Last year I converted my academic blog to Octopress because I thought it would push me to learn and grow comfortable with technologies I’m not yet adept with (ruby and git especially). I know WordPress and its underlying technologies fairly well, and an SQL-driven site seemed a bit heavy for me, so Octopress felt like a middle ground that would challenge me to grow.
And it has.
But I’ve also wondered if my unfamiliarity with the platform has also made me less likely to blog. Were this wordpress, I could log in, type, format some HTML for precision, and post. A low barrier to participation.
With Octopress I have to create the markdown file (no problem) but then deal with any images, making sure that changes I’ve made are committed, etc. Not huge challenges, but (perhaps because of my unfamiliarity) the tasks often go awry, causing a post (or an update) to take much longer than I thought.
This semester, as I push further into my research agenda and see more of a need for regular blogging, I realize it’s time to reassess how and why I blog. In dealing with Octopress, I need to either commit to learning more about ruby and SASS or to falling back on a comfortable technology (Wordpress). The tendency, of course, is to go with the latter; however, in working through these problems, I always think of my students and the struggles they find in learning new technologies. Although writing is rarely an easy task, I do feel comfortable with the technology of alphabetic text. It seems appropriate to then couple that familiarity with a learning curve, that of Octopress or git, to further underscore the challenge of writing and the importance of always learning more.
I spent some time today working with Bill Patrianakos’ beautiful Matvre theme, and I already feel more comfortable with SASS. Here’s to a goal of stepping away from the familiar, of the challenge of textual transmission.