Reply to Aggregating the Decentralized Social Web by Jason Green

Aggregating the Decentralized Social Web by Jason Green (þoht-hord)
There are actually three problems to solve, reading, which is relatively easy, posting, which is harder, and social graph management, which is quite complex.

Some brief thoughts:

There are actually three problems to solve, reading, which is relatively easy, posting, which is harder, and social graph management, which is quite complex.

I might submit that posting is possibly the easiest of the three and that the reader problem is the most difficult. This is based on the tremendous number of platforms and CMSs on which one can post, but the dearth of feed readers in existence.

Managing your social graph

Something akin to a following list could help this. Or a modified version of OPML subscription lists could work. They just need to be opened up a tad. Some are working on the idea of an open microsub spec which could be transformative as well: https://indieweb.org/Microsub-spec


How do we decentralize the web without so decentralizing our own social presence that it becomes unmanageable?

You’ve already got a huge headstart in doing this with your own website. Why bother to have thousands of accounts (trust me when I say this) when you could have one? Then, as you suggest, password protected RSS (or other) feeds out to others could allow you to control which audiences get to see which content on your own site.


It looks as if Withknown has made some progress in this area with syndication plugins.

WordPress has lots of ways to syndicate content too. Ideally if everyone had their own website as a central hub, the idea of syndication would ultimately die out altogether. At best syndication is really just a stopgap until that point.


Subscribing to my personal timeline(s) with my favorite RSS reader would bring everything together,

I’ve written some thoughts about how feed readers could continue to evolve for the open web here: http://boffosocko.com/2017/06/09/how-feed-readers-can-grow-market-share-and-take-over-social-media/


listed items chronologically independent of source

Having a variety of ways to chop and dice up content are really required. We need more means of filtering content, not less. I know many who have given up on chronological feed reading. While it can be nice, there are many other useful means as well.

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A reply to Aaron Davis about h-cards

A Further Reply to Chris Aldrich in regards to the IndieWeb by Aaron Davis (collect.readwriterespond.com)
I know that I have provided my perspective [already](https://readwriterespond.com/2017/10/indieweb-reflections/), but I have been doing a lot of thinking about it of late. There are so many elements that just feel so foreign. Take for example H-Cards.

Aaron, thanks for your continued thoughts on my post. These are some good observations. Interestingly, on November 9th of this month I had noticed that the h-card page on the wiki was one of the few around that had absolutely no section heading for IndieWeb Examples which is nearly ubiquitious on most other pages. (Examples of what others have done is not only a helpful guide, but helps to push the limits of what might be possible next.) I naturally added a section for them and added myself and made a call in the chat for others to do the same. One of the bits of feedback that resulted there was that the microformats.org wiki had a large number of examples and that was one of the reasons that the IndieWeb wiki had none. Naturally, for people in generation two and beyond this may be an issue as they’re potentially less likely to go looking for this information on another website. As of this afternoon, there’s now at least a link on that page that also points to the microformats wiki page for those other examples. I’ve also added a few other bits which may be helpful with regard to h-cards for the beginner.

As the IndieWeb continues onward, part of the underlying foundation is that “Each generation is expected to lower barriers for adoption successively for the next generation.” – from the Generations page on the IndieWeb Wiki.

To date, the majority of people in the movement are developers or programmers by trade, but increasingly there are people from generation 2, 3, and even many from generation 4 who are starting to take a look at what is now possible on the web that wasn’t just ten, twenty, or even thirty-six months ago. Many are not only just looking, but, like you, are spending the time, effort, and energy to implement what they’re able to and simultaneously spreading the word to larger circles.

As someone who personally identifies as being on the border of generations 1 and 2, I’m finding more and more people seeing what is happening and wanting the fruits and benefits of these tools for themselves. It’s the raw value they find in these methods and processes that spur them on even when they find themselves in deeper waters than they may have expected. Fortunately there are a large number of giving and helpful developers in the generation 1 crowd who are watching and listening to those coming after them. They’re taking up the mantle to not only improve things for just themselves, but to improve things for their fellow netizens.

All of this to say that there is currently a slow reworking and refining of material that’s on the wiki. It was only just earlier this week that a self-identifying fourth generation member asked about the word POSSE, which many would rightly consider jargon, and inquired about its relation to the more commonly known term of “cross-posting“. Surprisingly, cross-posting didn’t really exist on the wiki yet, but it was quickly added, and then later expanded to bring the ideas of POSSE, PESOS, PESETAS, and PASTA within it and then tied into the broader idea of syndication.

Your questions about h-card are very similar. Yes, the wiki page on the idea is certainly very generation 1 specific and perhaps a bit over-burdened by jargon. While I don’t think the concept of microformats is very difficult, I also realize that saying that is the result of having spent no less than ten hours reading about it, looking at examples, and implementing pieces of it by hand myself. So how can we make it simpler and easier for the next generation? The page needs a bit of overhaul and work for the next generations. Some of this is my goal in writing an IndieWeb book, though it’s geared toward an audience that is less likely to get their information from a wiki or contribute back to one in practice.

