Replied to Making RSS more visible again with a /feeds page by Marcus HerrmannMarcus Herrmann (marcus.io)
A few years ago you could easily tell if a page offered an RSS feed. Browsers (at least good ones) had a feed symbol close to their location bar, and if you were really lucky (or used a really good browser), that indicator was even a button, empowering you to subscribe to a website with only one cli...
The overall idea to make it easier to subscribe to a personal website is certainly a laudable one.

Sadly the general concept presented here, while it sounds potentially useful, is far too little and misdirected. Hopefully better potential solutions are still not too late.

First, let’s step back a moment. The bigger problem with feeds was that website designers and developers spent far too long in the format wars between RSS and Atom while the social media giants focused on cleaner and easier UI. This allowed the social silos to dramatically close the gap in functionality and usability. While website owners were spending time on formats and writing long articles about what RSS was, how it worked, and how to use it, the public lost interest. We need something really dramatic to regain this ground and /feeds just is not going to cut it.

The first problem I see with this is that on it’s face /feeds both looks and sounds like code. No user really wants to interact with code if they don’t have to. Why not simply have a page or button called something much more user friendly like “subscribe” or “follow”? Almost every major social silo has a common pattern like this and has a simple “follow” button on every user’s page. A quick click and one is done with the transaction!

Instead the solution offered here is to have not only yet-another-page but one that needs to be maintained. (As good as the /now idea may seem, the fact that it needs to be regularly and manually updated makes it a failure out of the gate. I’ll bet that less than half the /now pages out there have been updated in the last 6 months. I know mine hasn’t.) Worse, suppose I click over to a /feeds page, as an average person I’m still stuck with the additional burden of knowing or learning about what a feed reader is, why I’d need or want one, and then knowing what RSS is and how I might use that. I might see a one click option for Twitter or Mastodon, but then I’m a mile away from your website and unlikely to see you again in the noise of my Twitter feed which has many other lurking problems.

One of the best solutions I’ve seen in the past few years is that posited by SubToMe.com  which provides a single, customizable, and universal follow button. One click and it automatically finds the feeds hidden in the page’s code and presents me with one or more options for following it in a feed reader. Once I’ve chosen a reader, it remembers my choice and makes the following pattern easier in future transactions. This is a far superior option over /feeds because it takes away a huge amount of cognitive burden for the user. As a developer, I’ve got a browser bookmarklet that provides this functionality for sites that don’t provide it for me. How nice would it be if browsers went back and offered such a one button collection mechanism?

Want to give this a try? I’ve got a “Follow Me” button in the side bar of my website. And if that doesn’t float your boat, I’ve tinkered with other methods of subscribing to my content that you can find at my subscribe page. Some developers might not be too scared of what’s on my subscribe page (a /feed page by a slightly friendlier name), but less technically minded people are sure to have a dramatically different perspective.

The other piece here that I might take umbrage with is the offering to provide feeds to subscriptions to alternate services like Twitter and Mastodon. (This doesn’t take into any account that RSS feeds of social services are positively atrocious, not to mention that attempting to access Marcus’ Twitter feed in RSS Box returns the interminable error message: “There was a problem talking to Twitter. Please try again in a moment.”) 

Ideally I see a future in which every person has the ability to own both their own domain name and their content in a simple manner. If this happens and it’s easier to subscribe to the sites of my friends, then I don’t need corporate social media to intermediate the transactions on my behalf. I also don’t need them to intermediate what I’m actually seeing with their blackbox algorithmic feeds either.  Friends, family, and colleagues could simply come to my website and subscribe to all or portions of my content in which they’re interested. While I still presently syndicate some of my content to silos like Twitter and Mastodon for the ease of friends or family who don’t know about the technical side of potential solutions, I post everything on my website first where one can subscribe in a feed reader or by email. Subscriptions in Twitter or Mastodon, while nice to have, are just a poor simulacrum of the real things being served by my site in better ways with more context and a design that better reflects what I’d like to portray online. A /feed page is going to be a failure from the start if you’re going to cede all the subsequent power directly to Twitter, Mastodon, and others anyway.

