I am blogging again. Okay, that’s not the best way to put it since for years I blog regularly on my Tumblr blog (been there since 2009). It’s just, over the years I grew tired of the service, which have shifted from micro-blogging platform — as it once introduced itself in the beginning — to a giant repository of GIFs, fanfic and militant SJWs. The platform is no longer a fitting place to post long-form writing, a format I love so much. I want to blog again, but first I need a simple platform which focus on what blogging is about in the first place: writing.
A Giant Web of Text
The main question must be 'why?' In the era of HD video, high-res photos and interactive content, going back to blogging, to long wall of text seems to be counterintuitive. So, why? To put it simple, I’ve put my faith in text. To me, text is the purest translation of raw ideas. Plus, by default, the whole internet is made of text. It is quite literally a giant web of text. Parse anything down to its source, it will show you strings of codes, which is made of text. So, a blog is the nearest thing to what the web is about. Sadly, blogging these days is anything but exist. The blogging landscape apparently has shifted greatly since its halcyon days in early 2000s. Back then, there were free web/blog hosting services such as LiveJournal, Angelfire, Tripod, and the almighty Geocities (RIP, if you’re not in Japan). Then the tech giants start to rise: Google, Facebook, Yahoo!, Twitter, and then mobile starts taking over, and then the social medias. Bound to small, palm-sized screen everything on internet is getting shortened, compacted, and compressed. Except for the most chronic of bookworms, no sane person would read 5,630-words long post in their smartphone. Long form post, along with blogging is pushed to the point of dying, except for journalistic pieces from big news company.
The Week-long Quest for Perfect Platform
Perhaps it’s out of boredom for the ubiquity of 'interactive contents'. Perhaps it’s the coming of adulthood for internet. Perhaps the internet finally realize their roots, because much to my excitement, the long-form post is getting some kind of resurgence these days. Just as I thought about start blogging again. So began my week-long quest for the perfect blogging platform, which allows me to simply write, edit and publish my content. At first I’m eyeing Medium. I’ve been a long silent reader there, but once I start writing there, something feels off. It’s too locked down and offer very limited customization (plus, it’s starting to become the next Buzzfeed, too many click-bait contents). The open-sourced Ghost is my next choice — and to be honest, I still LOVE Ghost for its simplicity and distraction-free writing — but it’s just too much a hassle to install. Ghost demands a host with
node.js support, which sadly, aren’t available from many Indonesian hosting services. So I choose to go back to basic. I’m going static.
Go Old School
Yes, static. Just like the very first webpage ever published. Just like the pre-PHP era where every blog post is on its own HTML page. It’s definitely stupid, right? Why go old-school on internet, a place where everyone is busy looking to the future? The first answer would be simplicity, and on the internet there is nothing quite as simple as text, it is quite the most basic, the most barebone feature it could display natively. Simple, because static site won’t load the server. They’re lightning fast, lightweight and requires no database at all. Modern platform such as WordPress or Blogger tend to produce page with bloated code which burden the server and slow down the page load. The second answer would be the sense of ownership. By going static, every sentence, every paragraph, and every line of codes written in your blog will be yours, or at least they will be comprehensible to you, because in one way or another you have to tinker with them. In WordPress or Blogger, good luck to digest the code behind your page.
The Static Way
Now for static blogging, the option is almost limitless, there are (far too) many static site generators there. The most popular one would be Jekyll, fully-supported by github. Then there’s Hugo, Hexo, Pelican, ruhoh, Middleman, nanoc, OctoPress and the list goes on. By definition, these generators are NOT blogging platform. They are, well, generators. Think of them as masterful, classy, 5-star-hotel chef but without any access to raw ingredients. You supply them with ingredients, namely your own content and visual templates, and these generators would cook them up into a delicious dish: your fully-functional website! These tools probably aren’t popular with the masses since they’re made by and for web developers. If you aren’t geeky enough or willing to learn about coding, look elsewhere.
A week ago, I was in the middle of building my blog template with Cactus and BassCSS, right before I stumbled into Hubpress. From there, it’s the classic fall in love at first sight story. Hubpress is stupid simple to install and use. It’s less than 5 minute setup. No, really. Just fork the project into your github pages domain (if you don’t want to use your main domain, set default branch from your main repo to
gh-pages) then tinker the
config.json file a bit, commit the change and TADAAAA! Your Hubpress blog is ready to use! And did I say I love Ghost previously? Hubpress came with 5 Ghost-like themes! My only surprise is that, unlike Ghost, Hubpress is written in ASCIIDoc and not Markdown, but I won’t cavil about it, because it means another addition to my language library!
Back to Writing
Up until this post is published, I’m still tinkering with Hubpress, mainly the template and the theme. It’s fun. Still, the main thing that I love the most about Hubpress is that it finally allows me to produce text and simply write.
And I’m beyond happy for that.
(Header image by Jay Wennington at Unsplash)