Replied to Thinking about Planets and Challenges by David ShanskeDavid Shanske (
Earlier today, at the special Transatlantic Bonus Homebrew Website Club, we continued a discussion on trying a community challenge to create content, similar to some of what does with their photo challenges.  One of the stumbling blocks was discovery on this, being distributed, how you can...
GWG, Some random thoughts:
Your challenge question is tough, not just for the mere discovery portion, but for the multiple other functions involved, particularly a “submit/reply” portion and a separate “I want to subscribe to something for future updates”.
I can’t think of any sites that do both of these functionalities at the same time. They’re almost always a two step process, and quite often, after the submission part, few people ever revisit the original challenge to see further updates and follow along. The lack of an easy subscribe function is the downfall of the second part. A system that allowed one to do both a cross-site submit/subscribe simultaneously would be ideal UI, but that seems a harder problem, especially as subscribe isn’t well implemented in IndieWeb spaces with a one click and done set up.
Silo based spaces where you’re subscribed to the people who might also participate might drip feed you some responses, but I don’t think that even has something that you could use to follow the daily photo challenges by does it?

Other examples is a good example of a sort of /planet that does regular challenges and has a back end that aggregates responses (usually from Twitter). I imagine that people are subscribed to the main feed of the daily challenges, but I don’t imagine that many are subscribed to the comments feed (is there even one?)
Maxwell’s Sith Lord Challenge is one of the few I’ve seen in the personal site space that has aggregated responses. I don’t think it has an easy way to subscribe to the responses though an h-feed of responses on the page might work in a reader? Maybe he’s got some thoughts about how this worked out?
Ongoing challenges, like a 30 day photography challenge for example, are even harder because they’re an ongoing one that either requires a central repository to collect, curate, and display them (, or a similar planet) or require something that can collect one or more of a variety of submitted feeds and then display them or allow a feed(s) of them. I’ve seen something like this before with in the education space using RSS, but it took some time to not only set it up but to get people’s sites to work with it. (It was manual and it definitely hurt as I recall.)
I don’t think of it as a challenge, but I often submit to the IndieWeb sub on and I’m also subscribed to its output as well. In this case it works as an example since this is one of its primary functions. It’s not framed as a challenge, though it certainly could be. Here one could suggest that participants tag their posts with a particular hashtag for tracking, but in IndieWeb space they’d be “tagging” their posts with the planet’s particular post URL and either manually or automatically pinging the Webmention endpoint.
Another option that could help implement some fun in the system is to salmention all the prior submissions on each submission as an update mechanism, but one would need to have a way to unsubscribe to this as it could be(come) a spam vector.

Pen and paper publishing to your website? PaperWebsite is on to something.

Handwriting to Website #​​​FTW

While browsing today I ran across an awesome concept called It allows you to write on paper, take a photo, and then upload it to a website. Your handwritten words published to your website. A tactile writer’s dream.

My immediate thought—I need to have this now!

Articles written by hand in my journal to my website? Short notes that I write on index cards published as microblog updates.  How cool would that be? I was also talking to someone this morning about voice-to-text as a note taking concept. What about that too?

Of course, as you may know, I’ve already got a website. Do I need another one like this for $10/month? Probably not.

Value Proposition

But this has got me wondering “what the value proposition is for Paper Website as a company?” What are they really selling? Domain names? Hosting? Notebooks? They certainly seem to be selling all of the above, but the core product they’re really selling is an easy-to-use interface for transferring paper ideas to digital publishing. And this is exactly what I want!

The problem now is to buy this sub-service without all the other moving pieces like a domain name, hosting, etc., which I don’t need. Taking just the core service and abstracting it to the wider universe of websites could be a major technical hurdle (and nightmare).

IndieWeb and Micropub

Perhaps I could try find an OCR solution and wire it all together myself? I’d rather see the original developer run away with the idea though. So instead I’ll quietly suggest that they could take their current infrastructure and add a small piece.

