Replied to RSS is not dead. Subscribing is alive. by Colin Devroe (cdevroe.com)

Sinclair Target, writing for Motherboard:

Today, RSS is not dead. But neither is it anywhere near as popular as it once was.

This isn’t the first nor the last article to cover the creation of the RSS standard, its rise to relative popularity with Google Reader, and its subsequent fall from popularity.

Colin, I saw this article last week and I agree with your thoughts. Your analysis and the concept of the fear of missing out is a strong one. It’s even more paralyizing when one is following feeds with longer and potentially denser articles instead of short status updates or even bookmarks.

RSS definitely needs a UI makeover. I’ve been enamored of the way that SubToMe has abstracted things to create a one click button typically with a “Follow Me” or “Subscribe” tag on it. It looks a whole lot more like the follow buttons on most social services, but this one can recommend a feed reader or provide a list of potential readers to add the subscription to. Cutting out several layers and putting the subscription into something where it can be immediately read certainly cuts through a lot of the UI problems generally presented to the average person. It would be nice to see more sites support this sort of functionality rather than needing the crufty pages full of XML and pages describing what RSS is, how it works, and how to add a particular site to a reader.

We’ve come a long way, but we still have a way to to continue on.

Replied to Indie Communities and Making Your Audience Known by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller (Ben Werdmüller)

It sounds ludicrous now, but back in 2014, when I cofounded Known as a startup, a lot of people were questioning whether a business even needed a website. Pockets of people - for example in the indieweb community, which I enthusiastically joined - were pointing out how short-sighted this was, but it was a minority opinion. There was Facebook and Twitter! Why would you want to have any kind of property that you fully controlled on the internet?

Fast forward to today, and... 

As I read this, there are some underlying ideas that again make me think that newspapers, magazines, and other journalistic outlets should pick up the mantle of social media and help their readers (aka community) by providing them with websites that they can control and use to interact. Many newspapers and other outlets are already building their own CMSes and even licensening them out to other papers, why not take the next step and build a platform that can host and manage websites for individual users? They’ve got most of the infrastructure there already? Why not tack on a few simple things that allow their users to better interact with them on the open web. It solves their ownership issues as well as their reliance on social media silos and could even provide a nice, modest income stream (or even a bonus that comes along with one’s subscription?)

Perhaps Kinja wasn’t a bad idea for a CMS cum commenting system, it just wasn’t open web enough?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reply to Aaron Davis

Replied to a post by Aaron DavisAaron Davis (Read Write Collect)

Great post Aaron. I’ll also say thanks for including me in such an illustrious list. But to the others, I’ll suggest that you’re holding out on us. The meatier list he’s hiding is at: https://readwriterespond.com/wp-links-opml.php

Throw it into a feed reader like Inoreader that will let you import or subscribe to OPML lists and then come back to thank him all over again.

Some thoughts about Media Diets prompted by Paul Jacobson

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

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

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

Jason Kottke

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

👓 The year we step back from the platform | Nieman Journalism Lab | Ernie Smith

Read The year we step back from the platform by Ernie SmithErnie Smith (Nieman Lab)
"Let's replace the shadows that Twitter and Facebook and Google have been on the media with some business-model fundamentals. As 2018 has shown, they've offered us a lot more heartache than it feels like they're actually worth."

This is a very staid and sober statement about the ills of social media platforms (aka silos) and a proposed way forward for 2019. His argument is tremendously bolstered by the fact that he’s actually got his own website where he’s hosting and distributing his own content.

Ernie, should you see this, I’d welcome you to come join a rapidly growing group of creators who have been doing almost exactly what you’ve prescribed. We’re amassing a wealth of knowledge, tools, code, and examples at Indieweb.org to help you and others on their journey to better owning and controlling their online identities in almost the exact way in which you’re talking about in your article. Both individually and together we’re trying to build web websites that allow all the functionality of the platforms, but in a way that is both easy and beautiful for everyone to manage and use. Given the outlet for your piece, I’ll also mention that there’s a specific page for IndieWeb and Journalism.

I’d invite you to join the online chat and add yourself as an example to any of the appropriate pages, including perhaps for Craft. Also feel free to discuss your future plans and ask for any help or support you’d like to see for improving your own website. Together I hope we can all make your prediction for 2019 a reality.

 

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

But what if, in 2019, we take a step back and decide not to let the platform decide how to run the show?  

The IndieWeb has already made some solid strides.

January 09, 2019 at 07:55AM

I’ve been working on a redesign of my site recently, using a more robust CMS, and the advantages of controlling the structure of the platform soup-to-nuts are obvious, even if it requires more upfront work.  

