A Session Proposal for IndieWebCamp East: A Domain of One’s Own LMS

IndieWebCamp East (Online) is coming up on the weekend of November 14-15, 2020, so I’ve tentatively proposed a session on creating an IndieWeb/Domain of One’s Own Learning Management System.

Proposal:

A Domain of One’s Own LMS

The coronavirus pandemic has rapidly forced educators to flee online where there is a wealth of predatory, amoral, and questionable platforms for managing online pedagogy. Starting closer to first principles, how might we design and build an LMS (Learning Management System) based on IndieWeb principles or using the related ideas behind A Domain of One’s Own where the teacher and students own their own content, learning content, and personal learning network.

Can we dovetails ideas and principles from the Open Educational Resources (OER) space with this at the same time?

Let’s get together to look at some common patterns in our online coursework to leverage existing technologies that privilege ownership, agency, control, and privacy to see how we might build and use our own infrastructure rather than relying on unethical corporations.

Session hashtag:


Naturally anyone with a website is welcome to join us for the BarCamp-style IndieWebCamp that weekend, but I would specifically like to invite all the educators, teachers, course designers, and students who are using their own domains or who are in a Domain of One’s Own program to join us.

It would be great to see others either share their knowledge or experiences or even lead brainstorming sessions so we can all work at improving our websites and adding additional useful functionality to make them do the things we’d like them to. I’d love nothing more than to get enough people show up on Saturday to create an entire “Education” focused track to appear and then have everyone return on Sunday to help each other get our hands dirty in building or improving our sites to create something together.

You can RSVP for the weekend for free here: https://2020.indieweb.org/east.

If you have any questions about proposing sessions, either in advance or preparing to propose them the morning of camp, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Start Brainstorming Session Ideas for IndieWebCamp East 2020

IndieWebCamp East 2020 is scheduled for the weekend of November 14-15, 2020 and will be held entirely online this year. RSVPs are open now if you’d like to register for free.

If you’ve never been to an IndieWebCamp before, we’ve got some details about what to expect. It’s not on the schedule yet, but sometime the week before camp we hope to have one (or more) intro sessions about what to expect at camp geared toward first time attendees as well as overviews of the technology we’ll be using if you’d like to do some (entirely optional) advance technology set up to make your weekend more fun and productive.

Much like in-person camps, the program of sessions will be created on Saturday morning by the participants who show up to participate. 

To help facilitate scheduling sessions on the day of camp, we’re asking attendees (who feel inspired) to begin the process of thinking about what topics they’d like to discuss at camp. Perhaps you’ve got a topic you’d like to learn more about? Maybe you’re thinking about a new frontier to explore and want to facilitate a group discussion around. Maybe it’s a topic you’ve explored fully and you’d like to help others learn about? Maybe it’s something you’d like to design or build that weekend, but might need some help thinking about.

Sessions are the heart of a camp.

Unlike traditional conference formats, IndieWebCamps have a self-organizing character, relying on the passion and the responsibility of the participants who attend. Attendees schedule sessions typically by writing on a large Post-It note or piece of paper and then placing them on a ‘grid’ of sessions by timeslot and conference room or virtual space. This time, we’ll be creating sessions together online.

Session proposals typically contain the following:

  • A descriptive title;
  • A facilitator name for a session (usually, but not always, the person proposing the session);
  • A longer description about what might be discussed, brainstormed, or researched during a particular session; and
  • A unique short hashtag that will be used to create an etherpad and other possible related resources for a session.

Everyone who attends camp is encouraged to submit a session idea. There isn’t such a thing as a bad idea for a session. You don’t need to know something about a particular topic to propose it, it may be something you’d simply like to learn about.

If you’re not sure where to start for ideas, try asking yourself any of the following questions:

  • What would I like my website to be able to do?
  • How did xyz get their site to do something?
  • I’d like to quit using social silo X? What would I need to do to replace that functionality to do that on my own website?
  • What would I like to learn about this weekend?
  • What could I help others to learn based on my past experience?
  • Are there pages/ideas from the wiki that might benefit from a brainstorming session?

Past sessions are also a great source of ideas, and it can often be a good idea to revisit old session ideas to discuss new methods of approaching a problem, new design ideas, or new ideas that have come up since those prior sessions.

On the first morning of camp, once everyone has had the chance to write down one (or even more) session ideas, everyone will take turns one-at-a-time to place their ideas into slots on the session grid for particular time slots and Zoom rooms. Generally we give first-time/new attendees the chance to schedule their proposals first. If there are similar or overlapping session proposals, session facilitators can discuss concatenating them into a single session.