While I like the volume of the reactions to the post (indicating that there’s not only a readership, but a desire for this sort of functionality), I’m disheartened that so many designers and developers think that the idea of /feeds is “enough” to stem the tide.

For those who might be truly interested in designing our way out of this problem, I’d recommend looking at some of the design and development work of the IndieWeb community which is trying (slowly, but surely) to improve these sorts of technical hurdles. Their wiki has large number of examples of things that do and don’t work, discussion of where problems lie, and a community conversing about how to potentially make them better through actual examples of things that are currently working on peoples’ websites.

A good example of this is the increasing improvement of social readers that allow one to subscribe to a variety of sources in a reader which also allows one to respond to posts in-line and then own that content on one’s website. If I can subscribe to almost anything out there in one interface and sort and filter it in any way I’d like, that’s far better than having twenty different feed readers named Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Soundcloud, etc. which I have to separately and independent manage and check. Now I’ve yet to see an IndieWeb reader with a one click SubToMe-type of solution for adding feeds to it, but I don’t think it will be very long before that’s a reality. The slowly improving Microsub spec that splits some of the heavy lifting needed to build and design a stand alone feed reader is certainly helping to make some massive headway on these issues.

Maybe we’ll soon have an easy way for people to post who they’re following on their own websites, and their readers will be able to read or parse those pages and aggregate those followed posts directly into a nice reading interface? Maybe someone will figure out a way to redesign or re-imagine the old blogroll? Maybe we’ll leverage the idea of OPML subscriptions so that a personal blogroll (maybe we rename this something friendlier like a following page or personal recommendations, subscriptions, etc.) can feed a person’s subscriptions into their social reader? There are certainly a lot of solid ideas being experimented on and in actual use out there. 

We obviously still have a long way to go to make things better and more usable, not only for ourselves as designers and developers, but for the coding averse. I feel like there’s already a flourishing space out there doing this that’s miles ahead of solutions like /feeds. Why don’t we start at that point and then move forward?

Hypothes.is annotations to WordPress via RSS

I created a video overview/walkthrough of how I take highlights and annotations on Hypothes.isHypothes.is and feed them through to my WordPress Website using RSS and IFTTT.com.

I suspect that a reasonable WordPress user could probably set up a free Hypothes.is account and use the RSS feed from it (something like https://hypothes.is/stream.atom?user=username) to create an IFTTT.com recipe to post it as a public/draft to their WordPress website.

My version presented here has also been augmented by also using the Post Kinds Plugin to which I’ve manually added a custom annotation post type along with some CSS for the yellow highlight effect. These additional coding flourishes aren’t absolutely necessary for those who just want to own the data on their website.

If you want to get even fancier you could also do RSS to IFTTT to do a webhook post to an Micropub endpoint or custom code your own solution using their API. Lots of options are available, the most difficult part may be knowing that something like this could even be done.

RSVPed Attending IndieWebCamp West 2020
June 27 - 28, 2020: Two days meeting up online to share ideas, create & improve personal websites, and build upon each other's creations. Whether you’re a creator, writer, blogger, coder, designer, or just someone who wants to improve their presence on the web, there is something for you here. All skill and experience levels welcome.
Coronavirus concerns have caused us to cancel the annual in-person IndieWebSummit 2020 , so I’m helping to co-organize this two day online event and welcome anyone who’d like to join.

Passionate about helping people to get online? Volunteer to help us out.

ThreadReaderApp now has beta support for the Micropub Spec so you can publish Twitter threads directly to your blog

So… a while back I tweeted about a bit of functionality I’ve long thought would be a cool one to have for Twitter:

I would often see people post tweetstorms, long threads of related tweets, to tell an extended story.

Invariably people see these threads and say “Why don’t/didn’t you just post that on your website as a blog post instead?”

