If you have a blog and write/share useful things (big or small) about Web design / front-end dev and you provide an RSS feed to the blog, please respond to this tweet w/ the URL for it — I’d like to add more useful content feeds to my reader.
I have feeds for nearly every tag/category or post type on my site for convenience (just add /feed/ to almost anything). You could subscribe to my firehose feed, but I suspect even my mother would tire of it quickly.
And I think it’s true. I don’t use RSS the way I did in 2004. That said, I remember reading that blogging was dead ten years ago. And while it’s maybe not trendy, many educators have seen its value and maintained a presence. Apparently, RSS has some valid uses as well but like most everyone, I tend to use social as a place to find new and emerging ideas. But I also think using Twitter and Facebook to haphazardly find content lacks intention and depth. I also value reading a person’s blog over time to understand better their voice and context. So I’m asking for some advice on how to update my module on finding research. What replaces RSS feeds? What works for you that goes beyond “someone on Twitter/Facebook shared….” to something that is more focused and intentional?
Dean, I can completely appreciate where you’re coming from. I too am still addicted to RSS (as well as a plethora of other feed types including Atom, JSON, and h-feeds). I didn’t come across your article by feed however, but instead by Aaron Davis’ response to your post which he posted on his own website and then pinged my site with his repsonse using a web specification called Webmention. We’re both members of a growing group of researchers, educators, and others who are using our own websites to act as our social media presences and using new technologies like Webmention to send notifications from website to website to carry on conversations.
While many of us are also relying on RSS, there are a variety of new emerging technologies that are making consuming and replying to content online easier while also allowing people to own all of their associated data. In addition to my article about The Feed Reader Revolution which Aaron mentioned in his reply, Aaron Pareck has recently written about Building an IndieWeb Reader. I suspect that some of these ideas encapsulate a lot of what you’d like to see on the web.
Most of us are doing this work and experimentation under the banner known as the IndieWeb. Since you know some of the web’s prior history, you might appreciate this table that will give you some idea of what the group has been working on. In particular I suspect you may appreciate some of the resources we’re compiling for IndieWeb for Education. If it’s something you find interest in, I hope you might join in our experimentations. You can find many of us in the group’s online chat.
I would have replied in your comments section, but unfortunately through a variety of quirks Disqus marks everything I publish to it immediately as spam. Thus my commentary is invariably lost. Instead, I’m posting it to a location I do have stricter control over–my own website. I’ll send you a tweet to provide you the notification of the post. I will cross-post my reply to Disqus if you want to dig into your spam folder to unspam it for display. In the meanwhile, I’m following you and subscribing to your RSS feed.
Stopping the internet from getting too concentrated will be a slog, but the alternative would be worse
This has generally been an interesting series of articles in The Economist.
As John Sherman, the senator who gave his name to America’s original antitrust law in 1890, put it at a time when the robber barons ruled much of America’s economy: “If we will not endure a king as a political power, we should not endure a king over the production, transportation and sale of any of the necessaries of life.” ❧
Syndicated copies to:
I’ve come across many journals (and particularly many talking about Altmetrics1,2) that are supporting the old refback infrastructure and wonder why they haven’t upgraded to implement the more feature rich webmention specification?
I’ve been thinking more lately about how to create a full stack IndieWeb infrastructure to replace the major portions of the academic journal ecosystem which would allow researchers to own their academic papers but still handle some of the discovery piece. Yesterday’s release of indieweb.xyz, which supports categories, reminds me that I’d had an idea a while back that something like IndieNews’ structure could be modified to create a syndication point that could act as an online journal/pre-print server infrastructure for discovery purposes.
A little birdie has told me that there’s about to be a refback renaissance to match the one currently happening with webrings.
The concept of IndieWeb is something slightly different to many people and it’s ever evolving and changing, just like the internet itself.
Trying to define it is somewhat akin to trying to define America: while it has a relatively well-defined geographic border and place in time, its people, laws, philosophies, and principles, while typically very similar, can vary and change over time. What it is can be different for everyone both within it as well as outside of it. It can be different things to different people based on their place, time, and even mood. In the end maybe it’s just an idea.
