Working in the Background on Zettelblogging

While I’ve got the workflow down to do my capture through drafts and database my collections through DEVONthink, I’m a bit stuck on the step of publishing the results.

On the one hand, the simplest way forward is to just craft posts and publish them right here on the WordPress DecidingBetter.com site. Using MarsEdit I have a full list of blog posts going back as far as I want. With tags I can create collections of related posts for editing and linking with a trivial way of reposting my changes. The truth that I already know is that this is the preferred path.

This fits well into my realization that publishing and note taking have two different audiences. Publishing is for you, my imaginary, ideal reader. Smart, curious, generally knowledgable but not an MD, PhD with decades of neuroscience, neurology and philosophy work filling your head. The notes are for me, that guy who just needs to be reminded what I thinking at the time.

But then I’m known to be over-ambitious. And I really want to create some friction free ways of this republishing after pulling together ideas in the Zettelblogging repository. So there’s an output of summary and index notes that is a well reasoned, more complete version of the notes. More like lecture notes or a paragraph in a book or review. My last couple of posts on Grainger Causality and Emergence in the Brain were those kinds of posts.

Basically what it means is that I want to take the linked notes in Tinderbox and turn them into a set of interlinked web pages. This fits in well with ideas of moving to static pages and simple website construction.

For example: This Page is Designed to Last: A Manifesto for Preserving Content on the Web

Return to vanilla HTML/CSS – I think we’ve reached the point where html/css is more powerful, and nicer to use than ever before. Instead of starting with a giant template filled with .js includes, it’s now okay to just write plain HTML from scratch again. CSS Flexbox and Grid, canvas, Selectors, box-shadow, the video element, filter, etc. eliminate a lot of the need for JavaScript libraries. We can avoid jquery and bootstrap when they’re not needed. The more libraries incorporated into the website, the more fragile it becomes. Skip the polyfills and CSS prefixes, and stick with the CSS attributes that work across all browsers. And frequently validate your HTML; it could save you a headache in the future when you encounter a bug.

And Craig Mod is an advocate for simple, static web side construction:

Running a Successful Membership / Subscription Program — by Craig Mod

I still generate my own website using the Hugo static-site tool. It has gotten a bit too complex over the years, though, and were I starting again today, I’d consider 11ty. My sites are hosted on a Digital Ocean vps (if you sign up with that link you get $100 in free credit (and I get a sweet $25, too)). After 15+ years, I stopped using Google Analytics and switched to Plausible for more privacy-friendly webstats. Fathom is also a good option with spectacular, heartwarming support.

For tools? I’ve been leaning very heavily on Drafts over the last few months. My web clippings land here from my iPhone, iPad and Mac. So a simple idea would be to just push notes from Tinderbox back out to Drafts and publish as usual.

On the other hand, the static sites want a folder based set of content, which isn’t how Drafts is designed to work. I can keep the writing in Tinderbox with export as text or even HTML. Maybe move back to text editors after export? BBEdit.

Obviously this whole Tools For Thought goes back a ways. Maybe go old school?

How to Learn Emacs: A Hand-drawn One-pager for Beginners / A visual tutorial :: Sacha Chua

I thought I’d draw a one-page guide for some of the things that people often ask me about or that would help people learn Emacs (and enjoy it). You can click on the image for a larger version that you can scroll through or download

Org-mode for Writing: Structure & Focus | The Aware Writer

Org-mode is a structured editor that combines the best features of a powerful outliner and a powerful editor in one package. I’ve been fooling with org-mode a lot lately, digging into capabilities, solving issues and fine tuning, always asking the question — is org-mode the best environment for my writing? The answer is an unqualified yes.

I see our friend Jack Baty, now using Tinderbox, is a long time Emacs user:

Weaning Myself From Emacs and Org-mode – Jack Baty’s Weblog Archive (2000-2020)

Whenever I try moving out of Emacs I have to find replacements for all sorts of tools and processes. Things like task management, journaling, email, project notes, text editing, and general note taking are all things that I’ve been doing in Emacs for a while now and if I’m ever going to move away from it I’ll need to find replacements.

If Emacs is so powerful, maybe it’s my solution? Then again, I’m suspicious of “Theory of Everything” apps.

Monday Musings: MaxThink, The Only Idea Processor | The Aware Writer

first glance, MaxThink is a powerful outliner, but the real power is under the hood. MaxThink came with a fat, printed manual that by some miracle, I still have. Neil’s book is more than a user manual for MaxThink. It’s a well written tutorial on ways of thinking: Evaluative thinking with the Prioritize command, synthesis thinking using Binsort and Randomize to combine information in new ways, curiosity or experimental thinking with the Lock command, systematic thinking using Get, Put and Gather, creative uses of the Sort command, and one of my favorites, segmented lists.

So for now, expect more of this working in public mode.