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?

👓 In the Shadow of the CMS | The Nation

Read In the Shadow of the CMS by Kyle ChaykaKyle Chayka (The Nation)
How content-management systems will shape the future of media businesses big and small. 

With all these self-made CMSes for distributing journalism, why not go a half step further and create a full-on network of hosted and managed IndieWeb websites? These could be for both their journalists to use (the way many do with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) in their research as well as for their own users which could also incidentally use them to interact with the paper itself as well as their surrounding communities?

For a low cost per month, it could be an interesting side business, or even be bundled with paid subscriptions?

👓 Blind Person-Tagging | Kicks Condor

Read Blind Person-Tagging by Kicks Condor (kickscondor.com)
I’m getting a lot out of these ruminations you’re doing about links as notifications. For me, I think I’m going to include a ‘cc’ bit of post metadata, much like I already have ‘via’ metadata, to advertise the original source for a bit of hypertext. Cool idea. The idea of a ‘bcc’ i...

I’ll agree: Passive Tracking > Active Tracking

It’s always nice if you can provide real-time active tracking and posting on your own website, but is it really necessary? Is it always worthwhile? What value does it provide to you? to others?

The other day I read Eddie Hinkle’s article Passive Tracking > Active Tracking in which he details how he either actively or passively tracks on his own website things he’s listening to or watching. I thought I’d take a moment to scribble out some of my thoughts and process for how and why I do what I’m doing on my own site.

I too track a lot of things relatively passively. Most of it I do for my own “diary” or commonplace book. Typically I’ll start out using silo services that have either RSS feeds or that work with services like IFTTT.com or Zapier. If those don’t exist, I’ll just use the ubiquitous “share” functionality of nearly all web pages and mobile platforms to share the content or page via email which I can use to post to my website as well. The primary minimal data points I’m looking for are the title of the specific thing I’m capturing (the movie, tv show/episode title, book title, article title, podcast title) and the date/time stamp at which the activity was done.

I’ll use these to take input data and transfer it to my own website, typically in draft form. In many cases, these methods collect all the data I want and put it into a format for immediate sharing. Other times I’ll clean up some bits of the data (almost always context related, so things like images, summaries, the source of the data, etc.) a bit before sharing. Then I optionally decide to post it either publicly or privately on my site.

Some of the sources I use for pulling in data (especially for context) to my website include:
 Watches: IMDb.com, Letterboxd, TheTVDB.com, themoviedb.org, direct websites for shows/movies themselves
 Listens: typically using share functionality via email from my podcatcher; Spotify, Last.fm,
 Reads: reading.am, Pocket, Hypothes.is, GoodReads, 
 Bookmarks: diigo, Hypothes.is, Twitter, Pocket

Often, going the route of least resistance for doing this sort of tracking is a useful thing to find out if doing so is ultimately useful or valuable to you. If it’s not, then building some massive edifice and code base for doing so may be additional sunk cost to find out that you don’t find it valuable or fulfilling somehow. This is primary value of the idea “manual until it hurts.”

I will note that though I do have the ability to do quick posting to my site using bookmarklets in conjunction with the Post Kinds Plugin for WordPress, more often than not, I find that interrupting my personal life and those around me to post this way seems a bit rude. For things like listen posts, logging them actively could a be a life threatening endeavor because I most often listen while driving. Thus I prefer to take a moment or two to more subtly mark what I want to post and then handle the rest at a more quiet and convenient time. I’ll use down time while passively watching television or listening to music to do this sort of clean up. Often, particularly for bookmarks and annotations, this also forces me to have a second bite at the proverbial apple to either follow up on the bookmarked idea or think about and reflect on the thing I’ve saved. In some sense this follow up is way more valuable to me than having actively posted it and then simply moving on. It also becomes a way for what might otherwise be considered “digital exhaust” to give me some additional value.