(In fact, why don’t you try it on this very tweet?)

I’ve personally been using the #IndieWeb concept of P.O.S.S.E. (Post on your Own Site and Syndicate Elsewhere) for a while now. I’ll post my content on my personal website first and only then syndicate a copy to Twitter.
indieweb.org/POSSE

But today, for the first time in a very LONG time, I’m posting this particular thread to Twitter first…

Then when I’m done, I’ll roll it all up conveniently using the awesome @ThreadReaderApp which will put a nice readable version on their site.

Presto!

Blogpost, right??

Sadly, I don’t own that copy…

It really needs to be on my blog for that to work, right?!

“But wait. There’s more.” as they say in advertising.

Now with the help of @ThreadReaderApp, and the Micropub plugin for #WordPress, I’ll be able to view my thread on ThreadReader in a brand new bonus feature that’s currently in beta. Screencapture of ThreadReaderApp site featuring a button labeled

Yes, you guessed it! It’s that wondrous “Publish to Blog” button!!

With a quick click, @ThreadReaderApp will authenticate and I can authorize it to publish to my WordPress site on my behalf.

I can now publish the entire thread to my own website!!

Now this thread that I’ve published to Twitter will live forever archived on my own website as its own stand-alone blogpost.

Huzzah!!

I’m not sure how often I’m prone to do this in the future, but I hope we won’t hear that “Why didn’t you just post that on your own website as a blogpost?” as frequently.

With just a button push, I’ll be able to quickly and simply cross-post my Twitter threads on Twitter directly to my website!
#OwnYourData

In #IndieWeb terminology this publishing workflow is known as P.E.S.O.S. or Publish Elsewhere, Syndicate to Your Own Site.
indieweb.org/PESOS

I’ll mention for the masses that this publishing functionality is only possible courtesy of a W3C recommendation (aka web standard) known as Micropub.
indieweb.org/Micropub

Because it’s a web standard, @ThreadReaderApp can build the functionality once & it should work on dozens of platforms including @WordPress @Drupal @WithKnown @CraftCMS @Jekyllrb @GetKirby @GoHugoIO @MicroDotBlog among a growing set of others.
indieweb.org/Micropub/Serve…

Some of these may have built-in or core support for the standard while others may require a simple plugin or module to support this functionality.

Don’t see your platform supported yet? Ask your CMS or platform provider to provide direct support.

It shouldn’t take much work for @Ghost @grabaperch @squarespace @Wix @getgrav @magento @typo3 @Blogger @medium @Tumblr @mediawiki @omeka and others to support this too.

There’s lots of open source implementations already out there in various languages and there’s a fantastic test suite available for developers.

I’ll also give a quick shout out to @iAWriter which also just added Micropub support to let people use their editor to post to their websites.

And of course once you’ve realized that your platform supports Micropub to publish to your website, why not try out one of the dozens of other Micropub clients out there?
indieweb.org/Micropub/Clien…

They support a variety of post or content types from full articles to photos and geolocation to bookmarks. The sky’s the limit.

Some of my favorites are Quill, OwnYourSwarm, Omnibear, and Teacup. And let’s not forget social feed readers like Monocle and Indigenous that let you read and respond to content directly in your feed reader! (I no longer miss Google Reader, now I just feel sorry for them.)

Congratulations again to @ThreadReaderApp for helping to lead the way in the corporate social space for support of the awesomeness that Micropub allows.

Thread away!

Bookmarked a tweet (Twitter)
It’s starting to feel too late on the West coast of the US to start something right now, but my mind is buzzing. I’ll see if I can come up with something IndieWebby/Domain of One’s Owny overnight to post tomorrow. 

In the meanwhile, I’m curious what Greg McVerry, Aaron Davis, and others might whip up while I’m sleeping?

