A few short notes from the September 2020 Domain of One’s Own Meetup

Chris Aldrich:

The zoom room is open. We’ll be starting the Domain of One’s Own meetup in a moment. https://events.indieweb.org/2020/09/domain-of-one-s-own-meetup-september-2020–908ut7UmA2T3 @DavidDLaCroix @Cambridgeport90 @bixtra @tElizaRose @EduBabble @MorrisPelzel @jimgroom @willtmonroe @macgenie @KatieHartraft @poritzj @amanda_went_oer
Thanks to the community for helping to host our infrastructure for the meetup today. https://indieweb.org/ The notes for today’s meeting can be found at https://etherpad.indieweb.org/2020-09-22-dooo


Giving a live demo of Mattermost on the Reclaim Cloud

Reminder: We’re hosting A Domain of One’s Own Meetup: “Domains and the Cloud” in about 2 hours. Hope you’ll join us. 
Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020 at 12:00 PM Eastern / 9:00 AM Pacific


Liked a tweet by @k_j_turner (Twitter)
I love the bridge that book formats like this can provide in learning new languages. Reminds me a bit of some of the Folger Shakespeare annotated plays that helped to define words, terms, and culture that have changed significantly since they were written. 

How does one find more of these?

Read Higher education in the UK is morally bankrupt. I’m taking my research millions and I’m off by Ulf Schmidt (the Guardian)
After 25 years I feel Britain has broken my trust. I’m one of many academics who now see their future in Europe
The tougher part is that with the pandemic and general economic malaise, it’s unlikely that the UK will feel or notice the brain drain until much later.

Domain of One’s Own Meetup (September 2020)

I’ll be hosting a Domain of One’s Own meetup on Tuesday, September 22, 2020 at at 9:00 AM Pacific / 12:00 PM Eastern / 6:00 PM CEST. Everyone who is interested in the topic is welcome to attend.

We expect there will be students, teachers, designers, web developers, technologists, and people of all ages and ranges of ability from those just starting out with a domain to those running DoOO programs at colleges or even people running their own hosting companies.

We’ll meet via Zoom for audio/video and will use an Etherpad for real-time chat and note taking for the event

We will 

  • Have discussions about A Domain of One’s Own and the independent web;
  • Get to know others in the space;
  • Find potential collaborators for domains-related projects you’re working on;
  • Explore new and interesting ideas about what one can do or accomplish with a personal domain;
  • Create or update your domain
  • Ask colleagues for help/advice on problems or issues you’re having with your domain;


  • Welcome/Brief introductions
  • Main topic: This summer Reclaim Hosting launched Reclaim Cloud, but for many new and established Domains users, the “cloud” has been a nebulous buzzword with unclear meanings. In this meeting we’ll talk about what it is and why it might be important for gaining greater control over your personal cyberinfrastructure.
  • Group photo for those who wish to participate
  • Demos, questions, problems: 
    Ideally everyone should bring a topic, short demonstration of something they’ve built or gotten working on their website, a question, or problem to discuss with the group. Depending on time and interest, we can try to spend 5-10 minutes discussing and providing feedback on each of these. If questions go over this time limitation, we can extend the conversation in smaller groups as necessary after the meetup.


To RSVP to the meetup, please (optionally) do one of the following:

Future meetups

While the time frame for this meetup may work best for some in the Americas, everyone with interest is most welcome. If there are others in Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, or other locales who are interested, do let us know what dates/times might work for you in the future and we can try to organize a time to maximize some attendance there. I’m happy to help anyone who’d like to take the leadership of other time zones or locales to leverage some of the resources of the IndieWeb community to assist in starting future meetings to cover other areas of the world. 

Have a topic idea for discussion at the next session? Drop us a line by adding a comment to this post or one of the syndicated copies, ping me in chat, or track me down on your platform and means of communication of choice.

Invite your friends, colleagues, and students

Know someone who would be interested in joining? Please forward this event, or one of the syndicated copies to them on your platform or modality of choice.