While h-card is a specific type of microformat, in practice most instances of it on the wiki are really referring to an object on a webpage that conveys identity. I’d suggest that it’s far easier to look at an h-card as an online version of a business card that contains some basic information about a person (or even a business or other entitiy) online. It has things like their name, their address, their email, their phone number, perhaps a photo, or even other very basic information about them. Each of these pieces of data has its own microformats to indicate to machines what they specifically represent.  While some h-cards are human readable (like mine), some could be hidden in a web pages’ header and are meant to be machine readable.

While h-cards can convey data in other use cases, in most IndieWeb instances they’re conveying information about either the owner of a website (and thus found on the site’s homepage), or they’re found on individual posts as indicators of the authorship of the content on that page.

Depending on how they’re nested into a web page, they can have different meanings. As possibly the most common example on a traditional WordPress article post, the main h-card for the page would indicate information about the author of that post. However, these article posts will often contain comments sections at the bottom and each individual comment will have it’s own separate author and author information and thus its own h-card. Because these comments are properly nested, they only indicate the authorship of each particular sub-section of a page.

For most IndieWeb use, having an h-card on your homepage tells parsers (code run by other computers) who you are and some basic information about yourself. Generally this extends to your name, your avatar, and your homepage URL.

In your case Aaron, when you’ve generally been sending me webmentions from your primary website (readwriterespond.com), I’ve often been missing your avatar in your comments because you didn’t have an h-card available on them. (I typically remedy this on my own website by hand because I’ve been able to guess the email address/”key” you use for your Gravatar account which then automatically fills in that missing data for me on those comments.)

In the particular case here, for your reply you’ll notice in looking at the source for the page with your response that your ZenPress theme smartly and kindly includes an h-card for you automatically. Here’s what it looks like in code:

<div class="entry-meta">
<address class="byline"><span class="author p-author vcard hcard h-card" itemprop="author" itemscope itemtype="http://schema.org/Person"><img alt='' src='https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/d00e7ca24ca1b9c853da43af229c0e0e?s=40&d=mm&r=g' srcset='https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/d00e7ca24ca1b9c853da43af229c0e0e?s=80&d=mm&r=g 2x' class='avatar avatar-40 photo u-photo' height='40' width='40' itemprop="image"/> <a class="url uid u-url u-uid fn p-name" href="https://collect.readwriterespond.com/author/admin/" title="View all posts by Aaron Davis" rel="author" itemprop="url"><span itemprop="name">Aaron Davis</span></a></span></address> <span class="sep"> | </span> <a href="https://collect.readwriterespond.com/posts/replies/a-further-reply-to-chris-aldrich-in-regards-to-the-indieweb/" title="10:06 pm" rel="bookmark" class="url u-url"><time class="entry-date updated published dt-updated dt-published" datetime="2017-11-22T22:06:22+00:00" itemprop="dateModified datePublished">November 22, 2017</time></a>
</div>

You’ll see that it includes (and I’ve highlighted them in red with the relevant microformats classes) your name, your website URL, and it also pulls in your Gravatar avatar using the WordPress back end, since you’ve provided your WordPress installation this data. This is the benefit of a smartly built and designed theme! Thus it would seem that for your “Collect” site, you needn’t worry about an h-card because your theme is already handling the details for you to a great extent. Ideally all themes would do this using standard data fields within a WordPress install. But until then…

Anticipating your next question, what about readwriterespond.com? There, your theme isn’t doing this work for you, so you’ll need to do it yourself. The easiest way to pull this off quickly is to use the IndieWeb Plugin for WordPress. The plugin adds a bunch of additional fields to the page under the “Users” menu located at /wp-admin/profile.php within your admin UI. By filling them in you’re providing the details you’d usually add to an h-card or for rel=”me” uses. The IndieWeb plugin then also makes an h-card widget available at /wp-admin/widgets.php. You can drag and drop it to any of the available pieces of your theme which often include sidebars, footers, and sometimes headers.

The widget does a relatively good job, but some will want more control over what and how things are presented and designed. For those, another option is to create your own HTML-based widget and put the code/data for your h-card into it. This is essentially what you’ve seen on my homepage at boffosocko.com. While mine is entirely handcoded, it may be easier for most to use the microformats website which has a fill-in-the-blanks h-card generator that will allow one to input all of the data they’d like to display and it will automatically mark all of it up properly so that one can cut and paste the semantic HTML directly into a web page or a widget.

