Interactive Blog on Static Web Host

Vision

  • gain autonomy: freedom is the basis of moral actions. No freedom, no morality.
  • transcend ourselves: change/improve our lives through free thoughts

Goal

Convert our free thoughts into free code.

Free code allows users around the world to run and/or improve them. This would bring real enhancement to our tools.

For example, beautiful math writing used to be a complicated process. A decade ago, this required the installation of a typesetting engine called $\LaTeX$. Thanks to freely available scripts like MathJax and $\KaTeX$, it’s now possible to write math viewable by any modern web browser by writing the content in the middle.

 1<!DOCTYPE html>
 2<html>
 3<head>
 4  <meta charset="UTF-8">
 5  <title>Your title goes here</title>
 6</head>
 7<body>
 8Write $\LaTeX$ code here.
 9
10<!-- End of contents, keep the code below untouched -->
11<link rel="stylesheet" href="https://cdn.jsdelivr.net/npm/katex@0.10.0/dist/katex.min.css" integrity="sha384-9eLZqc9ds8eNjO3TmqPeYcDj8n+Qfa4nuSiGYa6DjLNcv9BtN69ZIulL9+8CqC9Y" crossorigin="anonymous">
12
13<!-- The loading of KaTeX is deferred to body to speed up page rendering -->
14<script src="https://cdn.jsdelivr.net/npm/katex@0.10.0/dist/katex.min.js" integrity="sha384-K3vbOmF2BtaVai+Qk37uypf7VrgBubhQreNQe9aGsz9lB63dIFiQVlJbr92dw2Lx" crossorigin="anonymous"></script>
15
16<!-- To automatically render math in text elements, include the auto-render extension: -->
17<script src="https://cdn.jsdelivr.net/npm/katex@0.10.0/dist/contrib/auto-render.min.js" integrity="sha384-kmZOZB5ObwgQnS/DuDg6TScgOiWWBiVt0plIRkZCmE6rDZGrEOQeHM5PcHi+nyqe" crossorigin="anonymous"
18    onload="renderMathInElement(document.body);"></script>  <script>
19
20<!-- Custom LaTeX like macros -->
21document.addEventListener("DOMContentLoaded", function() {
22  renderMathInElement(document.body, {
23    delimiters: [
24    {left: "$$", right: "$$", display: true},
25    {left: "\\[", right: "\\]", display: true},
26    {left: "$", right: "$", display: false},
27    {left: "\\(", right: "\\)", display: false}
28    ]
29  });
30});
31</script>
32</body>

P.S. My reason for leaving the code at the end is to allow the content to appear ASAP, so that users feel that they are capable of creating new content by changing the code. The default delimiters are different from the usual ones in $\LaTeX$, which are the standard ones used by mathematicians, but the former can be easily customized to suit the later. This provides beautiful math at the expense of an attachment—there’s no free lunch—one can go further with Markdown, but mathematicians, one of the most busiest people in the world, aren’t so keen to put aside their math and try new technologies.

This serves as an example of how coding can improve our lives. This is the collaborate effort of users around the world. They are granted the rights to use and improve others’ code thanks to free software licenses.

Problem

Dynamic sites

The exchange of ideas played a vital role in the development of tools. In the past, we rely on emails, forums and social media.

Obviously, a personal blog is much better for sharing individual ideas. With a commenting system, others can exchange ideas with the blog owner. New ideas emerges from such exchange. Comment storage usually require a database, which isn’t at the disposal of a static web server, which isn’t supposed to handle logic from clients’ requests.

Well-known third-party solutions like WordPress.com, Facebook and Disqus store comments in external databases that make comment retrieval difficult. It’s difficult to manipulate the contents inside to render math. WordPress.com do allow math in comments, but the math support is limited: no display style equations cancel much of the convenience provided by the platform.

Mathematics Stack Exchange

Math.SE is a great source questions. However, it’s not well-suited for individual sharing. The reason is three-pronged.

First, the whole SE network serves as a knowledge database in the form of Q&A sites. A knowledge database stores knowledge, which isn’t necessarily in the form of Q&A. Take Terence Tao’s career advice as an example. There’s no question, but the information in the post should be useful for math students.

Second, over 500 questions (mostly from new users) are closed and/or deleted every week since they lack efforts from the question asker, and thus, are considered to be “off-topic” and “missing context”. Many of them are excellent (calculus) exercises. I’ll illustrate this with a question in integration by substitution.

I have tried to solve this $$\int_0^{2\pi} \frac{\cos2x}{5+ 4\cos x} \,{\rm d}x$$ without using complex analysis but with no success. I tried tangent half-angle substitution but it became too complicated. Is there a way?

There’re two fierce wars arised in this flag: an edit/rollback war and a close/reopen + delete/undelete war.

Third, this site is faced with a plethora of new users who refuses to use MathJax. There’s a relatively high-rep user who doesn’t use $\LaTeX$ at all. With a marginal reward of two reputation points, plenty of users under 2,000 reputation are willing to offer their time and effort to improve the readability of the posts written by those users.

Motivation

I believe that by popularizing the mathematical markup language $\LaTeX$, one is more willing to incorporate math into their daily communications. A personal blog is a useful tool to host the math, and a static blog is more stable in case of huge web traffic because a static web host only repond with the “constant” page.

Proposal

  • Static blog engine & theme with math rendering scripts incorporated: Hugo + Beautiful Hugo
  • Free & open source Git web host: GitLab
  • Static comments: store HTML form data into data files and push to Git repo through API: Staticman

See my Hugo+Staticman on GitLab guide as welll as my recent Beautiful Hugo pull request to get these things done.


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