Open Thinkering


Tag: Github

Blogging from localhost to IPFS is a really simple, no-login hosted individual blog post publishing from the makers of Telegram which has been around for a few years. I was looking at it again today thinking that it would be cool if, instead of publishing posts to a server you don’t control and could be taken down at any time, you could publish posts to IPFS.

It turns out that someone else more technically able than me had the same idea, and this GitHub repository allows you to do just that. In fact, you don’t even have to host the place in which you compose the blog, but instead can run it locally!

Screenshot of browser showing localhost:7777 in URL bar and compose window

In practice, this means that I could just have a static web page (e.g. and link to a series of IPFS-powered pages. The downsides are that I can’t change what I’ve written, there’s no RSS feed, and I’m dependent on IPFS gateways to serve content to users of most web browsers.

But, hey, it’s cool.

If you have the right things installed and configured, the example at first link below should work for you. If not, the second has exactly the same content, served up from an IPFS gateway.

Update: I subsequently learned about the importance of ‘pinning’ so if the Cloudflare link doesn’t work, try this one.

It’s four years since I presented on IPFS and other censorship-resistant technologies in Barcelona. I was there during the vote for Catalonian independence, something that was only possible due to disseminating information via decentralised technologies.

Since then, Cloudflare has created an IPFS gateway, and Brave has built-in support for IPFS. These things happen slowly, often taking a decade to mass adoption as bugs and annoyances are ironed out. We’re getting there.

Introducing, my new side project

E-reader showing in web browser

I’m someone who uses the web browser on my e-reader. I always have done, from the earliest Amazon Kindle I had, through to the bq Cervantes 4 I use these days. To scratch my own itch, I’ve created a new site:

As you’d expect, web browsers on e-readers aren’t very capable. As websites get ever more bloated and complex, they render ever more poorly on these kinds of devices.

Simple, text-based websites work well, though. So I thought I’d begin to collect these and make them available for anyone to use. I’m not doing anything complicated: just using GitHub Pages to serve up a basic website that’s styled Simple.css.

Right now, I’ve added one or more links in the following categories:

  • Search
  • Ebooks
  • News
  • Weather
  • Social
  • Technical

It’s pretty awesome that I can download EPUB-formatted books directly from my e-reader’s web browser directly to the device!

In case you’re interested, I did do some very basic research with people who self-reported as users of e-readers. The following polls on Mastodon and Twitter together received 101 votes:

Results from Mastodon:

0% Yes, regularly
13% Occasionally
32% I know it's there
55% No / show me the results
Results from Twitter:

6.3% Yes, regularly
9.4% Occasionally
40.6% I know it's there
43.8% No / show me the results

Some may see the above as discouraging, but I disagree: that’s 10-15% of e-reader uses in my sample who are already using an e-reader web browser, and 30-40% who know how to access it.

If this were a ‘product’ rather than a side project, I’d say that there’s a definite niche there to be served. For example, we know that looking at backlit smartphone and tablet screens can cause insomnia. E-ink screens are much better in that regard, plus the simplicity of the websites that work on e-readers are potentially more calming.

For the foreseeable, though, this is just something that’s useful for me and hopefully some other people. The good news is that it works well on every type of web browser. I’m planning to implement a dark mode toggle soon, as well as add a bunch more websites — feel free to suggest some!

This post is Day 88 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at

Weeknote 30/2020

I’ve written quite a bit this week as part of my #100DaysToOffload challenge:

Over and above what’s detailed in these posts, I’ve been splitting my time between working on projects for We Are Open and Outlandish this week. For the former, my ‘home’ co-op in the CoTech network, I’ve been mainly focusing on work for Catalyst and the Social Mobility Commission. We’re working with Erica Neve and Pedram Parasmand on three contracts, helping charities who are rapidly undergoing digital transformation. We had a really successful retrospective on Friday with UpRising, who we’ve been helping in more depth.

With Outlandish, I’m helping with some productisation of similar projects they’ve worked on for a range of clients. I find this really interesting as it’s simultaneously about meeting user needs and about organisational development. I’m also advising around ways in which they can develop the workshops they offer.

I’m fortunate to work with organisations which are so emotionally intelligent, and which go out of their way to be so. One of the reasons for working with Outlandish is to give them some short-term help with project management while they’re a bit stretched. But another reason is to learn from their processes and procedures; although they’ve only been a co-op for as long as us (four years), they’ve been together and honing things for a decade.

When I was at Jisc, one thing that always impressed me was their internal knowledgebase. They used PBworks for that, while Outlandish uses a WordPress installation with a theme called KnowAll. I’ve been wanting to experiment with wiki.js and so this week Laura Hilliger and I set up an instance at and copied over existing pages from our GitHub wiki. I’ve set user permissions so that only logged-in members can edit the wiki, and indeed see any pages that are ‘internal’ only.

We finally got sign-off from Greenpeace for one of the best things I think I’ve written for a while: HOWTO: Create an Architecture of Participation for your Open Source project. As Stephen Downes mentioned when mentioning it in OLDaily it’s perhaps applicable to wider contexts than just open source projects.

Other than that, I’ve just been reviewing a document Laura put together for some work we’re doing with Red Hat, doing a small amount of work for our ongoing work with Greenpeace, and contributing to a ‘playback’ of some recent work we did for Catalyst.

Next week, I’m tying up work for We Are Open on Monday, and for Outlandish on Tuesday, before turning everything off and going on a family holiday for 10 days. As my therapist said in our meeting on Friday, as I’m a bit of a perfectionist, there’s no guarantee that I will actually relax during my holiday just because I’m away from home. So I’m actively trying to cut myself some slack. I deliberately went for a slow run this morning and I even had an afternoon nap yesterday. Small steps.

Header image is a selfie I took on a family walk in the Northumbrian hills last Sunday. Inspired by Low-tech magazine’s solar powered website, I loosely followed this guide to create the ‘stippled’ effect. This reduced the size of an 8.6MB image to a mere 36.6KB.