If you’d like to begin thinking about session ideas before camp begins, please do so. Hopefully this jump start will help us to more quickly organize the sessions on the first day of camp so we have more time for the sessions themselves.  We’ve set up an Etherpad at https://etherpad.indieweb.org/2020-East-Sessions to let people begin collaborating on and thinking about ideas before camp begins. If you like, in true IndieWeb fashion, we’d invite you to post your session ideas on your own website as a place to keep them until camp starts on Saturday, November 14th.

If you have questions before camp about the process or need help in any way, feel free to jump into the IndieWeb chat and ask anyone in the community for help or guidance.

To reiterate, we’d love everyone attending to propose at least one session and you’ve got an opportunity to begin thinking about it now so that you’re not as pressed for time on the day of camp.  Posting your session ideas ahead of time is entirely optional, but may help you (and others) out by beginning the brainstorming now. We will explain all of this again on the first morning of camp and you’ll have a little bit of time to make proposals then as well, so don’t sweat it if you’re not inspired to do something now.

We look forward to seeing you in November.

Replied to Jetpack 9.0 to Introduce New Feature for Publishing WordPress Posts to Twitter as Threads by Sarah Gooding (WordPress Tavern)
Jetpack 9.0, coming on October 6, will debut a new feature that allows users to share blog posts as Twitter threads in multiples tweets. A recent version of Jetpack introduced the ability to import and unroll tweetstorms for publishing inside a post. The 9.0 release will run it back the other way so the content originates in WordPress, yet still reaps all the same benefits of circulation on Twitter as a thread.
It’s awesome to see this feature added and that it expands the ability to do do this sort of workflow directly from one’s website instead of relying on posting to Twitter and relying on ThreadReaderApp to unroll a thread and post it to a WordPress site using the flexible Micropub specification. I’d love to see more POSSE (Post to your Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere) syndication set ups within WordPress.

I’m hoping that future versions of this provide the Twitter permalinks for the syndicated copies there to be returned to my WordPress site for storage. In my case, I’m using the simple Syndication Links plugin which has storage and/or finds the storage location in WordPress to allow for the display of those permalinks in my post to indicate where I’ve syndicated the copies. This does two things: it’s a reminder of where my content lives elsewhere on the web (especially if I later want to go back and delete them, or to delete them if I’m deleting or making the original post private/unpublished) and it allows services like Brid.gy to find my original post and backfeed replies to the Twitter versions back into the comments section of my post using the Webmention spec (via the Webmention plugin and the Semantic Linkbacks plugin).

Domain of One’s Own Meetup (October 2020)

I’ll be hosting a Domain of One’s Own meetup on Tuesday, October 20, 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. Feel free to add your ideas and questions to the etherpad in advance if you like.

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;

Agenda 

  • Welcome/Brief introductions
  • Main topic: To be determined. (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.)
  • 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.

RSVP

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

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

Just musing a bit: I can create an IFTTT recipe to create a webhook to target a Micropub endpoint on my website, but it would be cooler if I could directly add a recipe to target the Micropub endpoint directly. I want IFTTT: the micropub client.

cc: Zapier, Integromat, n8n

Quoted The Californian Ideology by Richard Barbrook & Andy Cameron (Mute)
We need to debate what kind of hypermedia suit our vision of society - how we create the interactive products and on-line services we want to use, the kind of computers we like and the software we find most useful. We need to find ways to think socially and politically about the machines we develop. While learning from the can-do attitude of the Californian individualists, we also must recognise that the potentiality of hypermedia can never solely be realised through market forces. We need an economy which can unleash the creative powers of hi-tech artisans. Only then can we fully grasp the Promethean opportunities of hypermedia as humanity moves into the next stage of modernity. 
As true today as it was 25 years ago.
Have you watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix? Curious what to do next to help solve the (your) problem? The IndieWeb’s Homebrew Website Club will be discussing just that at 6:30 Pacific tonight after The Social Dilemma Round Table.

Join us here: https://events.indieweb.org/2020/09/homebrew-website-club-west-coast-zwt9zal3H3DP

Dynamic range in social media and shovels versus excavators

A developer at today’s Homebrew Website Club mentioned that they didn’t want to have a website built on a particular language because they weren’t familiar with the language and felt uncomfortable trusting their data to it. What if something goes wrong? What if it breaks? How easy will it be to export and move their data over?

Compare this with the average social media user who doesn’t know any code. In their world, they’re making a choice, likely predicated upon social pressures, to post their data, content, and identity on one or more corporately controlled silos. Because of the ease-of-use, the platform is abstracted away from them even further than from the developer’s perspective thus making it even less apparent the level of trust they’re putting into the platform. What is the platform doing with their data? How is what they’re seeing in their feed being manipulated and controlled?

