An Invitation to IndieWeb Summit 2019

Fellow educators, teachers, specialists, instructional designers, web designers, Domains proponents, programmers, developers, students, web tinkerers, etc.,

  • Want to expand the capabilities of what your own domain is capable of?
  • Interested in improving the tools available on the open web?
  • Want to help make simpler, ethical digital pedagogy a reality in a way that students and teachers can implement themselves without relying on predatory third-party platforms?
  • Are you looking to use your online commonplace book as an active hub for your research, writing, and scholarship?

Bring your ideas and passions to help us all brainstorm, ruminate, and then with help actually design and build the version of the web we all want and need–one that reflects our values and desires for the future.

I’d like to invite you all to the 9th Annual IndieWeb Summit in Portland, Oregon, USA on June 29-30, 2019. It follows a traditional BarCamp style format, so the conference is only as good as the attendees and the ideas they bring with them, and since everyone is encouraged to actively participate, it also means that everyone is sure to get something interesting and valuable out of the experience.

We need more educators, thinkers, and tinkerers to begin designing and building the ethical , , and interactive pedagogy systems we all want.

Come and propose a session on a topic you’re interested in exploring and building toward with a group of like-minded people.

While on-site attendance can be exciting and invigorating for those who can come in person, streaming video and online tools should be available to make useful and worthwhile virtual attendance of all the talks, sessions, and even collaborative build time a real possibility as well. I’ll also note that travel assistance is also available for the Summit if you’d like to apply for it, or you’re able to donate funds to help others.

I hope you can all attend, and I encourage you to invite along friends, students, and colleagues.  

I heartily encourage those who don’t yet have a domain of their own to join in the fun. You’ll find lots of help and encouragement at camp and within the IndieWeb community so that even if you currently think you don’t have any skills, you can put together the resources to get something up and working before the Summit’s weekend is over. We’re also around nearly 24/7 in online chat to continue that support and encouragement both before and after the event so you can continue iterating on things you’d like to have working on your personal website.

Never been to an IndieWebCamp? Click through for some details about what to expect. Still not sure? feel free to touch base in any way that feels comfortable for you. 

Register today: https://2019.indieweb.org/summit#register

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Idea for a spaced repetition user interface for Hypothes.is

While I’m thinking about younger students, I thought I’d sketch out a bit of an add-on product that I wish Hypothes.is had.

Background/Set up

I was looking at tools to pull annotations out of Kindle the other day and ran across Readwise again. Part of its functionality pulls highlights and annotations out of Kindle and then it has some UI that uses the idea of spaced repetition to have you regularly review what you’ve previously read and highlighted and presumably wanted to remember or use in the future.

Of course this is very similar to other spaced repetition/flash card applications like Mnemosyne, Anki, or language apps like Memrise and Duolingo among many others. I also seem to recall that Amazon once had some UI like this built into their Kindle Notebook, but I’m not finding it at the moment, but I know they’ve changed that UI sometime in the last two years–perhaps it’s gone?

The Pitch

Given the number of learners who are using Hypothes.is, wouldn’t it be a fantastic bit of functionality if Hypothes.is had a spaced repetition UI that would allow students to easily go back and review over their prior highlights and annotations?! Presumably this could be targeted for quizzes and tests, but honestly as a lifelong learner I very frequently love using tools like Timehop or even my website’s built-in “On this day” functionality to look back over bits and pieces of things I’ve done in the past, which also includes my annotations, since I’m keeping copies of them on my website as well.

Naturally such a UI should be able to search or sort by tag, date range, or even by source(s) so that a student could more easily wrangle a particular number of sources over which they wanted to review their material–particularly as over months, years, or decades one could build up a huge library of annotations. If, as a student, I was tagging my material by class course number subject area or something similar (like edu522, for example) I could then easily dump that into such a UI and be able to do spaced repetition studying for that subject area. Masters, Ph.D. students, and even the professoriate might appreciate it for occasional spaced repetition to be nudged or reminded of ideas they’d had in the past, but which may need rekindling to put into a thesis or potential future papers.

The more I think about this, the more I’d love to see it in Hypothes.is. If it’s not something the main team takes on, perhaps it could be an add-on for a group like Remi Kalir’s who have done some interesting work with the API to create Crowdlaaers

I’m planning to use import/export manually with tools like Anki to do some testing this coming weekend… I wonder what open sourced code may already exist that I could simply plug my Hypothes.is data into? Hmm…

WPCampus 2019 Draft Proposal: Dramatically extending a Domain of One’s Own with IndieWeb technology

Below is a draft proposal which I’m submitting for a possible upcoming talk at WPCampus from July 25-27, 2019 in Portland, OR. If you don’t have the patience and can’t wait for the details, feel free to reach out and touch base. I’m happy to walk people through it all before then. If you’re looking for other upcoming events or need help, check out any of the upcoming Homebrew Website Clubs, IndieWebCamps, the IndieWeb Summit 2019, or even Domains2019.

Session Title

Dramatically extending a Domain of One’s Own with IndieWeb technology: How to improve your online research notebooks, commonplace books, and digital pedagogy

Session description

(This description will be edited and used on the website. Please include 1-2 paragraphs and a list of key takeaways for the audience.)

Having a Domain of One’s Own and using it as a “thought space” to own your online identity and work is just the tip of the iceberg. Can you imagine how useful it would be if you could use your Twitter account to reply to someone on Facebook (without needing a Facebook account) or vice versa? Open web technology from the IndieWeb movement that utilizes simple plugins, modules, or even built-in functionality now exists so that people can now use WordPress, Drupal, WithKnown, Grav and many other content management systems on any domain name to have rich site-to-site communications in a simple and intuitive way. Third party (and often unethical) corporate platforms are no longer needed to have rich interactions between scholars on the web.