Since PaperWebsite’s already got the front end up and running, why not add on Micropub support to the back end? Maybe Ben Stokes could take the OCR output and create a new Micropub client that could authenticate to any website with Micropub support? I have to imagine that he could probably program it in a couple of days (borrowing from any of the pre-existing open source clients or libraries out there) and suddenly it’s a product that could work with WordPress, Drupal, WithKnown, Craft, Jekyll, Kirby, Hugo, Blot, and a variety of other platforms that support the W3C spec recommendation or have plugins for it.

The service could publish in “draft” form and allow editing after-the-fact. There’s also infrastructure for cross-syndicating to other social services with Micropub clents, so note cards to my website and automatically syndicated to Twitter, Mastodon, or Yes, please.

And maybe it could be done as a service for a dollar a month or a few dollars a year?

I made a short mention of the idea in the IndieWeb chat, and it’s already a-buzz with implementation ideas… If you’re around Ben, I’m sure folks there would lend a hand if you’re interested.

The website, commonplace book, note taking, stationery, and fountain pen nerd in me is really excited about where this could go from a user interface perspective.

How Moleskine, Leuchtturm, LiveScribe or the other stationery giants haven’t done this already is beyond me. I could also see serious writing apps like  iA Writer or Ulysses doing something like this too.

Blue sky sketch for Overcast

Replied to a tweet by Marco Arment on TwitterMarco Arment on Twitter (Twitter)
Marco, your post about supporting rel=”payment” for Overcast made me start thinking about other potential solve-able problems in the podcast space. Now that you’ve solved a piece of the support/payment problem, perhaps you can solve for a big part of the “who actually listened to my podcast” problem?

In a recent article on the topic of Webmention for A List Apart, I covered the topic of listen posts and sending webmentions for them. In addition to people being able to post on their own website that they’ve listened to a particular episode, the hosting podcast site can receive these mentions and display them as social proof that the episode was actually listened to. In addition to individual websites being able to do this, it would be awesome if podcast players/apps could send webmentions on behalf of their users (either with user specific data like Name, website, avatar, etc. if it’s stored, without it, or anonymized by the player itself) so that the canonical page for the podcast could collect (and potentially display) them.

As a proof of concept, here’s a page for a podcast episode that can receive webmentions. Someone listens to it, makes a “listen post” on their site, and sends a webmention of that fact. The original page can then collect it on the backend or display it if it chooses. Just imagine what this could do for the podcast world at scale for providing actual listening statistics?

In addition to aggregate numbers of downloads a podcast is receiving, they could also begin to have direct data about actual listens. Naturally the app/player would have to set (or allow a configuration) some percentage threshold of how much was played before sending such a notification to the receiving site. Perhaps the webmention spec for listens could also include the data for the percentage listened and send that number in the payload?

The toughest part may be collecting the rel=”canonical” URL for the podcast’s post (to send the webmention there) rather than the audio file’s URL, though I suspect that the feed for the podcast may have this depending on the feed’s source.

If you want to go a step further, you could add Micropub support to Overcast, so that when people are done listening to episodes, the app could send a micropub request to their registered website (perhaps via authentication using IndieAuth?). This would allow people to automatically make “listen posts” to their websites using Overcast and thereby help those following them to discover new and interesting podcasts. (Naturally, you might need a setting for sites that support both micropub and webmention, so that the app doesn’t send a webmention when it does a micropub post for a site that will then send a second webmention as well.)

One could also have podcast players with Micropub support that would allow text entry for commenting on particular portions of podcasts (perhaps using media fragments)? Suddenly we’re closer to commenting on individual portions of audio content in a way that’s not too dissimilar to SoundCloud’s commenting interface, but done in a more open web way.

As further example, I maintain a list of listen posts on my personal website. Because it includes links to the original audio files, it also becomes a “faux-cast” that friends and colleagues can subscribe to everything I’m listening to (or sub-categorizations thereof) via RSS. Perhaps this also works toward helping to fix some of the discovery problem as well?

Thanks, as always, for your dedication to building one of the best podcast tools out there!