Bookmarked Subscribe to Hypothesis annotations (diegodlh.github.io)
Do you want to know when someone annotates your webpages? Do you want to follow somebody's annotations? You have come to the right place.
I’ve seen a few people in the wild using Hypothes.is as a blog commenting system.[1][2] Since they don’t yet have separate support for Webmention or require a bit of programming to get notifications, I thought I’d highlight this particular implementation as it has a simple, but relatively elegant user interface for creating feeds to provide notifications for just such a use case.

One could easily wire up the output from this through a service like IFTTT, Zapier, Integromat, etc. to push the notifications to email, or other modalities as desired. 

It doesn’t give anything over and above what a Hypothes.is addict with some programming skills could already produce, but for those who are code averse, or just too busy with building other pieces of the Domain of One’s Own this could allow some simpler outputs.

If you are a tinkerer, there is a GitHub repo for the project.

While you’re at it, why not throw in the usernames of some of your favorite annotators and subscribe away in your favorite feed reader? Some of the best things I discover online are through colleagues’ annotations, I think, in part, because it’s a much higher level of engagement with the material than the pablum found in many Twitter feeds.

It could also be a good means of following annotations on some of your favorite hashtags in the system as well. Want to learn some new words? Follow wordnik in your feed reader. Want to know the state of the art in Open Education Resources? There’s a tag serious people are annotating with that you could follow in your reader.

Replied to Webmentions and Campfires by Kevin CunninghamKevin Cunningham (kevincunningham.co.uk)
Over in the garden, I’ve started a section on webmentions - including how Lauro (@laurosilvacom) and I got them up and running on our Gatsby blogs. We streamed that and I’ll link to the video when it’s available. Equally, I’ve linked to some excellent examples and posts over there.

I want these posts to be part of a conversation rather than a one-sided proclamation from the roof-tops. Using webmentions to poll for replies on Twitter and other blogs seems like a good start.

What other ways can we stop ourselves standing in dark rooms and shouting into the void? How can we light campfires and create spaces for conversation that are welcoming and mutually beneficial?
Kevin, I like your ideas here and there are many of us who have been discussing it in various nooks of the internet over the past couple of years. It’s a movement and a discussion that has been slowly brewing, but seems to be coming to a boil.

While some of these ideas sound romantic at present with minimal penetration and implementation, we’ll definitely need to be cognizant of how they grow and building tools to mitigate abuses in the future as they become more common. No one wants Webmention to become a vector for spam and harassment the way it’s poorly designed and implemented predecessors like Pingback or Trackbacks were.

While the IndieWeb seems to be the largest hub of this conversation so far, especially for the technical portions, it’s also been distributed across multiple platforms and personal websites and wikis. If you haven’t come across the IndieWeb you may appreciate their wiki and bridged chat channels.

Lately I’ve noticed a big spillover into the wiki space primarily by way of Tom Critchlow, Kicks Condor, some from TiddlyWiki and the Roam Research spaces, and many of your colleagues at egghead.io. I’m personally looking forward to the convergence of the website, blog, personal wiki, commonplace book, etc. in a single platform. 

As I notice that you’re in Brighton, if you haven’t been before, you might consider joining in one of the local Homebrew Website clubs either there, in other parts of the UK, or across the world. I see events for Nottingham and London coming up on the schedule, but I’m sure Jeremy Keith or other organizers will do another in Brighton soon.

In any case, you’re on the web, and we can “see” and “hear” you. Thanks for drawing up a campfire to create a discussion.

Replied to A thread on Hypothes.is in relation to Audrey Watters' Top Ed-Tech Trends of 2015: Indie Ed-Tech by Audrey Watters, Jeremy Dean, Dan Whaley (Hack Education / Hypothes.is)

it supports students and teachers and schools in managing their own infrastructure, their own labor, their own data.

—Audrey Watters

Ok, so is hypothes.is doing this? How can it?

  • my annotations must be better accessible/organizable --the current "My Annotations" is not enough
  • annotation must be exportable

—jeremydean on Dec 30, 2015


And ultimately, you need to be able to completely run your own annotation infrastructure, but create and access it through a universal client.

