Known Issues with the Web Garden

I was looking through the UMW Living Room Console site while writing about the new posters for Reclaim Arcade. While doing so I came across a few broken links in the inventory, to my chagrin. Links such as this one  (which is not broken anymore) were pointing back to my Known instance that I ran for 4 years or so and then archived as HTML with site sucker.

Turns out all my images from Known were broken, and I think that has something to do with how Known writes those images (but will look into that in more detail this weekend). In the meantime I wanted to resurrect those images and luckily I kept an archive of my files and database, so I set that back up and everything was loading again. And that’s the story of how I temporarily fended off some link rot in my small corner of the web. Felt like the battle at Helm’s Deep.

The living room has loomed large in my mind these days with the opening of Reclaim Arcade, so making sure these images were available was important to me. But it was also interesting because while I was doing this Olia Lialina‘s article “From My to Me” has been resonating deeper and deeper. As Downes already notes, it is a great article and comes highly recommended, in fact my next post will be a deeper dive on the article given I even have a small cameo, but read it regardless of that oversight on her part 🙂 One thing she discusses is the harm the appification of the web has done to a broader sense of exploration, creativity, and wonder on the web, which is a sentiment I was discussing with Boone Gorges a couple of weeks ago when recording his session for Domains21. In fact, I am feeling a broader sense of ennui and general dissatisfaction with the mainstream web we have right now, it’s a real theme throughout the Domains21 recordings, which made me think Lialina’s article may be a kind of call to action:

Your resistance should not simply be a return to a Web 1.0 that never was in the spirit of “netstalgia,” but rather thinking creatively about what a return from me to my might look like when it comes to the spaces we inhabit on the web. For example, I would offer up Michael Branson Smith’s ridiculous beautiful HTML/CSS-based animated movie posters as a creative liberation of the form.

https://mbs.nyc/posters/vertigo/

This in turn made me think about Lialina’s comment about WordPress being a horrible development for the state of the link on the web, which is something I have to follow-up on, but seeing that Known does not even link to image files which in turn broke the Living Room Console inventory gave me a sense of the legacy of broken links and dreams many of these apps hath wrought. I won’t go as far as to say it never should have happened, but with WordPress killing the classic editor by the end of this year I am looking to test my long-standing statement that the beautiful thing about my data in WordPress is it is portable, where can I put all the content in the bava.blog should I finally decide to test out my own claim before year’s end?

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4 Responses to Known Issues with the Web Garden

  1. John says:

    Hi Jim,
    I enjoy the occasional bit of amateur plumbing on my own wee site to fix of try to patch to the archive various broken pipes.
    The Olga Lialina link is outstanding, thanks.

    • Reverend says:

      Amateur plumbing indeed, and it’s that status of amateur I am a bit concerned about with the coming changes at WordPress. I do a little pruning and archiving just about every year, but I have accumulated some serious technical debt, and I am wondering just how much of that will become clear if and when I change platforms. There is something about the whole process that intrigues me just to see if I can pull it off cleanly, and then syndicate everything to my archived WordPress site 🙂

      Anyway, I don’t know, I guess I am confused right now. It’s almost like considering a divorce after a long, fruitful relationship, it is damn hard. Did we just grow apart? I mean I have no ill will 🙂

  2. Alan Levine says:

    I just read Olia’s epic writing (and for all his crankiness I have to thank Downes for providing at least a few pearls a week). It was even a bigger thrill to see her Groom quoted, I was like”I know that guy”

    It comes to me more a call for the dedication you show here to preserve what you can when systems fail. Both technical like known and organizational, as when my former employers just bull doze years of work I put in to put them online.

    I see Olias call to keep at the hand hewn webs. Yes we ought to link but not be dependent on a link button in the editor. I felt the zing of her WordPress slap, but I also to take heart that I feel her message is to go beyond just quitting platforms but doing what we can to subvert them. She is critiquing the design of WordPress the way most people use it, but it’s not quite walled of from popping the hood and making it do what we want.

    Plus I’d rather write and rant than spend weeks converting my sites to Markdown and rejigging search scripts.

    I see her spirit in the experiments people do in CodePen and GitHub, it’s not platforms, but invididuals making things (like MBS) by hand.

    Keep the Reclaim lights on

    • Reverend says:

      Funnily enough I was on a call the other day with a school, that has a bunch of old gold HTML and PHP sites managed on an Apache server, and the idea was to push everyone to WordPress—I get the impulse, in fact I have championed it before. But one of the things that I am struck by with the forcing of Gutenberg down our throats is the unnecessary complexity of that development, which in turn makes things less open. Take for example the claim Canvas is open source, which it is, but that does not mean it is accessible, try running it out in the open. The push towards React and other proprietary code opens up all sorts of questions about actually being able to dig in on the code side as you suggest. I mean when folks like Boone feel like WordPress is getting too complex, there is no hope for me.

      I am not necessarily jumping the WordPress ship, but I am not nearly as excited by it as I once was, and that has been a long time coming quite frankly. Part of that is choices they’re intentionally making that obfuscate the simplicity and power of the link and HTML with Gutenberg. The other part is just a desire for a change, for me the platform definitely matters, although I am not particularly interested in getting ideological about it so much as using a new space to re-invigorate some of my ideas and assumptions as well as resisting a platform’s will to force their preferences on its users. They have that right, but so do we to say “later days.” If I wanted that experience with my personal blog I’d post on LinkedIn or Facebook 🙂

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