A basic definition of IndieWeb
In broadest terms I would define being part of the IndieWeb as owning your own domain name and hosting some sort of website as a means of identifying yourself and attempting to communicate with others on the internet.
At its simplest, one could say they have an IndieWeb site by buying their own domain name (in my case: boffosocko.com) and connecting it to a free and flexible service like Tumblr.com or WordPress.com. Because you’ve got the ability to export your data from these services and move it to a new host or new content management system, you have a lot more freedom of choice and flexibility in what you’re doing with your content and identity and how you can interact online. By owning your domain and the ability to map your URLs, when you move, you can see and feel the benefits for yourself, but your content can still be found at the same web addresses you’ve set up instead of disappearing from the web.
If you wished, you could even purchase a new domain name and very inexpensively keep the old domain name and have it automatically forward people from your old links to all the appropriate links on your new one.
By comparison, owning your own domain name and redirecting it to your Facebook page doesn’t quite make you IndieWeb because if you moved to a different service your content might be able to go with you by export, but all of the URLs that used to point to it are now all dead and broken because they were under the control of another company that is trying to lock you into their service.
Some more nuanced definition
Going back to the analogy of America, the proverbial constitution for the IndieWeb is generally laid out on its principles page. If you like, the pre-amble to this “constitution” is declared on the IndieWeb wiki’s front page and on its why page.
Some people may choose to host the business card equivalent of a website with simply their name and contact information. Others may choose to use it as the central hub of their entire online presence and identity. In the end, what you do with your website and how you choose to use it should be up to you. What if you wanted to use your website like Twitter for short status updates or sharing links? What if you wanted to use it like Facebook to share content and photos with your friends and family? What if you want to host audio or video like Soundcloud, YouTube, or Vimeo allow?
The corporate social media revolution was a lovely and useful evolution of what the blogosphere was already doing. Thousands of companies made it incredibly easy for billions of people to be on the internet and interact with each other. But why let a corporation own and monetize your data and your ability to interact with others? More importantly, why allow them to limit what you can do? Maybe I want to post status updates of more than 280 characters? Maybe I want the ability to edit or update a post? Maybe I want more privacy? Maybe I don’t want advertising? Why should I be stuck with only the functionality that Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn and thousands of others allow me to have? Why should I be limited in communicating with people who are stuck on a particular service? (Would you use your phone to only call friends who use AT&T?) Why should I have hundreds of social accounts and an online identity shattered like just so many horcruxes when I could have one that I can fully control?
By decentralizing things to the level of owning a domain and having a simple website with control of my URLs, I can move to cheaper or more innovative web hosts or service providers. I can move to more innovative content manage systems that allow me to do more and communicate better or more broadly with others online. As a side effect of empowering myself, I can help create more competition and innovation in the space to do things I might not otherwise be capable of doing solely by myself.
Almost all of the people behind the IndieWeb movement believe in using some basic web standards as a central building block. Standards help provide some sort of guidance to allow sites to be easier to build and provide a simpler way for them to communicate and interact with each other.
Of course, because you have control of your own site, you can do anything you wish with it. (In our America analogy we could consider standards to be like speech. Then how might we define free speech in the IndieWeb?) Perhaps a group of people who want some sort of new functionality will agree on a limited set of new standards or protocols? They can build and iterate and gradually create new standards that others can follow so that the infrastructure advances and new capabilities emerge. Generally the simpler and easier these standards are to implement, the more adoption they will typically garner. Often simple standards are easier to innovate on and allow people to come up with new ways of using them that weren’t originally intended.
This type of growth can be seen in the relatively new W3C recommendation for the Webmention specification which grew out of the IndieWeb movement. Services like Facebook and Twitter have a functionality called @mentions, but they only work within their own walled gardens; they definitely don’t interoperate–you can’t @mention someone on Facebook with your Twitter account. Why not?! Why not have a simple standard that will allow one website to @mention another–not only across domain names but across multiple web servers and even content management systems? This is precisely what the Webmention standard allows. I can @mention you from my domain running WordPress and you can still receive it using your own domain running Drupal (or whatever software you choose). People within the IndieWeb community realized there was a need for such functionality, and so, over the span of several years, they slowly evolved it and turned it into a web standard that anyone (including Facebook and Twitter) could use. While it may have been initially meant as a simple notifications protocol, people have combined it with another set of web standards known as Microformats to enable cross-site conversations and a variety of other wonderous functionalities.
