🔖 The Story of Your Life: Using WordPress as Your Memory Warehouse

The Story of Your Life: Using WordPress as Your Memory Warehouse by Brianna Privett (WordCamp US 2017)
The Personal Web of the 1990s/early 2000s was the first wave of online diarists and bloggers who use the web as a platform to chronicle and share their our daily lives. WordPress came out of this movement, and is now in its second decade. 2017 marks 20 years that I’ve been using the web to create and archive memories, and 12 years that I’ve been doing it with WordPress. I’ve learned a few things about creating a real and permanent record of a lifetime on the ephemeral digital landscape, and together we’ll discuss how to use WordPress to create your own home on the web. We’ll cover topics such as how to maintain your (and your family’s) privacy, using WordPress to build a keepsake repository your friends and family can contribute to, and how to ensure that these digital spaces are available as a legacy for lifetimes to come.

I can’t wait until WordPress.TV (presumably) posts this up in a few weeks. This sounds a lot like Brianna’s talking about a web-enabled commonplace book, a topic which intrigues me greatly and the purpose for which I’m most often using my own site.

In looking briefly at her personal site, I don’t see lots of evidence of her use of the idea, so I’m guessing that she’s either keeping it privately on her back end, password protected, or on another site altogether like I do for some of my content. Her talk mentions this, so I’m excited to see how she executes on it.

I’m also curious, after having recently remotely attended the Dodging the Memory Hole 2017 conference, how she’s archiving and backing it up for future generations, particularly if she’s keeping large chunks privately.

I’m keeping my eyes open to see if she posts slides from her presentation.

Update December 10, 2017:

Here are links to the slides (Google Docs version).

The video has also been posted today on WordPress.tv:
Brianna Privett: The Story of Your Life: Using WordPress as Your Memory Warehouse

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IndieWeb on WordPress by Khürt Williams

IndieWeb on WordPress by Khürt Williams (Island in the Net)
I have had a web presence since about 2001. Initially, I set up a blog using Radio Userland but quickly abandoned that when Google launched Blogger. I then jumped to Tumblr then back to Blogger. But it wasn’t until 2005 that I finally registered a domain, islandinthenet.com, and started hosting my online presence, my “house”, on WordPress.

One of my favorite IndieWeb quotes thus far, and certainly a sentiment I’ve had many times:

I visited the IndieWeb wiki and went down a rabbit hole of information. As I read, I kept nodding my head, “Yes, we need this. I have to do this.”

Khürt also highlights another good reason for IndieWeb:

Each time Instagram changed their terms of service to something with which I disagreed, I would delete my account. I am on my third Instagram account. I have a lot of image posts with missing content.

Despite some of the problems people have in getting some IndieWeb technology to work the way it could, I’m very heartened by people like Khürt Williams who see the value of it to the extent that they’ll struggle through the UX/UI issues (which are ever improving through the herculean efforts of so many in the community) to make it work for them.


Since Khürt may not be following developments as closely, I’ll briefly mention that the overhead involved for owning your Instagram posts and FourSquare/Swarm posts is coming along with efforts like Aaron Parecki’s OwnYourGram and OwnYourSwarm. David Shanske has been working diligently on updating some of the workflow for the Post Kinds plugin to work better with checkins and locations for FourSquare/Swarm. For WordPress specific users who want an alternate Instagram option that uses a PESOS syndicaton/ crossposting model, I’ve also found some excellent results with the DsgnWrks Instagram Importer, which provides a bit more WordPress specific data and integrates wonderfully with David Shanske’s Simple Location plugin.

I’m hoping that Michael Bishop’s idea of doing weekly updates on WordPress specific IndieWeb updates will help those who are interested in keeping up with movement in the community without needing to read the chat logs or GitHub updates regularly.

As for the issue of Akismet spam and Webmentions, this is a known problem that Akismet is aware of and hopefully working on. In the meantime, there’s a documented work around that will fix the issue that has (in the practice of several hundred people using it) an exceedingly low rate of allowing spam through.​​​​​

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👓 WordPress is a Typewriter by Jack Baty

WordPress is a Typewriter by Jack Baty (baty.net)
Using WordPress makes me feel like that boy at the Type-In. I feel like the words are going right onto the paper. Sure, the metaphor is a little thin, but the point is that when writing with WordPress (or any CMS, really), the distance between what I’m typing and what I’m publishing is very short. The only thing closer is editing HTML directly on a live page, but that’s something only crazy people do. On the other hand, publishing a static site is like sending a document to a printer. I have to make sure everything is connected, that there’s paper in the machine, and then wait for the job to finish before seeing the output. If something needs editing, and something always needs editing, the whole process starts over.

I’ve never thought of it in these terms, but there is a nice immediacy and satisfaction to WordPress for this reason. (Though naturally one shouldn’t compose in their CMS in any case.)

