Homebrew Website Club Meetup Pasadena/Los Angeles Notes from 8-24-16

Last night, shy a few regulars at the tail end of a slow August and almost on the eve of IndieWebCamp NY2, Angelo Gladding and I continued our biweekly Homebrew Website Club meetings.

We met at Charlie’s Coffee House, 266 Monterey Road, South Pasadena, CA, where we stayed until closing at 8:00. Deciding that we hadn’t had enough, we moved the party (South Pasadena rolls up their sidewalks early) over to the local Starbucks, 454 Fair Oaks Ave, South Pasadena, CA where we stayed until they closed at 11:00pm.

Quiet Writing Hour

Angelo manned the fort alone with aplomb while building intently. If I’m not mistaken, he did use my h-card to track down my phone number to see what was holding me up, so as they say in IRC: h-card++!

Introductions and Demonstrations

Participants included:

Needing no introductions this week, Angelo launched us off with a relatively thorough demo of his Canopy platform which he’s built from the ground up in python! Starting from an empty folder on a host with a domain name, he downloaded and installed his code directly from Github and spun up a completely new version of his site in under 2 minutes. In under 20 minutes of some simple additional downloads and configuration of a few files, he also had locations, events, people and about modules up and running. Despite the currently facile appearance of his website, there’s really a lot of untapped power in what he’s built so far. It’s all available on Github for those interested in playing around; I’m sure he’d appreciate pull requests.

Along the way, I briefly demoed some of the functionality of Kevin Marks’ deceptively powerful Noterlive web app for not only live tweeting, but also owning those tweets on one’s own site in a simple way after the fact (while also automatically including proper markup and microformats)! I also ran through some of the overall functionality of my Known install with a large number of additional plugins to compare and contrast UX/UI with respect to Canopy.

We also discussed a bit of Angelo’s recent Indieweb Graph network crawling project, and I took the opportunity to fix a bit of the representative h-card on my site. (Angelo, does a new crawl appear properly on lahacker.net now?)

Before leaving Charlie’s we did manage to remember to take a group photo this time around. Not having spent enough time chatting over the past few weeks, we decamped to a local Starbucks and continued our conversation along with some addition brief demos and discussion of other itches for future building.

We also spent a few minutes discussing the upcoming IndieWebCamp LA logistics for November as well as outreach to the broader Los Angeles area dev communities. If you’re interested in attending, please RSVP. If you’d like to volunteer or help sponsor the camp, please don’t hesitate to contact either of us. I’m personally hoping to attend DrupalCamp LA this weekend while wearing a stylish IndieWebCamp t-shirt that’s already on its way to me.

IndieWebCamp T-shirt
IndieWebCamp T-shirt

Next Meeting

In keeping with the schedule of the broader Homebrew movement, so we’re already committed to our next meeting on September 7. It’s tentatively at the same location unless a more suitable one comes along prior to then. Details will be posted to the wiki in the next few days.

Thanks for coming everyone! We’ll see you next time.

Live Tweets Archive


Though not as great as the notes that Kevin Marks manages to put together, we did manage to make good use of noterlive for a few supplementary thoughts:

Chris Aldrich:

On my way to Homebrew Website Club Los Angeles in moments. http://stream.boffosocko.com/2016/homebrew-website-club-la-2016-08-24 #

Angelo Gladding:

I’ve torn some things down, but slowly rebuilding. I’m just minutes away from rel-me to be able to log into wiki #

ChrisAldrich:

Explaining briefly how @kevinmarksnoterlive.com works for live tweeting events… #

Angelo Gladding:

My github was receiving some autodumps from a short-lived indieweb experiment. #

is describing his canopy system used to build his site #

Canopy builds in a minute and 52 secs… inside are folders roots and trunk w/ internals #

Describing how he builds in locations to Canopy #

Apparently @t has a broken certificate for https, so my parser gracefully falls back to http instead. #

 

Reply to: Getting started owning your digital home by Chris Hardie

Replied to Getting started owning your digital home by Chris HardieChris Hardie (Chris Hardie)
My recent post about owning our digital homes prompted some good feedback and discussion. When I talk about this topic with the people in my life who don't work daily in the world of websites, domain names and content management, the most common reaction I get is, "that's sounds good in theory, I'm not sure … Continue reading Getting started owning your digital home
Chris, I came across your post today by way of Bob Waldron’s post WordPress: Default Personal Digital Home (PDH).

