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Jeremy Cherfas


1 min read

I'm not saying I agree with absolutely everything in these two articles, but The Economist has an Editorial and a Briefing on what it calls "the global food supply chain" and "the world's food system". They make for interesting reading.

Spoiler: The Economist doesn't think it's broken.

Jeremy Cherfas

"Blaming the internet for your gullibility is like blaming a screwdriver for your neurological defects."

No idea where I found this, but I liked it enough to write it down. If you know the origin, please let me know.

Jeremy Cherfas

I am amazed and saddened by the number of beginner bakers I see in forums saying that their bread tasted fantastic but didn't rise enough, or didn't have giant holes, or didn't a shiny crust, or whatever.

Just eat it.

Bread porn too has a lot to answer for.

Jeremy Cherfas

It is extremely regrettable and demoralising that robbers and the élite agree on just one thing-- living in hiding.

Kierkegaard quoted in Rebecca Solnit's Wanderlust p256

Jeremy Cherfas

Replied to a post on :

And what you learned yesterday, I learn today. Thanks!

Jeremy Cherfas

An ad-hoc meeting of the WithKnown Open Collective

5 min read

The past 24 hours saw perhaps more activity in the IRC channel (yesterday and today) and than I have ever seen before. Near the end of it all, jgmac1106, having previously voluntold me to be the first rotating organiser, voluntold me to “call all of today a meeting of the Open Collective”. Obviously you can’t have a meeting without minutes,[1] so here they are.

It all started with jgmac1106’s heartfelt plea that he just wanted to publish his site, “not learn backend engineering” and contemplating starting afresh. LewisCowles raised the question of how to reward Open Source software developers and maintainers, and that started a discussion of what it would take to put Known on a commercial footing.

Jgmac1106 was of the opinion that easier install with auto-update was needed. Lewiscowles and jeremycherfas thought that better direction of the project was needed, with a model that offered installation, domain management and updates, for a fee.

“Make it Known would be such a great tagline if we could get Sir Patrick Stewart on board.” Lewiscowles

There followed further discussion of operational models, including; pay for hosting, including updates, and some backfeed, with a free offering open to IndieWeb if you have a capable site elsewhere.

On funding, jeremycherfas related his early experience hosting through IndieHosters and jgmac1106 talked about applying for grants to fund specific pieces of Known development. We played around with numbers, concluding that nobody knew enough to build even an outline business plan. There did seem to be agreement that venture capital should be rejected from the outset, while collectives and cooperatives could provide a more desirable structure, and that any kind of structure needs direction.

After a gap, some other people joined the channel and mapkyca explained that right now, a bigger block than money was time as he is working flat out. He also said that the maths does not work out for SaaS.

Benatwork then rejoined the meeting and explained in some depth the history of Known, including funding decisions and his original vision.

The original intention was to build a community platform that could be hosted securely, with discussion not monitored by the likes of a Facebook. … [I]t was never built to be an indieweb platform or an individual blogging engine from the start. The core idea was: flexible, social feeds that one or more people could contribute to, with per-item access control and integrations both in and out. I still believe that it has most value as a multi-user platform.

Major problem: we gave our entire platform away as open source, and it turns out there was a strong correlation between people who wanted to use it and people who didn’t want to pay. Although they were happy to pay for an account on a shared host, which of course didn’t go to us. So it didn’t really work as a scalable business.

Benatwork then filled us in on recent developments and why his direct involvement has dwindled, all of which is very understandable, closing with his belief that SaaS is not the way forward.

Jgmac1106 then voluntold jeremycherfas to take the lead on setting up monthly meetings for the next three months, as the first rotating organiser.[2] He also shared his idea of having something like Known to offer local media as something they can sell to subscribers as a built in social platform.

In response to a question from Aaron_Klemm, Benatwork shared the Known roadmap on github. He also explained some of the past technical decisions and that maybe some of those should be revisited to improve the product as a whole.

People shared their different ideas of what Known could become for them, with the question of the current admin tax prominent. Cleverdevil said he would be happy to pay mapkyca to update his site, raising again the potential demand for SaaS.

Benatwork’s vision is Known not as a blog CMS exclusively, but rather:

What Known can do is create a stream of many different kinds of content, and present it differently based on context. Filtering is a similarly powerful idea. “Show me all posts that are sensor readings and photos tagged with bats, from January 1st.”

There was some discussion of other aspects of Known that need attention, including the templating engine, which mapkyca said he hopes to separate completely from the back end.

Chrisaldrich raised the possibility of working with Reclaim Hosting to devise a package similar to what Reclaim offers universities, i.e. Reclaim does the heavy lifting for turnkey Known installs while allowing a small group of others to support people who signed up. Aaron_Klemm supported this idea strongly.

There was a lot more discussion of various ways in which Known could contribute to community internet literacy and how it might be used alongside other web publishing tools.

This summary is an entirely personal capture of the discussion; corrections and comments welcome. (You know how to do that, right?) I’ll suggest some times for an online meeting through the channel.

  1. Though apparently you can have one without an agenda.  ↩

  2. Which I will do, bearing in mind that, with exceptions, I am really only available Monday to Friday from 08:00 to 19:00 CEST.  ↩

Jeremy Cherfas

I’ve been getting myself in a right old muddle about taste lately. Not music or architecture -- well, not entirely -- but gustatory taste, the taste of food. Of course, we all acknowledge that taste is subjective. 1/6

Jeremy Cherfas

Chicken Skin Music is truly balm for the soul on an afternoon that feels weird for reasons I cannot put my finger on.

Jeremy Cherfas

Today I happened across two wiseacres on Twitter -- and no I am not going to bother with a link -- who make me glad I am able to say nothing, there, in return. Turning off RTs doesn't help either, when people will insist on quote RTs when they have nothing of substance to add.

Jeremy Cherfas

CSS Naked Day 2020

2 min read

I'm not actually a designer, and never will be, but I do enjoy trying to make my website pleasing on the eye, even if it is only my eye. So I was happy enough to go along with CSS Naked Day yesterday, not by removing all the stylesheets but by using `View>Page Style>No Style` in Firefox. And there was only one glaringly obvious problem: a hamburger icon that would choke the entire world.  Eric Meyer explained:

But take away the CSS, and the SVG will become 1200 x 1000 again.  That might tell you to resize it for production, sure, and you probably should.  But it also points out that browsers will not constrain that image, not even to the viewport.  If your window is only 900 pixels wide, the SVG could well spill outside, forcing a horizontal scrollbar.  Is that good?  Maybe!  Maybe not!  We might wish browsers would bake something like img {max-width: 100%; height: auto;} into their user-agent stylesheet(s), but maybe that would have unforeseen downsides.  The point is, this is a thing about browsers that CSS Naked Day reveals, and it’s worth knowing.

At some point, then, I ought at least think about defining the size of that monster. The rest of it, I'm OK with.