Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Content can be configuration

 TL;DR -- Another look at options, alternatives, and, perhaps, better ways to do things. 


Given that we are going into the winter months, with the added pressures of COVID19, we will have more time to spend working on issues, such as futures, technology, presence, and such. To get a good start, let's consider the 'content versus configuration' theme which has appeared from time to time. Why do we have these posts? For one thing, they do provide for a nice periodic look that is based upon a timeline that we control. These posts are in a 'content' order with a date to allow a notion of when the what was being discussed. 

  • thomasgardnersociety.org (15 Mar 2012) - Our first activity was to create a Thomas Gardner (Planter) page on WikiPedia in January of 2010. Later, after some research and editing, we started a website in April of 2010. This URL points to that site which was based Microsoft's OfficeLive (at the time, ASP world). Here is an old image of the first look (read about the conversion in 2012 here). This blog started on Blogger.com (bought by Google) and has been continuous since September of 2010. Our original (Welcome) post pointed to our site which, at the time, had a bio and the beginning of a list of the kids (2nd post) and their progeny that had been developed on WikiPedia (all edits can be traced). Microsoft decided to push Office 365 which is now their cloud offering for business. Lots of businesses had assumed that OfficeLive would be their and had integrated it into their processes. Needless to say, unexpected costs arose from this decision by Microsoft. Some of this, we paid attention to. Why was Microsoft picked? Well, one motivation was to get into the ASP world, again. It was fairly slick compared to the alternatives that we researched. Unfortunately, the attention was elsewhere so that the decisions at this point were considered mute issues. After all, it was merely an informational site.  
  • New era (15 Mar 2012) - After getting the notice, the thing to do was to look at alternatives. In the initial work in 2010, Microsoft's approach didn't have a peer. Mobility as we see now was just starting to come around. There had been a decade of progress mostly related to commercial exploitation of the internet which continues. The basics of Content Management Systems? Lots of questions and little answer. This post (another blog) discusses the research and decisions. After a little effort, the choice was to drop back to HTML (with images snapped of the buttons that were on the OfficeLive pages). Then, once information flowed, improvement work would become incremental. In terms of requirements, there was providing curated information. However, there was the larger picture which resulted in two discussion. On the content side, of course, the focus would be related to the purposes of the Thomas Gardner Society. On the other, things were changing. If one looks at the state of the art, one sees lots of categories of web capability being proposed with many different ways for handling these, with issues like technology being important.  
  • Web site - reconfigure (12 Jul 2014) -- That approached worked for a couple of years. While we went along, we still surveyed the status of web work so as to keep an alternative list up to date. Motivation for change came from Google who made the decision that all blogs had to consider mobile friendliness. Since we pointed to our site, we had to upgrade. This time, we paid more attention to the technical work by creating a blog with a technology focus (Friendly to the mobile crowd). We started this blog on the WordPress site and have started a move to our own server. Again, we looked at alternatives and decided to switch to a dynamic mode using HTML/CSS/JS. As for discussions about this, many are looking for minimal, curated sites. This will be looked at more fully later. Default modes, like FB, Instagram, Twitter, and the like? To be discussed. All along, we published Gardner's Beacon at the site. Our first issues was Vol I, No 1 (Spring of 2011). For a few issues, we collected material into an annals format. Too, with more experience under our research belt, we decided to write a correction to an article in the TEG which led to several articles being published. After 2010, digitization seemed to happen quicker. One finding was a record of a Thomas Gardner and a Margaret Friar being married in Sherborne, Dorset, UK in the right timeframe. That led to the TGS helping edit the Profiles for these two on WikiTree.  
  • Thomas Gardner (abt. 1592 - 1674) - Besides the marriage there are other records that are of use, such as baptism records for the first three boys, a baptism for Margaret, and records related to her parents. This is ongoing work. With research notes and articles, we configured an area for the Annals for which we are working on TGA Vol. V, No. 1. But, there are many decisions to make with respect to our infrastructure going forward. For one thing, we need various timelines (example from mapped to associated content. That content must be curated and managed over timed. Now, given social media, there are many options for controlling the message, albeit one needs to keep disparate modes in sync. Wouldn't want differences of opinion arising due to mismanaged posts across several sites. We summarized what we had, to then, in January of this year (2020). But, we also need to integrate in support business affairs, in the longer run, including access and membership. There are various cloud options; we have liked our server approach, so far. Earlier, we mentioned mobile devices of which there are many types. Technology seems to have settled somewhat in terms of services but, mostly, that is temporary. For instance, everywhere, people have modified their sites to be flexible. This works somewhat but can be quite frustrating as one changes modes. People don't want to see a smartphone interface while using a laptop connected to sophisticated computing systems, just like the mobile crowd did not like the scrunched down laptop presentation. UX (user orientation) has as many open issues as anyone. BTW, this is future oriented? Yes, think DARPA (U.S. DOD) which have realized, finally, that they need to lead the way toward thinking about 100-year systems. 
  • TGSoc (August of 2017) - After a little experience, we saw 'thomasgardnersociety.org' as too lengthy in the newer days of scaling down. When used in email, it was huge. So, on doing a survey, we decided that 'TGSoc.org' would be better. This was registered in 2017 and has been active since in terms of our portal (to truth). Or, one might use gateway. It's use will complement that of the main site which will be an information repository and server. Of course, there will be other components, through time. We have tried several packages and have some notes related to our analysis and decision. The fallback position is doing our own development as needed. Of late, Julia (a programming language) looks promising however there would be a tie into existing services. The architecture needs a little discussion. The image is an example of an icon related to information bits which are now mostly blog-based but will be of any appropriate media. 

We have an open list of tasks related to our infrastructure and process. Too, some things ought to be handled in an experimental mode given time and resources. So, there is no shortage of things to do. 

Remarks: Modified: 11/24/2020

11/24/2020 --

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