—dwhly on Dec 30, 2015


Sure. Less clear to me how that looks/works and what that I do today online is similar in "ownership." But does your "you" refer to students or teachers or schools or all of the above?

The first two (I list) seem key in terms of practical adherence to these principles for everyday users.

—jeremydean on Dec 30, 2015


It's similar in character to the Domain of One's Own initiative. From a long term perspective, you might be better off taking ownership of your own infrastructure, that you can carry with you and guarantee will be available over long time periods (decades to centuries). Hypothes.is should at the very least permit you to do so if you prefer-- regardless of whether we continue to provide an annotation service at scale (which I very much think we should).

Your question around "you" is an important one. I might for instance, set up my own annotation server for my personal notes-- with the confidence that I'll always be able to find a reliable hosting provider for those. Similar to how I have my own web domain, and I host it at one place now, but I can always move it if that location goes out of business-- and my website will be identical to its current form in the new place. In the same way, my current personal email is through an address at my own domain. I don't need to depend on gmail being around forever.

As a teacher, I might use a more common service provider (like Hypothes.is) for class lessons-- one that my students are already likely to have accounts on. As web travelers, we're really accustomed to browsing seamlessly between servers-- it's understood to be the essential architecture of the web. Bringing it to the world of annotations has extraordinary benefits (IMHO) and will serve to foster more adoption and more diversity of applications.

—dwhly on Dec 30, 2015

I’ve been thinking over some of this question for the better part of a decade and even more pointedly since November.

Some of what I’ve been looking at relates back to the renaissance ideas of the commonplace book as well as memory techniques dating back to ancient Greece and even further back. There are ideas like wikis (personal as well as public–Audrey references a great post by Mike Caulfield in her article) and online notebooks tools like Evernote, OneNote, TiddlyWiki, Roam Research, etc. If a student could quickly add all their highlights/annotations into their website, online notebook, Zettelkasten, or other related learning tools, then they could use them for reading, reviewing, or even spaced repetition as provided by platforms like Anki, Mnemosyne, or NeuraCache.

Going back to Jeremy’s original question though:

Ok, so is hypothes.is doing this? How can it?

Hypothesis could immediate do this and quite effectively if it supported the W3C recommended Micropub spec. In short, it’s a standard and open source method for publishing data to a broad spectrum of surfaces so that developers don’t need to build custom solutions for each of thousands of snowflake platforms.

That is, in addition to its current functionality, you could add some code to make Hypothesis a Micropub client!

The quickest and most flexible approach I might suggest would be to allow users to publish their annotations/highlights not only to their accounts, but have UI to trigger a micropub request to their website, online notebook, or other platform.

There’s nothing more I’d want than an easy way to own all the data I’m collecting with Hypothesis and Micropub could quickly add it for a wide variety of set ups and systems. There are already implementations of Micropub servers for a variety of CMS software including WordPress, Drupal, Known, Craft, Jekyll, Kirby, Hugo, Blot, and Micro.blog with others being added, including Grav. Some of us are actively working on adding it to Wiki-related software as well. Since large portions of the Domain of One’s Own movement are built on these handful, you’d have some pretty quick coverage of not only all this space but even more.

I suspect your dev team could build an implementation in just a few days and it would open up a huge advantage for allowing users to more easily own their H related data on their own websites or in other online locations (while still utilizing the Hypothesis platform for more complex functionality).

There’s some solid documentation and a wealth of open source clients you could look at or borrow code from as well as a test suite. I suspect the IndieWeb Dev chat channel would surface a few additional developers to answer questions about any other issues as they crop up.

If you’d like a quick 5-10 minute demo of how this works for a handful of other clients in conjunction with something like WordPress, I’m happy to volunteer the time and spitball some potential ways Hypothesis could dovetail it and leverage its power.

