SB and I went to Mozfest for the first time last Saturday. What a lovely day! Took some haphazard notes throughout, see below for a dump of notes/links related to the sessions I attended. The bits in brackets are mostly thoughts that bounced around my head while taking notes during talks. All quotes are paraphrased.
I finally got round to exploring Homebase yesterday (jump straight to setup steps). My original intention was to get the SB-PH site on Dat + HTTPS à la this blog post by Tara Vancil. As far as I can tell though, without multi-writer support in Dat this setup would effectively lock Sam out of being able to quickly deploy changes. We’re interested in making that site a little bit more of a collaborative sandbox, so making deployment harder than it is currently is not the right step to take there.
So though I definitely want to get the SB-PH site on Dat eventually, we’re putting that on hold for now and I’m pivoting towards my site. In this blog’s earliest incarnation it was on Tumblr, and for a long while now has been a pretty standard WordPress site. The big task in moving to Dat, besides figuring out Homebase, is converting my site from WordPress to a static site via Jekyll/Hugo/Eleventy/GatsbyJS or something similar. It’s taking a while, I didn’t realise quite how much content has accumulated (1000+ tags?!) and there are a few WordPress-y features that I definitely want to build in (“more” tags, descriptions for tags+categories, proper pagination, etc.). More on that in a separate note.
So yesterday I put that aside and focused on getting Homebase up and running on a DigitalOcean droplet. Overall, setting up Homebase wasn’t too bad. The most involved part of the process was setting up the server. I kind of like tinkering with server stuff, so that’s cool. I 100% agree with the caveat at the top of the Homebase README, you should consider Homebase only if you’re comfortable with and interested in server administration. I would add that your interest should be *ongoing*. Servers take maintenance (related, see note on serverless setups). It’s your responsibility if a process stops running, or the software is out of date, or the Let’s Encrypt certificate doesn’t renew, etc. Hashbase looks like a great alternative for those that want the final result but don’t want to deal with the server configuration/maintenance.
The rest of this note is an outline of the steps I took to get Homebase working. Where good documentation exists elsewhere, I have linked to that instead of elaborating.
This past Thursday 18 October was the second Server Co-op meetup in Rebecca’s Flat at Raven Row. See all Server Co-op notes.
I didn’t take as many notes this time, wasn’t feeling fantastic. Very sketchy notes below.
click public button twice if the Patchwork feed seems stuck after first install
always blame Matt Damon
how to have Scuttlebutt on multiple devices?
eh, maybe not worth the hassle, just use one device
“sameAs” is currently being worked on by devs in Scuttlebutt community
identity = private + public + network key combo
back up private key and gossip.json
dark crystal for backing up private key using social network
“shamir’s secrets” algorithm
kind of like horcruxes!
with Scuttlebutt, your friends are your cloud/datacentre
nothing is ever deleted (same as Dat)
could technically have multiple identities, but functionality isn’t implemented currently. Would have to swap .ssb directories
There *is* a mobile Dat browser, but apparently it’s a bit… buggy. See Bunsen for Android (nada for iOS). Still, kudos to them for taking a stab at it. Apparently the project of making a Dat browser sort of hits a brick wall due to node.js, but a bunch of devs have taken it upon themselves to make a Rust implementation of Dat. TBH I don’t understand the ins-and-outs well enough to be able to describe how that lowers the barrier, but it sounds like the future of mobile Dat might be brighter for it.
I haven’t dug in to Scuttlebutt yet, and it sounds like it’s about time. An offline-first protocol, described by KG as a database/social network/community. See also Patchwork. Feel like I heard HL say that it came about after 2011 Christchurch earthquake due to the difficulties at the time with having any sort of connectivity, but that might be wrong?
And crucially, are there ethical conversations around P2P tech that we’re failing to have, or happily skating past? I’m thinking about when Facebook and similar now-giants were in their nascent stages, surely some of the current nastiness could have been avoided if the making was accompanied by a little more thinking, more extrospection? How do you wrap your head around the potential ethical implications of something that doesn’t yet exist? I found KB’s anecdote interesting, when a few fascistic idiots attempted to hijack Scuttlebutt but were almost immediately, organically, blocked from having any meaningful impact. It feels great, but who’s to say they’re not off in their own node somewhere trolling away? Feels awful to think that Scuttlebutt might be harbouring some sort of extreme-right cell, and yet maybe so be it, should it be a decentralised network’s responsibility to police that? How on earth would that work anyway?
Last Saturday, Sam introduced me to Chris Coyier’s talk on serverless-ness, The All-Powerful Front-End Developer. Pretty interesting and useful. I’m glad he leads it by breaking down the problematic nature of the word “serverless”! The following day was spent in agorama’s p2p workshop at furtherfield. Coincidentally, there is a lot of overlap in these topics.
I’ve spent the past few days wrapping my head around all of this, contextualising it against the sorts of concerns and projects we work with. Though I desperately want to get going with Dat, I’m starting with serverless because it may solve an urgent need in my day-to-day work. Right now, I’m spending much more time than I realistically can maintaining CMSs and hosting environments for older websites.
All of the below is a thought dump on the topic, an attempt to pick apart the meaning of and the use cases for a serverless website architecture.
- Remote Only manifesto
- CSS-Tricks Screencast #160: The All-Powerful Front-End Developer
- Dotori, a Japanese+Korean restaurant in London
- Enoki Panel
- How I publish taravancil.com on the peer-to-peer Web
- Webtask – high hopes for this, but running in to issues w/ connecting to Airtable; TBC
- IPFS – not sure how I feel about IPFS, but worth being aware of it
- Txt file of all IETF RFCs – see 1630 specifically (!)
- NYC Mesh
- devMode.fm on support/maintenance retainers
- P2P Superchannel on Are.na
Going to write up more about serverless and P2P, and how they kind of intersect, once I’ve digested some of this.