Blog Migration

I’ve been giving some thought to the apps and services I use lately. Even since I started blogging a few years back, the world wide web has become an increasingly hostile place: advertisers tracking your every move, websites unneccessarily laden with tens of megabytes of Javascript, dark UI patterns hiding in every corner. With every keystroke I’m feeding raw material into someone’s business model. Facebook, Google, Twitter, the more I participate the more free labor I’m giving them. That equation only works as long as I’m deriving some value, something as simple as joy, from the proceedings. At some point in the past year or so, the scales tipped for me. Facebook became a place to watch family and friends all shout past each other. Instagram wants to hide newer photos below older ones and ads, because algorithms. Amazon just wants to sell me exactly what I’ve already bought, be it vacuum cleaners or french press pots, on every single page across the entire web. It’s a bummer.

Save for a couple of new themes, I don’t think Google has updated Blogger in years. Furthermore, what’s already there was overkill for my needs. Do people actually put up ads on their blogs? Does it feel good to throw advertising into your reader’s faces? Google doesn’t need any more of my keystrokes, they’ll do just fine without them. Google Analytics doesn’t need to know more detailed personal browser history of my visitors. If people see fit to read my stuff, I’ll respect their time and attention enough to not put a banner ad on the page.

That’s pretty much the extent of my justification for migrating to GitHub Pages, and generating the site with Hugo. Any code I write for non-commercial use will end up on GitHub anyway, might as well host the blog there too. I like the workflow: writing markdown locally in a text editor, generating the static source of the site, and pushing up to GitHub. It’s got the same rhythm and tooling of compiling, then pushing up code changes. It was real easy to setup on a Mac too, if you’ve already got Homebrew installed it’s a simple brew install hugo. I’ve gone with the Cocoa theme for now, it’s a minimal style with readable fonts.

The web will probably continue to move in the direction of becoming a runtime for apps, an open platform to compete with the Windows, macOS, iOS, and Android native environments. Today we’re in an era of single page javascript applications, but with WebAssembly on the horizon browsers will become responsible for increasingly complex “real” computational work. In that context, there’s something pleasant and hobby-ish about maintaining a collection of pages comprised of text, with just a little bit of code higlighting. No commenting system, no analytics, no advertisements, just simple HTML with good CSS and minimal Javascript.