Thoughts on hosting an IndieWebCamp Pop-up Session

A few weeks back, I hosted a stand alone IndieWebCamp pop-up session. I had promised to scribble down some thoughts about the process and how it might be improved based on my experience. If anyone else has thoughts on how it went or how future events like this could be improved, I’d love to read them.

With traditional in-person two day camps on hold for the foreseeable future as the result of the coronavirus, doing some smaller one day or even one session topics seemed like a good idea at the time. After having done it once, I now think they’re an even better idea. A variety of things came out of the experience that I wouldn’t have anticipated.

Process

I posted the notice for the event to my website and to events.indieweb.org about two weeks in advance. This helped give me enough time to invite about 15 people I expected to be interested in the particular topic. A few tweets as reminders helped in addition to the announcement being early enough to make it into two of the IndieWeb newsletters.

I held the session at 10am Pacific so that we might be able to draw people from the late evening time zones in Europe, mid-afternoon people on the East coast of the U.S. but still late enough in the morning so that people on the West coast of America wouldn’t have to be up too early. This seems to have worked out well though I feel bad that we did likely shortchange several people in India, Asia, and Australia who might have attended.

I expected that I would be starting out small and simple and honestly only expected about 3-6 people to show up. I was initially thinking a tiny, one-topic Homebrew Website Club, but on a weekend.

On the day of the event my guess was that we had about 25 attendees, but statistics after the fact showed that 35 people logged into the session. There were still people arriving into the room at the two hour mark! According to the numbers, there have already been 210+ views of the archived video since it was posted later on the day of the event.

I suppose that future sessions will give additional data to bear the hypothesis out, but one of the side-benefits of having a specific topic announced a few weeks in advance seemed to have brought in a large number of people interested in the particular topic and who were generally unaware of the IndieWeb as a group or a movement. I’ve seen several of these people at subsequent Homebrew Website Club meetups, so using these sessions to help spread the principles of IndieWeb does seem to have been generally useful. About half of the attendees hadn’t been to an IndieWeb event previously. I did try to start with a brief introduction to IndieWeb at the start of the session and offered some follow up at the end, but I probably could have planned for this better.

I wish I had collected people’s emails, but I’ll have to do this manually somehow if we do so now. The traditional signup and organization structure for full camps would have done this, but it would be nice to have a simple workflow for doing this on a lower key basis for pop-ups. Emails would also have helped to put together a post-event questionnaire to potentially create a follow up session.

Thanks certainly goes to all the people who have built pre-existing infrastructure and patterns for pulling off such an event so easily.

Wiki Infrastructure

Since the session, I’ve gone into the IndieWeb wiki and created a stub pseudo-IndieWebCamp listing to help make organizing future stand-alone pop-up sessions a bit easier (particularly for documenting the results after-the-fact.)

The key is to make doing these as easy as possible from an organization standpoint. Having pre-existing pages on the wiki seems to help a lot (or at least feels like it from a mental baggage perspective).

Here are the relevant pages:

Execution

One of the things that was generally missing from the program was some of the hallway chatter and getting-to-know-you preliminary conversation. I think if I were doing another session I’d schedule 15 minutes of preliminary chat and dedicate about 30 minutes of introduction time into the process and encourage people to have a cup of coffee or drink to help make the atmosphere a bit more casual and conversational.

On thing that surprised me was that despite scheduling about an hours’ worth of time to the session we still had a sizeable crowd talking about the topic nearly two hours later. I think having more than just the traditional hour of conversation at a camp was awesome. It helped us not only dig in a bit deeper into the topic, but also helped in managing things given the larger number of attendees over the usual camp setting where 5-15 session attendees has been the norm. Doing it again, I might outline a three hour mini-event to allow covering a bit more material but still keeping things small and relatively casual.

I certainly benefited by the presence of a few old hands in the IndieWeb community showing up and helping out on the day of, particularly in terms of helping to manage Zoom infrastructure and format. A single person could certainly plan and execute a pop-up session, but I would highly recommend that at least two people show up to co-host on the day of the event, especially if the attendance goes over 10 people. 