It is now easily possible to have a teacher write a post on their own website and their students to easily reply/react to that post on their own websites (along with a useful reply context) and send that reply to the teacher’s website for possible display. Each participant can now own a copy of both sides of the conversation.

  • Teachers and students will learn how to (individually or together) collect, analyze, write, collaborate, and interact easily online while doing so in a space they own and control without giving away their data to third party platforms.
  • Researchers can now easily bookmark, highlight, or annotate portions of the web and keep this data (public/private) on their own website (aka digital commonplace book or notebook) for future reference or use.
  • We’ll show how courseware can be decentralized so that the instructor and the students each own their own pieces of the learning processes and can keep them for as long as they wish.
  • We will demonstrate how one can use their WordPress-based website with a few simple plugins to own all of the traditional social media types (bookmarks, items read, highlights, annotations, comments/replies, photos, status updates, audio, checkins, etc.) on their own site while still allowing interacting (if desired) with other websites as well as in social spaces like Twitter, Instagram, Swarm, etc.
  • We will demonstrate a new generation of free feed readers that allow composing in-line responses and reactions that post them directly to one’s own website as well as send notification to the site being read and interacted with.

You can now have the joy of a Domain of Your Own and still easily interact just as if your site were a (better-than) first class social media platform.

More Information About Your Session

(Please describe your session in greater detail for the organizers. You may be more casual in this description as it will not be posted on the website.)

In some sense, this session will be a crash course on using IndieWeb technologies and building-blocks with WordPress in the Education space. I’ll aim to remove a lot of technical jargon and keep coding examples to a bare minimum (if using any at all) so that those with the technical ceiling of downloading and installing a plugin can immediately benefit from the talk. I will also provide enough pointers and describe the broad outlines that developers will have a broad overview of the IndieWeb space to find and extend these plugins and functionality if they wish.

I’ll be covering the basics of new W3C recommendations like Webmention, Micropub, and WebSub along with forthcoming specs like Microsub in combination with IndieAuth (a version of OAuth2 for login). I’ll show how they can be applied to personal websites in research, teaching, collaboration, and other educational domains like creating Open Educational Resources. Many of these can be easily implemented in WordPress with just a handful of simple plugins that allow the web to become the social media platform we all wish it would be.

I’ll use examples from my own personal website and several others (which use Drupal, WithKnown, Grav, etc.) to show how these plugins can be used in educational settings and will walk through a case study of a course built using DoOO and IndieWeb philosophies and technologies (EDU 522: Digital Teaching and Learning at Southern Connecticut State University) on which I collaborated with Dr. Gregory McVerry.

IndieWeb Book Club: Ruined By Design

Some of us have thought about doing it before, but perhaps just jumping into the water and trying it out may be the best way to begin designing, testing, and building a true online IndieWeb Book Club.

Ruined By Design

Title and author on a white background at the top with a red filtered view of an atomic mushroom cloud explosion on the Bikini atoll in the Pacific Ocean

Earlier this week I saw a notice about an upcoming local event for Mike Monteiro‘s new book Ruined by Design: How Designers Destroyed the World, and What We Can Do to Fix It (Mule Books, March 2019, ISBN: 978-1090532084). Given the IndieWeb’s focus on design which is built into several of their principles, I thought this looked like a good choice for kicking off such an IndieWeb Book Club.

Here’s the description of the book from the publisher:

The world is working exactly as designed. The combustion engine which is destroying our planet’s atmosphere and rapidly making it inhospitable is working exactly as we designed it. Guns, which lead to so much death, work exactly as they’re designed to work. And every time we “improve” their design, they get better at killing. Facebook’s privacy settings, which have outed gay teens to their conservative parents, are working exactly as designed. Their “real names” initiative, which makes it easier for stalkers to re-find their victims, is working exactly as designed. Twitter’s toxicity and lack of civil discourse is working exactly as it’s designed to work.The world is working exactly as designed. And it’s not working very well. Which means we need to do a better job of designing it. Design is a craft with an amazing amount of power. The power to choose. The power to influence. As designers, we need to see ourselves as gatekeepers of what we are bringing into the world, and what we choose not to bring into the world. Design is a craft with responsibility. The responsibility to help create a better world for all. Design is also a craft with a lot of blood on its hands. Every cigarette ad is on us. Every gun is on us. Every ballot that a voter cannot understand is on us. Every time social network’s interface allows a stalker to find their victim, that’s on us. The monsters we unleash into the world will carry your name. This book will make you see that design is a political act. What we choose to design is a political act. Who we choose to work for is a political act. Who we choose to work with is a political act. And, most importantly, the people we’ve excluded from these decisions is the biggest (and stupidest) political act we’ve made as a society.If you’re a designer, this book might make you angry. It should make you angry. But it will also give you the tools you need to make better decisions. You will learn how to evaluate the potential benefits and harm of what you’re working on. You’ll learn how to present your concerns. You’ll learn the importance of building and working with diverse teams who can approach problems from multiple points-of-view. You’ll learn how to make a case using data and good storytelling. You’ll learn to say NO in a way that’ll make people listen. But mostly, this book will fill you with the confidence to do the job the way you always wanted to be able to do it. This book will help you understand your responsibilities.

I suspect that this book will be of particular interest to those in the IndieWeb, A Domain of One’s Own, the EdTech space (and OER), and really just about anyone.

How to participate

I’m open to other potential guidelines and thoughts since this is incredibly experimental at best, but I thought I’d lay out the following broad ideas for how we can generally run the book club and everyone can keep track of the pieces online. Feel free to add your thoughts as responses to this post or add them to the IndieWeb wiki’s page https://indieweb.org/IndieWeb_Book_Club.