Both his concept and that of your own post fit right into the broader themes and goals of the Indieweb community. If you weren’t aware of the movement, I highly recommend you take a look at its philosophies and goals.

There’s already a pretty strong beachhead established for WordPress within the Indieweb community including a suite of plugins for helping to improve your personal web presence, but we’d certainly welcome your additional help as the idea seems right at home with your own philosophy.

I’m happy to chat with you about the group via website, phone, email, IRC, or social media at your leisure if you’re interested in more information. I’m imminently findable via details on my homepage.


A New Reading Post-type for Bookmarking and Reading Workflow

This morning while breezing through my Woodwind feed reader, I ran across a post by Rick Mendes with the hashtags and which put me down a temporary rabbit hole of thought about reading-related post types on the internet.

I’m obviously a huge fan of reading and have accounts on GoodReads, Amazon, Pocket, Instapaper, Readability, and literally dozens of other services that support or assist the reading endeavor. (My affliction got so bad I started my own publishing company last year.)

READ LATER is an indication on (or relating to) a website that one wants to save the URL to come back and read the content at a future time.

I started a page on the IndieWeb wiki to define read later where I began writing some philosophical thoughts. I decided it would be better to post them on my own site instead and simply link back to them. As a member of the Indieweb my general goal over time is to preferentially quit using these web silos (many of which are listed on the referenced page) and, instead, post my reading related work and progress here on my own site. Naturally, the question becomes, how does one do this in a simple and usable manner with pretty and reasonable UX/UI for both myself and others?

Current Use

Currently I primarily use a Pocket bookmarklet to save things (mostly newspaper articles, magazine pieces, blog posts) for reading later and/or the like/favorite functionality in Twitter in combination with an IFTTT recipe to save the URL in the tweet to my Pocket account. I then regularly visit Pocket to speed read though articles. While Pocket allows downloading of (some) of one’s data in this regard, I’m exploring options to bring in the ownership of this workflow into my own site.

For more academic leaning content (read journal articles), I tend to rely on an alternate Mendeley-based workflow which also starts with an easy-to-use bookmarklet.

I’ve also experimented with bookmarking a journal article and using hypothes.is to import my highlights from that article, though that workflow has a way to go to meet my personal needs in a robust way while still allowing me to own all of my own data. The benefit is that fixing it can help more than just myself while still fitting into a larger personal workflow.

Brainstorming

A Broader Reading (Parent) Post-type

Philosophically a read later post-type could be considered similar to a (possibly) unshared or private bookmark with potential possible additional meta-data like: progress, date read, notes, and annotations to be added after the fact, which then technically makes it a read post type.

A potential workflow viewed over time might be: read later >> bookmark >> notes/annotations/marginalia >> read >> review. This kind of continuum of workflow might be able to support a slightly more complex overall UI for a more simplified reading post-type in which these others are all sub-types. One could then make a single UI for a reading post type with fields and details for all of the sub-cases. Being updatable, the single post could carry all the details of one’s progress.

Indieweb encourages simplicity (DRY) and having the fewest post-types possible, which I generally agree with, but perhaps there’s a better way of thinking of these several types. Concatenating them into one reading type with various data fields (and the ability of them to be public/private) could allow all of the subcategories to be included or not on one larger and more comprehensive post-type.

Examples
  1. Not including one subsection (or making it private), would simply prevent it from showing, thus one could have a traditional bookmark post by leaving off the read later, read, and review sub-types and/or data.
  2. As another example, I could include the data for read later, bookmark, and read, but leave off data about what I highlighted and/or sub-sections of notes I prefer to remain private.

A Primary Post with Webmention Updates

Alternately, one could create a primary post (potentially a bookmark) for the thing one is reading, and then use further additional posts with webmentions on each (to the original) thereby adding details to the original post about the ongoing progress. In some sense, this isn’t too far from the functionality provided by GoodReads with individual updates on progress with brief notes and their page that lists the overall view of progress. Each individual post could be made public/private to allow different viewerships, though private webmentions may be a hairier issue. I know some are also experimenting with pushing updates to posts via micropub and other methods, which could be appealing as well.