I might submit that his issue is a deeper one about on which platform and where to publish though given that he’s got almost as many personal websites as I do social silos. The tougher part for him is making a decision where to publish and why in addition to all the overhead of maintaining so many sites. However, I’m not one to point fingers here since I’ve got enough sites of my own, so I know his affliction.

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In honor of Dodging the Memory Hole 2017 this week, for free (hosting and domain registration not included) I’ll offer to build one journalist or academic a basic IndieWeb-capable WordPress-based portfolio website to display and archive their personal work.

Preference will be given to those in attendance at the conference, but any who need an “author platform” for their work are welcome. Comment or reply below by 11/25/17 to enter.

 

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OPML files for categories within WordPress’s Links Manager

Last week I wrote about creating my following page and a related OPML file which one could put into a feed reader to subscribe to the list itself instead of importing it. I haven’t heard anyone mention it (yet), but I suspect that like I, some may be disappointed that some feed readers that allow OPML subscriptions don’t always respect the categorizations within the file and instead lump all of the feeds into one massive list. Fortunately there’s a quick remedy!

WordPress in its wisdom used a somewhat self-documenting API that allows one to create standalone OPML files by category. Thus if you only want to subscribe to just the feeds categorized as IndieWeb related in my OPML file, you can append the category id to the end of the URL to filter the others out.

The main OPML file: http://boffosocko.com/wp-links-opml.php
The IndieWeb only file: http://boffosocko.com/wp-links-opml.php?link_cat=1521

So in general, for WordPress sites one can append ?link_cat=[category id] (with or with out the brackets) to the main URL for the OPML file typically found at http://www.example.com/wp-links-opml.php.

I was going to post about this later this week after running across it this weekend, but by odd serendipity, while I was subscribing to Henrik Carlsson’s site I noticed that he posted a note about this very same thing recently! Thanks for the unintended nudge Henrik!

For quick reference, below are links to the specific OPML files for the following categories within my larger OPML file for those who’d like to subscribe to subsections:

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📅 RSVP Yes to WordCamp Riverside 2017

Attending Word Camp Riverside 2017
November 4-5, 2017 at SolarMax Technologies, Riverside, California We are excited to announce Riverside’s inaugural WordCamp, from 8am – 5pm on both days. This is your chance to talk, share and learn from other Southern California bloggers, designers, developers, and business owners. Our sponsors will be there to provide insight on their products, giving you the leading edge, as well.

I’m attending the inaugural WordCamp Riverside. @wordcamprs #WCRS
There are still just a few tickets left!

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Testing out some integrations for WordPress and Mastodon

There are a bunch of ways for using WordPress with Mastodon, so tonight I thought I’d start experimenting with some.

Straightforward syndication/POSSE plugins (requires an account on a Mastodon instance):

More advanced plugins (shouldn’t require an account as they make your site behave like a standalone instance of Mastodon):

  • Ryan Barrett‘s Fed.Brid.gy – allows one to let their own website federate directly into Mastodon and other networks in various ways. I’ve tinkered with it a bit but haven’t gotten all the pieces working yet. This was just recently released, but Ryan has gotten some interesting pieces working well based on tests I’ve seen.
  • Matthias Pfefferle‘s OStatus – supports a variety of post kinds on Mastodon; it includes a handful of sub-plugins (Webfinger, Salmon, Activity Streams, etc.) to get everything working. I hope to get around to testing this out shortly too, but has many more moving parts.

Do you know of any other interesting methods for using these two systems in combination with each other in a straightforward manner? I’d love to hear about them.

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IndieWeb: The Book

For a quite a while I’ve been thinking about writing a book about the IndieWeb to provide a broader overview of what it is philosophically, how it works, how its community functions, and most specifically how the average person can more easily become a part of it.

Back in January Timo Reitnauer wrote Let’s Make 2017 The Year of the Indie WebI agree wholehearted with the sentiment of his title and have been personally wanting to do something specific to make it a reality. With the changes I’ve seen in the internet over the past 22 years, and changes specifically in the last year, we certainly need it now more than ever.

In large part, I’ve been inspired by the huge number of diverse and big-hearted developers who are an active part of the growing community, but specifically today I came across a note by Doc Searls, an email about the upcoming NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and then a reminder about the 100 Days of IndieWeb project. This confluence of events is clearly my tipping point.

As a result, I’m making my 2018 IndieWeb resolution early. For the month of November, as part of NaNoWriMo, I’m going to endeavor to lovingly craft together a string of about 2,000 words a day on the topic of the IndieWeb to create a book geared toward helping non-developers (ie. Generation 2 and Generation 3 people) more easily own their online identities and content.

