I keep coming back to this - so you have a discussion forum, and an issue tracker, and a chat room, and your open source projects are small but chugging along just fine. Lots of people are dropping by, and there’s a community making it all worthwhile. Oh, and you’re blogging and documenting with Hugo, surely.
The context for me is self-hosted open-source development (s/w & h/w).
3 years later … Some projects are still going strong, others have become comatose (nothing really dies in open-source land, does it?). Your sites are starting to look a bit dated, some of the fancy new features are not available unless you upgrade in a major way, or maybe even migrate to a new system. Which rarely happens, because it’s such a chore and feels more like moving sideways than forward.
6 years later … Some of the tools you use have stopped evolving, and you start looking around for alternatives. The options don’t look good, almost everything whispers “major migration!” in your ear. Sooo… you abandon some of your beloved setups, perhaps create a messy/partial/static snapshot to try and keep the information available for Googling, and … start over with some new tool and maybe also a new DNS (sub) domain. Life is good again, and the old information is sort of still available, almost all URLs and embedded images are still intact.
9 years later - That migration you did? Well, turns out it’s partly broken now. Some URLs are not working (much of it not your fault, that’s simply how the web ages), and the look of those static snapshots is confusing, giving the impression that the snapshot is still where the action is. The new tools and site are going ok, but even more projects have become either completely outdated, or again comatose, for lack of progress. Bit-rot is setting in.
12 years later - You have moved on. Personal changes after over a decade make all this work a fair bit less important, and you’re really not spending much time with most of the old projects anymore. Some have changed hands, and are being maintained and taken further by others, elsewhere.
Very loosely speaking, the above describes my situation, and keep in mind that I’ve been moving more and more to a self-hosted setup. Which is not the main point of my story - even when hosted on cloud services, the above scenarios could still pan out on the same way. In my view, it doesn’t become someone else’s problem just because the bits live on someone else’s server.
The point of my story, is that I would like to bring some attention to these long-term aspects of our digitally-enhanced (-reduced?) lives. And the reason for bringing it up in this forum, is that “the Hugo approach” stands out as the shining light in terms of long-term perspective, in my opinion: static files require no particular infra-structure, can be served by the weakest systems, and can end up on archive.org or on anyone else’s machine, with no extra effort.
If you find yourself nodding in agreement with some of the above, then perhaps you will also be willing to think about the following:
- can we have a commenting system which is also static-file based?
- … this requires re-generating comment views after each new entry
- likewise for forums, i.e. can we have forum systems as static pages?
- and again for issue tracking, as a specialised variant of forums?
At the moment, most of these live in dynamic systems, which need to be kept operational, secure, and up to date, and which launch processes even when hardly anything changes after a while. GitHub’s issues come to mind.
Chat rooms, i.e. Gitter, Slack, etc, are different in my view, since they are not necessarily intended to stay around forever, and also not always open to full public reading. As such, I see less need for “static chats”, if such a thing were possible. Just like voice conversations are how we make things happen, find consensus, and take action - without saving the audio itself.
Anyway, I hope this is food for thought. Now I need to get back and ponder on how (and whether!) to keep all my ageing server setups on life-support …