  • Buy the book or get a copy from your local bookstore
  • Read it along with the group
  • Post your progress, thoughts, replies/comments, highlights, annotations, reactions, quotes, related bookmarks, podcast or microcast episodes, etc. about the book on your own website on your own domain. If your site doesn’t support any of these natively, just do your best and post simple notes that you can share. In the end, this is about the content and the discussion first and the technology second, but feel free to let it encourage you to improve your own site for doing these things along the way.
    • Folks can also post on other websites and platforms if they must, but that sort of defeats some of the purpose of the Indie idea, right?
  • Syndicate your thoughts to indieweb.xyz to the stub indieweb.xyz/en/bookclub/ as the primary location for keeping track of our conversation. Directions for doing this can be found at https://indieweb.xyz/howto/en.
  • Optionally syndicate them to other services like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.
  • Optionally mention this original post, and my website will also aggregate the comments via webmention to the comment section below.
  • At regular intervals, check in on the conversations linked on indieweb.xyz/en/bookclub/ and post your replies and reactions about them on your own site.

If your site doesn’t support sending/receiving webmentions (a special type of open web notifications), take a look at Aaron Parecki’s post Sending your first Webmention and keep in mind that you can manually force webmentions with services like Telegraph or Mention-Tech

I’ll also try to keep track of entries I’m aware about on my own site as read or bookmark posts which I’ll tag with (ostensibly for IndieWeb Book Club Mike Monteiro), which we can also use on other social silos for keeping track of the conversation there.

Perhaps as we move along, I’ll look into creating a planet for the club as well as aggregating OPML files of those who create custom feeds for their posts. If I do this it will only be to supplement the aggregation of posts at the stub on indieweb.xyz which should serve as the primary hub for the club’s conversation.

If you haven’t run across it yet you can also use gRegor Morrill‘s IndieBookClub.biz tool in the process. 

If you don’t already have your own website or domain to participate, feel free to join in on other portions of social media, but perhaps consider jumping into the IndieWeb chat to ask about how to get started to better own your online identity and content. 

If you need help putting together your own site, there are many of us out here who can help get you started. I might also recommend using micro.blog which is an inexpensive and simple way to have your own website. I know that Manton Reece has already purchased a copy of the book himself. I hope that he and the rest of the micro.blog community will participate  along with us.

If you feel technically challenged, please ping me about your content and participation, and I’m happy to help aggregate your posts to the indieweb.xyz hub on your behalf. Ideally a panoply of people participating on a variety of technical levels and platforms will help us create a better book club (and a better web) for the future.

Of course, if you feel the itch to build pieces of infrastructure into your own website for improved participation, dive right in. Feel free to document what you’re doing both your own website and the IndieWeb wiki so others can take advantage of what you’ve come up with. Also feel free to join in on upcoming Homebrew Website Clubs (either local or virtual) or IndieWebCamps to continue brainstorming and iterating in those spaces as well.

Kickoff and Timeline

I’m syndicating this post to IndieNews for inclusion into next week’s IndieWeb newsletter which will serve as a kickoff notice. That will give folks time to acquire a copy of the book and start reading it. Of course this doesn’t mean that you couldn’t start today.

Share and repost this article with anyone you think might enjoy participating in the meanwhile.

I’ll start reading and take a stab at laying out a rough schedule. If you’re interested in participating, do let me know; we can try to mold the pace to those who actively want to participate.

I’ve already acquired a copy of the book and look forward to reading it along with you.

📅 Virtual Homebrew Website Club Meetup on May 15, 2019

Are you building your own website? Indie reader? Personal publishing web app? Or some other digital magic-cloud proxy? If so, come on by and join a gathering of people with like-minded interests. Bring your friends who want to start a personal web site. Exchange information, swap ideas, talk shop, help work on a project…

Everyone of every level is welcome to participate! Don’t have a domain yet? Come along and someone can help you get started and provide resources for creating the site you’ve always wanted.

This virtual HWC meeting is for site builders who either can’t make a regular in-person meeting or don’t yet have critical mass to host one in their area. It will be hosted on Google Hangouts.

More Details

Join a community of like-minded people building and improving their personal websites. Invite friends that want a personal site.

  • Work with others to help motivate yourself to create the site you’ve always wanted to have.
  • Ask questions about things you may be stuck on–don’t let stumbling blocks get in the way of having the site you’d like to have.
  • Finish that website feature or blog post you’ve been working on
  • Burn down that old website and build something from scratch
  • Share what you’ve gotten working
  • Demos of recent breakthroughs

Skill levels: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced

Any questions? Need help? Need more information? Ask in chat: https://chat.indieweb.org/indieweb/

RSVP

Add your optional RSVP in the comments below; by adding your indie RSVP via webmention to this post; or by RSVPing to one of the syndicated posts below:
Indieweb.org event: https://indieweb.org/events/2019-05-15-homebrew-website-club#Virtual_Americas_West
Twitter “event”: https://twitter.com/ChrisAldrich/status/1122956290756530176
Meetup.com: https://www.meetup.com/IndieWeb-Homebrew-Website-Club-Los-Angeles/events/261026321/

Thoughts about Southern California WordCamps

I was at the awesome WordPress Orange County all day yesterday and attended remotely via live stream for portions of today.

While I was there, my gut feeling after looking at the rest of this year’s calendar was confirmed. I heard from several people that WordCamp Los Angeles and WordCamp San Diego aren’t being planned for this year as they typically would be. Naturally I’m distraught at the thought, but I’m also wondering if part of the reason is that there are several smaller nearby regional camps that have popped up over the past year? Some of these newer camps include WordCamp Riverside, WordCamp Santa Clarita, and the upcoming WordCamp Long Beach.

This trend can be an interesting one in large part because it means that the community is growing in size and sophistication as well as leadership to be able to sustain these new area camps. It’s good to have been able to have gone to two camps within driving distance in the last two months and also know that there are two more camps within that same distance before the end of the year. Instead of having one or two major camps nearby, I’ve now got twice the amount.

