When I rewrote and “relaunched” this site, back in 2020, I very consciously chose to stay simple. I didn’t want to tie myself to one of the major “content platforms”, because over the years too many of them have closed down on barely more than a whim. I didn’t want a complex system that would be high-maintenance in return for more functionality. I didn’t want to have to moderate what other people might want to say in my space. More importantly, though, I did want a space more like the online spaces I inhabited 20 or so years ago; or at least, like the online spaces of my imagination, where people would create in their own little corner not worrying about influence or monetisation or that sort of thing. It’s possible that place never really existed, except in my mind, but it was something I always aspired towards, and it was a place where I met a whole load of other people who shared a similar outlook on why they were writing down so much stuff out there on the internet for other people to read. That was why, when I rewrote this site, I kept it simple, and produced a static site that could be hosted almost anywhere, with source code that can be put into any private Git hosting service. I didn’t even go for one of the mainstream static site generators; I chose a relatively simple and straightforward open-source one that works by gluing a number of other open-source tools together to output HTML. It’s about as plain and independent as you can get.
There is, nowadays, a movement towards making the web more independent, making it more like it used to be, or at least as some of us remember it. It’s called the IndieWeb movement. The basic idea behind the IndieWeb is exactly this: that when you, an individual, post something online, it should stay yours. It should belong to you, under your control, forever. Essentially, that’s one of the main things I’ve always been aiming for.
I’m clearly IndieWeb-adjacent, whatever that phrase I’ve just invented means. This site, though, is a long way from being IndieWeb-complient. And the reason is: I’ve looked through their Getting Started pages, and, frankly, it takes effort. That might sound like me being lazy, and I’d be the first to agree that I am lazy, but it’s also because there are only so many hours in the day. The day job takes up a good chunk of them, of course, then there are The Children, there’s my other coding projects, all my craft projects,* the various organisations I do volunteer work for, all the other ways I’m trying to improve myself, not to mention the attraction of just going out for a long walk for a few hours. Aside from the original setup and occasional tweaks, this site is largely something to exercise the side of my brain that isn’t involved in coding. Spending time setting up and creating my own personal h-card, and automating syndication, isn’t really something I want to do in my relaxation hours.
Hopefully, though, the idea behind IndieWeb will grow, and will flourish, and we can make the web something that isn’t driven by advertising revenue, or by monetising hate and bigotry. I’d like us to make the web a place where seeds have space to germinate and flower, where everyone controls their own output and can express themselves without the point being to increase shareholder value or to feed the ego of some not-as-bright-as-he-thinks entrepreneur. Maybe I’ll add more IndieWeb features to this site, one by one, as time goes by. Hopefully, whatever I do, I’ll just keep doing my own thing for as longa as it makes me happy.
* I mean, I literally started two separate new ones yesterday.