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Continuing to Reflect on My Internet Presence

Something new and unusual, am I right? This time: on Pinboard as my link-sharing source.

June 25, 2018Filed under blog#blogging#pinboard#writingMarkdown source

A quick note: I drafted this back in June, but forgot to actually publish it!

I find that I’m always reflecting on the shape I want my internet presence to take. Over the last month, in particular, I’ve been thinking about the kind of “link-blogging” and commentary-on-articles-I’ve-read that I’ve experimented with pushing into Pinboard for the last year and some change.

On the one hand, I’ve found that Pinboard is great for two things:

  • having an easy place to look up articles I’ve read but can’t necessarily remember the name of off the top of my head
  • being a place with its own RSS feed of that content, which is social-network-like in some ways but using open web tech like RSS

But what it isn’t is integrated with my own site, or particularly easily discoverable from my site. Adding a link to my public Pinboard feed would help, perhaps, but you wouldn’t know what I use it for from seeing that link.

The thing is, I want this material here on this site. There remain two blockers to me there:

  • ease of publishing
  • site design and structure

For the most part, I am happy enough with a static site generator setup. However, for this specific kind of use, I wish for a web front-end to my website (or, honestly, an easy way to integrate Ulysses with it). The options which exist in that general space—WordPress and Ghost—both have their upsides, but also a great many downsides, and I find that I have no interest in using either.

You might find that an odd commitment; here’s an aside on why.

Our family blog is a Ghost install, and the previous iteration of this site ran on WordPress. Ghost is fine, and for many setups it’s actually really good. For my fairly complex set of publishing requirements, it unfortunately doesn’t really do the trick. Some of those requirements (like integration with citation-management tooling) are currently less pressing, but I don’t count on that being the case in the long term.

That said, one possible alternative here is simply to cross that bridge if or when I come to it and lean on the somewhat simpler tools that do meet my needs for today. If I did that, it would certainly be with Ghost, because WordPress feels to me the same way Windows feels to me: technically very competent, but impossibly frustrating to use. (That’s not insulting either of the two; it’s a statement of my very—overly, perhaps!—specific aesthetic tastes and my corresponding—admittedly irrational!—response to the experience of using Windows or WordPress. Maybe it’s just the ‘W’s that start the names?)

This is one reason I’ve seriously considered figuring out how to make my long-on-hold site generator actually be a hybrid: never dynamically generating content, but with an API to enable programmatic access, so that I can put a web or app front end on it. (Existing solutions in that space, like Netlify CMS or, are really good, but don’t quite support everything I have historically committed to needing. They also don’t have anything like an iOS share sheet!)

The problem, of course, is that I’m not yet ready to spend my limited time building out my long-planned and long-delayed personal website generator tool. In short, I’m caught in a catch-22 of my own making.

In any case, I want to figure out a flow for sharing those kinds of notes-on-articles that works better for getting it onto my blog, rather than caught in the mostly-invisible space that is my Pinboard. I need a refreshed site design to support it effectively. I need different tools to support that flow effectively. Which means I’m not going to end up doing it tomorrow or anything.

I’ll get to it eventually. Maybe. Hopefully. And in the meantime I’ll do one extra step when I see something worth linking, and copy it into a Ulysses document that I can publish shortly thereafter.

This is where every nerd ends up with their blogging software, I think: in a pit of good-enough-to-get-by but not-actually-satisfying. (But I’m not helping myself with how persnickety I am about these things.)