There are a bevy of other options for dropping an h-card into your site which will work. You mentioned doing something via a child-theme and that’s an option as well as any one of dozens of plugins that will allow you to drop arbitrary code into your header and/or footer. (Incidentally a child-theme is an excellent way of doing small customizations of your theme without preventing future (security) updates of your theme from overwriting them. If you’re not using one, I recommend following one of the tutorials on the wiki to create one. I would hope it shouldn’t take you more than an hour to implement based on what I know of your skill level.)

As I think you’ve mentioned, there are a few simple validators that will accept a URL which they can parse to show the h-card data they find. These include:

People can use these to see if their h-cards are working as they generally expect them to.

Naturally, there are some additional subtleties in h-cards which are noted on both the IndieWeb wiki and the microformats wiki pages, but most of these aren’t of huge consequence to average users or are experimental features which aren’t widely distributed or supported. If it makes you feel better, I’ll also note that it’s not always the case that experienced theme builders or even WordPress core maintainers will properly use microformats as there are frequently cases where they’re wildly misused, abused, or mistreated in the extreme. We can only do our best I suppose…

Hopefully some of this helps put things into perspective. Now that you’re able to sign into the IndieWeb wiki, I invite you to add or modify parts you feel could be clearer or improved as you use and implement them yourself. Surely doing so will help make things easier for those that follow us both.

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Reply to Wat is POSSE en PESOS op het IndieWeb? by Frank Meeuwsen

Wat is POSSE en PESOS op het IndieWeb? by Frank Meeuwsen (Digging the digital)
Nieuwe termen, nieuwe wijn? Of is het meer van wat we al kenden?

I like to think of the IndieWeb as delivering on the original promise of the original decentralized internet. It’s nice that billions of people can now more easily communicate with so-called “free” services like Twitter, Facebook, et al., but it’s at a much larger expense of giving away all of their data, control, and often their privacy and even identities. Social media sites all have their own standards, functionalities, and even quirks, none of which is controllable by individuals, so if you use them, you are forced to use them on their terms instead of your own. The dumpster fire that Twitter has become as a “community” is a prime example. I also think it’s a terrible drawback that if you have a Facebook account and want to communicate with someone on Twitter, you need a Twitter account to do so. Here’s an example of what happens with this type of service-proliferation. Who wants to have to manage all of this, much less remember which service you were having which conversation on?

As you say, much of the data one posts may have little value and feel ephemeral, but certainly not all of it, and certainly not in aggregate. At least the individual should get to decide and have agency over the decision. As it stands, I can delete individual posts from Facebook, but I have no guarantee that the data is physically removed from their servers and still available for either their internal use or for possible future governmental use.

Another way to frame it all is to think of your web presence as a commonplace book.

If you recall the early days of social media, you may appreciate this alternate viewpoint of social media that I wrote about a few months ago: http://boffosocko.com/2017/04/11/a-new-way-to-know-and-master-your-social-media-flow/

Interestingly, I came across your post almost immediately after fleshing out some detail on the wikipage for cross-posting which may be a worthwhile overview from the perspective of a traditional social media user. To help conglomerate all of the various pieces for you and others in the future, I’ve created a category page under the heading “syndication” with links to all of the various pieces which may together make a more coherent whole.

As for your question (excuse my rough translation):

Then I think again, if I put my tweets first on my own site, what about the possible conversations that result from it? If someone answers and I reply again, do I do that on my own site? The IndieWeb wiki is not very clear here…

There isn’t a direct answer within some of the pages you mention, but ideally, yes, all of the conversation takes place in a back and forth manner on your own website (as well as that of those with whom you’re communicating). Sadly, not all of the moving pieces have been solved completely with respect to user interface which could be done in multiple ways. One standard in particular that isn’t supported by many is that of salmention. Until then, some of us are managing to do this manually to maintain the threaded comments so that the entire context of a conversation is still available on our own sites. Even without it, some semblance of threading is possible by providing permalink URLs for all the parts of the conversations on individual pages until such time as it’s more feasible. If you care to experiment, try commenting on this on my site and see what happens.

Incidentally, especially if you haven’t come across it yet, I hope that as you continue to explore and write that you’ll syndicate your content to https://news.indieweb.org/nl for the benefit of others.

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Reply to Pingbacks: hiding in plain sight by Ian Guest

Pingbacks: hiding in plain sight by Ian Guest (Marginal Notes)
Wait! Aren’t you researching Twitter? I am indeed and the preceding discussion has largely centred on pingbacks, a feature of blogs, rather than microblogs. I have two points to make here: firstly that microblogs and Twitter may have features which function in a similar way to pingbacks. The retweet for example provides a similar link to a text or resource that someone else has produced. I’ll admit that it has less permanence than a pingback, patiently ensconced at the foot of a blog and ready to whisk the reader off to the linked blog, but then the structure and function of Twitter is one of flow and change when compared with a blog; it’s a different beast. The second is that my point of entry to the blogs and their interconnected web of enabling pingbacks was a tweet. Two actually. Andrea’s tweet took me to another tweet which referenced Aditi’s blog post; had I not been on Twitter and had Andrea and I not made a connection through that platform, the likelihood of me ever being aware of Aditi’s post and the learning opportunities that it and its wider assemblage brings together would be minimal.