The IndieWeb Zoom set up prevents organizers from allowing users to share their screens during a session. (This issue has popped up in a few HWCs lately too.)  This was potentially helpful in the earlier days when it was easier for zoombombers to pop into rooms and disrupt a conversation. There have been enough changes to Zoom with precautions built in that this part of the lock down probably isn’t needed any longer, particularly given how useful screen sharing can be.

Despite having many places to indicate RSVP’s I had very little indication of how many would show up. Something to improve this would be nice in the future, though isn’t necessarily mission critical.

I’ve definitely experienced the organizer decompression time required after putting together something big. I feel like there was less of the traditional post-event stress for this one session which allowed me to focus more of my time and attention after-the-fact on the content of the session and getting some work relating to it done. For me at least, I consider this a big personal win.

Create day/time

Traditional camps set aside day two for people to create something related to the session(s) they attended on day one. We didn’t do that for this session ahead of time, but I desperately wish we had created a better space for doing that somehow. Later on the afternoon of the session, I posted a note encouraging people to write, create, or do something tangible. I wish I had created a specific time for either the following day (or even a week later) for everyone to reconvene and do a short demo session as a follow up.

Simply having a blog section and demo page on the wiki did help encourage people to write, blog, and continue thinking and working on the session topic afterwards.

Concentration

One of the things I’ve appreciated since the session is the level of conversation in the general IndieWeb chat rooms, on people’s blogs, and peppered around Twitter and Mastodon. Often when couched into a larger IndieWebCamp there are so many sessions and conversations, the individual topics can seem to be lost in all the hubbub. Fifteen sessions concentrated on one weekend is incredibly invigorating, but because all of the concentration was on just a single topic, there was a lot more focus and energy spent on just that one thing. I sort of feel like this concentration has helped to carry over in the intervening time because I haven’t been as distracted by the thirty other competing things I’d like to work on with respect to my website since.

There has been a lot of specific article writing about this one session as some camps get in entirety.

Perhaps pop-up sessions on broader topics and problems that haven’t had as much work or which have only one or two small examples may benefit from this sort of concentrated work by several people.

I do wonder what may have happened if we had had a broad conversation about the top level topic for an hour and a half and then broken into smaller groups for 45 minutes to talk about sub-topics?

Conclusions

In the end, the session went far better than I ever expected for the amount of time I invested into it. I definitely encourage others to try to put together similar sessions. They’re simple and easy enough to be organized by one person and they can be carried out by one person, though I’d recommend two.

I encourage others to suggest topics and set up other sessions.

Even if you’re not interested in the organization portion, why not propose a topic? Perhaps someone else with a more organizational bent will come along and help you make it happen?

I’m happy, as always, to help people plan them out and deal with some of the logistics (Zoom, Etherpad, wiki, etc.) should anyone need it.

What session topic(s) will you propose for the next one?

Replied to a tweet by Ali SpittelAli Spittel (Twitter)
Nearly headless WordPress (for ubiquity and ease-of-use) + Micropub (for posting almost anything quickly) + Webmention (for cross site communication) + frosted in IndieWeb goodness = blog evolved.

Sadly, it seems like too many in the thread completely got lost on the “why” portion which was the best part of the question.

Replied to a thread (Twitter)
Lots of potential ways of shaving this yak.

The best “modern” way would be to create a Micropub endpoint and then you can use some of the excellent multi-platform Micropub clients like Quill, Omnibear, Micropublish.net, etc. The benefit of this is that you get way more than just bookmarks.

I don’t know if anyone has set one up to work with Eleventy or Netlify, but there is some prior art for other static site generators. 

The low brow solution may be to take the route I took with TiddlyWiki, but that includes some cutting and pasting, so it may be helpful, but isn’t a completely automatic solution. You’ll note there’s a reply at the bottom of the post that modified my code for use with Roam Research which also includes code for browser extensions as well.

