Reply to Dan Cohen tweet

Replied to a tweet by Dan CohenDan Cohen (Twitter)

Dan, There are a lot of moving pieces in your question and a variety of ways to implement them depending on your needs and particular website set up. Fortunately there are lots of educators playing around in these spaces already who are experimenting with various means and methods as well as some of their short and long term implications.

I suspect some of the most interesting parts may be more closed off to you  (or possibly more difficult) because in your particular case it looks like you’re being hosted on WordPress.com rather than self-hosting your own site directly. For the richest experience you’d ideally like to be able to install some of the IndieWeb for WordPress plugins like Webmentions, Semantic Linkbacks, Post Kinds, and potentially others. This can be done on WordPress.com, but typically involves a higher level of paid account for the most flexibility.

For crossposting your content to micro.blog, that portion is fairly simple as you can decide on any variety of post formats (standard, aside, status, images, etc.), post kinds, categories, or even tags and translate those pieces into RSS feeds your WordPress installation is already creating (most often just by adding /feed/ to the end of common URLs for these items). Then you can plug those particular feeds into your micro.blog account and you’re good to go for feeding content out easily without any additional work. Personally I’m using the Post Kinds plugin to create a finer-grained set of content so that I can better pick and choose what gets syndicated out to other sites.

From within micro.blog, on your accounts tab you can enter any number of incoming feeds to your account. Here’s a list of some of the feeds (from two of my websites one using WordPress and the other using Known) that are going to my account there:

 

 

As a small example, if you were using the status post format on your site, you should be able to add https://dancohen.org/type/status/feed/ to your feed list on micro.blog and then only those status updates would feed across to the micro.blog community.

I also bookmarked a useful meta-post a few weeks back that has a nice section on using micro.blog with WordPress. And there are also many nice resources on the IndieWeb wiki for micro.blog and how people are integrating it into their workflows.

For crossposting to Twitter there are a multitude of options depending on your need as well as your expertise and patience to set things up and the control you’d like to have over how your Tweets display.

Since micro.blog supports the Webmention protocol, if your site also has Webmentions set up, you can get responses to your crossposts to micro.blog to show up back on your site as native (moderate-able) comments. You can do much the same thing with Twitter and use your website as a Twitter “client” to post to Twitter as well as have the replies and responses from Twitter come back to your posts using webmention in conjunction with the brid.gy website.

I’ve been playing around in these areas for quite a while and am happy to help point you to particular resources depending on your level of ability/need. If you (or anyone else in the thread as well) would like, we can also arrange a conference call/Google hangout (I’m based in Los Angeles) and walk through the steps one at a time to get you set up if you like (gratis, naturally). Besides, it’s probably the least I could do to pay you back for a small fraction of your work on things like PressForward, Zotero, and DPLA that I’ve gotten so much value out of.

Because of the power of these methods and their applicability to education, there are an ever-growing number of us working on the issue/question of scaling this up to spread across larger classrooms and even institutions. I’m sure you saw Greg McVerry’s reply about some upcoming potential events (as well as how he’s receiving comments back from Twitter via webmention, if you scroll down that page). I hope you might join us all. The next big event is the IndieWeb Summit in Portland at the end of June. If you’re not able to make it in person, there should be some useful ways to attend big portions remotely via video as well as live chat, which is actually active 24/7/365.

As is sometimes said: I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter. At least I wasn’t hampered by Twitter’s character constraints by posting it on my own site first.

 

 

 

 

 

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13 responses on “Reply to Dan Cohen tweet”