Of course, with all the extra awesomeness that this provides, I also wonder about the ideas of community cohesion, leadership, continuity, and even burnout. Should we have better regional conversations about these camps, their timing, and their content? Are we possibly spreading ourselves too thin? Is there enough leadership and continuity to continue all these individual camps on an annual basis for the next 5 years? Are the benches deep enough that we’re not working toward burning ourselves (and our volunteer base) out? Would it be better to have a little less? Should we alternate having bigger camps in LA and San Diego with the smaller ones in nearby cities? What does that look like? Are we thinking about longer term sustainability?

I’m mulling over the idea of spearheading either a WordCamp Los Angeles, to keep the central continuity, but I’m also wondering about doing something like that with a slightly smaller Pasadena Camp. I also started a discussion yesterday about doing a kids’ WordCamp in the LA area when I found out that there is already some organization and institutional support for these in other cities. And of course this all comes with my pre-existing plans for doing a local area IndieWebCamp sometime within the next calendar year. All of these ideas are appealing to me, but I only have a finite amount of time for planning and executing them.

In the coming weeks, I’d like to reach out and touch base with all of these nearby camps to hear other’s ideas on the topic and their long term plans to see what the best way forward might look like. Has the central organization run across these rapid growth problems in other metropolitan areas in the past? What was were the near-term and longer-term results? Without some additional data, I feel like I’m operating in a bit of a vacuum. Is it possible that as a major market city that the LA area is the first to see potential effects like I’ve described?

This post mostly serves as an informal dump of some preliminary ideas and potential concerns for the future; I’d welcome ideas and additional thoughts.

A Modest Proposal Review

Will you look at this?! Twitter has recreated the WordPress Gutenberg editor interface into their web product. Currently it only has a few blocks for text, photos, gifs, video, embeds, and polls, but it’s not completely horrible and it’s relatively fast and convenient.

The Gutenberg editor in WordPress:

The title of the pending post is "Hello to the New Editor"
Screen capture of the new Gutenberg interface

In fact it appears that they’ve pared the editor down substantially. A few more tweaks and it might be as clean as the Medium editor experience.

Want to add a video, just drop a youtube link:

Want to embed a blog post from somewhere else? Add the link in your tweet and get a spiffy Twitter Card (just like oEmbed!)

An Introduction to the IndieWeb

I can see people getting awfully tired of clicking that “plus” button interminably though. Maybe if the interface could algorithmically choose where to break text the same way it determines what tweets I’m going to see?

Now they just need an edit button and they’ve got a “real” blogging experience, but one that’s editable in tiny 280 character chunks. Who has the attention span for more content than this anyway?

I can already tell that newspapers and magazines are going to love this. Just imagine the ease of doing shareable pull quotes this way?!

I can see journalistic institutions rebuilding their entire platforms on Twitter already!

Old CMS -> Tumblr -> Medium -> Twitter!

What is your favorite editing experience?

  • The Tweetstorm-o-matic
  • WordPress’ Gutenberg
  • WordPress Classic Editor
  • Medium

Uh oh! I’m noticing that they’ve neglected to put a block in for a title area. Maybe we could just do a really short tweet up at the top of the thread instead? If only we could drag and drop tweets to reorder them? At least you can add new tweets into the middle of the stream.

Besides, who’s going to read anything but the headline tweet anyway. No one is ever going to read this far into a tweetstorm. Maybe a blog post where they at least know what they’re getting into, but never a 20+ card tweetstorm.

And would you look at that? They almost jumped ahead of Medium on inline annotations by allowing people to reply to very specific pieces of the text. I’m kind of disappointed that they don’t have the pretty green highlighter colors though.

Screencapture from Medium.com with an example of an inline response.
An inline annotation on the text “Hey Ev, what about mentions?” in which Medium began to roll out their @mention functionality.

Now if only I could register a custom domain on their service and have control over the CSS, Twitter could be a first class open web CMS.

#​I​CanOnlyDream

*Sigh* I suppose until then I’ll just stick with my humble little website that allows me to own and control my own data on my own domain name and communicate with others using simple web standards.

#​​IndieWebForever

User Interface to Indicate Posting Activity

In addition to the sparkline graphs I’ve got in the sidebar of my website, I’ve recently been looking at alternate ways to indicate the posting activity on my own website.

An example of a sparkline graph on Boffosocko.com. A blue line indicates the comment posting velocity and an orange line indicates the comment velocity.
“Monthly activity over 5 years” for both posting activity as well as commenting activity on my website.

Calendar Heatmaps

Yesterday I was contemplating calendar heatmaps which are probably best known from the user interface of GitHub which relatively shows how active someone is on the website. I’ve discovered that JetPack for WordPress provides a similar functionality on the back end (in blue instead of green), but sadly doesn’t make it available for display on the front end of websites. I’ve filed a feature request to see if it’s something they’d work on in the future, so if having something like this seems useful to you, please click through and give the post a +1.

Orderly grid of squares representing dates which are grouped by month with a gradation of colors on each square that indicate in heat map fashion how frequently I post to my website.
A screen capture of what my posting “velocity” looks like on the back end of my website. The darkest squares indicate 30+ posts in a day while the next darkest indicate between 15-30 posts. My “streak” is far longer than this chart indicates. I obviously post a LOT.