January 09, 2019 at 07:57AM

2019 is the year when publishers — whether big ones like Axios or the Los Angeles Times or tiny ones like mine or Judd Legum’s Popular Information — move away from letting someone else call all the shots. Or, at least, they should.  

There’s already some work and movement in the IndieWeb with respect to journalism.

January 09, 2019 at 08:01AM

Reply to 5 CMS tools for indie bloggers | Indie Digital Media

Replied to 5 CMS tools for indie bloggers by Richard MacManus (Indie Digital Media)
This is a golden age for indie digital media creators, who have more content creation options than ever in 2019. In fact, there are arguably too many tools to chose from. That’s why I’m going to regularly examine the tools of digital media creation here on IDM - for everything…

I’ve primarily relied on WordPress.org for ages and have and have often used WithKnown, but I also have a few sites using Drupal. While I wouldn’t suggest non-technical folks using Drupal, whose technical requirements have rapidly been increasing over the past several years, I would recommend taking a look at a fantastic Drupal fork called BackDrop CMS.

While it still has a lot in common with Drupal, it has reconfigured the core to include some of the most commonly used and requested plugins and they’ve done their best to make it prettier and easier to use for hobby-ists and bloggers as well as small businesses and non-profits that don’t need all the additional overhead that Drupal brings. It’s also got a small but very dedicated community of developers and users.

I’ve also been hearing some great things about Craft CMS, which you highlight, as well as Perch by Rachel Andrew and Drew McLellan.

Replied to a tweet by Michael LevinMichael Levin (Twitter)
I wish I had known that before I started working on slime molds...”

Kandel’s corollary to “People eventually start to look like their pets.”

Gives me hope in old age that I have a German Shepherd and not a Chihuahua (or slime mold)…

Reply to Chris Beckstrom about sparklines

Replied to reply to https://adactio.com/journal/14656 by Chris Beckstrom (Chris Beckstrom's Homepage)
Congrats! Fantastic stats. How’d you do those cool little graphs?

They’re known as sparklines: https://indieweb.org/sparkline and you’ll find some interesting details and implementations in the see also section in addition to (I’m sure) searching Jeremy’s site for the word “sparkline”.

Replied to a thread by James King James King (Twitter)

This sounds a lot like the Microsub spec which abstracts and separates the parsing and displaying of content. There are already several separate server and reader implementations if you’re interested in tinkering.

Reply to Bill Ferriter on Something Weird is Happening on Twitter Right Now.

Replied to Something Weird is Happening on Twitter Right Now. by Bill FerriterBill Ferriter (THE TEMPERED RADICAL)

Check it out in the stream of comments that follow this Dean Shareski tweet:

Do you see what it is?

A REAL CONVERSATION!  With some intellectual give and take.  With people expanding on one another’s thoughts.  With people offering differing viewpoints.  With a few lighthearted jokes added to the mix to make everyone smile while wrestling with an important idea.

I definitely can get behind the idea of throwing fewer “edufuzzies”, because while they’re cute, entertaining, and can lighten the mood, it’s the conversation that matters more. The tougher part is that attempting to have a substantive conversation on Twitter can be difficult because of the character limitations as well as the painful UI involved of properly threading a conversation. I also suspect that taking the conversation somewhere other than Twitter will up the level of the conversation by an order of magnitude.

I far prefer Aaron’s idea of using our own websites to communicate back and forth:

Even better Bill is if we had such conversations from the comfort of our own backyard using bridgy and webmenbtions, rather than someone else’s playground?

So I’ll post my reply to you on my own website and manually copy it across to yours and (begrudgingly) syndicate a copy into Twitter, so everyone can play along. I’m hoping that the ability to automate these sorts of conversations from site to site will improve them all around in the coming year.

Reply to uonaiii on Twitter

Replied to a tweet by Uonai Uonai (Twitter)

I want exactly this. Let me know what you come up with. The closest thing I’ve seen recently is https://aaronparecki.com/2018/03/12/17/building-an-indieweb-reader

Replied to a thread by Ed Johnson-Williams, Johannes Ernst, Greg McVerry, Ton Zijlstra (Twitter)

I read an article by @DHH the other day that shifted some of my thinking about how some of the pieces might work out with regard to commercialization.

At the same time, innovations along the lines of what micro.blog is doing are very important.

Replied to a tweet by Lior Pachter (Twitter)

Don Zagier’s one sentence proof of Fermat’s theorem on sums of two squares can be found in an archived version via academic samizdat.

Wikipedia also has a slightly longer unpacking of it.