This may be cumbersome over time, but could potentially be made to look something like the GoodReads UI below, which seems very intuitive. (Note that it’s missing any review text as I’m currently writing it, and it’s not public yet.)

Overview of reading progress
Overview of reading progress

Other Thoughts

Ideally, better distinguishing between something that has been bookmarked and read/unread with dates for both the bookmarking and reading, as well as potentially adding notes and highlights relating to the article is desired. Something potentially akin to Devon Zuegel‘s “Notes” tab (built on a custom script for Evernote and Tumblr) seems somewhat promising in a cross between a simple reading list (or linkblog) and a commonplace book for academic work, but doesn’t necessarily leave room for longer book reviews.

I’ll also need to consider the publishing workflow, in some sense as it relates to the reverse chronological posting of updates on typical blogs. Perhaps a hybrid approach of the two methods mentioned would work best?

Potentially having an interface that bolts together the interface of GoodReads (picture above) and Amazon’s notes/highlights together would be excellent. I recently noticed (and updated an old post) that they’re already beta testing such a beast.

Kindle Notes and Highlights are now shoing up as a beta feature in GoodReads
Kindle Notes and Highlights are now shoing up as a beta feature in GoodReads

Comments

I’ll keep thinking about the architecture for what I’d ultimately like to have, but I’m always open to hearing what other (heavy) readers have to say about the subject and the usability of such a UI.

Please feel free to comment below, or write something on your own site (which includes the URL of this post) and submit your URL in the field provided below to create a webmention in which your post will appear as a comment.

 

I now proudly own all of the data from my Tumbr posts on my own domain. #Indieweb #ownyourdata #PESOS

I now proudly own all of the data from my Tumbr posts on my own domain. #Indieweb #ownyourdata #PESOS

Reply to Something the NIH can learn from NASA

Replied to Something the NIH can learn from NASA by Lior Pachter (& Comments by Donald Forsdyke)Lior Pachter (& Comments by Donald Forsdyke) (Bits of DNA)
Pubmed Commons provides a forum, independent of a journal, where comments on articles in that journal can be posted. Why not air your displeasure there? The article is easily found (see PMID: 27467019) and, so far, there are no comments.
I’m hoping that one day (in the very near future) that scientific journals and other science communications on the web will support the W3C’s Webmention candidate specification so that when commentators [like Lior, in this case, above] post something about an article on their site, that the full comment is sent to the original article to appear there automatically. This means that one needn’t go to the site directly to comment (and if the comment isn’t approved, then at least it still lives somewhere searchable on the web).

Some journals already count tweets, and blog mentions (generally for PR reasons) but typically don’t allow access to finding them on the web to see if they indicate positive or negative sentiment or to further the scientific conversation.

I’ve also run into cases in which scientific journals who are “moderating” comments, won’t approve reasoned thought, but will simultaneously allow (pre-approved?) accounts to flame every comment that is approved [example on Sciencemag.org: http://boffosocko.com/2016/04/29/some-thoughts-on-academic-publishing/ — see also comments there], so having the original comment live elsewhere may be useful and/or necessary depending on whether the publisher is a good or bad actor, or potentially just lazy.

I’ve also seen people use commenting layers like hypothes.is or genius.com to add commentary directly on journals, but these layers are often hidden to most. The community certainly needs a more robust commenting interface. I would hope that a decentralized version using web standards like Webmentions might be a worthwhile and robust solution.

Homebrew Website Club Meetup Pasadena/Los Angeles 8/10/16

Last night we continued the blossoming group of indiewebbers meeting up on the East side of the Los Angeles Area, leading up to IndieWeb Camp Los Angeles in November.

We met at Charlie’s Coffee House, 266 Monterey Road, Pasadena, CA.

Quiet Writing Hour

The quiet writing hour started off quiet with Angelo holding down the fort while others were stuck in interminable traffic, but if the IRC channel is any indication, he got some productive work done.

Introductions and Quick Demonstrations

Participants included:

Following introductions, I did a demo of the browser-based push notifications I enabled on this site about a week ago and discussed some pathways to help others explore options for doing so on theirs. Coincidentally, WordPress.com just unveiled some functionality like this yesterday that is more site-owner oriented than user oriented, so I’ll be looking into that functionality shortly.