Circular Widthmaps

Today I saw a note that led me to the Internet Archive which I know has recently had a redesign. I’m not sure if the functionality I saw was part of this redesign, but it’s pretty awesome. I’m not sure quite what to call this sort of circular bar chart given what it does, but circular widthmap seems vaguely appropriate. Here’s a link to the archive.org page for my website that shows this cool UI, screencaptures of which also appear below: http://web.archive.org/web/sitemap/https://www.boffosocko.com/

Instead of using color gradations to indicate a relative number of posts, the UI is measuring things via width in ever increasing concentric circles. The innermost circle indicates the root domain and successive levels out add additional paths from my site. Because I’m using dated archive paths, there’s a level of circle by year (2019, 2018, 2017, etc.) then another level outside that by months (April 2019, March 2019, etc.), and finally the outermost circle which indicates individual posts. As a result, the width of a particular year or month indicates relatively how active that time frame was on my website (or at least how active Archive.org thinks it was based on its robot crawler.)

Of course the segments on the circles also measure things like categories and tags on my site as well along with the date based archives. Thus I can gauge how often I use particular categories for example.

I’ll also note that in the 2018 portion of the circle for July 11th, I had a post that slashdotted my website when it took off on Hacker News. That individual day is represented as really wide on that circular ring because it has an additional concentric circle outside of it that represents the hundreds of comment URL fragments for that post. So one must keep in mind that things in some of the internal rings aren’t as relative because they may be heavily affected by portions of content further out on the ring.

Interface that presents concentric circles with archived links of a website. The center circle is the domain itself while outside portions of the circle include archive pages, categories, pages, posts, and other portions of a site.
My website posting activity (and a little more) from 2018 and before according to the Internet Archive.
Interface that presents concentric circles with archived links of a website. The center circle is the domain itself while outside portions of the circle include archive pages, categories, pages, posts, and other portions of a site.
My website posting activity (and a little more) from April 2019 and before according to the Internet Archive.

How awesome would it be if this were embed-able and usable on my own website?

Jackie Robinson Day at Dodger Stadium on April 15, 2019

Last night I got some last minute tickets to the Los Angeles Dodger’s 11th game of the season against the Reds. The stadium was celebrating Jackie Robionson Day! As a result the give away for the night was a custom white Dodger’s jersey with Robinson’s 42 emblazoned on it. So in addition to all the fans wearing 42, all the players on both the Dodgers and the Reds also wore their respective jersies, but with the number 42! It made the game a lot harder to follow and score, but it was a fantastic way to honor Robinson’s career. All I can say is that #​​42 had a particularly spectacular night on my score card.

I also had some pretty spectacular tickets for the game. I had tickets in the Lexus Dugout Club in Section 1DG, Row GG, Seat 8 which ostensibly meant that I was in row 6 immediately behind home plate. I’ve been in rows 2 and 4 in the same section before at Dodger’s games, but they still don’t rate as impressive as the below-field-level tickets I had for a Padre’s game right next to the dugout were if I put my arm straight out, my finger was literally touching the dirt on the field and my yelling as a fan was able to cause a spat between the home plate umpire and the visiting team’s coach!

Lets Fix This

Jeffrey Zeldman does an excellent job of indicating why and what is wrong with the internet and social media and points to IndieWeb.org as a way forward.

If you’re personally using WordPress as a possible solution to those problems, I’m happy to help point to some quicker ways for people to rapidly implement them without struggling as much as many others have along the way.

(If WordPress isn’t your thing, the wiki has a plethora of other pathways depending on your CMS or programming language of choice–just search. It is abundantly clear that no single CMS is going to dig us out of the hole.)

I’ve written about and documented how I’ve gotten a lot of IndieWeb related technologies running on my own website. In many cases, these solutions are simple plugin downloads and activations, though it helps to have an idea of what they all do and how they may help.

I was particularly impressed with Brent Simmons’ post yesterday explaining how he was using his particular talents to further the cause. Though some may feel overwhelmed at the apparent size and scope of the problem, many diverse hands chipping away at small pieces can help to make a major dent in the problem.

Jen Simmons has indicated a useful paradigm structured around making resolutions with simple concrete steps and deadlines.

I have no doubt that even if you’re not a developer or programmer that you can help. If you’re not sure, ask me or others how.

I hope you’ll join us. Let’s roll up our sleeves and #​LetsFixThis.

A brief reflection on Kate Bowles’ keynote at OER 19

Kate Bowles gave a great Keynote at the Open Education Resources 2019 (OER19) conference in Galway last night. In it she indicates how politicians, economists and even universities themselves measure their growth at the level of imports/exports and even compare it with mining in a cynical way to describe the movement of their educational resources and students.

Slide from Bowle's talk with an image of a heavily mined and damaged site. The slide is entitled "This is how the expanded university talks" and contains the quote:'What do iron ore, coal and Australia'sinternational education sector have in common? They're the top three exports for Australia, with recent international trade data showing that the international education sector contributed AUS$32.2 billion (US$24.7 billion) dollars to the economy in 2017' --ICEF Monitor, 2018

Slide from Bowle's talk with an image of a heavily mined and damaged site. The slide is entitled "This is how the expanded university talks" and contains the quote: '81 per cent of Australians grasp that international education makes a major contribution to national prosperity. This overwhelming public support rises again--to 85 per cent--when Australians learn exactly how much income this sector brings into the Australian economy each year.'--Universities Australia, March 2019
A slide from

“What a chilling thing to say about young people crossing the world to learn.” –Kate Bowles (in response to the slide immediately above)

The fact that businesses, governments, and even universities themselves would take such an ugly standpoint on teaching and learning is painful. It reminds me that one of the things that I think the open IndieWeb movement gets right is that it is people-centric first and foremost. If you can take care of people at the most base level, then hopefully what gets built upon that base–while still watching it carefully–will be much more ethical.

The IndieWeb is a people-focused alternative to the “corporate web”.

As a result of this people-centric vision, I’m seeing a lot less of the sort of ills, unintended consequences, and poor emergent behaviors caused by the drive toward surveillance capitalism within the giant social media silos like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al.

