The world is a mess. Uncertainty over the current pandemic, not to mention the tens of thousands dead, has the potential to disrupt society. The fact a lot of people are acting as everything is normal and will soon be over makes me think it hasn’t really “set” on everyone the repercussions of this event in the short to medium term. I hope it’ll be a great time to enact change and for us to collectively engage in a reshuffling of priorities - protect the people, or the economy?
Myself, being a multiple gold medalist in procrastination (in both free-style and napping events), saw this as a Bad Thing™ when I took a month off work in March, which was scheduled before the pandemic hit. And yes, the month off wasn’t the most productive of times. Don’t get me wrong, I got a lot of reading and video-gaming done, but I wanted it to be the kick-start event for a personal project I’ve been mulling over on and off for like 4 years(!) now - a revolution in Personal Knowledge Management. However, the day before I went to work, I started working on something completely different - a static website generator.
I use one (the mighty Hugo) to generate this blog, but I felt like this was a great time to get to know more about Crystal and how SSGs work. The fact that the latest version of Hugo no longer renders my website properly helped too. Besides, how hard can it be to take some Markdown and render it with a theme, right? Right? 😅 So in the last 3 weeks I’ve managed to have a working prototype that has a lot of the features I’d like to have such as a local preview server with live reload, flexible theming support, RSS generation and so on.
Hugo’s docs say it renders posts in 1ms, and that’s roughly the speed I’m getting from my prototype. It still amazes me Crystal is so intuitive and expressive and yet so high performance. If all goes well, this will be the last blog post I publish with Hugo and I’ll start using my project for the next one, which will be the first of a short series about how it works, along with a 5-min intro to Crystal itself.
Personal Knowledge Management
I’ve been searching for a good personal knowledge management tool since ever. Here’s a small portion of the tools I’ve tried in my quest:
- Wunderlist (great UI!)
- Cintanotes (same)
- Roam (interesting concepts)
- the Zettelkasten method
Maybe it’s the way I think that doesn’t fit into any of these tools, or maybe I need to give them a second (or third, for some) try, but the problem itself of organizing personal knowledge has always fascinated me. We’re online most of the day, are exposed to tons of information and yet, or because of it, we have difficulty recalling or actually making sense of it, and learning from it over time. What I want to build is a tool to construct knowledge from collected items (URLs, papers, comment sections, etc.) and easily recall it. And it seems to be a thing a lot of people want to have.
I also want it to be different from most online services I interact with. It will:
- have a price tag (no “freemium” crap)
- not have third party ads or tracking. ever.
- be secure
- not be annoying with newsletter emails and so on
- feature no dark patterns
- be possible to export your data, and not just a crummy CSV
- be affordable
- use open standards (WebAuthn, WebAnnotations if possible, etc.)
- have simple terms and conditions that don’t require a law degree to comprehend
I hope I have more to share about it soon. But first, finishing off the SSG I’m working on!
Other stuff lately
Links of interest since the last post:
- How And Why To Create A Zettelkasten: A Guide In The Vein of Niklas Luhmann
- Isaiah Berlin on pluralism - from the great Philosophize This! podcast
- Want to develop for the Amiga? Have some docs
- Baymard Institute of UX research
- A point-and-click adventure about Seinfeld? Yes, please!
- The ZX Spectrum turns 38 wow, time does fly
- We can’t grow our way out of poverty by Jason Hickel
And finally, you can’t really have late-night coding sessions without good tunes. Pearl Jam has been my… jam these last few weeks. Enjoy:
Maybe I just needed a prolonged break from work. Or maybe it’s this current situation that is making me wake up to the fact that our time is precious and we should do something about it that is worth while. Whatever it is, I’m happy. And feel productive, like I haven’t in a long while.
Stay safe out there! 👋