Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Rebuilding the Labyrinth

Over the almost twenty years (!) since the first version of the Libertarian Labyrinth archive went online, the various elements of my decentralized archive have become truly labyrinthine, with bits and pieces spread over blogs and wikis, as well as the newish Omeka library. There was always a sort of exploratory method to my madness. I've never been entirely convinced that people surfing the web really pay that much attention to central portals and front pages, and I've also been curious to separate out certain elements of my work to see how they fared on their own. I have always suspected that my particular range of interests contains something to turn off nearly every sort of browser, and have been, until recently, a bit ill-prepared to clarify all the connections. But there are some obvious drawbacks to the particular kind of decentralized archive I've been building, and they have become more obvious as my overall project becomes clearer and more explicit. It still probably doesn't make sense to dump everything that I'm writing or translating into a single blog, but the time has probably come to at least bring the various projects and connections into a more explicit, browseable network. 

The Omeka-based Libertarian Labyrinth Library is, and will continue to be, the heart of the archive. I've been gradually changing my workflow so that most things are posted there, and from now on my goal is that everything, including blog posts, will be archived there as soon as it goes online. And I'm looking at establishing a separate Twitter account for the Library, for anyone who needs to know every little thing that is happening in the labyrinth. 

A new portal at will link to all the elements of the larger labyrinth, and probably host an aggregator of blog-feeds fairly soon as well. If you just want to remember one URL, that will be the one to pick, although the goal is to make navigation between most of the labyrinth fairly seamless. 

Networking the various blogs will mean moving most of them (and perhaps eventually all of them) off the Blogger platform. I started that process last year, but last years was... complicated... and things only went so far. I was too busy reinventing my understanding of things like anarchy and anarchism to spend much time tinkering with website. This year, however, I'm pushing to get a number of archiving and publishing projects really off the ground, and my little network of blogs hasn't been sufficient to the tasks. So, in preparation for the upcoming reading of What if Property? I put together the Proudhon Library blog and forum and figured, after a long day and night cobbling together a useable mass of Wordpress plugins and linking that site to my other WP blogs, that there was no point in stopping there. The Bakunin Library blog has moved (and I'll try to update and install the translation-index page later today) and La Frondeuse, Splendors of the Combined Order and Possible and Impossible Worlds will follow soon, though perhaps not exactly in their present form. Some other blogs (Travelling in Liberty, From the Libertarian Library and Working Translations) will be archived in the Library and their indexes both archived and attached to the Libertarian Labyrinth blog. Those few who follow my horribly-neglected beer review and White Mountains blogs don't have anything to worry about for a while at least. They won't move for now and the neglect will probably continue, although perhaps not at the same levels.

The "neo-Proudhonian" writing I've been doing at Contr'un and will largely move to the Proudhon Library site. I'll leave this site up, and do my best to update changed links as other things shift, but at some point in the near future I'll be making the leap. I've got some summary and transition posts I would like to make, so we'll just see how things go. Part of the process of wrapping things up here will be dusting off, completing and/or correcting some of the historical material here, so expect those posts to start appearing over on the Libertarian Labyrinth blog. For a while, I'll note here when new stuff is happening elsewhere. 

That leaves the wikis and an odd assortment of online documents, like the files of Liberty, tucked away on various servers. The odd assortments are all destined to become part of the Library, and I'll update indexes like the Liberty Index as the moves get made. It turns out that there is a fairly efficient bridge for integrating the wikis with the blogs, so, for example, much of the Proudhon Library wiki can now be browsed without leaving the Proudhon Library blog. Certain things break crossing the software bridge and certain features aren't accessible, so I'll be making some adjustments in the way that I organize the wikis (and direct links to the wikis will be available.) The biggest change will be a clean installation of the main Libertarian Labyrinth Wiki (which will let me fix some long-standing problems with the original installation) which will let me integrate that material with the linked blogs fairly seamlessly. The fate of the Collective Reason site is uncertain. I'm integrating some material from it into the other wiki collections, and it may or may not stick around as a sandbox for the few of us who use it. In any event, the most useful, and largely unused portions of it will get another shot in a new context. And I'm sure my love-hate relationship with Mediwiki will continue, but as long as my interests include large-scale bibliographical projects, there will probably always be one or two wikis in the mix. 

Moving the main wiki is the thing most likely to cause problems (mostly broken links) for others. But I don't really see a way around it. Some of the decisions I made when I originally set up the main wiki don't look as clever as they originally did, given other developments, and the software gremlins have done their work over years, upgrades and attacks. I'll be working at this slowly but surely, probably completing the metadata work I've been doing in the process. 

What's the bottom line? Since the vast major of readers here probably use the archives infrequently, the disruption will be minimal, and as they make the shift over to the New Labyrinth the number of resources that will be just a few clicks away at any time will vastly increase. And the same will be true for me, making it much easier to continue to develop the archive and the commentary on it.

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