I’m finding your short study and thoughts on pingbacks while I was thinking about Webmentions (and a particular issue that Aaron Davis was having with them) after having spent a chunk of the day remotely following the Dodging the Memory Hole 2017 conference at the Internet Archive in San Francisco.

It’s made me realize that one of the bigger values of the iteration that Webmentions has over its predecessor pingbacks and trackbacks is that at least a snapshot of the content has captured on the receiving site. As you’ve noted that while the receiving site has the scant data from the pingback, there’s not much to look at in general and even less when the sending site has disappeared from the web. In the case of Webmentions, even if the sending site has disappeared from the web, the receiving site can still potentially display more of that missing content if it wishes. Within the WordPress ecosystem simple mentions only show the indication that the article was mentioned, but hiding within the actual database on the back end is a copy of the post itself. With a few quick changes to make the “mention” into a “reply” the content of the original post can be quickly uncovered/recovered. (I do wonder a bit if you cross-referenced the Internet Archive or other sources in your search to attempt to recover those lost links.)

I will admit that I recall the Webmention spec allowing a site to modify and/or update its replies/webmentions, but in practice I’m not sure how many sites actually implement this functionality, so from an archiveal standpoint it’s probably pretty solid/stable at the moment.

Separately, I also find myself looking at your small example and how you’ve expanded it out a level or two within your network to see how it spread. This reminds me of Ryan Barrrett’s work from earlier this year on the IndieWeb network in creating the Indie Map tool which he used to show the interconnections between over three thousand people (or their websites) using links like Webmentions. Depending on your broader study, it might make an interesting example to look at and/or perhaps some code to extend?

With particular regard to your paragraph under “Wait! Aren’t you researching Twitter?” I thought I’d point you to a hybrid approach of melding some of Twitter and older/traditional blogs together. I personally post everything to my own website first and syndicate it to Twitter and then backfeed all of the replies, comments, and reactions via Brid.gy using webmentions. While there aren’t a lot of users on the internet doing something like this at the moment, it may provide a very different microcosm for you to take a look at. I’ve even patched together a means to allow people to @mention me on Twitter that sends the data to my personal website as a means of communication.

After a bit of poking around, I was also glad to find a fellow netizen who is also consciously using their website as a commonplace book of sorts.

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Reply to seanl on literati.org

Reply to post on Mastodon by Sean R. LynchSean R. Lynch (social.literati.org)
@chrisaldrich @sikkdays I must be missing something. Why wouldn't one just add webmention support to Mastodon?

That’s been proposed (see: https://github.com/tootsuite/mastodon/search?q=webmention&type=Issues&utf8=%E2%9C%93) , but hasn’t gotten any uptake by Mastodon devs yet. But, as always, on the internet, the web will find a way. #

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Reply to @sikkdays @seanl I’m happy to help too if you like.

A post on Mastodon by Chris AldrichChris Aldrich (Mastodon)
@sikkdays @seanl I'm happy to help too if you like. There may be some inactive and even forked projects within the broader scope, but then there are lots which are flourishing. WordPress in particular is one of those since, it's what you mentioned: https://indieweb.org/Getting_Started_on_WordPress A good place to start is to jump into the IndieWeb chat (via web, IRC, Slack, etc.) https://indieweb.org/discuss For a quick overview, try here: altplatform.org/2017/07/28/an-introduction-to-the-indieweb/

Testing out to see if I can reply to Mastodon via my own website. This is going to be awesome if it works!!!

Reply toMeredith Fierro on Setting up a Feed with Feedly

Setting up a Feed with Feedly by Meredith Fierro (Meredith Fierro)
Working at Reclaim means I get to interact with people who do incredible work within the Ed Tech community. I was first exposed to this at #domains17 and I remember thinking that I wanted to keep up with all of these wonderful folks and the work their doing. At first, I had no idea how I could keep up with all the blog posts except through twitter. I didn’t really like that idea though because I could lose tweets within my feed. I wanted a place where I could keep them all together. I don’t know too much about RSS feeds but I knew that’s where I needed to start. I a little bit of experience using FeedWordPress to syndicate blog posts to the main class hub but I knew that would chew right through my storage limit.

If you want to take it a step further, you could consider making an open OPML file of the people you’re following from a conference like Domains ’17. Much like Twitter lists, these are sharable (so others don’t need to build them by hand), or more importantly for Feedly importable! Some RSS readers will also allow dynamic updating of these OPML lists so if someone is subscribed to your list and you add a new source, everyone following the list gets the change. I’ve written some thoughts relating to this with respect to the old school blogrolls and included an example here: http://boffosocko.com/2017/06/26/indieweb-blogroll/

If you do set up an OPML file for your Domains ’17, let me know. I’d love to subscribe to it!

