You know, I get the impression that most of Silicon Valley's services offer less then static webserver. Beyond prettier editors ofcourse.

They allow you to publish information, but only within certain constraints. Like it must be a video. Or it must be <500 characters. Or must be a git repository.

This is what I mean when I say I think static webhosting covers the majority of most people's usecases.

Then there's notifications... I cover that by forwarding webform submissions to my feedreader!

@alcinnz Ok, but all these services use dynamic routes to accept incoming posts, videos, etc... The "read" side is a static side, but the the publish side is not.

@teleclimber True. But the publish side can, given generally lacking infrastructure to build on, be moved onto the author's client. Inevitably some of it already is!

A fancier version of what I'm doing with Jekyll.

And if you want collaboration, we finally know to do that with minimal if any use of servers!

@alcinnz a lot of these services seem to base a lot of their appeal on the convenience of having certain front-ended decisionso made for the user, now that you mention it...

@alcinnz this feels a bit reductive. like, GitHub isn't just a pretty git frontend, it's an issue tracker/PR review mechanism/access control thing/webhook trigger/...

@hierarchon Well, as a programmer sometimes being reductive is a useful aid to rethinking things...

Granted I don't tend to use the access control & webhooks much personally...

@alcinnz it can be useful, but imo it's worth thinking about *why* these sites took off over self-hosting in the first place. it's not like people were threatened to use GitHub at gunpoint.

(similarly, YouTube has video re-encoding, search, playlists, subscriptions, streaming...)

@hierarchon I will say video hosting has become easier purely thanks to Moore's Law. Btw, nginx has a streaming plugin built in.

My explanation: We haven't made running your own static webservers userfriendly. ISPs have generally been fighting it not helping it. Operating systems haven't done anything to help.

It would take very little to correct this, but noone with decent influence has done it. And they would be fighting societal habits.

@alcinnz @hierarchon For a streaming platform, here are some things you'll need:

- Multiple encodes at different resolutions/bitrates
- Both x264 and either vp9 or av1, to account for iOS devices that only play patent-encumbered codecs and browsers that don't support patent-encumbered codecs
- subtitles that work cross-browser

There are third party nginx modules that offer a subset of this functionality, but at this point you have much more than a static server.

@Seirdy @hierarchon O.K., browsers are a mess when it comes to streaming. We need better clients like GStreamer!

Can't see that happening soon though as long people are in their silos...

Ultimately though it seems we have different priorities as to what we want to self-host. And I don't claim static hosting covers everything, only most-everything.

Though IPv6 would help with near-serverless push notifications once adopted...

@Seirdy @hierarchon Put more simply: I'm not saying everything Silicon Valley does is covered by a static webserver, just most.

And I will say it's easy to imagine a future with better platforms where 1) that assertion is even more true, 2) deploying those servers is userfriendly with a suite of 3rd party editting apps, & 3) we have less need for servers. Though unfortunately that day isn't today, I explain this through the phrase "we missed the boat".


I have been trying to talk about this for a long time

I think that if we could upgrade git hosts with some extensions for 'ordinary people' to use them for specific use cases, like,
you put up a repository,
and it can be a slideshow of small images, or an amateur book containing chapters in markdown, or a set of flashcards described in plain text,
and the git host could display it as each of these things,
we'd save a lot of work creating bespoke platforms from scratch

@Valenoern And make sure to allow creating webforms such that the author somehow recieves everything published there! Maybe with some charts.

To go from ~80% of invididual usecases to ~90%!


the thing I really like about the idea of a host is,

normally if you're going to set up your own linux server,
you have to go mess with your nginx config file and stuff, and to even do basic things you have to know how
(which gets especially annoying if you lose your linux install / physical computer 3+ times in your life and have to set up your server all over again.)

but with a git host you simply have a self-contained file folder (repo) that can be put up Wherever

@Valenoern Yes, I do need to mess around with my nginx config (mostly boilerplate) to deploy a new site. Yes I did need to create the script to forward form submissions to me.

I know firsthand that these things aren't user friendly today. But I do find it empowering not to have to worry about where I can publish things. I do know firsthand how far the simplest tech goes.

@alcinnz Site.js kinda covers what you're describing (allowing users to easily set up sites with forms, etc.) Also, @sutty ( is a CMS on top of Jekyll which works out pretty well because each site can have different kinds of layouts (disclaimer: I'm part of Sutty Coop)

@alcinnz and the percentage of my media/comm students who know how to make a static site/blog/wiki: 0%

@dokoissho True, we haven't made it user-friendly enough. We kept it "technical" with the aesthetics of code.

@alcinnz My students are very resistant to anything outside their social-media comfort zone, especially involving CLI. For them it's simply a matter of convenience, regardless of the compromises involved.

@aw @alcinnz @rosano yes I'd forgotten about that one - it's like but for static web pages rather than gemini. Students had a hard enough time with flounder, which is about as easy as it gets for authoring Gemini content. I did get one to start using Hyperdraft, at least.