Eventually having better active ways to track and post these things in real time would be nice, but the marginal additional value just hasn’t seemed to be there for me. If it were, there are also larger hurdles of doing these posts quickly and in a way that pulls in the context portions I’d like to present. Adding context also generally means having solid pre-existing data bases of information from which to poll from, and often these can be difficult to come by or require API access to something. As a result services like Swarm and OwnYourSwarm are useful as they can not only speed up the process of logging data, but they are underpinned with relatively solid databases. As an example, I frequently can’t use IMDB.com to log in television shows like Meet the Press or Face the Nation because entries and data for those particular episodes often don’t exist even when I’m watching them several hours after they’ve aired. And even in these cases the websites for these shows often don’t yet have photos, synopses, video, or transcripts posted when I’m watching them. Thus posting for these in real-time the way I’d like becomes a much more difficult nightmare and requires a lot more manual effort.

Update:

As a follow up to Eddie’s post (which doesn’t yet show the Webmention), I’ll also point out that Jonathan has an excellent description and some code for what he’s doing on his site as well.

📺 Meet the Press: January 13, 2019 | S71 E7115 | NBC

Watched Meet the Press: January 13, 2019 | S71 E7115 from NBC

When will the government shutdown end? The bombshell Russia story from the New York Times: is Trump working for Russia?
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas); Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.); former Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo); roundtable discussion with Cornell Belcher, Al Cardenas (American Conservative Union), Carol Lee (Wall Street Journal) and Peggy Noonan (Wall Street Journal)

Meet the Press: 1-13-19 When Will this end? teaser plackard

Somewhat interesting to note that the source for the web page for this episode includes the non-standardized meta data "sameAs":"http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103396/". This feels reminiscent of the function of the microformats for u-syndication or rel-syndication which gives the folks at the network a trail to the copy of the data for the episode that they likely syndicated to imdb.com so that it’s findable there. Sadly, the URL link incorrectly points to a page for Dateline, so I’m not sure if their data is pointing to the right place, though it appears that the data for the episode on imdb.com is correct for this episode. It would also be nice if they were using the correct markup so that web parsers and crawlers would pick up the data properly.

🔖 NowNowNow

Bookmarked Now Now Now (nownownow.com)
Websites with a /now page

I hadn’t really thought of it until now (no pun intended), but the set up of this website and how people opt in to creating a Now Page on their own websites, makes it an interesting and unique type of online directory for the discovery of a particular type of online set of links. Certainly an interesting set up and concept for Brad Enslen and Kicks Condor to take a look at in their online explorations of these types of discovery-based websites.

Certainly webmention could be used to collect the data and provide updates for such a directory. (I’ll note that most people who do have Now pages put a small notice at the bottom of their pages with a link back to the directory to reference it–something which I’m sure has helped spread the general idea.) One of the things I haven’t seen directories like this necessarily have is a feed of content that one could subscribe to updates from. While this one doesn’t have this sort of ability built into it (or seemingly any search or sorting functionality by categories or tags), it does have a Twitter feed that pushes out semi-regular updates of people within the directory. This way, if you’re subscribed, you see others’ updates being fed out. Every couple of months it also mentions me directly, which provides me with a regular reminder to update my presence within the directory.

I’m curious how we might expand this sort of concept to other types of online directories? Is there anything else useful about how this is one is set up?

Replied to a tweet by Kelly VaughnKelly Vaughn (Twitter)

For inspiration: using @glitch our friend @schmarty has built an #IndieWeb ring to link people’s personal websites which dovetails on your prior idea.
Many on the ring are developer related btw.
https://indieweb.org/indiewebring

👓 Sunday, December 16, 2018 | Scripting News

Read Scripting News: Sunday, December 16, 2018 by Dave Winer (Scripting News)
Feeling courageous? Click the [repost] symbol next to this post. #

I like that Dave is continuing to experiment with allowing others to use Twitter to interact with his blog. Reminds me of some of my experiments almost two years ago.

Improving user experience with links, notifications, and Webmentions

Back in December, I was thinking about html links and the functionality of sending notifications using webmentions. Within the IndieWeb, this is known as mentioning or potentially person-tagging someone (inline). By adding a link to a person’s website onto any mentions of their name in my posts, my website will automatically send them a notification that they were mentioned. They can then determine what they want to do or not do with that information.