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Reply to Colin Walker on the idea of a required reading page

I've been thinking some more about the idea of a required reading page. by Colin Walker (Social Thoughts)
Could the things held here be placed on an About page? Possibly - it depends what they are. If they are links to your own posts then almost certainly. External links? Maybe, maybe not. So, why have a required page and what does it give the reader?

In classical studies in the Renaissance the number of texts which were popular and considered expected/required reading for a “learned” person were a relatively set number and generally completely consumable and completely known by those with an education. Thus a writer could make a reference to the old testament or to Cato and the vast majority of the audience would get that reference (without footnotes or explicit references) having read these same texts.

Sadly the depth and breadth of available literature has exploded since Gutenberg making it nearly impossible for anyone in a modern audience to have read and know what the author may presume them to know. As an example, in Shakespeare’s day many of his side references would be known by even the uneducated, while most modern students have to rely on Cliff’s Notes or annotated editions to understand those cultural references. The modern day equivalent is that most avid fans of the Simpsons television show are also generally well educated on popular film since the 1940s, otherwise they’re missing 90% of the jokes.

Things become much more stilted within the blogging arena, particularly when a writer may cover a dozen areas or more in which they may have significant experience, but which will likely be completely unknown to some of their regular readers, much less new readers who aren’t specialists in these fields themselves. This may turn away readers at worst, but will destroy the conversation at best. (Though I will admit it doesn’t seem deter some of the lookie-loos from taking at shot at interacting on the lowest levels at Terry Tao’s blog.)

In some sense, in knowing their audience, writers have to have some grasp of what they do or don’t know, otherwise it becomes difficult to communicate those progressively more expanding thoughts. Having hyperlinks certainly helps within a piece, much the way academics footnote journal articles, but it can be just as painful for the writer to constantly be referring back to the same handful of articles constantly. In this sense, having a recommended/required reading section may be useful, particularly if it were ubiquitous, but I suspect that the casual drive-by reader may not notice or care very much. However, for that rare <5% it may be just the primer they’re looking for to better understand you and what you’re writing about.

One of the most difficult things to do in a new job or when entering a new field is to become aware of the understood culture and history of the company or the field itself. One must learn the jargon and history to contextualize the overarching conversation. Jumping into Dave Winer’s blog without knowing his background and history is certainly a more painful thing than starting to read someone whose blog is less than a year old and could thus be consumed in a short time versus thousands upon thousands of posts since the literal start of blogging on the internet. It’s somewhat reminiscent of David Shanske’s problem of distilling down a bio for an h-card from the rest of his site and his resume. What do you want someone you’ve just met to know about you to more quickly put you into a broader context, especially when you want them to get to know you better?

I think we’re all in the same boat as David in figuring out the painful path of distilling all this down in a sensible and straightforward manner. I’m curious to see what you come up with and how it evolves over time.

Reply to Homebrew Website Club: One Year In by Jonathan Prozzi

Homebrew Website Club: One Year In by Jonathan Prozzi (jonathanprozzi.net)
There’s some amazing themes and plugins being developed for WordPress that handle some of the more complex technical requirements for implementing the Indieweb principles, so I want to now be able to focus on helping others through two methods of outreach. First, to help any current WordPress users understand and integrate Indieweb principles into their site. Second, to help anyone who is interested in setting up a site and open to using WordPress get an Indieweb web presence up and running from the ground up. This will remain the core thrust of my Indieweb exploration from now on, but I want to also deepen my knowledge of what can be done with WordPress. There’s lots of exciting things on the horizon, and I want to give back to both the WordPress and Indieweb communities through sharing my experiences and lessons learned from the last year.

Congratulations Jonathan!

I really appreciate your “Updated Goals and Purpose” section as they’re something I’ve been slowly beginning to crack away at as well. I’ve begun some work on a book geared toward Gen2+ users as well as doing some additional outreach. I’ve even got a domain registered to target that particular market.)

If you think it would help, I’m happy to help spitball with you to create a more cohesive plan that some of us can work on both individually and as a group.

A reply to Aaron Davis on setting up IndieWeb replies in WordPress

a tweet by Aaron DavisAaron Davis (Twitter)


Aaron, there are a couple of different ways to set up IndieWeb replies in WordPress (or even on other platforms like Known).

Known has a simple reply mechanism, but isn’t always good at including the original context for the reply making the individual post as stand-alone as one might like. Known includes the URL of the post it’s a reply to, but that’s about it. It’s contingent upon the user reading the reply clicking on the link to the original post to put the two together. This is pretty simple and easy when using it to reply to posts on Twitter, but isn’t always as flexible in other contexts.