The problems both people are facing are relatively equivalent, just different in their dynamic range. The non-programmer is at an even greater disadvantage however as the silos are moving faster and can do more to take advantage of and manipulate them more seamlessly than the programmer who at least has more potential to learn the unfamiliar language to dig themselves out. This difference is also one of dynamic range as the developer may only need a simple shovel to dig themselves out whereas the non-coder will need a massive excavator, which may be unavailable and still need an operator with knowledge of how to use it.

Featured image: excavator flickr photo by mbecher shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

IndieWebCamp East 2020: Save the Date and Call for Volunteers

Hello IndieWeb friends and family! 

Save the Date

After some back-and-forth, several of us have carved out some time over the weekend of November 14-15 to co-host IndieWebCamp East 2020. We hope you’ll be able to join us.

If you’re interested in a weekend full of IndieWeb related activities, sessions, learning, creating, and coming together in a warm and inviting community of people who care about and help craft the web, please save the date.

As its title indicates, the camp will be organized around Eastern Standard Time in the Americas from the early morning  to the late afternoon over Saturday and Sunday that weekend. Because we’re hosting the camp completely free and online, people of all ability levels and locales across the world are welcome to and encouraged to attend.

We hope folks will help us plan some surrounding social activities on Friday night before camp launches and the evenings of camp, but those details will be announced at a later date and time.

Details relating to (free) tickets and the ability to RSVP will be announced and available shortly. If you comment on this post or like/repost the syndicated copy on Twitter, we’ll be sure to notify you as details progress. You can also optionally sign up for the IndieWeb Newsletter to receive weekly updates that will include information about upcoming camps and events.

If you’ve never attended an IndieWebCamp before, we’ve written up some details about what you can expect at an IndieWebCamp to whet your appetite. You can also browse our archive of past camps with archived session notes, posts, and videos.

Call for Organizers/Volunteers

IndieWebCamps and related events are completely volunteer driven. This means we’ll need your help not only in seeing your bright, shining faces in attendance and actively participating on the days of camp, but in actually putting together and organizing the camp.

If you have some time to volunteer as a co-organizer or an area volunteer, please drop us a note in the comments below or in the IndieWeb Meta Chat Channel.

No prior experience or expertise is necessary. There are many of us around who have put together one or more parts of camp and related events before, and we’re here to help you learn if you need it. There’s also some helpful wiki pages with details. Helping to volunteer can be a great way to give back to the community. It can also be helpful if you’ve wanted to become more involved, but don’t know how. Perhaps if you’ve wanted to begin organizing other events like Homebrew Website Clubs, this could be a great stepping stone.

There are a variety of areas we could use help in as well as ideas for things we could be missing or might also be doing. A diversity and plurality of voices and ideas can help us continue improving our camp experiences. Below are a handful of areas we could use help/volunteers for:

Pre-camp

  • General organizing
  • Keynote ideas/invitations
  • Sponsor wrangling
  • Wiki gardening
  • Creating the primary camp landing page: https://2020.indieweb.org/east
  • Accessibility
  • Family friendly planning/programming (Kids track anyone?)
  • Outreach
  • Marketing
  • Surrounding social events / pre-party / etc.
  • Others?

During camp

  • Co-hosts for Zoom rooms to help on the tech side and oversee
  • Code of Conduct point of contact(s)
  • Note taking during camp and sessions
  • Wiki gardening
  • Welcoming newcomers
  • Ideas that may need help/work: Planning Notes and Brainstorming
  • Others?

Remember more hands make light work and the camaraderie and your ideas, inspiration, and effort can make everyone’s experience at camp even better and more fruitful. 

You can start volunteering today, by saving the date and inviting a few friends to join you.

See you soon!

I and everyone else in the IndieWeb community look forward to seeing you at Camp in November or at upcoming events before then!

Bookmarked WordPress Theme Components (WP Theme Components)
Theme components are bite sized code snippets that can be reused across multiple themes, but are either too small or don’t make sense to be released as a plugin. Stop cluttering up your functions.php file and start using theme components! Who are theme components for? Th...
This looks interesting and useful. Perhaps a potential solution for adding small tidbits of microformats mark up to one’s theme at a more granular level than the mf2 plugin? I can see use cases for other snippets too like accepting Webmentions automatically, etc.
Replied to a tweet by @fourierfiend (Twitter)
Hello fellow mathematician!