While I want people that I mention in some of my posts to be aware that they’ve been mentioned by me, I don’t necessarily need to add to the visual cruft and clutter of the pages by intentionally calling out that link with the traditional color change and underline that <a> links in HTML often have. After all, I’m linking to them to send a notification to them, not necessarily to highlight them to everyone else. In some sense, I’m doing this because I’ve never quite liked that Twitter uses @names highlighted within posts. All the additional cruft in Twitter like the “@” and “#” prefixes, while adding useful functionality, have always dramatically decreased the readability and enjoyment of their interface for me. So why not just get rid of them?! I’m glad to have this power and ability to do so on my own website and hope others appreciate it.

In the past I’ve tried “blind notifying” (or bcc’ing via Webmention) people by adding invisible or hidden links in the page, but this has been confusing to some. This is why one of the general principles of the IndieWeb is to

Use & publish visible data for humans first, machines second.

Thus, I’ve added a tiny bit of CSS to those notification links so that they appear just like the rest of the text on the site. The notifications via Webmention will still work, and those who are mentioned will be able to see their names appear within the post.

For those interested, I’ve left in some hover UI so if you hover your mouse over these “hidden” links, they will still indicate there’s a link there and it will work as expected.

As an example of the functionality here within this particular post, I’ve hidden the link on the words “mentioning” and “person-tagging” in the first paragraph. Loqi, the IndieWeb chat bot, should pick up the mention of those wiki pages via WebSub and syndicate my post into the IndieWeb meta chat room, and those interested in the ideas can still hover over the word and click on it for more details. In practice, I’ll typically be doing this for less relevant links as well as for tagging other people solely to send them notifications.

I’m curious if there are any edge cases or ideas I’m missing in this sort of user interface? Sadly it won’t work in most feed readers, but perhaps there’s a standardizable way of indicating this? If you have ideas about improved presentation for this sort of functionality, I’d be thrilled to hear them in the comments below.

Twitter:

Reply to More thoughts about Micro.blog as an indie social network by Paul Jacobson

Replied to More thoughts about Micro.blog as an indie social network by Paul Jacobson (Paul Jacobson)
Brad Enslen is doing some great work over at Micro.blog, spreading the word about this innovative service. He published a post titled “The Case for Moving Your Social Network to Micro.blog…

Paul, I like how you’re questioning what is going on with micro.blog and what it is. The toughest part about it is that it is being sold by many different people in many different ways and it’s something slightly different depending on who you are and what you’re coming to it with. It’s all a question of framing.

I might suggest that you’re framing in an odd way, particularly given what I think you’d ultimately like to see on the web which you mention in your closing paragraphs.

To put things somewhat in “Automattic” terms, micro.blog is almost just like WordPress.com in that it’s a hosted content management system with a somewhat both open and closed community attached to it. If you’ve got a WordPress.com account you can easily post replies and likes on other blogs within the WordPress.com ecosystem and WordPress.com also has a slick feed reader you can use to easily subscribe to content (and even more easily subscribe if you’re within that WordPres.com community).

Just like WordPress.com, micro.blog-based sites (if you’re using their CMS) provide you with a physical website that includes RSS feeds and most of the other typical website functionality, so in fact, if you’ve got a micro.blog-based site, you’re fully on the web. If you’d like you can take your domain, export your content and move to WordPress, Drupal, SquareSpace, or any other CMS out there.

The real difference between micro.blog and WordPress.com happens in that micro.blog sends webmentions to provide their commenting functionality (though their websites don’t receive webmentions in a standalone way technically and in fact they don’t even allow manual comments as micro.blog-based websites don’t have traditional commenting functionality (yet?).) Micro.blog also supports Micropub natively, so users can use many of the micropub apps for posting to their sites as well.

Now where things get a bit wonky is that the micro.blog feed reader will let you subscribe to other m.b. users (and recently ActivityPub accounts like those on Mastodon) which is why it feels like a Twitter or Facebook replacement. But the difference is that while it feels like you’re in yet-another-silo like Twitter or Facebook, over on the side, you’ve got a traditional free standing website!

