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Patrick Tanguay for Turn an archive into a library

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Turn an archive into a library — Grant Report #1

Screenshot of the library list

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Project Update

The first part of the project is to transform the archive of the newsletter (where each issue is in one html file shown on the current website) into a series of notes. For example, for the most standardly formatted issues (the latest 75 or so), that means an issue becomes five or six notes, each tagged with a couple of topics or more. They remain linked together using a category, so each issue can still be displayed as it was originally sent.

All of these notes are Markdown files and being assembled as a website using the Eleventy flat file site builder.
The second phase is interlinking the notes with "backlinks" where not only does the note link to another, but the destination also "knows" which links are coming in and can display them. This is following one of the principles of the Digital Garden.

Another aspect of this new library is to use a desktop application that can edit these Markdown files (including backlinks) to have a quick and easy workflow from writing something to having it appear on the new website.

Progress on objectives

(I'm assuming these refer to the goals in the proposal?)

All the goals are post delivery so they haven't been reached yet. They are:

  • Assemble a valuable and growing resource for regular and random readers.
  • Advance my thinking as well as that of the readers.
  • Transform the publication rhythm and the archives into something constantly moving and constantly useful, as opposed to just “exhaust” accumulating “dust.”

Key activities

(I'm assuming there are the milestones?)

Research and selection of the file-based framework. Done, although instead of using Jekyll I back-tracked and moved to Eleventy which is much quicker and has more built-in functionalities I needed. Code wise it has an equivalent license so it respects the proposal.

Implementation of the framework and simple conversion of the existing site and archive. Pushed back to the end of the project since I was not sure I could move the existing site to something I felt matched the current level of design and polish (the library would have been separate). I am now confident I can.

Transformation of the archive in the atomized / library format and creation of additional notes and interlinking. 90% done for existing notes. Some of the less standard early issues are in there without being split, they were much more haphazard in the structure. Adding new notes is not being done yet at the rate I hoped for.

Creation of the collections and additional research to expand the associated content. Done technology wise and with a list of collections planned, remains to be coded in the site but the structural bits are there.

Polish the code base so it can be re-used through Github. More focused outreach to existing readers and other newsletter writers to promote the existence of the model and the code base. Tbd.

Maintenance of the library and new workflow to integrate each newsletter issues as they are published. Ongoing with no problem.

Communications and marketing

Mentioned a number of times in the newsletter and in one talk but most of the sharing will happen when the new site is live.

What’s next?

  • Complete the transition to the new note taking workflow with Obsidian so I can add a lot more notes.
  • Review existing notes to add more backlinks.
  • Automate the display of complete issues alongside notes.
  • Transfer articles to the notes, like with newsletter issues.
  • Design/style the new site so it can go live replacing the old.

What community support would benefit your project?

Help in spreading the word will be appreciated when the new site is live.

Links

Discussion (1)

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chrislarry profile image
Chris Lawrence

Thanks for this Patrick, very excited to see the site when its ready! Good catch on our language with key activities/goals etc. We will work to align this better.