@dokoissho @aw @alcinnz not to defend silicon valley, but the whole notion of usability as a primary thing is worth mentioning as part of the 'offer'. well-considered constraints enable more people to participate and make new paradigms expressive + fun.

@rosano @dokoissho @alcinnz i find that the problem is that the design metaphors that people understand have been sort of corrupted by big tech. Like i read that a lot of young people don’t really understand what a “file” or “directory” is, because it has been abstracted away from them. People have learned design metaphors that disempower them

@rosano @dokoissho @alcinnz i try and make my tools as usable as possible, and flounder has a lot of non technical people on it that are happy with it, but there’s only so much you can do to make things “easy”, at some level users have to be willing to try something outside of their comfort zone if their comfort zone is growth at all costs proprietary web and ios platforms

@rosano @dokoissho @alcinnz usability and accessibility for non technical ppl is definitely something I consider very very important and struggle to improve the things that i build

@aw @rosano @alcinnz absolutely but I don't think it's coders that are the problem here, it's the ideology of convenience and accompanying reluctance to leave the comfort zone. This article on digital gardens by Maggie Appleton is about as accessible as it could get, but it still works with platforms like Notion and Roam, without getting into SSGs at all. Needless to say, most of my students defaulted to Notion because it's the path of least resistance.

@dokoissho @aw @rosano @alcinnz I experience this issue as well, even my CS students. I had my students set up a blog using the Zonelets template system, we had a webring, and we used a tilde server. Sometimes students got into it, but they considered this all retro technology, like using a VCR or old phone

@exquisitecorp @aw @rosano @alcinnz I think one thing my students have a hard time adjusting to is a UX that's primarily text-based rather than image-based. They're so acculturated to dynamic, audiovisual interfaces that any static, text-based site looks intrinsically boring. Retro is considered cool, but only in the Super Mario Bros. sense.

@dokoissho @aw @rosano @alcinnz that is true, but the other exceptions i've found is that they like ascii art, discord bots run from our server (which we used simultaneously with crafting our own social media and chat applications). they also loved youtube-dl, anything pokemon or manga-related (found a few projects on github they could contribute to), and various 'cheats' and overlays for mainstream games, that we could then hack

@dokoissho @exquisitecorp @aw @rosano @alcinnz maybe digitally replicating gutenberg on a high resolution screen 500 years later *is* intrinsically boring. The constraint of text-only starts becoming interesting eh with hyperlinks but that too underutilized. Given our tech superpowers there is probably some tricks still to be invented that would bring text back to life

@openrisk @exquisitecorp @aw @rosano @alcinnz I don't think text vs. visual culture is a zero-sum game, and in many ways it's a false dichotomy. For me it's more about enabling students to find forms of expression - creative or otherwise - that aren't limited by the requirements of commercial platforms and the attention economy.

@aw @rosano @dokoissho There certainly is this aspect when I attempt to move off GitHub.

I try to be welcoming and flexible in how I accept contributions but GitHub is so ingrained on the offchance someone does try to contribute they're often at loss. And often assumes GitHub's easier on me.

@alcinnz I've been very interested in git-request-pull -- it is IMO a better intermediary for people used to github than git-send-email, but I dont see it mentioned much

@alcinnz @aw @rosano If GitHub (or any other git hub) is part of your everyday workflow it seems like second nature, but try explaining to ppl who've never heard of it what they can do with it and why they should use it. It feels like trying to persuade them to join an alien ecosystem.

@dokoissho @alcinnz @aw i i think that's because they're simultaneously learning git and hub, both of which have their own learning curves. maybe better to approach one at a time.

@rosano @alcinnz @aw we didn't even get into GitHub - my class was a culture class, not a practical class. Trying to close the gap is the problem.

@aw @dokoissho @alcinnz with respect to making things 'easy', i think challenges can also be enjoyable. technical people might enjoy 'figuring out how something works' but that might put off people that don't have the headspace for technical things. i think 'creative challenges' are more universal.

i don't think 'easy' needs to equate with 'proprietary platforms': more about putting yourself in other people's shoes, observing where they get stuck, helping them…

@alcinnz in short, its just a command that gives a diff summary and says "hey these changes are over at this repo here". no imap setup required

@aw @dokoissho @alcinnz files on the other hand, i think people shouldn't be *forced* to understand them or deal with them. important to have an escape hatch towards that if someone is interested, but i think it has been enabling for many people to simply not think about them. also creates interoperability problems and silos, but hopefully overtime we can discuss our way out of that

@alcinnz the tragedy being that FLOSS alternatives replicate this instead of going at the core of the functionalities and aiming for that

> Then there's notifications... I cover that by forwarding webform submissions to my feedreader!

These aren't push notifications; it's a bunch of page refreshes from different servers at regular intervals. It's the equivalent of IMAP without IDLE.

Push notifications don't require devices to drain battery by checking 50 different servers for updates; that's why they work well on mobile devices.

Static servers serve many usecases but microblogging, messaging, and other activities that are supposed to be "instant" need some sort of pubsub endpoint.
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