There are lots of ways to syndicate content, some dependent on which platform(s) you’re using and where you’re syndicating to/from. Your best bet is to swing by the IndieWeb Dev chat and ask that very question.

Theorem: Syndication is easy.

Proof: “It’s easy to show” (I’m waving my hands here) that there are a lot of assumptions and baggage that go with the word “easiest.”   ∎

I’ve personally found there’s generally an inverse relationship between ease/simplicity of syndication and control over exact display for most platforms. You could go low-fi and pipe your feed into something like IFTTT/Zapier  for cross-posting all the way up to customized integration with available APIs for each platform. Many take a middle-of-the-road approach that I notice Jeremy recommended as I’m writing this.

The cross-posting wiki page will give you some useful terminology and definitions which may help you decide on how to syndicate what/where. Based on the context of the URL in your Twitter profile, the IndieWeb wiki pages for static site generator and syndication will give you some ideas and options to think about and explore. 

Some of the pages about specific static site generators will give you some code and ideas for how to implement syndication. For example Max Böck has an article Indieweb pt1: Syndicating Content to Twitter, which is Eleventy and Twitter specific, but which could likely be modified for your purposes. SSGs may have some specific peculiarities for syndication that I’m not as familiar with coming from the more dynamic side of the fence.

Since you indicate a language preference for your current site, there’s also a page for Flask with a few users noted there. You might ask Fluffy (usually around in chat) for some advice as I know she syndicates to a few platforms and may have some ideas or even tools/code to share from the Flask perspective.

Q.E.D., right!?

(p.s.: Great Twitter handle!)

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;

Agenda 

  • 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.

RSVP

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

Making IndieWeb Friendly WordPress Themes: An IndieWebCamp Popup Session

The IndieWeb WordPress community could use some more theme options.

Let’s get together as a community and host a theme raising (a play on the idea of the old barn raising). We can all work/hack together to make some of the popular WordPress themes more IndieWeb friendly. We’ll discuss methods for adding the necessary Microformats and best ways to indieweb-ify a WordPress theme.

Either bring your own favorite theme or work from one on a list.

All levels are welcome!

Beginners and those without coding experience are welcome/encouraged to attend. We’ll try to help newcomers learn to begin tinkering with some WordPress theme code. If you don’t have a GitHub account yet, you might create one beforehand and we’ll show you how to use it for development, but even without it you can still do a lot with just a text editor.

Details

When: 2020-09-26 9:30 – 11:30 AM (Pacific) / 12:30 – 2:30 PM (Eastern)
Event page: https://events.indieweb.org/2020/09/making-indieweb-friendly-wordpress-themes-8fs9gAVX3OkV
hashtag: for social media and used to create an Etherpad for the session:
Etherpadhttps://etherpad.indieweb.org/WPandMicroformats for note taking during the session
Streaming video/audio platform: Zoom (link to come)
Demos: Yes – when we’re done, show off how well your new hacked theme works on your site.

RSVP

Newcomers can post a comment on this post below or reply yes via Twitter to https://twitter.com/ChrisAldrich/status/1300562134699393024. Or you can feel free to just show up on the morning of the event.

If you feel able, RSVP at Meetable or post an indie RSVP on your own website.

Prerequisites

Bring your own theme or a theme you’d like to make more IndieWeb friendly by adding Microformats v2 support. Ideas for possible themes can be found at https://indieweb.org/WordPress/Development#Themes

(Optional) Create a GitHub account which you can use/learn during the process. Those who don’t want a GitHub account can simply use their text editor of choice to modify the relevant theme files.

Volunteers

We’re always happy to have additional help! If you’d like to volunteer or help organize and run the session, please touch base with Chris Aldrich or David Shanske in the IndieWeb Meta chat room.

I look forward to seeing everyone there!

A note taking problem and a proposed solution

tl;dr

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.

WordPress

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.

Lectures

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.

Replied to a tweet by Olu Olu (Twitter)
Some of us in the IndieWeb space have been posting events and details on our own websites while others are posting RSVP replies on our  personal websites and sending webmentions to the event posts.

Here’s an example of an event: https://2019.indieweb.org/summit and my RSVP to it: https://boffosocko.com/2019/05/30/55753006/ using this sort of set up.

There’s also a self-hostable service called Meetable that is IndieWeb friendly and accepts RSVP webmentions as well. If you’d like to test it out with your new webmention functionality, you can RSVP to one of the upcoming events at https://events.indieweb.org/. We’d love to have you join us if your schedule allows.

Other Meetup.com alternatives we’ve documented: https://indieweb.org/meetup.com#Alternatives