Featured image: Hard Drive Repair flickr photo by wwarby shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Watched How to learn any language in six months by Chris Lonsdale from TEDxLingnanUniversity | YouTube
Chris Lonsdale is Managing Director of Chris Lonsdale & Associates, a company established to catalyse breakthrough performance for individuals and senior teams. In addition, he has also developed a unique and integrated approach to learning that gives people the means to acquire language or complex technical knowledge in short periods of time.
Attention, meaning, relevance and memory

Five Principles

  1. Focus on language content that is relevant to you (We learn tools fastest when they are relevant to us)
  2. Use your language as a tool to communicate from day 1
  3. When you first understand the message you will unconsciously acquire the language (Krashen ,2013)
  4. physiological training
  5. Psycho-physiological state matters, learn when happy and don’t get frustrated

7 actions for rapid language acquisition

  1.  Listen a lot (brain soaking)
  2. Focus on getting the meaning first (use body language)
  3. Start mixing and be creative
  4.  focus on the core
    1. Week 1: The Tool box (learn to say the following all in the target language)
      * What is this
      * How do you say?
      * I don’t understand
    2. Week 2-3 pronouns, common adverbs, adjectives
    3. Week 4 glue words, but and, though
  5. Get a language parent to help you understand
    1. works to understand what you are saying
    2. does not correct mistakes
    3. confirms understanding by using correct language
    4. uses words the learner knows
  6. Copy the face
    1. Work on the muscles and look at native speakers
  7. Direct connect to mental image (visual association)
Watched Gaelscoilis -- error-laden pidgin or creative creole by Breandan mac Ardghail from TEDxFulbrightDublin | YouTube
Breandán Mac Ardghail's talk is entitled Gaelscoilis: An error-laden pidgin or a deviously creative creole? By exploring the weird and wonderful linguistic features of the language spoken in Irish immersion schools, he offers an alternative perspective on the non-native schoolyard Irish of Gaelscoil pupils. In 2012, Breandán was a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant at the University of Montana.

A note taking problem and a proposed solution


It’s too painful to quickly get frequent notes into note taking and related platforms. Hypothes.is has an open API and a great UI that can be leveraged to simplify note taking processes.

Note taking tools

I’ve been keeping notes in systems like OneNote and Evernote for ages, but for my memory-related research and work in combination with my commonplace book for the last year, I’ve been alternately using TiddlyWiki (with TiddlyBlink) and WordPress (it’s way more than a blog.)

I’ve also dabbled significantly enough with related systems like Roam Research, Obsidian, Org mode/Org Roam, MediaWiki, DocuWiki, and many others to know what I’m looking for.

Many of these, particularly those that can be used alternately as commonplace books and zettelkasten appeal to me greatly when they include the idea of backlinks. (I’ve been using Webmention to leverage that functionality in WordPress settings, and MediaWiki gives it grudgingly with the “what links to this page” basic functionality that can be leveraged into better transclusion if necessary.)

The major problem with most note taking tools

The final remaining problem I’ve found with almost all of these platforms is being able to quickly and easily get data into them so that I can work with or manipulate it. For me the worst part of note taking is the actual taking of notes. Once I’ve got them, I can do some generally useful things with them—it’s literally the physical method of getting data from a web page, book, or other platform into the actual digital notebook that is the most painful, mindless, and useless thing for me.

Evernote and OneNote

Older note taking services like Evernote and OneNote come with browser bookmarklets or mobile share functionality that make taking notes and extracting data from web sources simple and straightforward. Then once the data is in your notebook you can actually do some work with it. Sadly neither of these services has the backlinking functionality that I find has become de rigueur for my note taking or knowledge wrangling needs.


My WordPress solutions are pretty well set since that workflow is entirely web-based and because WordPress has both bookmarklet and Micropub support. There I’m primarily using a variety of feeds and services to format data into a usable form that I can use to ping my Micropub endpoint. The Micropub plugin handles the post and most of the meta data I care about.

It would be great if other web services had support for Micropub this way too, as I could see some massive benefits to MediaWiki, Roam Research, and TiddlyWiki if they had this sort of support. The idea of Micropub has such great potential for great user interfaces. I could also see many of these services modifying projects like Omnibear to extend themselves to create highlighting (quoting) and annotating functionality with a browser extension.

With this said, I’m finding that the user interface piece that I’m missing for almost all of these note taking tools is raw data collection.