One of the added values of replies in WordPress is that there’s a bit more flexibility for including a reply context to the post. You’ll note that this reply has some context at the top indicating exactly to what it is I’m replying.

Manual Replies

The first way to generically set up a reply on almost any platform that supports sending Webmentions is to write your reply and and include some simple semantic HTML along with the URL of the post you’re replying to that includes a class “u-in-reply-to” within the anchor tag like so:
<div class="h-entry">
<a class="u-in-reply-to" href="http://example.com/note123">The post you're replying to</a>
<div class="p-name p-content"> Good point! Now what is the next thing we should do?</div>
</div>

Some of this with additional information is detailed in the reply page on the IndieWeb wiki.

If you’re using WordPress, you can do this manually in the traditional content block, though you likely won’t need the div with h-entry as your theme more likely than not already includes it.

More automated replies

If you’d like a quicker method for WordPress, you can use a few simple plugins to get replies working. Generally I recommend David Shanske’s excellent and robust Post Kinds Plugin which handles both reply contexts as well as all of the required markup indicated in the manual example above. Naturally, you’ll also want to have the Webmention Plugin for WordPress installed as well so that the reply is sent via Webmention to the original post so that it can display your reply (if it chooses to–many people moderate their replies, while others simply collect them but don’t display them.)

A few weeks ago I wrote about configuring and using the Post Kinds Plugin in great detail. You should be able to follow the example there, but just choose the “reply” kind instead of the “read” example I’ve used. In the end, it will look a lot like this particular reply you’re reading right now, though in this case, I’ve manually included your original tweet in the body of my reply. A more native Post Kinds generated reply to a tweet can be seen at this example: http://boffosocko.com/2016/08/17/why-norbert-weiner/

Syndicating Elsewhere

Naturally, your next question may be how to POSSE your replies to other services like Twitter. For that, there’s a handful of methods/plugins, though often I suggest doing things manually a few times to familiarize yourself with the process of what’s happening. Then you can experiment around with one or more of the methods/plugins. In general the easier the plugin is to set up (example: JetPack), the less control you have over how it looks while the more complicated it is (example: SNAP), the more control you have over how the output looks.

Experiment

If you’d like, feel free to experiment sending replies back to this post while you try things out. If you need additional help, do join one or more of us in the IndieWeb chat.

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🎧 It’s putrid, it’s paleo, and it’s good for you | Eat This Podcast

It’s putrid, it’s paleo, and it’s good for you by Jeremy Cherfas (Eat This Podcast)
How do you get your vitamin C where no fruit and veg will grow? As our ancestors moved north out of Africa, and especially as they found themselves in climates that supported less gathering and more hunting, they were faced with an acute nutritional problem: scurvy. Humans are one of the few mammals that cannot manufacture this vital little chemical compound (others being the guinea pig and fruit bats). If there are no fruit and veg around, where will that vitamin C come from? That’s a question that puzzled John Speth, an archaeologist and Emeritus Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. He found clues in the accounts of sailors and explorers shipwrecked in the Arctic. Those who, often literally, turned their noses up at the “disgusting” diet of the locals sometimes paid with their lives. Those who ate what the locals ate lived to tell the tale. John Speth told me the tale of how he came to propose the idea that putrid meat and fish may have been a key part of Neanderthal and modern human diet during the Palaeolithic.

As always a brilliant episode from Jeremy.

There’s quite a lot to unpack here and I’m sure there’s a few days of research papers to read to even begin to scratch the surface of some of what’s going on here with regard to the disgust portion of the program.

One of the things that strikes me offhand within the conversation of botulism and its increase when Arctic peoples went from traditional life ways to more modern ones are related stories I’ve heard, even recently, from researchers who are looking for replacement antibiotics for evolving superbugs. Often their go-to place for searching for them is in the dirt which can be found all around us. I’m curious if there’s not only specific chemistry (perhaps anaerobic or even affected by temperature) but even antibiotics found in the ground which are killing microbes which could cause these types of sickness? Of course, with extreme cold usually comes frozen ground and permafrost which may make burying foods for fermenting more difficult. I’m curious how and were native peoples were doing their burying to give an idea for what may have been happening to protect them.

Another piece which dovetails with this one is a story I heard yesterday morning on NPR as I woke up. Entitled To Get Calcium, Navajos Burn Juniper Branches To Eat The Ash, it also covered the similar idea that native peoples had methods for fulfilling their dietary needs in unique ways.

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🎧 Jam Tomorrow | Eat This Podcast

Jam tomorrow? by Jeremy Cherfas (Eat This Podcast)
What is jam? “A preserve made from whole fruit boiled to a pulp with sugar.” Lots of opportunities to quibble with that, most especially, if you’re planning to sell the stuff in the UK and label it “jam,” the precise amount of sugar. More than 60% and you’re fine calling it jam. Less than 50% and you need to call it reduced-sugar jam. Lower still, and it becomes a fruit spread. All that is about to change though, thanks to a UK Goverment regulation that will allow products with less than 60% sugar to be labelled jam. There’s nothing like a threat to the traditional British way of life to motivate the masses, although as an expat, I had no idea of the kerfuffle this had raised until I read about it on the website of the Campaign for Real Farming.

