Over in the IndieWeb community we were having a conversation about how easy it should be for people to create their own websites (also for small local businesses etc.) Where making the site is basically the same as writing the text you want to put on it. Social media silos do that for you, but out on the open web?

Aaron mentioned that one a tech conference, someone had a linktree site on the last slide for people to find more info, because it was the easiest way apparently to make a small site just for that info, by using a third party silo.
Tantek then said that is a good summary of the use case:

easiest way to make a small site

Seeing that single line on my screen, I was mildly shocked that my own first instinctive answer to “easiest way to make a small site” is “write my own html in Notepad“. That answer is almost 30 years old, it’s how I made my very first web page. And handwriting html is still my first answer! No other path immediately comes to mind. Of course, I wouldn’t want to hand write this weblog in html, but ‘small site’ as in a few simple pages, yes, I would do that by hand in some plain text app like Notepad.

Can it be that three decades on the closest answer to ‘making a website is as easy as making a plain text note’ is still hand written html? Dave Winer uses an outliner to blog, and more recently created Drummer for the rest of us, that for him at least means blogging is as simple as writing plain text. I can post to this blog from my plain text notes on my laptop (from Obsidian using micropub), but I use markdown to style it a bit. What else is out there?

Can making your web page be as simple as writing a note you put on the door or in the window of your business?
The answer can’t really still be Notepad, can it?

No not really, also because I don’t use Windows…but it could still be, and it was back in ’93. Image by John Lester, license CC BY

HTML graffity tag, image by Markus Tacker, license CC-BY-ND

In developing for the web HTML is the very frontest of the front-end, and if you’re a front-end person, you do need to know your HTML. It helps keeping things simple and allows people like me to hit ‘view source’ and figure out how something is done, so I can use it on my own site. I started out writing HTML decades ago in simple text editors like notepad. I still write on my blog in text mode exclusively, never in visual or wysiwyg mode, and add a lot of my html in postings by hand (sometimes aided by keyboard shortcuts that make things easier and avoid repetition)

HTML is the web. And it is useful and powerful in its own right. Without embellishments through scripts etc.
It is in part why I like the IndieWeb, as it seeks to use HTML itself to make webpages machine readable, and to add things that take the best of the social media silos, without all the ajax stuff for instance. So that it works, because it is made of the web, on the web, for the web.

When organising the IndieWebCamp Utrecht last month I realised how little connection I still have to coders and developers for the web in my network. Many people I approached with an invitation to participate told me ‘I don’t develop much for the web really.’, they’re more into all kinds of frameworks and work on things like algorithms, machine learning and data analysis. Cool stuff I heartily agree, but ultimately it mostly ends up being shown in a browser. In HTML. So in a way it is disappointing to encounter a certain disdain here and there for HTML.

For me, I need to dive more deeply in the various ways HTML is currently used to add machine readability to web pages.