New Obsidian Publish Website

Still experimenting with Obsidian Publish. I’m beginning to think this might be a reasonable way to make an all-purpose web page. I’ve been making web pages and sites, as well as blogs, for over 20 years now. Initially, I was an early adopter of the idea that everybody could embrace this new technology and speak directly to anyone who wanted to pay attention. I used to buy domains and populate them with both static pages and blogs.

I’ve let most of the domains expire. The last one that’s actually out there, live, is called environmentalhistory.us. After I finished being a grad student in the PhD program at UMass, I moved to northern Minnesota. About four years passed before I turned back to the dissertation and finished it. During that period, I taught an American Environmental History course online for UMass. I turned the content from that course into a textbook which I self-published cheaply on Amazon. That was the first text I converted to OER when I joined Minnesota State’s OER Learning Circle.

In addition to the page devoted to announcing my latest course and promoting the textbook, I also had a “Library” page that listed my reactions to books I had read, that I thought would be interesting to Env Hist students. I had gotten into the habit, as a grad student, of posting my reviews of books. And as time passed, I was a bit surprised how many visits those pages received. I suppose the readers were mostly other grad students, who had googled the book titles as part of their research. Even today, my reviews are returned on the first page of a search on most of these titles. That’s not to say I believe I had said the “last word” on any of these books. But even so, it seemed like people were interested in reading what I thought about them when I was a grad student. So I think I’ll reproduce that, only the Obsidian features of the resulting website will include the little navigation graph on the right of each page, where the reader will be able to see the links of each of the reviews to other books and to the topics I think are worth exploring.

I also had a “Primary” page which included a set of family letters from the 19th century that I later compiled into a book (The Ranney Letters). I had just added them in a blog-style long stream of posts. I don’t think this was the most effective way to make these letters available, or primary research in general, for that matter. I think the “Lumber” folder I’ve already been playing around with publishing will be a much better presentation. And since I’ll be making this available to the outside world, I think I’ll add more images. I have a LOT of scanned postcards from my trip to the Historical Society museum in Virginia, Minnesota, for example. The Virginia and Rainy Lake lumber mill there was the largest in the world in the first couple of decades of the 20th century. I didn’t see much of a point, adding a lot of images to my Obsidian vault, when it was private. Seemed to me that there might be better ways to work with those. But now that I’ll be making them public, my attitude has changed.

I’ve read and heard some folks cautioning users of Obsidian Publish to be very careful about privacy. There are certainly things that I don’t want to be out there on the public web, so I’m not just planning to publish my entire Obsidian vault. My first thought was to just take a small subset and move that content to a new folder titled “Dan’s Pages”, and only publish from that folder. I think that’s a pretty good idea, although the more I think about it, the more curious I am, how much of my actual vault is going to end up in that folder? Probably not the working folders for my OER textbooks or my Evergreen Notes (at least, not yet). And I don’t think I want to censor my Daily Notes to the extent I’d need to, in order to make them visible to the outside world. Nor do I see the need.

But I DO think I’ll expand on that idea of working with the garage door open, to include not only my white pine lumber project, but also my reading notes and a blog of sorts. Links to my videos, which may be an opportunity for me to highlight History content videos in addition to the note-taking and apps videos that are popular on this channel. I’ll be teaching a fully online, asynchronous course this summer, so there will be a series of videos that will go with that. Maybe additional things, as time goes on.

The home of all this, I think, will be my active website. Maybe at some point I’ll explore the idea of exporting from Obsidian Publish to a private domain of my own. To start, I think I’ll publish to the one I get with the subscription, which I’ll call something like Dan’s Pages, at publish.obsidian.md/danallosso. See how that works for a while.

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