Read Getting so-so-social with #bridgy and the by Will Stedden (bonkerfield)
As a first step, I started by building an aggregator of all my blog and social activity to my "viewfoil". The goal is to have anybody on any social media platform be able to get a good sense of who I am (and that I am indeed a real person and not a bot/Russian troll). I now have most of my personal sources in the stream, and I've made it filterable by source. Letting strangers see everything I do online is a start, but it's not very social if my site only contains content from me. I want my site to be open to input from others.

Webmentions with WordPress for Open Pedagogy

Abstract: With growing support for the W3C Webmention spec, teachers can post assignments on their own websites & students can use their sites to respond and interact. Entire classes can have open discussions from site-to-site owning all their data and eschewing corporate surveillance capitalism.

Missed my presentation for PressEdConf20 on Twitter earlier and want to read it all bundled up instead? The “article” version appears blow. You can also enjoy the Twitter moment version if you like. 


ONE

Chris Aldrich
Chris Aldrich

Hello everyone! My name is Chris Aldrich. I’m an independent researcher in a variety of areas including the overlap the internet and education. You can find more about me on my website https://boffosocko.com

Today I’ll be talking about Webmentions for open pedagogy. 


TWO

For a variety of reasons (including lack of budget, time, support, and other resources) many educators have been using corporate tools from Google, Twitter, Facebook, and others for their ease-of-use as well as for a range of functionality that hadn’t previously existed in the blogosphere or open source software that many educators use or prefer.

This leaves us and our students open to the vagaries and abuses that those platforms continually allow including an unhealthy dose of surveillance capitalism.

Wall of security cameras looking down at two women
Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

THREE

In the intervening years since the blogosphere and the rise of corporate social media, enthusiasts, technologists and open source advocates have continued iterating on web standards and open protocols, so that now there are a handful of web standards that work across a variety of domains, servers, platforms, allowing educators to use smaller building blocks to build and enable the functionalities we need for building, maintaining, and most importantly owning our online courseware.


FOUR

Some of these new W3C specs include Webmention, Micropub, WebSub, IndieAuth, and Microsub. Today I’ll talk abut Webmentions which are simply site-to-site @mentions or notifications which don’t involve corporate social media silos.

For those who’d like more information about Webmentions and how they could be used, I’ve written a primer for A List Apart entitled Webmentions: Enabling Better Communication on the Internet.

Cartoon of baseball player hitting a ball with a bat to a waiting player with a tennis raquet
Illustration by Dougal MacPherson
Image courtesy of A List Apart

FIVE

Many common content management systems support Webmention either out of the box or with plugins including: our friend WordPress, Drupal, WithKnown, Grav, and many others.

Webmention rocks logo
Webmention rocks

SIX

WordPress can use this new standard with the Webmention plugin. (Surprise!) I also highly recommend the Semantic Linkbacks plugin which upgrades the presentation of these notifications (like Trackback, Pingback, or Webmention) to more user-friendly display so they appear in comments sections much like they do in corporate social media as commentsrepostslikes, and favorites, detected using microformats2 markup from the source of the linkback.


SEVEN

Another plugin I love is Post Kinds Plugin (Classic editor only at present) which automatically parses URLs I want to reply to, like, bookmark, etc. and saves the reply context to my website which helps prevent context collapse. My commentary and notes then appear below it.

(I also use a plugin that saves the content of URLs on my site to the Internet Archive, so I can reference them there later if necessary.)

Example of a reply context with author name, image, title, and short synopsis


EIGHT

These plugins with WordPress allow teachers to post course content and students can then post their responses on their own sites and send notifications that they’ve read, listened to, or watched that content along with their ideas and commentary.


NINE

Examples of webmentions in a course setting: Greg McVerry and I ran an experiment with Webmentions in a class in 2018. 

Example assignment: https://archive.jgregorymcverry.com/5570-2/

Notice the replies underneath which came from other sites including my response which is mirrored on my site at https://boffosocko.com/2018/08/04/highlighting-some-of-my-favorite-edtech-tools/

Example podcast post for a class: https://archive.jgregorymcverry.com/2toponder-episode-one/

Notice the listen webmention in the comments which links to my listen response at: https://boffosocko.com/2018/08/06/2toponder-episode-one-intertextrevolution/ where I own a copy of the context and my own response. As a student, even if the originals disappear, I’ve got the majority of the important content from the course.


TEN

When the course is over, the student has an archive of their readings, work, and participation (portfolio anyone?) on a site they own. They can choose to leave it public or unpublish it and keep private copies.