I’m not the sort of person whose learning style (or memory) is benefited by writing or typing out notes into my notebooks. I’d far rather just have it magically happen. Even copying and pasting data from a web browser into my digital notebook is a painful and annoying process, especially when you’re reading and collecting/curating as many notes as I tend to. I’d rather be able to highlight, type some thoughts and have it appear in my notebook. This would prevent the flow of my reading, thinking, and short annotations from being subverted by the note collection process.

Different modalities for content consumption and note taking 

Based on my general experience there are only a handful of different spaces where I’m typically making notes.

Reading online

A large portion of my reading these days is done in online settings. From newspapers, magazines, journal articles and more, I’m usually reading them online and taking notes from them there.

.pdf texts

Some texts I want to read (often books and journal articles) only live in .pdf form. While reading them in an app-specific setting has previously been my preference, I’ve taken to reading them from within browsers. I’ll explain why in just a moment, but it has to do with a tool that treats this method the same as the general online modality. I’ll note that most of the .pdf  specific apps have dreadful data export—if any.

Reading e-books (Kindle, e-readers, etc.)

If it’s not online or in .pdf format, I’m usually reading books within a Kindle or other e-reading device. These are usually fairly easy to add highlights, annotations, and notes to. While there are some paid apps that can extract these notes, I don’t find it too difficult to find the raw file and cut and paste the data into my notebook of choice. Once there, going through my notes, reformatting them (if necessary), tagging them and expanding on them is not only relatively straightforward, but it also serves as a simple method for doing a first pass of spaced repetition and review for better long term recall.


Naturally taking notes from live lectures, audiobooks, and other spoken events occurs, but more often in these cases, I’m typically able to type them directly into my notebook of preference or I’m using something like my digital Livescribe pen for notes which get converted by OCR and are easy enough to convert in bulk into a digital notebook. I won’t belabor this part further, though if others have quick methods, I’d love to hear them.

Physical books

While I love a physical book 10x more than the next 100 people, I’ve been trying to stay away from them because I find that though they’re easy to highlight, underline, and annotate the margins, it takes too much time and effort (generally useless for memory purposes for me) to transfer these notes into a digital notebook setting. And after all, it’s the time saving piece I’m after here, so my preference is to read in some digital format if at all possible.

A potential solution for most of these modalities

For several years now, I’ve been enamored of the online Hypothes.is annotation tool. It’s open source, allows me reasonable access to my data from the (free) hosted version, and has a simple, beautiful, and fast process for bookmarking, highlighting, and annotating online texts on desktop and mobile. It works exceptionally well for both web pages and when reading .pdf texts within a browser window.

I’ve used it daily to make several thousand annotations on 800+ online web pages and documents. I’m not sure how I managed without it before. It’s the note taking tool I wished I’d always had. It’s a fun and welcome part of my daily life. It does exactly what I want it to and generally stays out of the way otherwise. I love it and recommend it unreservedly. It’s helped me to think more deeply and interact more directly with countless texts.

When reading on desktop or mobile platforms, it’s very simple to tap a browser extension and have all their functionality immediately available. I can quickly highlight a section of a text and their UI pops open to allow me to annotate, tag it, and publish. I feel like it’s even faster than posting something to Twitter. It is fantastically elegant.

The one problem I have with it is that while it’s great for collecting and aggregating my note data into my Hypothes.is account, there’s not much I can do with it once it’s there. It’s missing the notebook functionality some of these other services provide. I wish I could plug all my annotation and highlight content into spaced repetition systems or move it around and modify it within a notebook where it might be more interactive and cross linked for the long term. Sadly I don’t think that any of this sort of functionality is on Hypothes.is’ roadmap any time soon.

There is some great news however! Hypothes.is is open source and has a reasonable API. This portends some exciting things! This means that any of these wiki, zettelkasten, note taking, or spaced repetition services could leverage the UI for collecting data and pipe it into their interfaces for direct use.

As an example, what if I could quickly tell Obsidian to import all my pre-existing and future Hypothes.is data directly into my Obsidian vault for manipulating as notes? (And wouldn’t you know, the small atomic notes I get by highlighting and annotating are just the sort that one would like in a zettelkasten!) What if I could pick and choose specific course-related data from my reading and note taking in Hypothes.is (perhaps by tag or group) for import into Anki to quickly create some flash cards for spaced repetition review? For me, this combination would be my dream application!

These small pieces, loosely joined can provide some awesome opportunities for knowledge workers, students, researchers, and others. The education focused direction that Hypothes.is, many of these note taking platforms, and spaced repetition systems are all facing positions them to make a super-product that we all want and need.