I realize that I’m probably ruined by eating soft set American jams and jellies all my life, aside from a half a dozen or so homemade versions I’ve made myself over the years. Here in the states, we’ve slipped even further–most jams are comprised of high fructose corn syrup instead of sugar. If only that revolution had happened after the 1920s instead of the 1770s perhaps things would be different.

I’m curious what’s become of this issue four years on? Did the “hard”-liners win out, or did the regulations turn to (soft set) jelly?

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Reply to Introducing Speed of Light Discussions by Jason Brennan

Introducing Speed of Light Discussions by Jason Brennan (Near the Speed of Light)
Today I’m happy to announce I’ve added a discussions section to the website, directly below each article. Here you’ll be able to directly respond to what you’ve just read, share your thoughts, and have a discussion with other readers of my site. Today’s post is going to take a bit of a look inside why I’m doing this and how discussions work.

Jason your blogpost does a great job of laying out the values (and distractions) of comments on blogs and why someone would want to have them. I particularly like your choice to call this area of his personal site a “Discussion” area instead of the traditional “Comments” moniker most would give it.

Some of your early discussion reminded me of articles by Audrey Watters in which she delineated pieces of why she’s turned off comments on her site and why she also turned off annotations recently. It’s definitely important to have control and agency over one’s own domain, which she also writes about rather eloquently in A Domain of One’s Own in a Post-Ownership Society.

While you use the oft-quoted statement (usually said in a dismissive tone in my experience):

If you want to respond, do so on your own website and tell me.

in the section espousing not allowing comments, I realize that this long-held concept of writing on your own website not only has significant value, but that the Indieweb way of replying and utilizing Webmentions (with moderation enabled if one prefers) for the notifications portion adds even more tremendous value.

Far too often, either in a blog’s comments section or even within social media, it’s all too easy to post an ill-conceived or hurtful drive-by response. It takes little time and thought to say “me too”, “I hate you”, “insert slur here”, or even click an innocuous “like” button many which do nothing for the conversation or discussion being proffered by the site owner. Worse, a very small portion of the world will see that a reader took these actions because they don’t really reflect heavily, if at all, within the reader’s own online presence–who searches for comments others have made online? How would you easily? It’s usually in these interactions that only the writer who spent some significant time trying to communicate can be crushed by overwhelming negativity rather than being showered with the intelligence, logic, or forethought they deserve for putting themselves out there, much less receiving praise for their work. It’s no wonder that people prefer to turn off comments.

Earlier this evening as I was reviewing the online discussion from the San Francisco Homebrew Website Club, I saw a comment from bdesham captured by Tantek Çelik, “I heard not having comments on Tumblr was a deliberate design, to avoid abuse, so to comment you have to reblog?” I recall having an HWC at Yahoo’s LA headquarters and hearing from someone within Yahoo that indeed this was exactly the reason that drove this piece of UX/UI. If you wanted to comment on Tumblr, you had to repost the content to your own front page along with the comment. This meant that you had to take true ownership of your words as they appeared front and center on your own site there. Who wants to publicly mark themselves with a proverbial Scarlet Letter just to be mean? (Some will, but increasingly many won’t because it redounds directly to their reputation.) Perhaps this is why some of the most marginalized people on the internet heavily use Tumblr and feel safe within their communities there?

As some will know, for the past few years I’ve been using the W3C’s recommended Webmention specification, a sort of cross-website universal @mention or @reply, which I’ve implemented on WordPress with the Webmention plugin and a few others, to accept replies/comments and other associated interactions on my blog in addition to the traditional comments box. While the traditional comment box has largely been unused on my site–making it often feel in the early days like I was “spewing words out into the void” as Jason describes–the Webmention piece seems to have made a far larger difference to me.

The majority of the interaction my site receives comes via Webmentions from Brid.gy in the form of short one-offs or simple “likes” which are backfed from Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. However a growing number of interactions are actually interesting and more substantive discussions. It’s these more “traditional” replies via Webmention that have the most value to me. They are better thought out replies and helpful commentary, which almost always appear front and center on the commenter’s own site (much the way Tumblr designed theirs) before they ever appear on my site  as a comment. As Jason astutely points out, having comments that are longer than 140 characters can be very valuable as well; since my commenters are posting on their own sites where they have ultimate freedom, most of them aren’t constrained in any way except perhaps for the amount of time they wish to take.

So here you are Jason, I’ve commented by posting on my own site first and notifying you by manually copying it to your discussion section where others can participate as well. (If you supported receiving Webmentions, the interaction would be automatic and nearly seamless.) I’m curious if you’d consider implementing the Webmention spec (both sending and receiving) on your website and if you think it would have the same intended effect you mean when you enabled “Discussions” on yours?–I know it feels like it has on mine.

