This will deteriorate quickly

In my teenager years I was a member of my school’s student council. Part of our job was to propose changes to our current infrastructure, organize study groups and plan social projects. We were a bunch of youngsters without much experience – or no experience at all – in the education field, therefore we resorted to know from those who had it over the Internet. At the time there wasn’t a lot of content about it on social media, the majority was writing at Blogspot (now Blogger) or forums.

Snow season starting in Portugal. (2020-03-31)
Snow season starting in Portugal. (2020-03-31) (full size)

Here comes RSS. Blogspot offered a RSS Feed by default so it was rather simple to follow dozens of blogs. Every member of the council used a RSS reader they liked the most and it worked great.

Years passed and I found the list of blogs I used to read at that time. While diving through the links I found out most of them didn’t receive an update since my highschool (or have just disappeared). However, they always had a link to the author’s social media (Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn) and you could see those profiles were being updated regularly. A lot of the educators continued to write posts about their field of interest, but now on social media.

In the meantime, I observed a pattern between profiles. They tended to reference their old posts from the Blogger platform instead of publishing them again on the new platform. Why so? You could see some of them tried to do that but formatting was awkward as Facebook doesn’t provide the same tools Blogger offered and Twitter’s posts are too short. So I feel they just couldn’t retrieve their posts and they were long gone from their hands.

So how would an individual escape this madness? It’s quite simple, a blog post is nothing but static content. Text, images videos and audios. Use this in your favor. Write text on known formats such as Markdown1, ReStructuredText or even plain-text. Store all files in a Git repository, external hard drive, Dropbox… whatever. Just stick to the simplest file formats and reliable storage. Services like Medium, Substack and Tumblr can die and take all your posts with them at any time.

At the moment I’m using Neovim to edit my blog posts in Markdown and hosting them in mataroa2. Alternatives are: Hugo, Zola and more. All you need to setup a web site is one of these programs, a bunch of Markdown files and a web server. You’ll also find a lot of places to host your content for free such as GitLab, GitHub or Netlify.

Although this approach brings some advantages, it has some shortcomings too. In a static website you won’t have a comments section without a third-party service; basic tech knowledge is needed to know where to put files in your web server provider of choice and if you want a custom domain such as this one you’ll have to do some configuration. A quick YouTube tutorial might be sufficient to teach you how to do all of the above in minutes.

  1. ↩︎

  2. This post did indeed deteriorate quickly as 2 years later I’m writing this blog on GNU Emacs with Org Mode + ox-hugo and hosting it on sourcehut pages↩︎

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