If you want to go crazy with some .php, there’s Parse This code for a plugin for WordPress that might be co-opted. It will parse a variety of pages for microformats, JSON-LD, schema, OGP, etc. to return rich data on a huge variety of websites to give you lots of metadata to create a bookmark, but this may be over and above anything you might want. I use it as a built-in product in the Post Kinds Plugin for WordPress to create a wide variety of post types for reply contexts.

Thoughts on Wikity for WordPress

I spun up a new instance of Wikity today at http://wikity.chrisaldrich.net/ to test it out for potential use as a personal online wiki. My goal was also to test out how it may or may not work with IndieWeb-based WordPress pieces too.

Below are my initial thoughts and problems.

The /home/ page has a lot of errors and warnings. (Never a good sign.)

It took me a few minutes to figure out where the Wik-it! bookmarklet button was hiding. Ideally it would have been in the start card that described how the bookmarklet would work (in addition to its original spot).

The Wikity theme seems to have some issues when using for http vs. https.

  • Less seems to work out of the box with https
  • The main card for entering “Name of Concept or Data” didn’t work at all under https. It only showed the title and wouldn’t save. Switching to http seemed to fix it and show the editor bar.

I’ve tried copying over from Aaron DavisWikity instance, but the cardbox seems to fail on my end.

  • Nothing seemed to work at all when I had my site as https. In fact, it redirected to a URL that seemed like it wanted to run update.php for some bizarre reason.
  • On http I at least get a card saying that the process failed.
    • Not sure what may be causing this.
    • Doesn’t seem to matter how many cards it is.
    • Perhaps it’s the fact that Aaron’s site is https? I notice that his checkbox export functionality duplicates his entire URL including the https:// within the export box which seems to automatically prepend http://
    • Copying to my own wiki seems to vaguely work using http, but failed on https.

Multiple * in the markdown editor functionality within WordPress doesn’t seem to format the way I’d expect.

Sadly, the original Wikity.cc site is down, but the theme still includes a link to it front and center on my website.

The home screen quick new card has some wonky CSS that off centers it.

Toggling full screen editing mode in new cards from the home screen makes them too big and obscures the UI making things unusable.

The primary multi-card home display doesn’t work well with markup the way the individual posts do.

The custom theme seems to be hiding some of the IndieWeb pieces. It may also be hampering the issuance of webmention as I tried sending one to myself and it only showed up as a pingback. It didn’t feel worth the effort to give the system a full IndieWeb test drive beyond this.

Doing this set up as a theme and leveraging posts seems like a very odd choice. From my reading, Mike Caulfield was relatively new to WordPress development when he made this. Even if he was an intermediate developer, he should be proud of his effort, including his attention to some minute bits of UI that others wouldn’t have considered. To make this a more ubiquitous solution, it may have been a better choice to create it as a plugin, do a custom post type for wiki cards and create a separate section of the database for them instead of trying to leverage posts. This way it could have been installed on any pre-existing WordPress install and the user could choose their own favorite theme and still have a wiki built into it. In this incarnation it’s really only meant to be installed on a fresh stand-alone site.

I only used the Classic Editor and didn’t even open up the Gutenberg box of worms in any of my tests.

Summary

The Wikity theme hasn’t been maintained in four years and it looks like it’s going to take quite a bit of work (or a complete refactoring) to make it operate the way I’d want it to. Given the general conceptualization it may make much more sense to try to find a better maintained solution for a wiki.

The overarching idea of what he was trying to accomplish, particularly within the education space and the OER space, was awesome. I would love nothing more than to have wiki-like functionality built into my personal WordPress website, particularly if I could have different presentations for the two sides but still maintain public/private versions of pieces and still have site-wide tagging and search. Having the ability to port data from site to site is a particularly awesome idea.

Is anyone actively still using it? I’d love to hear others’ thoughts about problems/issues they’ve seen. Is it still working for you as expected? Is it worth upgrading the broken bits? Is it worth refactoring into a standalone plugin?