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Turn an archive into a library

Turn an archive into a library — Grant Report #2

Patrick Tanguay
Generalist. Synthesist. Curator of Sentiers, an eclectic weekly newsletter exploring technology in society, signals of changes, and prospective futures.
・2 min read

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Project Update

Every issue is now a number of Markdown file that gets turned into a webpage using Eleventy. One file for the intro, and one for each featured article, they are reassembled to provide a complete archive page for each issue, like this one: A Prehistory of DAOs ⊗ Automated Discovery of New Areas of Thought ⊗ The Computer Scientist Training AI to Think with Analogies.

Each featured article with my commentary becomes a note, like this. The notes are linked in such a way that you can go back to the newsletter issue, even if you were sent directly to the note, and of course see all notes with the same tag.

Readers can also follow backlinks which work in both directions, like the obfuscation page which I use as a node for a specific topic.

Members' Dispatches and other articles are all also in Markdown and work the same way as notes.

File size was reduced from 2.45 MB (WordPress-based) to 75kB and there is no client-side work required, everything is flat html and css.

Progress on objectives

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

Communications and marketing

I've mentioned the project a number of times on Twitter and in the newsletter. I'll be posting articles about the process and results over the next week or two and had budgeted a couple of ads in other newsletters, which I'll be using after summer break.
I have to look into a Product Hunt launch but I want to flesh out the additional notes first.

What’s next?

  • Adding lots more notes and making it even more part of a process.
  • Adding collections (I've built the mechanism, I need to create them.)
  • Automating the deployment, I used to schedule posting the most recent issue, I need to find an equivalent with a flat file site.
  • Streamline the newsletter production between this new site and Mailchimp. Perhaps adapting or integrating Robin Sloan's command line interface.
  • Add inline previews for internal links.

What community support would benefit your project?

  • Sharing the newsletter and project.
  • Someone with experience with Product Hunt launches would be super helpful.

Relevant links/resources

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