28 March, 2021

Image/photo

Website platforms

An intern we had once made a WordPress website for one of our friends associations, and we host it on the same server as our main site. A new person who volunteers for the association is saying he doesn't want to use WordPress to update the website, but would prefer to re-do the site under a proprietary Mac app called Sparkle. He says he finds WP to be cumbersome and that he already runs several websites under Sparkle. My response was:

From the point of view of maintaining the site, the advantages of WordPress are as follows:
1. It's easy to change the appearance of the site (by adjusting or changing the theme)
WordPress is a free open source program that anyone can work with from any computer anywhere.
2. It's easy to move a WordPress site to a new server, and many other platforms are able to convert from WordPress, both CMS systems and static site generators.
3. Many people know WordPress as about 40% of all websites run on it and 64% of all sites that use a CMS.
4. By contrast, Sparkle is a paid, proprietary, Apple Mac program. Someone who does not have a Mac, or who hasn't purchased Sparkle would not be able to use it. For example, I'm on Linux, and would not be able to do anything with it. Neither would a future web designer or maintainer who uses Microsoft Windows. That means that if you ever decide to stop, the website will need to be re-made from scratch.

He, or the association will need to decide what to do. They may just decide to continue sending me the materials and let me do the work, which is fine.

I can't argue with him on the nastiness of the WordPress interface. It's cumbersome indeed. It's not surprising that so many competitors have sprung up. In a way, I prefer that they are at least suggesting this Sparkle, and not something like Wix or Weebly, which I would really dislike.

Wix is a successful Israeli company (now foreign-owned, I think). Lots of Israeli young people come up with ingenious new ideas, find funding, create a startup, with the main aim of eventually selling at a high price to some American company. Fine; except that some of the applications they create are a bit sleazy, as in not being respectful of privacy, etc. NSO Group is the most extreme example. But there are many others. Such software seems to be a product of a culture based on wrong values.

Freedom

Others on the fediverse were looking at the freedom house site and comparing countries. Israel appears there as a "free" country (though it's on the lower end of "free"), and the Palestinian territories that are occupied by Israel are, unsurprisingly, listed as non-free. India, I remember, recently had its ranking downgraded to "partially free" and this rankled the Indian government immeasurably. (Indian Kashmir is listed as non-free.).

Looking at the criteria the site uses, it seems pretty fair to me. Of course, the degree of freedom in a country is not the only criteria to look at. I might not want to live in a country that is free, but violent, xenophobic, dangerous, freezing cold, or starving.

In Israel, a place that absorbs many newcomers, I have often asked people why they chose to move to and live in a country with so many difficulties, dangers and injustices. They do not always have a clear response; often it's an emotional decision. Sometimes it is ideological. I asked Prof. David Shulman, an indologist from the Hebrew University and speaker of Sanskrit, Telugu, Hindi, Malayalam and Tamil, what he is doing here, when he would be eagerly accepted at so many universities overseas. He said that he sees himself as "a man of the Middle East", that this is his home. A little later, he wrote "Dark Hope", a personal journal of his activism and volunteering with Ta'ayush, which involved going to assist Palestinian villagers facing violence from settlers. I asked Deb Reich, an American writer and translator, who authored "No More Enemies". She said she lives here as a "dissident," a person who opposes the regime. She sees a value in that. When an American volunteer for the International Solidarity Movement was buried under an Israeli army bulldozer in Gaza, and her parents sued the government, Deb translated the extensive testimony and court proceedings . In the village, we once had a Christian Spanish volunteer who was certain, without any evidence, that her ancestors were Marranos - Jewish converts to Christianity following the inquisition, who often kept practicing their religion in secret. She decided to convert to Judaism and stay here permanently.

As for me, I'm often asked by Israel's airport security what I am doing here. Once I told them, "Well, we all make mistakes."

Voyage to Cythera

(Theo Angelopoulos)

"I often discover with horror and relief that I believe in nothing. Then I return to my body. It's the only thing that reminds me I'm alive."

Links blog

Joe Biden is giving left parties the world over a masterclass in how to use power
“He ran as a moderate but is governing as a transforming radical. That’s not a paradox – it’s a winning method”

More than 100 killed as Myanmar junta unleashes worst day of terror | Myanmar | The Guardian
"In the locked-down capital, Naypyidaw, senior generals gathered for a military parade, with representatives from their few staunch allies, including China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, Reuters reported."

The Anti-Capitalist Software License

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