Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Monday, October 18, 2010

  Re-establishing a presence on the web

My online life in Nicaragua was limited by many factors, notably the 5 times daily power flickers and the twice weekly 6+ hour long outages, huge DNS latencies, and a 128Kbit connection... and ultimately, the lack of having any internet within 6km of my house. I got out of the habit of relying on any machine but the ones in my household, adopting things that worked well offline - git for my source code control system for example, org-mode for my own personal database of writing, rsyncing via streamripper hours and hours of internet radio, using podcasts for my news, and ipv6 to allow me to actually be a useful node in the web (I ran my personal email and netnews servers that way)

I personally find the relentless "centralisation of everything web related on a cluster in the USA" trendline worrying. Everything important seems to exist today in the cloud, where I think (and still think) that a great deal of useful services belong on the edge of the local home or business (email/jabber/sip servers as three examples, local filesharing as another - it blows my mind when someone hands me a usb stick with the file I need on it - and really bugs me that I can't drag and drop files, wirelessly to my Android - at present, anyway)

Left to publish I have several long-delayed blog posts and a speech I gave in Australia on the centralization problem. I just found a printout of the speech I gave then - and can't find the file now - I felt the speech was a disaster, but looking at the next now... it's not bad, actually.

One of the most compelling talks about lowering our overall dependency on the web was Jesse Vincent's talk, 2 years ago, about the "sd" based bug tracker, which attempts to do for bug tracking what git did for source code development. It is accessible to just about everybody that has problems doing their job when disconnected from the web for longer than a few minutes.

HOWEVER



ALL that said, the power of the web for collaborative efforts, when it is possible to be online nearly all the time, IS compelling, and now that I'm back in the States (in a place that has had ONE power outage in 5 years) I guess it would be best to stop swimming upstream and go for something more normal people can use and edit.

(3G is seemingly everywhere - which increases the number of places where I can get online well beyond the mere coffee shops and corporate offices it was when I left America. )

I have a great deal of ipv6 related information that I wish to publish.

Most of the online references regarding ipv6 are from another era, structured as single-author howtos, often out of date or inaccurate, and focus only on the most modest scenarios of usage, like "how to get a home router" working. Data and instructions appropriate for "how to get a small business with multiple locations up on ipv6" or "how to build an ipv6 enabled ISP", doesn't exist.

I was up to something far more complex and hard to describe - a purely ipv6 enabled wireless isp - I called it wisp6 - and it's looking like getting the pleasures and pitfalls of that effort out to the rest of the world would be a boon for all.

Ipv6 is an increasingly hot topic. Comcast is making great strides towards a deployment in the near future, with experiments running on all the major modes of ipv6 deployment - 6RD, AFTR, and 6to4 tunneling. I've seen an explosion of ipv6 addresses in universities in South America, and China seems to be making progress too...

Something more dynamic, and multi-user, such as a wiki, would be more likely to stay up to date and grow beyond my personal boundaries of knowledge. I'd also like to have some blogging software that better matched my personal writing habits. Blogger bugs me.

Ideally I'd like to find some content management system that would be easy to manage on my Linux laptop - and run on my edge hardware - and be mirrored on the web - that I could do bi-directional syncing to when on and offline. I'd settle for a one-way system - hosted on the web, mirrorable on my laptop.

So, anyway, I'm fiddling with mediawiki (which is what wikipedia uses) and liking the features and default look and stuff like that, but not much caring for the resource requirements. I don't understand why a "live" connection to a sql database is needed, for example, when you should be able to just "publish" the entire thing directly from the source code repository.

Ikiwiki seems to have potential, and I'm fiddling with that, too. I REALLY want something that I can export cleanly from org-mode, but don't think worg in its current state is suitable.

It may be futile to continue swimming upstream on these fronts, and I might just bite the bullet and adopt mediawiki + drupal, rather than explore more options than these.

Suggestions?

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Comments:
Good morning Dave;

suggestions? I'd suggest going with the flow, which means mediawiki for your wiki-ish dreams. I'm not overly fond of it myself, I still prefer twiki, as horrific as that sounds. It's what I'm used to, and I like it's flexibility. That said, I wish I had invested the time I spent on twiki on mediawiki instead. Had I done so, I'd be more useful to more people.

Drupal. I like it. It's what I use. the ability to serve up multiple domains from the same codebase is a big win in a lot of ways. However, your co-located developer is a wordpress fan. So, in the spirit of focusing on production rather than infrastructure, I'd say follow the lead of the fellow who knows about the presentation side.

I personally think that your single minded pursuit on IPv6 is misplaced energy. IPv6 may actually be realized some day, maybe even someday soon. But even if all the wonderful howtos that you dream of existed, and had existed for a while, it won't change until the folks at the ISP side start deploying it. The OSes are ready, have been actually. Tunneling is a kludge, not just a kludge, a bletcherous kludge. Comcast/others may roll this stuff out in a few years, when they do, it'll become trivial. In the mean time, there is other work to do.

And as I have said so many times in the past, I personally don't think that IPv6 is going to actually 'solve' anything. Sure, it will allow for a few orders of magnitude more clutter and complexity. Great. Super. Brave New World. Any discussions of the v6 panacea that doesn't consider Jevon's is, well, just silly. IMHO.
 
So far, I'm liking ikiwiki a lot. It works how I think. In particular, because it interfaces with git, AND I can run it on my local laptop - my edit/view/revise cycle is much shorter.

It's also fast as hell, when compared to wordpress.

On the downside, styling it is hard.
 
what does your developer use?
 
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David Täht writes about politics, space, copyright, the internet, audio software, operating systems and surfing.


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