Angelo showed off some impressive python code which he’s preparing to opensource, but just before the meeting had managed to completely bork his site, so everyone got a stunning example of a “502 Bad Gateway” notice.

At the break, we were so engaged we all completely forgot to either take a break or do the usual group photo. My 1 minute sketch gives a reasonable facsimile of what a photo would have looked like.

Peer-to-Peer Building and Help

With a new group, we spent some time discussing some general Indieweb principles, outlining ideas, and example projects.

Since Michael was very new to the group, we helped him install the WordPress IndieWeb plugin and configure a few of the sub-plugins to get him started. We discussed some basic next steps and pointers to the WordPress documentation to provide him some direction for building until we meet again.

We spent a few minutes discussing the upcoming IndieWebCamp logistics as well as outreach to the broader Los Angeles area community.

Next Meeting

For a new group, there’s enough enthusiasm to do at least two meetings a month, in keeping with the broader Homebrew movement, so we’re already committed to our next meeting on August 24. It’s tentatively at the same location unless a more suitable one comes along prior to then.

Thanks for coming everyone! We’ll see you next time.

The Indieweb Frees Me From “Awaiting Moderation”

I run across notices on the web like this regularly and it used to aggravate me to no end:

The dreaded "awaiting moderation" notice. Is my content lost forever or not?
The dreaded “awaiting moderation” notice. Is my content lost forever or not?

Infuriatingly it usually involved having just spent 5 minutes reading something and then spending 10 minutes to hours writing a reasoned and thoughtful response. (Because every troll knows that’s what the internet was designed to encourage, right?)

After pressing the reply button (even scarier than hitting the “Publish” button because you don’t have the ability to edit it after-the-fact and someone else now “owns” your content), you see the dreaded notice that your comment is “AWAITING MODERATION…”

Will they approve it? Will they delete it? Is it gone forever? Did they really get it, or did it disappear into the ether? Oh #%@$!, I wish I’d made a back up copy because that took a bit of work, and I might like to refer to it again later. Are they going to censor my thoughts? Silence my voice?

I Get It: The Need for Moderation

I completely get the need for moderation on the web, particularly as almost no one is as kind, considerate, courteous, or civil as my friend P.M. Forni. (And who could be — he literally wrote the book(s) on the subject!)

On a daily basis, I’m spammed by sites desperate to sell or promote FIFA coins, Ray Bans, Christian Louboutin shoes, or even worse types of hateful blather, so I too gently moderate. I try to save my own readers from having to see such drivel, and don’t want to provide a platform or audience for them to shout from or at, respectively.

I won’t be silenced anymore

No longer can I be silenced by random moderators that I often don’t know.

Why, you ask?

I now post everything I write online onto a site I own first.

Because now, thanks to philosophies from the Indieweb movement and technologies like webmention, which growing numbers of websites are beginning to support, I now post everything I write online onto a site I own first. There it can be read in perpetuity by anyone who chooses to come read it, or from where I can syndicate it out to the myriad of social media sites for others to read en masse. (And maybe my voice has more reach than the site I’m posting to?)

Functionality like webmention (a more modern version of pingback or trackback) then allows my content to be sent to the website I was replying to in an elegant way for (eventual?) display. Or I can copy and paste it directly if they don’t support modern protocols.

Sure, they can choose to moderate me or choose not to feature my viewpoint on their own site if they wish, but at least I still own the work I put into those thoughts. I don’t have to worry about where they went or how I might be able to find them in the future. They will always be mine, and that is empowering.

Join me

Would you like to own your own data? Own your own domain? Free yourself from the restrictions of the social media silos like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter? Visit Indieweb.org to see how you can do these things. Chat with like-minded individuals who can also help you out. Attend an upcoming IndieWebCamp or a local Homebrew Website Club in your area, or start one of your own!

Weekly Recap: Interesting Articles 7/24-7/31 2016

Went on vacation or fell asleep at the internet wheel this week? Here’s some of the interesting stuff you missed.

