Raw and Cooked Web

My web presence can be described in a sliver of a sliver — a slim passage from Roland Barthes' slim volume Empire of Signs.

Barthes makes the observation that Japanese food is served fragmented, “raw.” The eater has to manipulate what she is eating to bring everything together:

The painting was actually only a palette with which you are going to play in the course of your meal, taking up here a pinch of vegetables, there of rice, and over there of condiment, here a sip of soup, according to a free alternation

Barthes describes this “raw” preparation further by comparing it to the “cooked” Western practice:

[Y]ou yourself make what it is you eat; the dish is no longer a reified product, whose preparation is, among us, modestly distanced in time and in space (meals elaborated in advance behind the partition of a kitchen, secret room where everything is permitted, provided the product emerges from it all the more composed, embellished, embalmed, shellacked).

My web appears fully cooked. I don't self host my blog & use plenty of other services that do the technical heavy lifting for me. And yet this is where Barthes' clear distinction between raw & cooked blurs — because the most interesting part of the web for me is discovering how to see the painting as a palette, how to make a platform both the plate of food and the chopsticks.

It started with web API's — being able to access data created on a platform and doing interesting things with it. Then tools like Glitch came around that made it simple to create small yet expressive web apps. As long as I knew how to write the underlying code, Glitch could take care of deployment for me. So with API's I can take a pinch from my blog, put the posts into Are.na, and rearrange it all to my liking through an intermediary Glitch app. This all operates in a strange amalgam of raw & cooked — not having full access to platforms' underlying codebase yet being able to manipulate enough of the data created on it to do interesting things. That's enough for me to engage with the web in a way I want to.

Fascinating questions come from this line of thinking, all around how to observe & act upon blogs within this raw and cooked spectrum. How can you look at a blog (post) as raw rather than cooked? Maybe it's in approaches akin to the from blog to blocks experiment? In extended forms like blogchains? Likewise, how can you take raw data and cook it into something like a blog (post)? What would the process, let alone end product, even look like?