I’m reminded of a part of the thesis that Cesar Hidalgo presents in Why Information Grows: The Evolution of Order from Atoms to Economies of the idea of the personbyte and what that looks like at a group level, then a corporate level, and I wonder how it may grow to the next level above that. Without ultimately focusing on the person at the bottom of the pyramid however, we may be ethically losing sight of where we’re going and why. We may even be building an edifice that is far more likely to crumble with even worse unintended consequences.

Here’s her talk in full. I highly recommend it.

Ideas for IndieWeb-ifying Hypothes.is

I use Hypothes.is regularly as part of my daily workflow. I’m also very interested in being able to “own” the data I generate with the tool and being able to keep it on my own digital commonplace book (aka website). As part of this, I’d like to be able to receive notifications from people publicly annotating, highlighting, and replying to my content and potentially display those directly on either my website in the comments section or as marginalia.

I’d promised to do a quick outline for the kind gang at Hypothes.is to outline how to make their product could be a bit more open and support some additional web standards to make it more IndieWeb friendly as well as to work toward supporting the Webmention protocol to send notifications of annotations on a page. A few weeks ago at IndieWebCamp New Haven I decided to finally sketch out some of the pieces which should be relatively easy for them to implement into the product. Below are some of the recommendations and some examples of what needs to be done to implement them into their platform to allow it to better interact with other content on the web. This post is in reply to a few prior conversations about Webmention, but primarily pertains to Microformats which will help in creating those. [1] [2] [3] [4]

Overview

To my knowledge Hypothes.is generates a hash for each annotation it has in the system and generates two separate, but related URLs for them. As an example, here are the two URLs for a response Jon Udell made on my website recently:

The first URL is where a stand-alone copy of the annotation lives on the web, separate from the content it is related to. screen capture of the content at URL https://hypothes.is/a/_tLJyA-cEemE-qPndyfQow The second URL resolves to the page on which the annotation was made and both will automatically open up Hypothesis’ side drawer UI to the annotation in question and will–on most browsers–auto-scroll down the page to show the point at which the annotation was made. Essentially this second URL shows the annotation in-situ in conjunction with the Hypothes.is user interface. I’ll note that they can also have some human readable trailing data in the URL that indicates the site on which the annotation was made like so: https://hyp.is/_tLJyA-cEemE-qPndyfQow/boffosocko.com/?p=55708991. However, in practice, one could remove or replace the boffosocko.com and trailing portion with any other URL and the correct page will still resolve.

It is great that they make the first URL available with the relevant data. This in itself is very IndieWeb friendly to have each annotation in the system have its own stand-alone URL. Sadly all the data on this particular page seems to be rendered using JavaScript rather than being raw HTML. (See also js;dr.) This makes the page human readable, but makes it much more difficult for machines to read or parse these pages. I’d recommend three simple things to make Hypothes.is more (Indie)Web friendly:

  1. Render the annotation on the first URL example in full HTML instead of JavaScript;
  2. Add the appropriate microformats classes on those pages;
  3. Add the canonical URL for the page on which the annotation is in reference to either instead of or in addition to the Hypothes.is prefixed URL which already appears on these pages. Webmention functioning properly will require this canonical URL to exist on the page to be able to send notifications and have them be received properly.

These things would make these pages more easily and usefully parseable on the open web. If/when Hypothes.is may support Webmention (aka web notifications) then all of these prerequisite pieces will already be in place. In the erstwhile, even without Hypothes.is running code to support sending Webmentions, users could force manual Webmentions using services like Telegraph, mention-tech.appspot, or even personal endpoints generated on individual posts (see the one below) or on custom endpoint pages like mine on WordPress. Aaron Parecki’s article Sending your First Webmention from Scratch is a useful tutorial for those with little experience with Microformats or Webmention.

Types of Annotations and Microformats Markup

To my knowledge there are three distinct types of annotations that might occur which may need slightly different microformats mark up depending on the type. These are:

  1. Unassigned page notes (or sometimes orphaned page notes): For all intents and purposes are the equivalent of bookmarks (and are used this way by many) though they go by a different name within the service.
  2. Highlights of particular passages: In IndieWeb parlance, these are roughly equivalent to quotations of content.
  3. Highlights and annotations of particular passages: In IndieWeb terms these again are quotes of content which also have what might be considered a reply or comment to that segment of quoted text. Alternately the annotation itself might be considered a note related to what was highlighted, but I suspect from a UI and semantic viewpoint, treating these as replies is probably more apropos in the majority of cases.

Each of these can obviously have one or more potential tags as well. Some of the examples below include the p-category microformats for how these would logically appear. Using the example URL above and several others for the other cases, I’ll provide some example HTML with proper microformats classes to make doing the mark up easier. I’ve created some minimal versions of text and mark up, though Hypothes.is obviously includes much more HTML (and a variety of divs for CSS purposes. While some of the mark up is a bit wonky, particularly with respect to adding the hyp.is and the original posts’ canonical URLs, it could be somewhat better with some additional reworking of the presentation, but I wanted to change as little as possible of their present UI. For the minimal examples, I’ve stripped out the native Hypothes.is classes and only included the semantic microformats. Because microformats are only meant for semantic mark up, the developers should keep in mind it is good practice NOT to use these classes for CSS styling.

