Ed Giese's Web Log

Milk and Honey Blogging

Posted on 2021-06-01 22:30:00 in Technology

One of the Old Testament's more famous expressions is "a land flowing with milk and honey." I remember hearing this expression as I was growing up, and while I certainly understood the reference to food, and perhaps the sweetness of honey, I don't think I understood the full significance of the description until years later.

We talk today with other expressions, such as "living off the fat of the land." The idea is of eating well every day: steak and cake, rather than celery and cereal. Old Testament diets certainly differed from ours today, but they still had different notions of "living off the fat of the land" than milk and honey. No, the significance of these terms was not that of never-ending feasts, but of a land that could sustain them during bad times. After an army invades and takes your stored food, or in the year of a famine, there might be little enough to eat; but a land flowing with milk and honey (wild goat's milk) will keep you alive even when things are bad.

This concept of milk and honey applies to many things. Do we want surroundings that can support "never ending feasts" or ones that will "keep us alive" during lean times? I think that this trade-off is one that we are called upon to make often. It has happened in blogging. Maybe not religious blogging -- yet -- but certainly in political blogging.

In the early days of blogging, people hosted small websites with thousands of no-name hosting companies. Many used Wordpress for their software, but many others had other solutions which have faded away. As high-end bloggers started being able to support themselves simply by blogging, they started to gravitate toward platforms that would maximize their incomes. For a number of years now, that has meant the big social media companies. There, a successful blogger can attract a large audience and easily generate high traffic to get paid. More is better. People slowly forgot or simply neglected things like syndication, trackbacks, and other primitive mechanisms for building traffic. Some of these became problematic because of spam and abuse, and once again, the big companies, with their paternalistic moderation, allowed more growth and bigger.

What happens, though, when the hosting company suddenly decides that they don't like you or your message? Traffic begins to dry up, because the platform, which makes millions of decisions every second about which content to feature, gets nudged, maybe only slightly, to disfavor you for some opinion you have expressed. You are, perhaps, using a "free" service, so what cause for complaint do you have?

The kind of blogging I'm experimenting with here is both scalable and also transportable. Of course, I'm not looking to make my living doing it, so I don't worry about every bit of traffic. Still, though, if I suddenly got big, I would have to worry about scaling a database, because my site doesn't use one. Also, all of my content is stored in source files that use Markdown, which has the happy quality of being very readable even without anything more than a printer to put it on paper.

I predict that in another 10 years, it will be much more common to consider adaptability at both ends: scalability, in case of unexpected popularity, and portability, which would allow quick movement to another platform, even one that offers minimal technology, in exchange for full independence.