👓 Monthly report: February 2019 | Jeremy Cherfas

Replied to Monthly report: February 2019 (jeremycherfas.net)

February was a pretty good month. Or maybe it's just that I have a lot more reminders of how good it was.

Our Daily Bread

Fear of rejection utterly justified; the agent says publishers want something less bitty, "a biography of a commodity, like Kurlansky's Cod". In sales terms, I'll bet that's what they want. But it is not at all what I want to write. So, back to making self-publishing a reality, ASAP.

Jeremy, if this is the response an agent and publishers have given you and you’re even remotely considering the self-publishing route, please do let me volunteer to help you in the endeavor. I have a tremendous amount of experience in the publishing area and also have a lot of overhead (including a massive block of ISBNs) in place to help you out along the way.

It’s the least I could do since I feel like I may be at least partially responsible for starting you down the primrose path of Our Daily Bread… I also suspect that what you’d like to write is going to be far more interesting and nourishing a project.

👓 ‘I can get any novel I want in 30 seconds’: can book piracy be stopped? | The Guardian

Read 'I can get any novel I want in 30 seconds': can book piracy be stopped? by Katy Guest (the Guardian)
As publishers struggle with ‘whack-a-mole’ websites, experts, authors and Guardian readers who illegally download books, assess the damage

👓 UC terminates subscriptions with world’s largest scientific publisher in push for open access to publicly funded research | University of California | Office of the President

Read UC terminates subscriptions with world’s largest scientific publisher in push for open access to publicly funded research (University of California | Office of the President)
As a leader in the global movement toward open access to publicly funded research, the University of California is taking a firm stand by deciding not to renew its subscriptions with Elsevier. Despite months of contract negotiations, Elsevier was unwilling to meet UC’s key goal: securing universal open access to UC research while containing the rapidly escalating costs associated with for-profit journals.

This is some crazy bad-ass news. Almost everyone I know in higher education tweeted this article out today.

Now if only we could get them to all go IndieWeb using a Domain of Their Own and practice academic samizdat

👓 Two internet entrepreneurs walk into an old publishing house | Dries Buytaert

Read Two internet entrepreneurs walk into an old publishing house by Dries BuytaertDries Buytaert (dri.es)
Dries is the Founder and Project Lead of Drupal and the Cofounder and Chief Technology Officer of Acquia.

This should have been a planned tour/cruise, and I’ll bet lots of people would have paid to go with them.

📑 Building a digital garden | Tom Critchlow

Annotated Building a digital garden by Tom CritchlowTom Critchlow (tomcritchlow.com)

A blog without a publish button

I’m stealing this quote from my modern friend Ryan Dawidjan who has been pioneering this concept of open-access writing and blogging without a publish button. For a long time he has maintained a quip file called high cadence thoughts that is open access and serves as a long-running note of his thinking and ideas.

It’s a less-performative version of blogging - more of a captain’s log than a broadcast blog.

The distinction will come down to how you blog - some people blog in much the same way. For me however blogging is mostly performative thinking and less captain’s log. So I am looking for a space to nurture, edit in real time and evolve my thinking.  

I like the idea of a blog without a publish button. I do roughly the same thing with lots of drafts unpublished that I let aggregate content over time. The difference is that mine aren’t immediately out in public for other’s benefit. Though I do wonder how many might read them, comment on them, or potentially come back to read them later in a more finished form.

👓 Building a digital garden | Tom Critchlow

Read Building a digital garden by Tom CrichtlowTom Crichtlow (tomcritchlow.com)
How I built myself a simple wiki using folders and files and published via Jekyll

Hat tip: Greg McVerry

On This Day functionality for WordPress

Last night while catching up on some of my feeds and I ran across a new WordPress plugin for creating On This Day-type functionality from Alan Levine.

Having enjoyed the mobile app TimeHop and its functionality for a long time, I’d spent a long time a while back searching for what I was sure would be multiple WordPress plugins that might offer such functionality. At the time I could only find one and seemed deeply hidden: the Room 34 Presents On This Day plugin which has served my needs for a while.

While the two are implemented somewhat differently and have different levels of UI features, it’s nice that there’s now a bit of competition and options available in the space. Alan’s excellent version is a shortcode-based plugin with some options for configuring the output and he’s got lots of additional details for customizing it. The Room 34 version creates an archive view of most of its data and also includes  a widget for adding the output to various widget locations.

I’ve added some of these examples and links to the On This Day page of the IndieWeb wiki, so that others looking for UI examples, options, and brainstorming for their WordPress-based or other sites might have an easier time tracking them down and building additional iterations or coming up with new ideas.

These sorts of plugins provide some useful functionality commonly found in other social media sites, including Facebook which allow you to go back in time. I find they’re even more valuable on my own site as my content here is generally far richer and more valuable to me than it is on other social sites which often have a “throw away” or a more ephemeral feel to some of their content. It’s nice to be able to look back at old thoughts, revisit them, possibly reshape them, or even see how far I’ve come in some of my thinking since those older days.

