Weeknotes 2024 W19


Four Oh Four Aurora

Dark grey text on a light text background that reads 'alt=Benjamin Parry grinning with two thumbs up, the aurora borealis appearing in the sky behind me.'.

Before you ask, no, I didn’t see the aurora borealis. Yes, I’m gutted. Yes, I stayed outdoors on Saturday night whining like a dog for it’s owner to return. Yes, I still have every possible aurora watch setup in case it happens again… oh, please let it happen again!

Although I missed this rare natural phenomenon I did have other wins this week.

I managed to watch some of 11tyConf the International Symposium on Making Web Sites Real Good. I thoroughly enjoyed it too. I thought Mike did a superb job of hosting the conference, engaging well with speakers and the attendees in chat. I tend to find the time in between sessions of online conferences really awkward and suffer a high risk of attendee tune-out. This wasn’t the case with 11tyConf. Mike did a terrific job of keeping the energy high in his unique chilled manner and kept the backchannel chat flowing.

Of the talks I saw, Hints & Suggestions (First, Do No Harm) by Miriam Suzanne and Digital Frontiers, IndieWeb Cowboys, and A Place Online To Call Your Own by Henry Desroches are both worth your time.

The IndieWeb’s POSSE and webmentions have been on my radar for over 10 years! I read Jeremy Keith’s post about implementing them on at Indie Web Camp 2013 to which I posted the first webmention from my own site. Progress has been slow since then but I’m pleased to finally say I’ve managed to get them working thanks to Chris Burnell’s article and his eleventy-cache-webmentions plugin. I tried a half-dozen articles but Chris’s was the only one that worked for me.

If I’m absolutely honest, I don’t fully understand everything that’s going on. My background in front-end development is definitely an advantage but the bar still feels pretty high. Max Böck’s talk to this in his article The IndieWeb for Everyone. I fully agree with both of his statements.

The more independence a technology gives you, the higher its barrier for adoption.

Owning your content on the web should not require extensive technical knowledge or special skills. It should be just as easy as signing up for a cellphone plan.

Part of the problem I think I had was the example articles I following were somewhat out of date compared to the plugin. Or perhaps my version of Node was slightly higher. There’s only so many console errors, tweaking, copy a pasting you can do before you throw in the towel. This was a also theme of Adrianna Tan’s 11tyConf talk 11ty Sites for People Who Don't Think they are Web Developers. I think there’s an opportunity for more hand-holding in these types of articles for the non-technicals. This IndieWeb suff is hard! But well-writing content with bite-sized examples supported by analogies that a layperson can understand is also hard. One excellent example of doing this well is be Andy Bell’s Learn Eleventy From Scratch.

Back to the webmentions. At the moment I’m collecting likes, boosts, bookmarks and mentions on all content within /writing/ and /collecting/thoughts/. The markup is pretty rough around the edges and its not going to win a design prize any time soon but it’s working as expected which is enough for me at the moment. Webmentions only update on build though, so they will be out of sync. Either I setup routine build on Netlify or I use the constraint as motivation to stay active writing, developing and improving my site. I like the latter option.

I had setup a Ghetto POSSE using If This Then That (IFTTT) but when I cross-referenced webmentions in Bridgy I realised the IFTTT URL shortener was breaking the webmention chain. I happened to have Rob Knight’s website open in a tab and noticed he provides as a service to POSSE content called EchoFeed. It has a free tier for a single RSS feed and preserves the original canonical link to my website. Happy days!

All this enthusiasm for developing my website with 11ty is somewhat curtailed by my lack of javascript knowledge. Although I spent many years as a front-end developer, javascript never really clicked. Coincidentally, after joining the NowNowNow collective, I had bookmarked Derek Sivers’ post on How To Learn Javascript. My main takaways were:

  1. Read Eloquent JavaScript start to finish
  2. Pair with writing javascript via Free Code Camp
  3. Document everything

It turns out I had a physical copy lying around. Perfect!

I’ve been enjoying my morning coffee reading Dan Hill’s Dark Matter and Trojan Horses – A Strategic Design Vocabulary. As my interest in systems thinking and regenerative design grows this book seems a perfect choice to dig out from my personal library. It intersects nicely with a talk I’m slowly writing that talks about service design through the lens of Japanese business culture.

I finished off my weekend by getting away from a screen and attend a screen printing workshop at the Abyss taproom in Lewes. My brief encounter with the technique came flooding (unintentional pun :dry-retch:) back from my art school days. It’s inspired me to get away from a screen more often and get creative.

The May grand sumo tournament stated on Sunday and I’ve been baking, in every sense of the word, in this glorious heat!