Great post by Chris Aldrich that echos my own feelings about the potential for an integrated content creation, consumption, and interaction experience for the open web. I've already got a good start on it, since I have a website that supports Webmention and Micropub, and I've created a plugin for Nextcloud News, my feed reader of choice, that enables interactions.
My goal is to completely exit Facebook by the end of 2017 and Twitter shortly thereafter.
3 min read
I've long been a believer in the power of the open web, but my passion for saving it has been ignited by the IndieWeb movement, as of late. More and more people are discovering their distaste for creepy, ad-driven content silos like Facebook. Today's post by Dave Winer on the evils of Facebook, and John Gruber's hilariously sardonic "Fuck Facebook" reply do an excellent job of encapsulating my own frustrations. That said, there are reasons for hope.
The IndieWeb movement itself has been chipping away at the problem for years, but I've been particularly encouraged over the past few weeks by a few new developments.
First is the successful launch of Manton Reece's Micro.blog project to his Kickstarter backers. I'm a backer myself, as is my employer, and I've had the pleasure of using the platform for a few weeks now. Its early, but the project is already bearing fruit, with a rapid development pace, a vibrant community, and lots of excellent people to follow. Micro.blog is built on the notion of independence and respects your ownership of your data.
Next is the announcement and early success of the JSON Feed format created by Manton and Brent Simmons. JSON Feed is a new format designed for content syndication, similar to RSS and Atom, but based upon the JSON serialization format, which is popular with developers these days for being extremely easy to properly generate and parse. Since its announcement, there's been a flurry of activity around JSON Feed, including outcry about "yet another standard," and those who are upset that JSON Feed was created at all when there are other JSON-based syndication formats in existence. Over all of the noise, though, the adoption rate has been impressive. Many projects have been updated or created to generate and parse JSON Feed, and consumers are starting to adopt the format as well, including Feedbin, News Explorer, NewsBlur, Inoreader, and a few podcast apps. I've even jumped into the fray, creating an initial implementation of JSON Feed for the Known CMS that runs this website, and a second pass that aims to build in additional information through JSON Feed extensions. Regardless of competing standards, shortcomings in the format itself, etc., its undeniable that JSON Feed is generating real, palpable excitement for the open web, and that's undoubtedly a good thing.
Finally, in the midst of all of this, Brent Simmons has announced that he's working on a new, open source feed reader for macOS called Evergreen. Brent was the original creator of NetNewsWire, which was at one time my favorite app. In fact, I created several themes for NetNewsWire back in the day, and was a member of the beta testing and feedback group that Brent set up. Evergreen has a chance to take a fresh look at the problem of consuming feeds, and with JSON Feed and the new capabilities it could support through extensions, I am hoping that Brent takes a crack at solving the bigger picture that I blogged about in March. Imagine an open source app that bundles consumption (through feeds, including JSON Feed) with content creation and interaction (leveraging Micropub, a newly minted W3C recommendation, and Webmention). I'm looking forward to seeing what Brent produces!
So, yes, I lament the state of the web, thanks to walled gardens like Facebook, but I'm optimistic about the future.
1 min read
Thank you, Tim, for still blogging, and owning your own identity on the web. Your presence makes it more vibrant, unique, and diverse.
The great danger is that the Web’s future is mall-like: No space really public, no storefronts but national brands’, no visuals composed by amateurs, nothing that’s on offer just for its own sake, and for love.
This sentence in particular resonated with me. I want the web to be a massive, interconnected network of independant thinkers, businesses, artists, communicators, individuals, etc., not just a collection of brands shouting into the void, hoping to attract consumers.
Well put, Colin. A platform like Micro.blog has a great deal of potential to advance the adoption of IndieWeb building blocks like Micropub, IndieAuth, Webmention, and mf2, even if the users of Micro.blog don't know or understand any of the underlying foundations. Why? User experience! Micro.blog is simply leveraging IndieWeb technology and standards to build a platform that makes users happy.
While Micro.blog is a great step forward for the IndieWeb, I still believe that the holy grail is getting native support for IndieWeb deep within WordPress core, including broad support from themes. WordPress runs over 28% of all websites, and IndieWeb support in core could be the tipping point for broad adoption.
1 min read
My quest to own more of my digital identity continues, as I continue to search for ways in which I depend on social media silos like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. One feature of Facebook that I actually find quite delightful is On This Day, which shows you content and interactions over the years on the current day of the month. I like this feature so much, I felt like I should have it for my website, in the spirit of the IndieWeb. I'm happy to say, I've got an initial implementation in place on my site!
I've created a plugin for Known, the CMS for this site, that collects a few of my own customizations, including my On This Day implementation, and its available on my GitHub. Currently, the On This Day functionality requires a patch to Known core that isn't yet open source, but I'm hoping to polish that up and attempt to get it into Known sometime in the next few weeks.
Three cheers to owning my own memories!
I hate that we're not only giving up our data to ad-driven content silos like Facebook, we're also giving up content discovery and consumption to their biased algorithms. I continue to believe that the web needs to change as quickly as possible, wrestling control back, and placing ownership, identity, honesty, and authenticity back at the forefront.
Yes: My first IndieWeb Summit. Looking forward to it!
1 min read
As I get deeper into the IndieWeb, I've been loving exploring more ways to share and publish my activities. Having a timeline that includes where I have been, what I've been eating and drinking, my recipes and reviews, along with photos, and social interactions helps me remember where I was and what I was doing on any given day.
Last night, I had trouble sleeping, so I decided to attack a new problem. I'm a big movie enthusiast, and enjoy collecting and watching great films. I decided that tracking what I'm watching would be a fun and useful way to enrich my activity stream.
I'd like to introduce Watching, a plugin for the Known CMS that I use for running this site. Using the plugin, I can publish a record of which movie or TV show I just watched. Earlier this evening, I watched a few minutes of Mad Max: Fury Road, which I absolutely adored, and it's been logged on my site.
Better yet? I've written experimental support for Plex webhooks, which create these records automatically on my site whenever I click or tap "play." How fun is that?
Great post about Mastodon and the IndieWeb.
David Shanske is writing a blog series on WordPress and the IndieWeb. The first article in the series addressed comments, and this one talks about Webmention and Vouch. Its a great series worth following, especially if you're a WordPress person who is interested in learning more about the IndieWeb and how you can take part.
2 min read
Today, I read about the launch of an app to make it easier to create "tweetstorms" on Twitter. I'll start by saying that Stormcrow seems like a well-designed, very useful app, and my commentary here isn't meant to take anything away from the developer. That said, the fact that this app needs to exist is a sad indictment of the current state of personal publishing on the web.
From a user experience perspective, tweetstorms are an absolute disaster, both from the creation perspective, and the consumption perspective. Twitter is not designed for long-form content, and tweetstorms are a dirty hack, at best. Nevermind the issue that people's carefully crafted communications are then sent off into the void of Twitter, where the conversation is difficult to follow, algorithmically curated, and controlled by a corporation.
I'm really proud to work for a company who's ultimate purpose is to help people own their digital identity, and its becoming clearer to me that its possible to also provide a better user experience for all involved in the process. I've shared some of my thoughts on user experience and the IndieWeb already, and I plan to continue to think (and write) about the problem in the future!