Now, if we could only get Timehop to dovetail with the WordPress API so that they could add WordPress websites to their offerings…

👓 Becoming a Better Writer Thanks to the IndieWeb | Jason Morehead

Read Becoming a Better Writer Thanks to the IndieWeb by Jason MoreheadJason Morehead (opuszine.us)
Social networks encourage us to take less ownership of our content. That needs to change.

Some excellent motivation here for “Why IndieWeb” as well as some interesting thoughts on legacy from someone who has been blogging for years. Great to see another designer and website creator appreciating the immense value that IndieWeb principles can bring to the web.

Jason, while it looks like you don’t have webmentions set up or displaying yet (I’m guessing you’re on Craft 3 and the plugin for Craft is only compatible with v2 as I recall), you might try creating an account with Webmentions.io and put the endpoint into your head so you can receive them in the erstwhile on a separate service and worry about direct integration at a later date.

👓 A Suspense Novelist’s Trail of Deceptions | The New Yorker

Read A Suspense Novelist’s Trail of Deceptions by Ian Parker (newyorker.com)
Dan Mallory, who writes under the name A. J. Finn, went to No. 1 with his début thriller, “The Woman in the Window.” His life contains even stranger twists.

I can certainly identify with a lot of this type of behavior. I suspect there are many in the entertainment sector who do this, or something very close to this.

👓 OER as an Institutional Survival Strategy | Inside Higher Ed

Read OER as an Institutional Survival Strategy by Matt Reed (Inside Higher Ed)
The difference between “tuition and fees” and “total cost of attendance.”

A nice highlighting of why administrators should be pushing for OER. Unfortunately lost here is the actual cost of the remainder of the enterprise. Where do these OER resources come from? Who creates them? Who gets paid to create and maintain them? Or quite often, whose resources, time, and effort are being exploited to use them? Additionally, who on the institutional level is being paid to talk about OER, push it, educate educators about it, and help professors adopt it?

While it’s readily transparent how his accounting works in this limited example, there’s a lot more accounting and transparency that needs to be taken into account.

Let’s not take the cost and just shift it to others who are also ill-equipped to handle it.

👓 The world in brief, January 22nd 2019 | Economist Espresso

Read The world in brief, January 22nd 2019 (Economist Espresso)

WhatsApp, a messaging service, is cracking down further on fake news. Users will now only be allowed to forward a message to five groups (each group can be up to 256 people), down from 20. The limitation was first introduced in India last year after several mob lynchings there appeared to start after incendiary messages spread through the service.

I can’t imagine that unless the average group is well under 20 people, that WhatsApps change will have a drastic effect. 256 by itself, much less 5 times that, is way over the Dunbar number and likely not enough of a brake on social gossip. This sounds like a lot of lip service to me.

👓 Why I’m Leaving Medium | Praxis – Medium

Read Why I’m Leaving Medium by Tiago Forte (Praxis – Medium)
I’ve been writing on Medium for three and a half years.

Some of these reasons are very pragmatic for everyone, but he’s also got some business specific ones that touch on things many small businesses would want control over as well. He additionally points out some very subtle changes in media for people who are reaching out to niche audiences. Some of this is reminiscent to things Leo Laporte has spoken about in the past with respect to leaving television and cable to start a podcast network, except in that case there really wasn’t a huge amount of competing media, so instead of moving to silos (which didn’t exist at the time for his use case) he went straight to using his own platform.

Replied to Indie Communities and Making Your Audience Known by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller (Ben Werdmüller)

It sounds ludicrous now, but back in 2014, when I cofounded Known as a startup, a lot of people were questioning whether a business even needed a website. Pockets of people - for example in the indieweb community, which I enthusiastically joined - were pointing out how short-sighted this was, but it was a minority opinion. There was Facebook and Twitter! Why would you want to have any kind of property that you fully controlled on the internet?

Fast forward to today, and... 

As I read this, there are some underlying ideas that again make me think that newspapers, magazines, and other journalistic outlets should pick up the mantle of social media and help their readers (aka community) by providing them with websites that they can control and use to interact. Many newspapers and other outlets are already building their own CMSes and even licensening them out to other papers, why not take the next step and build a platform that can host and manage websites for individual users? They’ve got most of the infrastructure there already? Why not tack on a few simple things that allow their users to better interact with them on the open web. It solves their ownership issues as well as their reliance on social media silos and could even provide a nice, modest income stream (or even a bonus that comes along with one’s subscription?)

Perhaps Kinja wasn’t a bad idea for a CMS cum commenting system, it just wasn’t open web enough?

📑 Bullet Journal: One Book to Rule Them All | Jamie Todd Rubin

Annotated Bullet Journal: One Book to Rule Them All by Jamie Todd Rubin (Jamie Todd Rubin)
Isaacson pointed out that more than 7,000 pages from Da Vinci’s notebooks survived to today–a stretch of 500 years. He asked how many of our tweets and Facebook posts will survive even 50 years. Paper, it turns out, is a durable medium of information storage.  

Of course one also needs to think about reach and distribution as well. His notebooks have much more reach and distribution now than they ever did in his own lifetime. Where’s the balance? Blogging about it, syndicating to social media, and then printing paper copies in annual increments?