Some people in the IndieWeb might define it as all of the previous ideas we’ve discussed as well as the ability to support conversations via Webmentions. Some might also define an IndieWeb site as one that has the ability to support Micropub, which is a standard that allows websites to be able to accept data from a growing variety of applications that will allow you to more easily post different types of content to your site from articles and photos to what you’re drinking or reading.
Still others might want their own definition of IndieWeb to support the functionality of WebSub, MicroSub, IndieAuth, or even all of the above. Each small, free-standing piece expands the capabilities of what your personal website can do and how you can interact online. But since it’s your website and under your control, you have the power to pick and choose what and how you would like it to be able to do.
So what is the IndieWeb really?
Perhaps after exploring the concept a bit, most may not necessarily be able to define it concretely. Instead they might say–to quote United States Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart—“But I know it when I see it […]”.
The IndieWeb can be many different things. It is:
an independent network of websites;
a set of broad-based web standards;
a set of principles;
a group of people;
a support network;
an inclusive community;
a Utopian dream of what the decentralized, open Internet could be.
In some sense it is all of these things and many more.
It's a reboot of XML-RPC and the site that documents it.
The XML-RPC protocol was designed in 1998, by four people. Don Box, Mohsen Agsen, Bob Atkinson and myself. The first three guys worked at Microsoft. I was at UserLand.
It became popular because it was so simple, and early. There were implementations in every major language and environment. For example, it was built into Python and the Macintosh OS. The main blogging APIs were done in XML-RPC. There is an O'Reilly book on XML-RPC.
It's been 20 years! We can do another new version in 2038, Murphy-willing, if we're still here, etc. This may eventually become the XML-RPC home page. It's not as beautiful as the original, but the links will be current.
Here are my answers to Alan’s list of questions about my domain:
What is your domain name and what is the story, meaning behind your choice of that as a name?
I’ve spent 20+ years working in the entertainment industry in one way or another and was enamored of it long before that. Boffo and socko are slanguage from the trade magazine Variety essentially meaning “fantastically, stupendously outstanding; beyond awesome”, and used together are redundant. I was shocked that the domain name was available so I bought it on a whim expecting I’d do something useful with it in the future. Ultimately who wouldn’t want to be Boffo, Socko, or even both?
In my youth I think I watched Muppets Take Manhattan about 1,000 times and apparently always thought Kermit was cool when he said “Boffo Lenny! Socko Lenny!”
What was your understanding, experience with domains before you got one? Where were you publishing online before having one of your own?
Over the ages I’d had several websites of one stripe or another going back to the early/mid-90’s when I was in college and everyone was learning about and using the web together. Many of my domains had a ~ in them which was common at the time. I primarily used them to promote work I was doing in school or with various groups. Later I remember spending a lot of time setting up WordPress and Drupal sites, often for friends, but didn’t actually do much with my own. For me it was an entry point into working with coding and simply playing with new technology.
I didn’t actually begin putting a lot of material online until the social media revolution began in 2006/2007. In 2008, I purchased a handful of domain names, many of which I’m still maintaining now. Ultimately I began posting more of my own material, photos, and observations online in a now defunct Posterous account in early 2010. Before it got shut down I had moved back to WordPress which gave me a lot more freedom and flexibility.
What was a compelling feature, reason, motivation for you to get and use a domain? When you started what did you think you would put there?
When I bought my first handful of domains, it was primarily to begin to own and brand my own identity online. I wasn’t sure what exactly I was going to do with them, but I was posting so much content to Facebook and Twitter I thought I ought to be posting it all (especially the longer form, and in my mind, more valuable content) to a site I owned and controlled and then syndicating the content to those other sites instead. Initially microblogging, bookmarking, posting checkins, and sharing photos made it easier to being writing and producing other things.