Science & Math

Publishing

Indieweb, Internet, Identity, Blogging, Social Media

General

Web-based Push Notifications with Pushpad

Push Notifications

A push notification (AKA client notification) is a notification that shows up on one or more of your client devices without you having to explicitly request it — it’s “pushed” to you, instead of you having to poll for it. –Source: IndieWeb.org

Pushpad

Today I came across a beta web service called Pushpad that provides easy-to-install push notifications. As a result, for people who spend a lot of time in front of their screens, they can now subscribe to updates on the site here via web browser push notifications. Subscribers will get a small toaster-like pop up notification in real time on their screen to indicate that new content was published.

My first push notification
My first push notification

 

Set up

The service was quick and simple to set up with lots of documentation. While geared at large corporations looking for a simple turnkey implementation for push notifications on most major web browsers, it’s also easily usable by smaller sites. Even better it’s free for providing less than 10,000 notifications a month, which covers most small sites.

They provide an “Express” version that requires no serious technical skills and sets up in just a few minutes and a separate “Pro” version which provides a lot of additional customization (including a white labeled version) for those with the development skills to implement it.

For those on WordPress, they also have an easy to use plugin.

Pushpad supports the Push API for Chrome and Firefox and APNs for Safari.

Automation

Pushpad also supports integration with Zapier (currently in beta), which means that any of the hundreds of applications that are integrated with Zapier can be used to create push notifications on the desktop. Hopefully they include IFTTT.com soon too. I’m already using Pushbullet with IFTTT for integration between my Android phone and my desktop, but additional integrations for personalized notifications could be cool.

Roll Your Own

But maybe you’re hard core? If you prefer not relying on outside services, you can always build your own push notifications! In particular, IndieWeb.org provides some thoughts and tips about how to implement these for yourself based on open web standards.

Push Notifications for BoffoSocko.com

Now that we’ve been talking about them, would you like to try receiving them in the future?  You can subscribe to push notifications for my blog by simply clicking on the icon below and then authenticating your subscription:

Not into push notifications? Maybe this isn’t your favorite way to find out about my content? If not, I offer a number of other ways to subscribe and consume my content.

Reply to John Scalzi on “How Blogs Work Today”

Replied to How Blogs Work Today – Whatever by John ScalziJohn Scalzi (whatever.scalzi.com)
I think the role of the blog is different than it was even just a couple of years ago. It’s not the sole outpost of an online life, although it can be an anchor, holding it in place.

Does blogging need to be different than it was?

I

agree with John that blogs seemingly occupy a different space in online life today than they did a decade ago, but I won’t concede that, for me at least, most of it has moved to the social media silos.

 I think the role of the blog is different than it was even just a couple of years ago. It’s not the sole outpost of an online life, although it can be an anchor, holding it in place. — John Scalzi

Why? About two years ago I began delving into the evolving movement known as IndieWeb, which has re-empowered me to take back my web presence and use my own blog/website as my primary online hub and identity. The tools I’ve found there allow me to not only post everything to my own site first and then syndicate it out to the social circles and sites I feel it might resonate with, but best of all, the majority of the activity (comments, likes, shares, etc.) on those sites boomerangs back to the comments on my own site! This gives me a better grasp on where others are interacting with my content, and I can interact along with them on the platforms that they choose to use.

Some of the benefit is certainly a data ownership question — for who is left holding the bag if a major site like Twitter or Facebook is bought out or shut down? This has happened to me in dozens of cases over the past decade where I’ve put lots of content and thought into a site only to see it shuttered and have all of my data and community disappear with it.

Other benefits include: cutting down on notification clutter, more enriching interactions, and less time wasted scrolling through social sites.

Reply from my own site

Now I’m able to use my own site to write a comment on John’s post (where the comments are currently technically closed), and keep it for myself, even if his blog should go down one day. I can alternately ping his presence on other social media (say, by means of Twitter) so he’ll be aware of the continued conversational ripples he’s caused.

Social media has become ubiquitous in large part because those corporate sites are dead simple for Harry and Mary Beercan to use. Even my own mother’s primary online presence begins with http://facebook.com/. But not so for me. I’ve taken the reigns of my online life back.

My Own Hub

My blog remains my primary online hub, and some very simple IndieWeb tools enable it by bringing all the conversation back to me. I joined Facebook over a decade ago, and you’ll notice by the date on the photo that it didn’t take me long to complain about the growing and overwhelming social media problem I had.

I’m glad I can finally be at the center of my own social graph, and it was everything I thought it could be.