Incidentally micro.blog also uses their feed reader as a side method for displaying the replies of others to your posts within the ecosystem. If you have a non-micro.blog website that feeds into the system (like you and I–and incidentally Brad too–do with WordPress) then micro.blog sends webmentions to those sites so that they don’t necessarily need to be “within the community” to interact with it.

In summation, I might suggest that while some people might be framing micro.blog as a replacement for Facebook or Twitter, the better framing is that micro.blog is really what you were hoping it might be. It is a traditional web host with its own custom content management system that supports web standards and newer technologies like Webmention, Micropub, WebSub, and pieces of Microsub. Or similarly and more succinctly, Micro.blog is a turnkey IndieWeb CMS that allows users to have a website without needing to manage anything on the back end.

Now that we’ve re-framed it to look like what you had hoped for, let’s see if we can talk Manton into open sourcing it all! Then Automattic might have some more competition. 😉

👓 “Create the kind of communities and ideas you want people to talk about” | Paul Jacobson

Read “Create the kind of communities and ideas you want people to talk about” by Paul Jacobson (Paul Jacobson)
I’ve had an idea in my task list for a week or so now, and I just haven’t made the time to write about it, at least not as I originally intended when I read the post that inspired it. J…

Some ideas worth chewing on here. Paul almost uses the phrase “thought spaces” here and though he doesn’t, he’s certainly dancing around it.

📑 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?

Some thoughts about Media Diets prompted by Paul Jacobson

Replied to Keeping track of my media diet by Paul JacobsonPaul Jacobson (Paul Jacobson)

This idea of tracking my media diet really appeals to me:

Just like last year, I kept track of almost everything I read, watched, listened to, and experienced in my media diet posts.

Jason Kottke

I follow a few people who do this too, sometimes pretty publicly. I’m not sure that I’d want to share everything I consume, but I do like the thought of capturing, and aggregating everything.

I’m just not too sure how to pull it all together, if I were to do this.

There are a few parts to having a media diet:
1. keeping track of it all quickly and easily;
2. going back to contemplate on it and deciding what may have been worthwhile or not; and
3. using the above to improve upon your future media diet instead of consuming the same junk food in the future.

I try to use my own website (cum digital commonplace book) to collect everything quickly using bookmarklets from the Post Kinds plugin or RSS feeds from popular media-related websites (GoodReads, Letterboxd, reading.am, etc.) in conjunction with IFTTT.com recipes to create private posts on my site’s back end. Naturally, not all of my posts are public since many are simply for my own reflection and edification. Usually logging the actions only takes a few seconds. Longer reviews and thoughts typically only take a few minutes if I choose to do so.

The hardest part may be going through it all on a weekly, monthly, or annual basis to do some analysis and make the appropriate adjustments for the future. (Isn’t it always sticking with the adjustments that make it a “diet”?) Fortunately having all the data in one centralized place does make some of this work a lot easier.

Having lists of what I read online has definitely helped me cut out all click-baity articles and listicles from my information diet. It’s also helped me cut down on using social media mindlessly when I think about the great things I could be reading or consuming instead. Bad national news has also spurred me to read more local news this year as well. Those interested in some of these ideas may appreciate Clay A. Johnson’s The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Comsumption, which I read several years back.

I experimented with eating and drinking posts early last year too, and the nature of posting them publicly was somewhat useful in losing about 10 pounds, but the work in doing it all did seem a bit much since I didn’t have as easily an automated system for doing it as I might have liked. Now I do most of these posts privately. Definitely having the ability to look back at the ton of crap I’ve eaten in the past week or month does help with trying to be a bit healthier in my choices. I look at posting photos of my food/drink to my own site somewhat akin to dietitians who tell people to use a clean plate for every meal they have–the extra work, process, and clean up makes it more apparent what you’re doing to yourself.

