’t really want those dialogs and debates directly attached to the essay. I know that I can disallow comments in most ’blogging platforms, but that seems to be a bit impolite.

I like to be able to see the history of my writings. I keep these essays in a Git project. That means that I can see what I’ve changed, and when. (Right now, it’s on Github, which also means that others can see what I’ve changed and when.) I’m not sure if that will ever be useful. Still, I think it’s a good opportunity to have. And, hey, that feature may be available in ’blogging platforms, too, but I’m comfortable with GitHub.

I initially thought a Web site should make these essays easier to find, particularly since Google has historically given my pages relatively high rankings (probably since I’ve had a Grinnell Web site more or less since before there was a Google). However, since ITS managed to get all of my pages de-listed from Google and other search engines, I’m not sure that I’ll ever regain that status. Still, I can hope that things are easier to find if they are on my Grinnell site.

In the end, I think all of this boils down to I’m lazy, and chose the model that best fits how I tend to put things on the Web. If I’d chosen to use a ’blog, I probably would have said I want to explore modes of communication that I haven’t traditionally used.

Yes, I know that there are other ways I could have written this. I could have posted PDFs. I could have Tweeted [2] it out, 140 characters at a time. I could have written essays on Facebook. I could have printed the essays as broadsides on our new letterpress. (Oooh … that sounds like fun. Maybe I’ll write an essay on the letterpress and then lay it out on the letterpress.) But that doesn’t change my initial goals: Something that’s easy, under my control, programmable, searchable, and public. A Web site still seems best. I probably should have considered a Wiki [3], since it’s also the case that Wikis serve many of those purposes, but Wikis are generally intended to be collaborative, and I do not intend my essays to be as collaborative as Wikis [8].

[1] I use an apostrophe in ’blog because it’s a contraction of Web log. See, I told you I was old-school.

[2] Tweet is likely a registered trademark of Twitter, which is also likely a registered trademark of Twitter.

[3] As most readers know, Wikis are Web sites designed to make it easy to create a series of short writings. The name comes from the Wiki Wiki [4] buses [5] on Honolulu.

[4] Wiki appears to be neither a trademark of Wiki Wiki Shuttles nor of Ward Cunningham.

[5] As my mother was fond of telling me, the plural of bus is buses. The plural of buss is busses. I have one of her poems somewhere entitled I’m pro-bussing. [6]

[6] It appears that this essay is getting bogged down in not-so-relevant footnotes [7].

[7] I’m sure that if I used a Wiki platform, my footnotes would be auto-linked. As it is, I’m too lazy to generate those links.

[8] While these essays are primarily mine, they are collaborative in that I do update them at times in response to comments from others. There are also collaborative in that many of my opinions are shaped by conversations with others.

Version 1.0.2 of 2016-10-16