Page note with no annotations (bookmarks)

Example from https://hypothes.is/a/_tLJyA-cEemE-qPndyfQow (but without the annotation portion)


<div class="h-entry">
    <a class="p-author h-card" href="https://hypothes.is/users/judell">judell</a>
    Public on <https://hyp.is/_tLJyA-cEemE-qPndyfQow/boffosocko.com/?p=55708991>"Chris Aldrich on the IndieWeb"</a> (<a class="u-bookmark-of" href="https://boffosocko.com/?p=55708991">boffosocko.com</a>)
    <time class="dt-published" datetime="2019-01-11 18:052:00" title="Friday, Jan 11, 2019, 6:52 PM"><a href="https://hypothes.is/a/_tLJyA-cEemE-qPndyfQow" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Jan 11</a></time>
    
<div class="p-category">tag-name1</div>
 
<div class="p-category">tag-name2</div>
 
<div class="p-category">tag-name3</div>
</div>

Page note with an annotation

(aka a reply, but could alternately be marked up as above as a bookmark) Example from https://hypothes.is/a/_tLJyA-cEemE-qPndyfQow


<div class="h-entry">
    <a class="p-author h-card" href="https://hypothes.is/users/judell">judell</a>
    Public on <https://hyp.is/_tLJyA-cEemE-qPndyfQow/boffosocko.com/?p=55708991>"Chris Aldrich on the IndieWeb"</a> (<a class="u-in-reply-to" href="https://boffosocko.com/?p=55708991">boffosocko.com</a>)
    <time class="dt-published" datetime="2019-01-11 18:052:00" title="Friday, Jan 11, 2019, 6:52 PM"><a href="https://hypothes.is/a/_tLJyA-cEemE-qPndyfQow" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Jan 11</a></time>
    
<div class="e-content">
        
<p>This is web thinking in action.</p>
<p>https://blog.jonudell.net/2011/01/24/seven-ways-to-think-like-the-web/</p>
<p>Well done!</p>

    </div>

    
<div class="p-category">tag-name</div>
</div>

Highlights (aka quotes)

Example from https://hypothes.is/a/_tLJyA-cEemE-qPndyfQow


<div class="h-entry">
    <a class="p-author h-card" href="https://hypothes.is/users/judell">judell</a>
    Public on <a href="https://hyp.is/gBZPQucmEeaPBQvYzSRo-Q/www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1945/07/as-we-may-think/303881/">"As We May Think"</a> (<a class="u-quotation-of h-cite" href="https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1945/07/as-we-may-think/303881/">www.theatlantic.com</a>)
    <time class="dt-published" datetime="2017-04-30 08:40:00" title="Sunday, Apr 30, 2017, 08:40 AM"><a href="https://hypothes.is/a/_tLJyA-cEemE-qPndyfQow" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Apr 30, 2017</a></time>
    
<blockquote>First he runs through an encyclopedia, finds an interesting but sketchy article, leaves it projected. Next, in a history, he finds another pertinent item, and ties the two together.</blockquote>

    
<div class="p-category">IAnnotate2017</div>
</div>

Annotations (replies)

Example from https://hypothes.is/a/9JrX5lf9RraeLKKn9WwmMQ


<div class="h-entry">
    <a class="p-author h-card" href="https://hypothes.is/users/jeremydean">jeremydean</a>
    Public on <a href="https://hyp.is/9JrX5lf9RraeLKKn9WwmMQ/www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1945/07/as-we-may-think/303881/">"As We May Think"</a> (<a class="u-in-reply-to" href="https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1945/07/as-we-may-think/303881/">www.theatlantic.com</a>)
    <time class="dt-published" datetime="2015-09-02 15:11:00" title="Wednesday, Sep 2, 2015, 03:11 PM"><a href="https://hypothes.is/a/_tLJyA-cEemE-qPndyfQow" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Sep 2, 2015</a></time>
    
<blockquote class="p-in-reply-to h-cite">This has not been a scientist's war; it has been a war in which all have had a part.
<blockquote>
    
   
<div class="e-content">
        
<p>It kind of blows me mind that the end of WWII is the context for these early dreams of the Internet. Is it the hope experienced in patriotic collaboration toward technological innovation? That's what Bush seems to acknowledge explicitly. It's a techno-militaristic union that haunts us to this day (#prism). But I wonder too if it's the precarious of knowledge, or perhaps the destructiveness of knowledge, that also inspires Bush…</p>

    </div>

    
<div class="p-category">tag-name</div>
</div>

I’ll also note that there’s the potential of a reply on Hypothes.is to a prior reply to a canonical URL source. In that case it could be either marked up as a reply to the “parent” on Hypothesis and/or a reply to the canonical source URL, or even both so that webmentions could be sent further upstream. (My experience in this is more limited, not having dealt with it personally in the past.) Once these pieces are implemented, they can be tested against a variety of microformats parsers to ensure they’re outputting the correct (and properly nested) information. I often find that pin13 is a pretty solid modern and up-to-date choice for this.

Additional resources with examples

I’ll also leave the caveat here, that while I’ve got a stronger grasp of Microformats than the average bear, that the above examples may have some subtle quirks that others may catch or which could be improved upon. I find that the Microformats web chat can be a good source for helps from some of the world’s best experts in the area. (Other methods for engaging in chat via IRC, Slack, etc. can be utilized as well.)

If Dan, Jon, or any of the gang has questions about any of this, I’m happy to chat via phone, video conference, or other to help get them going.

Reflections on WordCamp Santa Clarita Valley 2019

I really had a grand time at WordCamp Santa Clarita Valley yesterday. I’d like to thank the visionary Joe Simpson, Jr. and his entire group of fantastic organizers and kind volunteers for putting the entire thing together. I couldn’t imagine a better launch for a brand new camp.

College of the Canyons was a fantastic location for the camp and even had some excellent outdoor patio and dining space for lunch.

I do wish I’d been able to make my schedule work out to have been able to attend on Friday. I’m particularly bummed that I didn’t get to see Glenn Zucman’s presentation as he’s always doing some of the most interesting and creative things with WordPress. I’ll wait patiently for WordPress.tv to deliver it for me.