An experiment

So today, as a somewhat limited experiment, I played around with my Hypothes.is atom feed (https://hypothes.is/stream.atom?user=chrisaldrich, because you know you want to subscribe to this) and piped it into IFTTT. Each post creates a new document in a OneDrive file which I can convert to a markdown .md file that can be picked up by my Obsidian client. While I can’t easily get the tags the way I’d like (because they’re not included in the feed) and the formatting is incredibly close, but not quite there, the result is actually quite nice.

Since I can “drop” all my new notes into a particular folder, I can easily process them all at a later date/time if necessary. In fact, I find that the fact that I might want to revisit all my notes to do quick tweaks or adding links or additional thoughts provides the added benefit of a first round of spaced repetition for the notes I took.

Some notes may end up being deleted or reshuffled, but one thing is clear: I’ve never been able to so simply highlight, annotate, and take notes on documents online and get them into my notebook so quickly. And when I want to do something with them, there they are, already sitting in my notebook for manipulation, cross-linking, spaced repetition, and review.

So if the developers of any of these platforms are paying attention, I (and I’m sure others) really can’t wait for plugin integrations using the full power of the Hypothes.is API that allow us to all leverage Hypothes.is’ user interface to make our workflows seamlessly simple.

Read How a brand of chalk achieved cult status among mathematicians (CNN)
Hagoromo chalk has developed a cult following among mathematicians. When the company went out of business, chaos ensued.
I’ve read this same sort of article in other venues in the past, but closer to the revival of the company. This seems to have cropped up again because the original owner of the Japanese company has passed away in the last month.
Read Badass: Making Users Awesome by Kathy Sierra by Joel Hooks (joelhooks.com)
What is a badass? I love the word itself, because there is practically no way to use it in a negative way. It's a good word. In Kathy Sierra's book, the word badass is used to describe an expert. Somebody that has learned a skill…
As I read this while thinking about the context of the IndieWeb and it’s wiki, I’m thinking two cognitively dissonant thoughts: 1. The current technical uses are creating content more for themselves and their research and use and 2. They’re not creating it to help out the users who may necessarily need a ladder or a bigger platform to get to where they are.
It’s going to take a layer of intermediate users, creators, or builders to help create a better path to bring the neophytes up to a higher level to get more out of the wealth of information that’s hiding in it. Or it’s going to take helpers and mentors to slowly build them up to that point.
How can we more consistently reach a hand down to pull up those coming after us? How can we encourage others to do some of the same?
Read Timeful Texts by Andy Matuschak, Michael Nielsen (numinous.productions)
How might one escape a book’s shackled sense of time, extending the authored experience over weeks and months?
It looks to me like Andy and Michael are grasping at recreating with modern technology and tools what many (most? all?) indigenous cultures around the world used to ritually learn and memorize their culture’s knowledge. Mnemonics, spaced repetition, graded initiation, orality, dance, and song were all used as a cohesive whole to do this.

The best introduction to many of these methods and their pedagogic uses is best described by Lynne Kelly‘s book Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies: Orality, Memory, and the Transmission of Culture (Cambridge University Press, 2015).

If they take her ideas as a basis and then layer on their own thinking, I think they’ll get much further much quicker. Based on my reading of their work thus far, they’re limiting themselves solely with western and modern cultures or at least those of a post-Peter Ramus world.

As an example, I’ve recently been passively watching the Netflix series The Who Was? Show which is geared toward children, but it does a phenomenal job of creating entertaining visuals, costumes, jokes, songs, dances, over-the-top theatricality, and small mnemonic snippets to teach children about famous people in our culture. Naturally this is geared toward neophytes, but it’s memorable, especially when watched with some spaced repetition. To follow it up properly it needs the next 10 layers of content and information to provide the additional depth to move it from children’s knowledge to adult and more sophisticated knowledge. Naturally this should be done at a level appropriate to the learner and their age and sophistication and include relevant related associative memory techniques, but it’s a start.

I’ll note that our educational system’s inability to connect (or associate) new knowledge with previous knowledge is a major drawback. 

Liked a tweet (Twitter)
IndieWeb, cycling, math, AND OER! I’m in… 

How was I not following @geonz before?!