Quest for a better blogging

Found at: sdf.org:70/users/jzp/phlog/2017-05-20-quest-for-a-better-blogging-experience.txt

Quest for a better blogging experience

Published on Saturday, May 20th, 2017

So, [Pile o' Text](https://github.com/jozip/pot) is a thing, and I guess I want to explain why it
is a thing. In short, I've been looking everywhere for a tool that
will allow me to conveniently turn my text files into posts.

I wish everything was this clear from the beginning, but instead it
has taken several years of low-intensity meandering before coming
to this conclusion. A flurry of blog engines, static-generators,
plugins, themes, etc, etc. The only thing I knew in that mess was
that I sure as hell didn't have fun writing stuff.

So I started thinking about why this was. I love expressing myself
in writing, so why didn't I enjoy blogging?

I realized was that I felt a lot of pressure of coming up with
meaningful topics, since I didn't want to appear like a blathering
idiot to a potential audience by bringing up nonsense. It's really
stupid and vain, I know, but for a long time it really kept me from
posting stuff.

"Paper, Coffee, Pencil" was my attempt at just throwing stuff at
the wall to see what would stick. It turned out that I had major
issues with how blog-engines and static-site generators take
ownership over the texts. If it isn't special formatting, it's
locking stuff up in a database, or just plain having to keep
two copies if you happened to write it out anywhere outside of the

I have this large body of text files lying around, that I've written
as a way of exploring ideas and concepts. (Unlike blog posts, I have
no problems writing down anything that comes into my head.)
I kept thinking that they would've been great material for my blog,
but I couldn't bring myself to clean them up in accordance to
whatever tool I used mandated.

It was only when I stumbled upon a post a few months ago on
[Antirez' blog](http://antirez.com) that everything in my head clicked in place: why not
let the files speak for themselves, wherever they may be located?

I scribbled down a quick list of features that essentially boiled
down to two principles:

 * Let the text speak for itself
 * Keep content and context separate

The first one says that the text should only be subjected to a tiny
amount of makeup when being turned into a post. No metadata in-file,
no complicated markup and, especially, what you see in text is what
you get in page.

The second point is about respecting the context from which the text
is taken from. For instance, if I have a number of notes I wish to
share from another project, I don't want to convert them into the
tool's idea of what a post is. The context of the text may not be the
same as the context of the blog post.

Armed with these principles, I hacked together a single script that
adhere to the unix philosophy of composing things out of lesser,
specialized parts.

It's bash. It's awk. It's sed. No further dependencies.

Everything is built bottom-up; you can easily break down the
functionality like Lego and build your own thing without completely
reinventing the wheel.

Everything needed to create the site is contained within the script,
for better or worse.

And this is Pile o' Text. It does one thing, and it does it well.
Namely turn text files into a snazzy journal.

Anyway, I've gone on long enough with my rambling. Off to bed!

<3 jzp