As I’ve written before about posting what I’m listening to, showing others that you’ve spent the time to actually listen to it and post about it on your own site (even with no commentary), is a great way to show that you’ve got “skin-in-the-game” when it comes to making recommendations. Kottke’s awesome recommendation about listening to the Seeing White Podcast has way more value if he could point to having spent the multiple hours listening to and contemplating it, the way I have. The situation is akin to that headline and link my friend just put on Twitter, but did she think the headline was cool or did she actually read the entire thing and wanted to recommend her followers also read it? Who can tell without some differentiation?

Lastly, I keep a “following page” of people and feeds I’m following on a regular basis. Put into broad categories, it makes an easy method for periodically pruning out that portion of my media diet using OPML subscriptions in my feed reader.

In the end, what you feed your body, as well as what you feed your brain, are important things to at least keep in the back of your mind.

 

👓 Everything Old is New Again: Adventures in the IndieWeb | Desert of My Real Life

Replied to Everything Old is New Again: Adventures in the IndieWeb by Cathie LeBlancCathie LeBlanc (Desert of My Real Life)
I’ve written about my forays into the IndieWeb movement before. I have even written about how I feel like I’m moving to a philosophy of sharing my work that is kind of old school. Last week, I had the occasion to see a perfect example of how the “new” ways that I’m working are actually the old ways.

Kudos Cathie for rolling up your sleeves and delving in like this! You’re getting some fairly solid results and have far stronger grasp of what is going on than I certainly did in my first year–not to say that I’m much better off now to be honest.

The tougher part is that some of your post seems a bit misleading to me.

The couple of microformats related lines you’re adding in your child theme like add_theme_support( ‘microformats2’ ); are in fact declaring that your theme properly supports microformats v1, v2, and microdata which it doesn’t quite. Those lines don’t actually add support (as the hook might indicate), but tell other WordPress plugins that your theme is microformats compatible which may prevent them from adding particular pieces of redundant microformats related code.

While you’ve got an h-entry in your header file, you’re closing the related </div> just after the title so that if the body of your post includes a p-summary or an e-content microformat, parsers are likely to have problems. Instead you might want to do something similar in either your content.php (or other file that adds the body of your post) or your footer.php files where you close that div in one of those two files instead of in your header.php file. If you need it the article page on the wiki has a simple example of what the final result should look like.

My favorite template for how to add microformats to a WordPress theme is David Shanske’s fork of the TwentySixteen theme. Because of GitHub’s interface and the fact that he made changes in relatively small increments, you can look at the history of his changes (start with the oldest ones and move forward) and see the highlights of what he added and removed in individual files to effect the necessary changes. (He made some other drastic changes like removing Post Formats in preference to Post Kinds as well as some other non-microformats changes, so you’ll necessarily want to skip those particular changes.) I think I learned more about WordPress Themes by going through this one example a change at a time than any of the books or tutorials I’ve ever seen.

Another tool in addition to indiewebify.me is the Pin13 parser which will parse your page and give you some indication about what it is finding (or not) and how things are being nested (or not).

If you need some help, feel free to catch one of the WordPress folks in the IndieWeb chat. I suspect that since you’ve got the fortitude to dive into the code the way you have, that you’ll be able to puzzle it out.

👓 There’s One Encouraging Thought Buried In Zuckerberg’s 2019 Challenge | Techdirt

Read There's One Encouraging Thought Buried In Zuckerberg's 2019 Challenge (Techdirt)
Every year Mark Zuckerberg sets a "challenge" for himself for that year, which as many people have noted, Facebook has turned into a big PR vehicle for the company. We usually don't even bother to write about it, because why bother?...

Do we want technology to keep giving more people a voice, or will traditional gatekeepers control what ideas can be expressed?  

Part of the unstated problem here is that Facebook has supplanted the “traditional gatekeepers” and their black box feed algorithm is now the gatekeeper which decides what people in the network either see or don’t see. Things that crazy people used to decry to a non-listening crowd in the town commons are now blasted from the rooftops, spread far and wide by Facebook’s algorithm, and can potentially sway major elections.

I hope they talk about this.