Some of my favorite highlights:

  • David Nuon wearing a blonde Richard Dean Anderson wig during his talk MacGyver plays with blocks: Using the Gutenberg editor in new and surprising ways
  • Chatting with Kat Christofer of Woo Commerce about how she and the Woo team create better documentation for their product. I think there’s some things we can learn for documenting pieces of the IndieWeb experience with WordPress. She also mentioned the beginning of a new short Mustang road trip.
  • Joseph Dickson going old school on Upgrading Kubrick for Gutenberg. His highlighting the fact that the editor is able to better mirror the ultimate output as a time saver is an intriguing idea.
  • Not that they aren’t always in general, and I didn’t think about it until reflecting on it today, but I also want to mention the spectacular diversity of speakers and attendees at the camp. It really made for a better and more well-rounded experience. I’ll give all the credit to Joe and his team who I suspect are directly responsible for designing it to be that way from the very beginning.

On a more personal level, my two favorite parts included:  Seeing the viceral reactions of a handful of people as the proverbial light switch was turned on when they realized the power and flexibility of the posting interfaces provided by micropub clients during my talk. There was also a palpable rush at the end while using a few minutes of extra time demoing some examples of my website and and the power of Micropub, Webmention, and backfeed along with some other IndieWeb goodness. I’ve already had a number of people following up with additional questions, conversations, and emails.

For those who may have missed them, here is a link to my slides from the Micropub and WordPress talk and a link to some of the bigger pieces I’ve wrtitten about with respect to WordPress and IndieWeb technologies in the past. Naturally, these are only a supplement to the hundreds of others who are working in and documenting the space

I’ll also give a special thanks to Joseph Dickson for the photo/tweet of me just before the talk:

A selfie by Chris Aldrich with other campers in the background
Hanging out with old friends and new after WordCamp on the patio at Draconum.
Joseph Dixon, Erik Blair

Thoughts on open notebooks, research, and social media

I remember thinking over a decade ago how valuable it would be if researchers kept open notebooks (aka digital commonplace books) like the one Kimberly Hirsh outlines in her article Dissertating in the Open: Keeping a Public Research Notebook. I’d give my right arm to have a dozen people in research areas I’m interested in doing this very thing!

The best I could hope for back in 2008, and part of why I created the @JohnsHopkins Twitter handle, was that researchers would discover Twitter and be doing the types of things that some of the Johns Hopkins professors outlined in this recent article The Promise and Peril of Academia Wading into Twitter are now finally doing. It seems sad that it has taken over a decade and this article is really only highlighting the bleeding edge of the broader academic scene now. While what they’re doing is a great start, I think they really aren’t going far enough. They aren’t doing their audiences as much service  as they could because there’s only so much that Twitter allows in terms of depth of ideas and expressiveness. It would be far better if they were doing this sort of work from their own websites and more directly interacting with their colleagues on the open web. The only value that Twitter is giving them is a veneer of reach to a broader audience, but they’re also opening themselves up to bigger attacks as is described in the article.

In addition to Kimberly’s example, another related area of potential innovation would be moving the journal clubs run by many research groups and labs online and opening them up. Want to open up science?  Then let’s really do it!  By bookmarking a variety of articles on their own websites, various members could be aggregated to contribute to a larger group, which could then use their own websites with protocols like Webmention or even simple tools like Hypothes.is to guide and participate in larger online conversations to move science communication along at an even faster pace. Greg McVerry and I have experimented in taking some of these tools into the classroom in the past.

If you think about it, arXiv and other preprint servers are really just journal clubs writ large. The problem is that they’re only communicating in one direction by aggregating the initial content, but they’re dramatically failing their audiences in that they aren’t facilitating or aggregating any open discussion around that content. As a result, the largest portion of their true value is still locked away in the individual brains of their readers rather than as commentary or even sentence level highlights and annotations on particular pieces out in the open. Often is the time that I’ll tweet about an interesting article only to receive a (lucky) reply that the results have been debunked, yet that information is almost never disclosed in or around the journal article (especially online) where it certainly belongs. Academic publishers are not only gouging us financially by siloing their content, they’re failing us far worse than most realize.

Another idea: Can’t get a journal of negative results to publish your latest research failure? Why not post a note or article on your own website to help out future researchers? (or even demonstrate to your students that not everything always works out?)

Naturally having aggregation services like indieweb.xyz, building planets, using OPML subscriptions, or the coming wave of feed readers could make a lot of these things easier, but we’re already right on the cusp for people who are willing to take a shot for doing this type of research online on their own websites and out in the open.

Want to try out some of the above? I’m happy to help (gratis) researchers who’d like to experiment in the area to get themselves set up. Just send me a note or give me a call.

Sparklines of recent activity on my website

Inspired a bit by the work of Jeremy Keith and others, I’ve recently been playing around with some sparklines on my website. While tinkering around with things, mostly on the back end of my site, I’ve tried out several WordPress-specific plugins, both to see how they’re built and the user interfaces they provide. 

There are several simple plugins for adding sparklines to WordPress websites including:

  • Activity Sparks plugin by Greg Jackson which adds some configurable functionality for adding sparklines to WordPress sites including for posts and comments as well as for tracking categories/tags.
  • Sparkplug by Beau Lebens has similarity to the Activity Sparks plugin (above), but with a slightly older looking and somewhat less refined output.

At present, I’m using the Activity Sparks plugin in my sidebar to display the recent activity on my site in terms of my posting frequency and the comment frequency. One chart provides the daily activity on my site over the past 3 months while the other provides the monthly activity over the past 5 years.

When on particular category pages, you can see the posting velocity for those particular categories in these respective time periods. While on the homepage and other miscellaneous pages, you can see the aggregate numbers for the website.

Generally I don’t care very much about the statistics, but in aggregate they can sometimes be fun to look at. As quick examples, I can tell roughly by looking at the 5 year time span when I added certain posting features to my website or that time my site got taken down by HackerNews.


hat tip to Khürt Williams who reminded me I needed to circle back around and finish of a small piece of this project and document it.