What kinds of sites have you set up on your domain since then? How are you using them? Please share URLs!
Most of my domains are personal and personal education related, though I do have a few for separate business/work purposes.
collect bookmarks of interesting things I see online or want to read in the future;
post about what I’m reading, watching, or listening to;
post what I’m eating, drinking, or places I’ve checked into, photos of things around me;
post podcasts and microcasts from time to time;
draft and synthesize big pieces of the above to write reviews or longer pieces (from articles to books) and publish them for others to read.
Generally I do everything others would do on any one of hundreds of other social media websites (and I’ve got all those too, though I use them far less), but I’m doing it in a centralized place that I own and control and don’t have to worry about it or certain pieces of functionality disappearing in the future.
In large part, I use my website like a modern day commonplace book. It’s where I post most of what I’m thinking and writing on a regular basis and it’s easily searchable as an off-board memory. I’m thrilled to have been able to inspire others to do much the same, often to the extent that many have copied my Brief Philosophy word-for-word to their “About” pages.
Almost everything I do online starts on my own domain now, and, when appropriate, I syndicate content to other places to make it easier for friends, family, colleagues, and others to read that content in other channels and communicate with me.
https://chrisaldrich.withknown.com — This is a WithKnown-based website that I used when I initially got started in the IndieWeb movement. It was built with IndieWeb and POSSE functionality in mind and was dead simple to use with a nice interface.
http://stream.boffosocko.com — Eventually I realized it wasn’t difficult to set up and maintain my own WithKnown site, and it gave me additional control. I made it a subdomain of my primary website. I’ve slowly been using it less and less as I’ve been able to do more and more with my WordPress website. Now I primarily use it for experiments as well as for quick mobile replies to sites like Twitter.
What helped you or would have helped you more when you started using your domain? What do you still struggle with?
Having more examples of things that are possible with a domain and having potential mentors to support me in what I was attempting to do. I wish I had come across the IndieWeb movement and their supportive community far earlier. I wish some of the functionality and web standards that exist now had been around earlier.
I still struggle with writing the code I’d like to have to create particular pieces of functionality. I wish I was a better UX/UI/design person to create some of the look and feel pieces I wish I had. Since I don’t (yet), I’m trying to help others maintain and promote pieces of their projects, which I use regularly.
I still wish I had a better/more robust feed reader more tightly integrated into my website. I wish there was better/easier micropub support for various applications so that I could more easily capture and publish content on my website.
What kind of future plans to you have for your domain?
I’d like to continue evolving the ability to manage and triage my reading workflows on my own site.
I’d like to be able to use it to more easily and prettily collect things I’m highlighting and annotating on the web in a way that allows me to unconditionally own all the relevant data without relying on third parties.
Eventually I’d like to be able to use it to publish books or produce and distribute video directly.
I’m also continuing to document my experiments with my domain so that others can see what I’ve done, borrow it, modify it, or more easily change it to suit their needs. I also do this so that my future (forgetful) self will be able to remember what I did and why and either add to or change it more easily.
Tomorrow I’m positive I’ll see someone using their own website to do something cool or awesome that I wish I had thought to do. Then I hope I won’t have to work too hard to make it happen for myself. These itches never seem to stop because, on your own domain, nearly anything is possible.
What would you say to other educators about the value, reason why to have a domain of your own? What will it take them to get going with their own domain?
Collecting, learning, analyzing, and creating have been central to academic purposes since the beginning of time. Every day I’m able to do these things more quickly and easily in conjunction with using my own domain. With new tools and standards I’m also able to much more easily carry on two-way dialogues with a broader community on the internet.
I hope that one day we’re able to all self-publish and improve our own content to the point that we won’t need to rely on others as much for many of the moving parts. Until then things continue to gradually improve, so why not join in so that the improvement accelerates? Who knows? Perhaps that thing you would do with your domain becomes the tipping point for millions of others to do so as well?