If you care to reply back, feel free to reply on your own site, include a permalink to my original and use the manual Webmention form (below the traditional comment box) and click “Ping Me!” Of course, if you’re old school, feel free to dust off the old comment box and give that a whirl too!


Some additional miscellaneous thoughts, highlights, and short comments on Jason’s post:

Comments sections often become shouting matches or spam-riddled.

They can also become filled with “me too” type of commentary which more than often doesn’t add anything substantive to the conversation.

One of my all-time favorite comment moderation notes comes from the FAQ section of Peter Woit’s blog under “Why Did you Delete my comment?” He writes:

I delete a lot of the comments submitted here. For some postings, the majority of submitted comments get deleted. I don’t delete comments because the commenter disagrees with me, actually comments agreeing with me are deleted far more often than ones that disagree with me. The overall goal is to try and maintain a comment section worth reading, so comments should ideally be well-informed and tell us something true that we didn’t already know. The most common reason for deleting a comment is that it’s off-topic. Often people are inspired by something in a posting to start discussing something else that interests them and that they feel is likely to interest others here. Unfortunately I have neither the time nor inclination to take on the thankless job of running a general discussion forum here.

I hope my thoughts pass the Woit-comment-test for Jason.

 

For a website the size and popularity of Daring Fireball, it’d probably be madness to foster any kind of coherent conversation.

Certainly to do it without a staff would be difficult… Again here, Audrey Watter’s post about turning off comments indicates to some extent that even though she views her site as her personal blog, it’s audience, like that of Daring Fireball, has gotten so large that it’s not just friends, family, and community, but something beyond “community” (beyond the pale) that changes the dynamic of accepting comments.

 

I never felt like I was talking with anyone or anyone’s website, but more like I was spewing words out into the void.

I often feel this way, but supporting Webmentions and backfeed has largely negated these feelings for me in the last few years. I can now communicate directly with websites (and their authors) that support these open protocols.

 

It has the added benefit of making one-word smart-ass posts impossible.

I do remember the days of old, when people would comment “First!”, but beyond that #OneWordSmartAss is usually overrated unless you’re a professional comedian like Jon Stewart.

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Reply to I defy the world and go back to RSS by Bryan Alexander

I defy the world and go back to RSS by Bryan Alexander (bryanalexander.org)
It may be perverse, but in this age of Facebook (now 2 billion strong) I’ve decided to rededicate myself to RSS reading. That’s right: old school, Web 2.0 style. Why? A big reason is that Facebook’s front page is so, so massively unreliable. Despite having huge numbers of people that are my friends, clients, and contacts, it’s just not a good reading and writing service. Facebook’s black box algorithm(s) may or may not present a given’s user’s post for reasons generally inscrutable. I’ve missed friends’ news about new jobs, divorces, and deaths because the Zuckerbergmachine deems them unworthy of inclusion in my personalized river of news. In turn, I have little sense of who will see my posts, so it’s hard to get responses and very hard to pitch my writing for an intended audience. Together, this makes the FB experience sketchy at best. To improve our use of it we have to turn to experiments and research that remind me of Cold War Kremlinology.

Bryan, so much of what you’re saying is not only not backwards, but truly awesome and inspiring, and not just with respect to RSS.

I’ve lately become more enamored of not only RSS, but new methods for feeds including lighter weight versions like microformats h-feeds. A few months ago I was inspired to embed the awesome PressForward plugin for WordPress into my site, so I could have an integrated feed reader built right in. This makes it far easier to not only quickly share the content from my site, but it means I can also own archival copies of what I’m reading and consuming for later reference, some of which I store privately on the back end of my site as a sort of online commonplace book.

There also seems to be a recent renaissance with the revival of blogrolls. I’ve even recently revived my own to provide subscribe-able OPML lists that others can take advantage of as well. Like your reading list, it’s a work in progress.

On the subject of blogs not being dead and decrying the abuses of the social silos, you might be interested to hear about the Indieweb movement which is helping to both decentralize and re-democratize the web in useful and intelligent ways. They’re helping people to take back their identities online and let them own their own content again. They’re also using open protocols like Webmention (a platform agnostic and universal @mention) and Micropub or syndication methods like POSSE to make it easier to publish, share, and interact with people online anywhere, regardless of the platform(s) on which they’re publishing.

As an example of what they’re doing, I’m publishing this comment on my own site first, and only then sending it as a comment to your post. If you supported Webmention, this would have happened seamlessly and automatically. I’ll also syndicate it as a reply to your tweet, and if you reply on twitter, the comment will be pulled back into my comment stream at the original.

As you may expect, some educators are also using some of these tools and specs for educational reasons.

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