 

Homebrew Website Club Meetup Pasadena/Los Angeles 7/27/16

Tonight was the beginning of a new group of indiewebbers meeting up on the East side of the Los Angeles Area, in what we hope to be an ongoing in-person effort, particularly as we get nearer to IndieWeb Camp Los Angeles in November.

We met at Starbucks, 575 South Lake Avenue, Pasadena, CA.

Quiet Writing Hour

The quiet writing hour started off pretty well with three people which quickly grew to 6 at the official start of the meeting including what may be the youngest participants ever (at 6months and 5 1/2 years old).

Introductions and Quick Demonstrations

Participants included:

Following introductions, I did a quick demo of the simple workflow I’ve been slowly perfecting for liking/retweeting posts from Twitter via mobile so that they post on my own site while simultaneously POSSEing to Twitter. Angelo showed a bit of his code and set-up for his custom-built site based on a Python framework and inspired by Aaron Schwartz’s early efforts. (He also has an interesting script for scraping other’s sites searching for microformats data with a mf2 parser that I’d personally like to see more of and hope he’ll open source it. It found a few issues with some redundant/malformed rel=”me” links in the header of my own site that I’ll need to sort out shortly).

Bryan showed some recent work he’s done on his photography blog, which he’s slowly but surely been managing to cobble together from a self-hosted version of WordPress with help from friends and the local WordPress Meetup. (Big kudos to him for his sheer tenacity in building his site up!) Jervey described some of what he’d like to build as it relates to a WordPress based site he’s putting together for a literary journal, while his daughter slept peacefully until someone mentioned a silo named Facebook. 5 year old Evie showed off some coding work she’d done during the quiet writing hour on the Scratch Platform on iOS that she hopes to post to her own blog shortly, so she can share with her grandparents.

At the break, we managed to squeeze everyone in for a group selfie.

Peer-to-Peer Building and Help

Since many in the group were building with WordPress, we did a demo build on Evie’s (private) site by installing the IndieWeb Plugin and activating and configuring a few of the basic sub-plugins. We then built a small social links menu to demonstrate the ease of adding rel-me to an Instagram link as an example. We also showed a quick example of IndieAuth, followed by a quick build for doing PESOS from Instagram with proper microformats2 markup. Bryan had a few questions about his site from the first half of the meeting, so we wrapped up by working our way through a portion of those so he can proceed with some additional work before our next meeting.

Summary & Next Meeting

In all, not a bad showing for what I expected to be a group of 5 less people than what we ultimately got! I can’t wait until the next meetup on either 8/10 or 8/24 (at the very worst) pending some scheduling. I hope to do every two weeks, but we’ll definitely commit to do at least once a month going forward.

The IndieWeb-ified Library

I know that there are lots of personal IndieWeb sites around, and even an indieweb site for a cat, so why couldn’t a library join the IndieWeb?

IndieWeb Core Principles and Libraries

Indeed, libraries are meant to store, protect, and help disseminate information. These functions alone should make them ground zero for the philosophies of owning your own data and making one more connected to their community which underpin the IndieWeb. Shouldn’t they? It almost makes me suspicious that all libraries aren’t part of the IndieWeb movement.

Little Free Library

Now sadly, this particular library is ridiculously small, but that doesn’t make it any less important or special. If anything, it’s even more special now because Little Free Library (Adams Hill) is a proud member of the IndieWeb.

(And yes, for those interested, the library definitely also accepts Indie Book donations!)

WordCamp Orange County 2016

As a pseudo-birthday present this weekend I attended both days of WordCamp Orange County 2016 at UC Irvine Applied Innovation.

The camp sold out in just hours a month and change ago, in part because it was limited to about 200 people given the fantastic space provided by UC Irvine’s Advanced Innovation. There aren’t many spaces one could go with such spectacular amenities and support in addition to a huge plethora of screens, recording equipment, and audio/visual supplements. Thanks for hosting us Applied Innovation!

Sadly the limited space meant that some people missed out, and the most unrepresented group was likely new users who may not have heard about it in time to get tickets. However, this didn’t mean that anyone else was underrepresented: there were attendees of every ability, age (10 months to over 90), race, sex and creed. I was honestly astounded by the diversity of people in attendance.

