A statement of intent and principles for my new blog-and-website generator, Spect.
Introducing Spect, Part 3
Spect is a Python-based static website generator and blogging engine. The program is still at a way early alpha development stage, but it is working enough to begin using for this website. In the long run, I hope that it becomes practical for others to use it as well, because, clearly what the world needs most is new ways to make blogs.
As of this writing, Spect can generate blog posts like this from MarkDown files, track categories and tags (including sitewide tags, importing tag dictionaries from non-blog sections), upload new content to a server, and generate certain pages. I have a lot more in mind – there is a roadmap at the GitHub repository where I’ll try to post updates. But progress may be slow now that I have the basic framework in place and can get down to writing.
I’m learning to code but I ain’t got wings. Part 2 of a series.
Introducing Spect, Part 2
In 2015, I began a bit of a career shift from “generalist with solid tech skills” to “brogrammer wizzzard.” Ok, not really. But after a long period of working with library metadata I moved to a new position in my library’s Digital Initiatives department. Around the same time I began a long-delayed MLIS program. My technical knowledge increased rapidly. I had to dive immediately into databases and command-line tools, then quickly pivoted to geniune coding. I began to take an interest in Python on the advice of my supervisor — we’re working on a major project with the Internet Archive and much of their technical infrastructure is built in Python. I took some of an MIT EdX Python class and then, as part of an “information architecture” class, a Codecademy Python course. I learned a fair amount despite hating the way “Codecademy” is spelled.
These courses were the first time I have ever done any formal(ish) programming training. I can trace my primitive coding skillz back a long way though. As a kid I can remember going through examples from a book on BASIC on an old Apple II, and even remember a lot of details like using ? as a shortcut for PRINT:
Introducing Introspect, a new blog for a new, weird era. Because there are reasons to write out your thoughts.
Let’s talk about text
The “t” in HTML stands for text. The Web began as a text-based environment. Early websites were ugly and haphazard, and images were distinctly out of place. They were awkwardly aligned. They failed to download properly and left weird display icons in their place. If an image was a link to click on, it had an unsightly blue border around it by default, to signify that it was a link. In a lot of ways, the history of the Web over the past 20 years has reflected the tension between the technology’s text-centered roots and the shift toward a web full of images and, more recently, audiovisual and interactive content.
Why reinvent the wheel for the hundredth time and build a blogging engine from scratch? A discussion in three parts.
Introducing Spect, Part 1
My history of creating websites, 1997 to 2016
I first started to learn a few HTML tags sometime about 20 years ago. Netscape 3 was the hot browser, and I and some friends picked up web design basics, probably by browsing a Yahoo! directory to find some tutorials. My memory is hazy as I think back to those early days of the Web, but I remember them with a lot of affection. I was definitely using GeoCities before it began including advertising in May of 1997. Sometimes I think the internet has never been as good since. One of my main contributions to this era was a page about hating ska and cigars. These seemed like pressing concerns in 1997 and still pretty important today.