To get going it only takes some desire. There are hundreds of free or nearly free services you can utilize to get things rolling. If you need help or a mentor, I’m happy to serve as that to get you going. If you’d like a community and even more help, come join the IndieWeb chat room. You can also look for a local (or virtual) Homebrew Website Club; a WordPress Meetup or Camp, or Drupal Meetup or Camp; or any one of dozens of other groups or communities that can help you get moving.
Git made it possible for programmers to coordinate distributed work across teams -- now GitHub makes it possible for everyone else
GitHub’s acquisition by Microsoft this week has many people writing about what GitHub is and how it could be used and leveraged by a larger institutional company. Jon Udell, who thinks a lot about annotation and and highlighting, has an excellent piece here (from 2015) that touches on some excellent forward-thinking pieces. Some of it is reminiscent to an article I wrote back in 2014: Git and Version Control for Novelists, Screenwriters, Academics, and the General Public. I’m hoping that in the coming years that the user interfaces for projects like these improve to make version control a more ubiquitous tool.
Today, we announced an agreement to acquire GitHub, the world’s leading software development platform. I want to share what this acquisition will mean for our industry and for developers.
The era of the intelligent cloud and intelligent edge is upon us. Computing is becoming embedded in the world,...
Not quite the pablum of the GitHub version of this announcement, but still in the same general ballpark. This one at least had some additional detail on things moving forward.
From bestselling writer David Graeber, a powerful argument against the rise of meaningless, unfulfilling jobs, and their consequences.
Does your job make a meaningful contribution to the world? In the spring of 2013, David Graeber asked this question in a playful, provocative essay titled “On the Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs.” It went viral. After a million online views in seventeen different languages, people all over the world are still debating the answer.
There are millions of people—HR consultants, communication coordinators, telemarketing researchers, corporate lawyers—whose jobs are useless, and, tragically, they know it. These people are caught in bullshit jobs.
Graeber explores one of society’s most vexing and deeply felt concerns, indicting among other villains a particular strain of finance capitalism that betrays ideals shared by thinkers ranging from Keynes to Lincoln. Bullshit Jobs gives individuals, corporations, and societies permission to undergo a shift in values, placing creative and caring work at the center of our culture. This book is for everyone who wants to turn their vocation back into an avocation.
Replied toa post by Greg McVerry (jgregorymcverry.com)
@chrisaldrich Wouldn’t it be neat if @hypothesis was also a micropub client or used the API so I could PESOS each annotation to my blog as a quote post-kind? So cool @xolotl is coming coming to #indieweb summit. Know the markup doesn’t match but that ain’t a hard fix. Has to be somefun ways regardless of tech to make wordpress and open annotation talk.
There is the (abandoned?) Hypothesis Aggregator plugin which Nate has worked on a bit that allows a relatively easy PESOS workflow from Hypothes.is to WordPress, but you’re right that it would be nice to have a micropub version that would work for all CMSs.
Personally, I’d also love them to support Webmention which I think would be generally useful as well. There are obvious use cases for it in addition to an anti-abuse one which I’ve written about before. Perhaps if it were supported and had better anti-troll or NIPSA (Not In Public Site Areas) features folks like Audrey Watters might not block it.
I started looking at blockchain from a position of extreme skepticism. Over time, mostly thanks to friends like Julien Genestoux and the amazing team over at DADA, I've come to a better understanding.
I've always been interested in decentralization as a general topic, of course - the original visi...
Ben, like you I’m highly skeptical of the word blockchain when applied to any business. My background in cryptography and information theory indicates that the technical side of things is generally on the up and up, but the long term use with huge ledgers and massive transaction scale doesn’t seem to scale the way most seem to be hoping it will.
The one interesting business use case I’ve seen was on the fundraising front, but it also has a lot of the downside you mention for use in building a business. If it helps lay out a sketch of what the thing would look like from a startup perspective, I’m including the recorded talk I saw a few months ago. Still I say caveat emptor.
Subtle changes to letter shapes can embed messages
An interesting piece to be sure, but I’ve thought of doing this sort of steganography in the past. In particular, I recall having conversations with Sol Golomb about similar techniques in the past. I’m sure there’s got to be prior art for similar things as well.