One of the multiple food truck options over the weekend
One of the multiple food truck options over the weekend

One of the best programming decisions was having food trucks show up to cater lunch, which kept everyone close and socially engaged rather than dispersing everyone to the wind by means of forcing outside food options.

Sadly, even knowing that Sundays are always slower than Saturdays, there were 2-3 empty rooms with no sessions at all on Sunday afternoon. I wish there had been some type of offering to  assist in putting together impromptu sessions or BoF sessions in these empty rooms. Alternately doing a beginner build track on Sunday and releasing “Sunday only” tickets might have been interesting and also better utilized the space.

Below are some thoughts on the individual sessions I attended. Most should be on WordPress.TV shortly and nearly everyone was posting slides.

Plugin-A-Palooza
Plugin-A-Palooza

Saturday

Development Workshop: Intro to Core Concepts by Erick Hitter

This was a great quick introduction to most of the basics of WP Core and at just about the right time as I’ve been wanting to delve more directly into portions for a few projects. I’d definitely recommend the slide deck once it’s posted. This was one of my favorite sessions of the weekend.

Content Development by Greg Taylor

This was one of the more entertaining sessions and had more conversation back and forth than any camp session I’ve ever attended. Sadly it stayed to the basics and in a room which seemed to have some more advanced participants, I wish it had gone further.

What is oEmbed and why you should use it by Jason Tucker

This was mostly what I expected, but included some additional tips that I didn’t know existed. In particular, knowing that I can provide formatting for others when they oEmbed my site is something I’ll have to look into.

Getting Started With SVGs For WordPress Theme Building by Jacob Arriola

I’ve played a bit with SVG’s but hadn’t delved into them very significantly. This was a good overview/crash course on some of the particulars.

Curating a Pattern Library by Brianna Privett

This was a nice start to some intro information on talking about design patterns, but I would have preferred something at the intermediate or advanced level. In particular, it made me consider some quirky potential new visual grammars for mobile use (particularly in advertising). It also inspired me to think about creating a disorenting experience built on the visual/time grammar of the movie Inception.

Development Discussion: Improving WordPress Search by Aaron Holbrook

Aaron was a fun and very dynamic speaker who obviously truly loves his topic. This was by far the best session I attended over the weekend. I want to try to get Elastic Search and ElasticPress set up on my site soon as it looks like what modern search should be on a website.

Sunday

Using WordPress as an App Framework by Nathan Tyler

I’m somewhat shocked I’d never thought of doing this myself before, but just knowing the concept exists is more than half the battle. The sad part is that it sounds like for half the stuff you get for free, one needs to rebuild or re-engineer something else to get it working.

Contributing to Open Source by Andy Fragen

Andy is a practicing physician and a great WordPress “hobby-ist” who drove in from Palm Springs to give a great overview of the philosophy of Open Source and a broad range of tools used to help further that goal. One can’t help but be affected by his enthusiasm.

Plugin-A-Palooza

For a session meant to be primarily entertainment, I was actually surprised to learn about coding/development by hearing a panel of others critique four plugins. Condensed down, this could have been a session on the intangible things one would want to think about before building a plugin.

A Developer’s Guide to Support by Thomas Patrick Levy

Everyone can be put into a better mindset to help others. This was a great presentation for just that.

WCLA16 logo

WordCamp Los Angeles 2016

Because one just can’t get enough, I can’t wait to attend WordCamp LA on September 10th & 11th at Cal State University Los Angeles.

IndieWeb and WordPress

Since they’ve already made a Call for Speakers for the LA camp, I’ve already submitted the following talk application which focuses on the IndieWeb:

The IndieWeb is a people-focused alternative to the “corporate web” which has recently been covered in Wired, Fast Company, The Atlantic, The New Republic, Newsweek, and Slate. It encourages everyone to own their own data/content, be better connected to engage with everyone, and provide users with more control of their content and identity online. With the rise of social media silos everyone is seemingly incentivized to split up their online identity to participate in multiple various communities and a variety of platforms which are often bought out, shut down, or simply disappear, very often taking users’ data with them.

Why not allow your own WordPress site to truly be your primary hub online? Post your content on your own site/server so that you not only own it, but then, if you choose, syndicate it out to social media networks in a native and simpler fashion to take advantage of their network effects and engagement. Even better, new web specs like WebMention from the W3C (essentially a universal/internet-wide method of @mention) allow you to easily bring back comments, likes, and similar data back to your original post as native comments. You can now truly own all of the data and subsequent related data (comments) you place on most major social networks.