IndieWeb Generations Diagram by Amber Case (Caseorganic.com) as depicted on the IndieWeb Wiki

Over the past year, surely I’ve read, written about, or interacted with the IndieWeb community concretely in one way or another on at least 70 days. This sprint of 30 days should round out a 100 days project. To be honest, I haven’t necessarily posted about each of these interactions on my own site nor are they necessarily visible changes to my site, so it may not follow the exact requirements of the 100 Days of IndieWeb, but it follows the spirit of the creator idea with the hopes that the publicly visible result is ever more people adopting the principles of the movement for themselves.

I’ll focus the book primarily on how the average person can utilize the wealth of off-the-shelf tools of the WordPress content management system and its community–naturally with mentions of other easy-to-use platforms like Known and Micro.blog sprinkled throughout–to own their own domain, own their content, and better and more freely communicate with others online.

If you haven’t heard about the movement before, I’ll direct you to my article An Introduction to the IndieWeb, portions of which will surely inform the introduction of the book.

If you’ve recently joined the IndieWeb, I’d certainly love to hear your thoughts and stories about how you came to it, why you joined, and what the most troublesome parts have been so I can help direct people through them more easily–at least until there are a plurality of one-click solutions to let everyone IndieWeb-ify themselves online.

As a publisher who realizes the value of starting a PR campaign to support the resultant book, I’m also curious to hear thoughts about potentially launching a crowdfunding campaign to support the modest costs of the book, with profits (if any) going toward supporting the IndieWeb community.

I’m happy to entertain any other thoughts or considerations people have, so feel free to reply in the comments below, or better yet, reply on your own site and send me a webmention.

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Using Facepiles in Comments for WordPress with Webmentions and Semantic Linkbacks

An update to an IndieWeb WordPress plugin now facilitates more streamlined conversations and interactions online

Today, through the brilliant and diligent work of David Shanske and Matthias Pfefferle (as well as Ashton McAllan and many other opensource contributors), I’ve enabled facepiling for likes, reposts, and mentions within my website’s comment section using the Semantic Linkbacks plugin for WordPress (in conjunction with the Webmention plugin.)

What does this mean? My personal website both sends and accepts Webmentions, a platform independent “at mention” or @mention, including those from the fantastic, free service brid.gy which sends replies/comments, likes, reposts, and mentions to my site from silo services like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and even Flickr.

As I’ve long known, and as someone noted at least once on my site, some of these likes, replies, and mentions, which provide some interesting social interaction and social proof of a post’s interest, don’t always contribute to the actual value of the conversation. Now with this wonderful facepiling UI-feature, I’m able to concatenate these types of interactions into a smaller and more concentrated section at the bottom of a post’s comments section, so they’re still logged and available, but now they just aren’t as distracting to the rest of the conversation.

Compare the before and after:

Before

A mention, a Facebook like, another mention and a repost on Twitter. Anil’s comment is pretty useful, but the others don’t add as much to the ideas in the post.
Richard MacManus “liked” the post and subsequently wrote about it on AltPlatform (relatively useful) along with some tangential mentions, which don’t add as much to the conversation. The raw URL of Gisele’s Twitter post likely looked better natively on Twitter (as a Twitter Card), but translated onto my site as a mention like this, just isn’t as useful.

After

Likes and Reposts concatenated on my site now after converting them into facepiles. They still give the social “proof” and indicate the interaction, but don’t interfere in the conversation now–especially when there are hundreds of them.

 

A Prime Example

In particular, this functionality can best bee seen on my article The Facebook Algorithm Mom Problem, which has over 400 such interactions which spanned pages and pages worth of likes, reposts, and mentions. Many of my posts only get a handful of these types of interactions, but this particular post back in July was overwhelmed with them when it floated to the top of Hacker News and nearly crippled my website. Without the facepile functionality, the comments section of this post was untenably unreadable and unusable. Now, with facepiles enabled, the comments are more quickly read and more useful to those who are interested in reading them while still keeping the intent.

Implementing

For those who have already begun Indiewebifying their WordPress sites with plugins like Webmention and Semantic Linkbacks, the most recent 3.5.0 update to Semantic Linkbacks has the functionality enabled by default. (Otherwise you can go to your administrative dashboard and click on the checkbox next to “Automatically embed facepile” located under Settings » Discussion).

Settings interface for enabling or disabling facepiles in your comments section with Semantic Linkbacks (and Webmentions)

As a caveat, there’s a known bug for those who are using JetPack to “Let readers use WordPress.com, Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ accounts to comment”. If the facepiles don’t show up on your site, just go to your JetPack settings (at yoursite.com/wp-admin/admin.php?page=jetpack#/discussion) and disable this feature. Hopefully, the JetPack team will have it fixed shortly.

