Part two of two on single sourcing content, this time covering my CV, which starts as YAML and ends up as HTML, PDF, and even a Word doc.
As I mentioned in my previous post, my blog is often both a place to throw ideas out into the world, and a place to mess around with screwy ideas, and one of those ideas I’ve been messing around with is using Jekyll’s abilities as a static site generator to produce multiple outputs from a single source.
The first experiment in this area involved my cookbook, wherein I took a bunch of individual markdown files and crammed them together into something that pandoc can use to generate PDF and even EPUB outputs.
My second experiment in this area was with my CV. The challenge with something like a CV is that the layout requirements are pretty complex and don’t fit well with a basic template-and-markdown model. As a result, I ended up having to take a less orthodox approach to this project.Continue reading...
Part one of two on single sourcing content to produce multiple attractive outputs. In this case, a write-up about the creation of my personal cookbook!
One of the benefits of using a static site generator (in my case Jekyll) to build this website is that all the underlying content is stored in simple text files. Most of the page content itself is just markdown files with a YAML header block. The page layout is simple HTML templates using liquid macros. Formatting is SASS that’s transformed into vanilla CSS.
This has a few of benefits. First, the site is future-proofed–plain text means I can move to a different engine any time I want, as the content is stored in a format that’s easy to extract and transform. Second, the ecosystem of tools to handle text files generally, and YAML and markdown specifically, is enormous, which means I can lean on all that existing infrastructure to do interesting things.
In this post I’ll cover the first of two examples where I’ve taken advantage of these benefits to produce, not just this website, but beautiful PDFs, ebooks, and even Word documents, from the same source content.Continue reading...
I used to use Goodreads for tracking/reviewing books I’ve read. Then Amazon bought them and I decided to move all that stuff to my own blog. This is how I did it!
So while it turns out I forgot I’d posted about this topic a while ago, it seemed worth revisiting and writing a focused post on how I’m book blogging.
Anyway, I don’t know about you, but I tend to have a remarkably poor memory for the books I’ve read. After I’ve finished a book or series, it doesn’t take long for the details to get washed out and for my thoughts to blur into vague recollections of what the book made me think and feel. It was for this reason that I started using Goodreads.
For me, Goodreads served a few useful functions. First, it gave me a place to track what I’m reading and, more importantly, what I’ve read. Second, it gave me a spot to jot down my thoughts about books so that, later, I could go back and read those notes and refresh my memory.
But that meant trapping all of that information in someone else’s silo, and I was never particularly comfortable with that. And when Amazon went and bought Goodreads, I basically stopped using the service, and as a result, stopped tracking my reading.
When I decided to reinvent my blog, I undertook the project with a central goal in mind: to take back control over my own data and content. To that end, book blogging was a perfect fit for this vision, and so I wanted to describe how I’ve leveraged approaches from the IndieWeb to solve this problem and scratch my own itch.Continue reading...
The indieweb is about controlling your identity. But it’s also be a great way to claw back all that content I’ve been scattering across the web so I can get better at archiving!
Our data, scattered
A while back I started to take an interest in the topic of personal data archiving, and in particular how the topic intersects with the various social media platforms that so many of us interact with. The simple fact is that so much of who we are–the things we write, the photos and videos we take, the people we interact with, our very memories, as Facebook likes to remind us–are locked up in a bunch of different walled gardens that are difficult to escape, both technically and due to the powerful social pressures that keep us on these platforms.
I like to think of the traditional photo album as an interesting contrast.
It used to be that we collected memories in these books, and stored those books on a shelf. There was some real downsides to this approach! It’s a pain to add stuff to them (I have to “print” photos??) They’re difficult to share and enjoy. They’re single points of failure (think: house fires). They require intentional acts to ensure preservation. The list goes on.
But, they were ours. We owned them. We could take those photos and easily copy them, share them, rearrange them, archive them, and so forth.
Now imagine that you collected all your photos in a photo album that you could only store and access from a vault being run by a private company. The company would ensure the photos were protected and stored properly, and they provided a really nice, simple mechanism to easily add photos to your album right from your phone! That’s really nice! But if you wanted to look at those photos, you’d have to go to the vault, enter your passcode, and then you could only look at them while you were in the vault. And if you wanted to get a copy of all of those photos for yourself, well, you can, but it’s ugly and complicated and designed to make it minimally possible and maximally difficult.
Next, imagine the corporation changed their policies in a way you didn’t like. Or imagine that corporation went bankrupt. Or experienced a fire. Or you lost the passcode for that vault. Or a loved one passed away and didn’t store the passcode in a safe place.
Today, we don’t just lock those photos in one vault run by one private company. We lock those photos in many vaults, spread out all over the place. In doing so, we dramatically increase these risks, because instead of just one company failing or one account that we might lose access to or one set of terms of service we need to worry about, it’s many.
All the while we fragment our identity, spreading ourselves thin across the internet, which makes it extremely difficult to preserve all of those memories.
So what can we do about it?Continue reading...
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