In this session we’ll briefly cover the basic history and philosophy of the IndieWeb movement before moving into more advanced topics like microformats, WebMention, IndieAuth, micropub, and a growing wealth of related tools which will be of interest to developers and designers alike. While primarily geared at individual users, these philosophies and techniques can be of huge value to writers/authors, bloggers, podcasters, and even businesses for drastically improving their reach and marketing efforts online while simultaneously saving them time and effort.

I spoke to a number of people over the weekend about some IndieWeb concepts and basics, but for those who can’t wait for more details, I’m happy to discuss more of the specifics at anyone’s leisure. If you’re really chomping at the bit, I’ll be at the WordPress Pasadena Meetup tonight and hopefully be setting up a Homebrew Website Club meeting in the LA area sometime in the next few weeks in anticipation of IndieWeb Camp Los Angeles in November.

New York Times will you be my brother on Facebook?

Should I be adding major media outlets to my Facebook feed as family members? Changes by Facebook, which are highlighted in this New York Times article, may mean this is coming: The Atlantic can be my twin brother, and Foreign Affairs could be my other sister.

“News content posted by publishers will show up less prominently, resulting in less traffic to companies that have come to rely on Facebook audiences.” — Facebook to Change News Feed to Focus on Friends and Family in New York Times 

After reading this article, I can only think that Facebook wrongly thinks that my family is so interesting (and believe me, I don’t think I’m any better, most of my posts–much like my face–are ones which only a mother could “like”/”love” and my feed will bear that out! BTW I love you mom.) The majority of posts I see there are rehashes of so-called “news” sites I really don’t care about or invitations to participate in games like Candy Crush Saga.

While I love keeping up with friends and family on Facebook, I’ve had to very heavily modify how I organize my Facebook feed to get what I want out of it because the algorithms don’t always do a very good job. Sadly, I’m probably in the top 0.0001% of people who take advantage of any of these features.

It really kills me that although publishers see quite a lot of traffic from social media silos (and particularly Facebook), they’re still losing some sight of the power of owning your own website and posting there directly. Apparently the past history littered with examples like Zynga and social reader tools hasn’t taught them the lesson to continue to iterate on their own platforms. One day the rug will be completely pulled out from underneath them and real trouble will result. They’ll wish they’d put all their work and effort into improving their own product rather than allowing Facebook, Twitter, et al. to siphon off a lot of their resources. If there’s one lesson that we’ve learned from media over the years, it’s that owning your own means of distribution is a major key to success. Sharecropping one’s content out to social platforms is probably not a good idea while under pressure to change for the future.


Psst… With all this in mind, if you’re a family member or close friend who wants to

  • have your own website;
  • own your own personal data (which you can automatically syndicate to most of the common social media sites); and
  • be in better control of your online identity,

I’ll offer to build you a simple one and host it at cost.

 

Hypothes.is and the IndieWeb

Last night I saw two great little articles about Hypothes.is, a web-based annotation engine, written by a proponent of the IndieWeb:

Hypothes.is as a public research notebook

Hypothes.is Aggregator ― a WordPress plugin

As a researcher, I fully appreciate the pro-commonplace book conceptualization of the first post, and the second takes things amazingly further with a plugin that allows one to easily display one’s hypothes.is annotations on one’s own WordPress-based site in a dead-simple fashion.

This functionality is a great first step, though honestly, in keeping with IndieWeb principles of owning one’s own data, I think it would be easier/better if Hypothes.is both accepted and sent webmentions. This would potentially allow me to physically own the data on my own site while still participating in the larger annotation community as well as give me notifications when someone either comments or augments on one of my annotations or even annotates one of my own pages (bits of which I’ve written about before.)

Either way, kudos to Kris Shaffer for moving the ball forward!

Examples

My Hypothes.is Notebook

The plugin mentioned in the second article allows me to keep a running online “notebook” of all of my Hypothes.is annotations on my own site.

My IndieWeb annotations

I can also easily embed my recent annotations about the IndieWeb below:

[ hypothesis user = 'chrisaldrich' tags = 'indieweb']