  1. @jbj Given the number of people I’ve seen experimenting over the past months, I’d be happy to put together a series of short pieces for @ProfHacker covering the areas of overlap of between #edtech, #DoOO, #indieweb, research, academic publishing, samizdat, commonplace books, etc. Essentially tighter versions of some of https://boffosocko.com/research/indieweb/ but specifically targeting the education space using WordPress, Known, and Grav. Let me know if you’d accept submissions for the community.
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  2. Social media is like the weather: everyone likes to complain about it, but nobody does anything to change it. Of course, you can do something about it, and some have — namely, by deleting your social media accounts. But the vast majority of people, even those who see serious flaws with our social media landscape continue to use it, in many cases avidly.
    As someone who is naturally social but who has found social media like Twitter increasingly unpleasant and lacking in what drew me to these services in the first place — the ability to meet new and interesting people, encounter and discuss new ideas and digital resources, and make a few bad puns on the side — deletion is not a great option, for a number of reasons.
    Some of those reasons are undoubtedly selfish. Having a large number of followers on a social media platform is a kind of super power, as John Gruber has said. With over 18,000 followers, accreted over 10 years on Twitter, I can ask for help or advice and usually get a number of very useful responses, spread the word widely about new projects and initiatives, find new staffers for my organization, and highlight good, innovative work by others.
    I will also admit to liking the feeling of ambient humanity online, although the experience of social media in the last two years has tempered that feeling.
    So what to do? I’ve tried alternatives to Twitter before, such as App.net, a Twitter clone that launched in 2012. It went nowhere and shut down. I have considered Mastodon, a somewhat better thought-out Twitter replacement that is decentralized — you join an instance of the platform and can even host one yourself, and yet you can connect across these nodes in a very webby way.
    Most of these Twitter replacements unfortunately have frictions that slow widespread adoption. It’s often hard to find people to follow, including your friends and colleagues. The technology can be janky, with posts not showing up as quickly as on Twitter. New services are largely populated in the early days by young white dudes (I am fully aware that I am not helping with this diversity problem, although I’m no longer so young). It’s unclear if they’ve truly solved the “I’d rather not be hounded by Nazis” problem, especially since they all have less than a million users, a tiny population in social media terms.
    Nevertheless, I’ve continued to prospect for a post-Twitter life over the years, and spurred on by some friends, I think I’ve finally reached a solution that works for me.
    My new social media setup is this:

    Just as I have done with my personal email address, website, and blog, my social media presence will be tied to my own domain: dancohen.org. I’ve chosen social.dancohen.org because it has a nice ring to it and it doesn’t define my social media presence as text, images, or any other single item type. Indeed, it can be all of the above and in the long run replace multiple centralized social media services, including Twitter and Instagram.
    Even though the root domain is dancohen.org, I can have someone else host my social media, but in an ownership structure I feel good about, and with the possibility of changing that host at any time in the future. I should be fully in charge of my social media, as I am with this blog. My new social domain, social.dancohen.org, thus acts as front end, but just as I’ve changed web hosts and email services over two decades, my addresses for those services have not and will never change. I’m not tied forever to a Gmail address or a service that bonds me to notmywebsite.com/dancohen.
    I’ve chosen Micro.blog as my new hosted social media platform, because I like how Manton Reece and the early community of users is thoughtful and conservative about features, so as not to replicate the worst of Twitter, Instagram, etc. (See, e.g., this conversation about whether there should be “likes” on the service, and whether they should be public or private, temporary or permanent.) There are also good clients for Micro.blog, including from third-party developers. There are no ads. It has a good clean design that you can change if you like. And you can leave the service with all of your social media at any point for a new host.
    Micro.blog, in turn, can connect with Twitter, so posts from social.dancohen.org will show up as posts on Twitter, so my followers there can still see what I’m tweeting…or…tooting, about.
    Although I’ve focused on Twitter in this post, Micro.blog actually has terrific Instagram-like functionality, with none of the annoying algorithmic sorting of your feed and no ads, so I’m moving my photo posting there. (I left Facebook a long time ago, with few repercussions and zero regret.) Instagram does not allow cross-posting from Micro.blog.
    My domain registrar (Hover) has a great, simple way to connect a subdomain to Micro.blog to create something like social.dancohen.org. This normally involves futzing with a DNS record (which has the geeky and off-putting moniker CNAME). I want my setup to be replicable, and no one should ever have to edit one’s DNS records to create a personal social media hub. Everyone should be able to do this with one click. Get on it, domain registrars.

    Here’s my early sense of how this will work:

    Starting last week, I began making my primary social media posts on social.dancohen.org rather than on Twitter.
    For the vast majority of people who follow me, they will continue to see my posts on Twitter and interact with them there. Indeed, they probably haven’t even noticed the change unless they looked at my tweets’ metadata, which now includes “via micro.blog”.
    When necessary, I will interact with replies on Twitter. One downside to my setup is that these Twitter replies do not ping back to social.dancohen.org. Or maybe that’s an upside. Time for me to consider how much humanity I really need to be ambient.

    For those who would like to replicate what I’ve done, Micro.blog has good documentation on setting up a personal social media domain like social.dancohen.org, including for the majority of domain registrars who don’t have automated mechanisms, like Hover, for creating a proper DNS CNAME record. Kathleen Fitzpatrick has a more sophisticated setup using WordPress, where her posts of the type “micro” are ported to Micro.blog, and then over to Twitter. Chris Aldrich has a longer description about how to structure your WordPress site to be able to do what Kathleen did, separating brief social media posts from longer blog posts that remain on the root domain.
    It feels good to have gone back to my blog and now to go indie on my social media as well. I hope my experience prods others to give it a try.

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