If you haven’t begun using IndieWeb principles on your WordPress website, you might consider starting with my article An Introduction to the IndieWeb, which includes some motivation as well as some great resources for getting started.

Nota bene: I know many in the WordPress community are using the excellent theme Independent Publisher, which already separates out likes, mentions, etc. (though without the actual “facepiles”), so I’m not sure if/how this functionality may work in conjunction with it. If you know, please drop me a note.

Hopefully most WordPress themes will support it natively without any modifications, but users are encouraged to file issues on the plugin if they run across problems.

Using another platform?

I’m not immediately aware of many other CMSes or services that have this enabled easily out of the box, but I do know that Drew McLellan enabled it (along with Webmentions) in the Perch CMS back in July. Others who I’ve seen enabling this type of functionality are documented on the IndieWeb wiki in addition to Marty McGuire and Jeremy Keith, who has a modified version, somewhat like Independent Publisher’s, on his website.

There are certainly many in the IndieWeb community who can help you with this idea (and many others) in the IndieWeb’s online chat.

Give it a spin

Now that it’s enabled, if you’re reading it on my website, you can click on any of the syndicated copies listed below and like, retweet/repost, or mention this article in those social media platforms and your mention will get sent back to my post to be displayed almost as it would be on many of those platforms. Naturally comments or questions are encouraged to further the ongoing conversation, which should now also be much easier to read and interact with.

Thanks again to everyone in the IndieWeb community who are continually hacking away to allow more people to more easily own and control their content while still easily interacting with people on the internet.

UPDATE

Turning mentions into comments for native display

Following Aaron Davis’ comment, I thought I’d add a few more thoughts for those who have begun facepiling their likes, mentions, bookmarks, etc. As he indicates, it’s sometimes useful to call out a particular mention, a special like, or you might want to highlight one among the thousands for a particular reason. This is a feature that many are likely to want occasionally and code for it may be added in the future, but until then, one is left in the lurch a bit. Fortunately, as with all things IndieWeb, part of the point is having more control over your site to be able to do anything you’d like to it. So for those without the ability to write the requisite code to create a pull request against the Webmention or Semantic Linkbacks plugins (they’re more than welcome), here are a few quick cheats for converting that occasional (facepiled or not) webmention into a full comment within your WordPress site’s comment section.

Pro tip: This also works (even if you’re not using facepiles) to convert a basic mention into something that looks more like a native comment. It’s also useful when you’ve received a mention that you’d prefer to treat as a reply, but which wasn’t marked up as a reply by the sending site.

I’ll use an example from the Facebook Algorithm Mom Problem post referenced above. On that post, I’d received a webmention via Twitter from Anil Dash, a blogger and advocate for more humane, inclusive and ethical technology, with some commentary about usability. Here is his original tweet:

That webmention is now hidden behind an avatar and not as likely to be seen by more casual readers. I’d like to change it from being hidden behind his avatar in that long mention list and highlight it a bit to make it appear as a comment in the full comments section.

On a post with a large number of mentions, you’re very unlikely to find some of the valuable nectar hiding in them. Do you see Anil Dash’s lovely mug hiding among all these avatars? (Hint, it’s not a “blank” avatar caused by someone having changed their Twitter, Facebook, etc. avatar.)

Steps to convert a mention to a comment

Caution: I recommend reading through all the steps before attempting this. You’ll be modifying your WordPress database manually, so please be careful so you don’t accidentally destroy your site. When doing things like this, it’s always a good idea to make a back up of your database just in case.

  1. Search for the particular comment you want to change in the WordPress Admin UI.
  2. Hover over the date in the “Submitted On” column to find the comment ID number in the URL, in this case it’s http://boffosocko.com/2017/07/11/the-facebook-algorithm-mom-problem/#comment-35281. Make a note of the comment ID: 35281.
  3. Open up the mySQL database for your WordPress install (I’m using phpMyAdmin) to view the data for your site.
  4. Go to the wp_comments table in the database. (Yours may be slightly different depending on how your site was set up, but it should contain the word “comments”.)
  5. Use the search functionality for your table and input your comment ID number into the field for comment_ID.
  6. We’ve identified the specific comment we want to modify in phpMyAdmin.
  7. Now delete the word “webmention” from the comment_type field for the particular comment. This field should now be empty.
  8. You should now be able to view your post (be sure to clear your cache if necessary) and see the mention you received displayed as a native comment instead of a mention. It should automatically include the text of the particular mention you needed.
Here’s what the modified mention from Anil Dash looks like in my comments section now. It appears as if it were a native comment.

If you need to convert a large number of mentions into comments, you may be better off searching for the particular post’s post_ID in the comments table and changing multiple comment_type fields at once. Be careful doing this in bulk–you may wish to do a database back up before making any changes to be on the safe side.
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