Epiphany.pub, Jupyter mixes with Medium

Demo of Epiphany.pub

I have been building a new tech blogging experience epiphany.pub. It’s inspired by Medium.com and Jupyter Notebook. It allows program embedding and also supports Github like version control and pull request for social blogging. Gradually, I will move my blog to this new platform from here. If you are interested, you are welcome to try it too, I will appreciate some feedback. But be aware that this platform is still in its early stage.

Some core features of epiphany.pub:

  1. Writing in Markdown with math equation support.
  2. Allowing embedding programs. Javascript and Python are currently supported, more to come.
  3. A language agnostic API for plotting, creating an UI and interacting with an Epiphany post.
  4. Github like version control and collaboration.
  5. Socialized publication.

Epiphany is my response to the recent trends in content consuming, where people spend less time with traditional media, such as books, while spending more time consuming information on-line. This trend can attribute to a few unique benefits of the on-line contents. For example, on-line contents are often bite sized tailored for people’s increasingly fragmented time. On-line contents are more timely also. Before you could buy any book about blockchain, on-line contents were the only learning sources. In recent years, we also witnessed the trend of interactive contents in the form of embedded program, a form that is not available with traditional media.

Many have noticed the same trend. Bill Gates in his 2019 annual letter says textbooks are becoming obsolete and the future books should be personalized with interactive contents to engage the readers. Similarly, this Atlantic article also asks the question: What would you get if you designed the scientific paper from scratch today? And we can’t agree more with the following:

It was a shame that in mathematics it’s been a tradition for hundreds of years to make papers as formal and austere as possible, often suppressing the very visual aids that mathematicians use to make their discoveries.

The idea of Epiphany came after a series of inspirations. Other than the two most obvious ones, Medium and Jupyter Notebook, popular interactive contents also helped spark this idea, such as distill.pub and the Explorable Multiverse Analyses. These interactive contents really showcase the expressiveness of programs. A Program can strengthen understanding by exposing the internals of an idea, providing a rigorous definition of a procedure and dismissing any ambiguity left in the text. A program also gives readers a chance to approve or disapprove any hypothesis they might have during their study by allowing adjustments. After all, a reader can debug, step through and substitute inputs if a live program is available. If text and equations are only the blueprints of a machine. Having a runnable program amounts to providing a real machine for dissembling.

Therefore, I made Epiphany, the result of me pondering over what a future interactive content platform should look like.

On the technical side, Epiphany relies purely on web technology. With the growing power of WebAssembly, web can carry out 90% what off-line compute can accomplish. Putting everything in the browser creates a more integrated experience and enables us to take the advantages of the hundreds and thousands of Javascript packages available already. Two of the recent similar projects, observable and iodide also use web technologies and had influenced my choice.

I hope Epiphany could grow into a community for thinkers. The codex platform Da Vinci would use if he were a modern man.

Software engineer & wantrepreneur. Interested in computer graphics, bitcoin and deep learning.

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