[Copies for Facebook, Google+ or Big EdTech Giants? They can ask for them nicely if they want them so desperately instead of taking them surreptitiously.]


ELEVEN

As a concrete example, I now have tagged archives for all the work I’ve done for EDU522 with Greg McVerry who also has his related posts in addition to a variety that he subsequently archived.

Fluffy cat head that moves with the fur underneath it appearing more like rocket exhaustion as the cat "takes off" into the air


TWELVE

By taking the content AND the conversation around it out of the hands of “big social media” and their constant tracking and leaving it with the active participants, we can effect far more ethical EdTech.

Gif of grain silo on a farm collapsing in on itself.

[No more content farming? What will the corporate social media silos do?]


THIRTEEN

Imagine Webmentions being used for referencing journal articles, academic samizdat, or even OER? Suggestions and improvement could accumulate on the original content itself rather than being spread across dozens of social silos on the web.

gif of Kermit the frog sitting on a desk excitedly flailing his arms and legs

[Webmentions + creativity: How might you take their flexibility and use it in your online teaching practices?]


FOURTEEN

There’s current research, coding work, and thinking going on within the IndieWeb community to extend ideas like private webmentions and limiting audience so that this sort of interaction can happen in more secluded online spaces.

I’d welcome everyone who’s interested to join in the effort. Feel free to inquire at an upcoming IndieWebCamp, Homebrew Website Club, event, or in online chat right now.

Huge group of diverse attendees at IndieWebSummit 2019 waving


FIFTEEN

I’ve also been able to use my WordPress website to collect posts relating to my participation in conferences like PressEdConf20 or Domains 2019 which included syndicated content to Twitter and the responses from there that have come back to my site using Brid.gy which bootstraps Twitter’s API to send Webmentions back to my website.

If Twitter were to go away, they may take some of my connections, but the content and the conversations will live on in a place under my own control.


Thanks for your time and attention! I’m around on Twitter–or better: my own website!–if you have any questions.

FIFTEEN

I’ve also been able to use my WordPress website to collect posts relating to my participation in conferences like PressEdConf20 or Domains 2019 which included syndicated content to Twitter and the responses from there that have come back to my site using Brid.gy which bootstraps Twitter’s API to send Webmentions back to my website.

If Twitter were to go away, they may take some of my connections, but the content and the conversations will live on in a place under my own control.

Thanks for your time and attention! I’m around on Twitter–or better: my own website!–if you have any questions.

 
 

Participating in PressEdConf20 directly from WordPress

Last year I thought it would be fun to outline how people might use their websites to actively participate in by posting content on their WordPress website and syndicating copies to Twitter for those following that way.

(Meta: Welcome to my talk: I know it’s cheating & early, but I’m hoping a few presenters will borrow this method.) 


My general thought was:

The only thing better than A WordPress and Education, Pedagogy and Research Conference on Twitter would be A WordPress and Education, Pedagogy and Research Conference using WordPress itself!

(Meta: Sure, post it to Twitter: but why not own a copy of your presentation on your own website when you’re done?)

Wordpress > Twitter in logos


So let’s give it a spin by providing an outline for how to accomplish it in true #IndieWeb & #DoOO fashion? Perhaps a few people might trying doing this year’s conference this way? Here’s an early presentation to get the juices flowing.

Upside down Twitter Logo(Meta: Hint for those on Twitter: I’m including links to my website, so you can get just a little bit more information than Twitter limits me to–oh, the fringe benefits of having one’s website where they’re not censored by the confines of the platform on which they’re creating!)


First, we’ll start off by making the humble presumption that you’ve got your own domain and an install of WordPress running on it. Hopefully this covers most attendees.

(Meta: If it doesn’t there are lots of options: You could do something similar a bit more manually if you like using WordPress.com. You’ve also got a great community of people who could help you to better own your online identity and domain right here! I’ll bet our friends at Reclaim Hosting could help as well.)


Next we’ll want the Webmention Plugin (+Semantic Linkbacks) which will let our site communicate with other websites as well as to receive replies and reactions on Twitter with the help of Brid.gy. Install and activate both.

(Want to go deeper into the idea of what Webmention is and how one could use it?  I wrote an article for A List Apart that goes into details.)

Cartoon of baseball player hitting a ball with a bat to a waiting player with a tennis raquet
Illustration by Dougal MacPherson
Image courtesy of A List Apart

One could manually syndicate content from WordPress to Twitter, but there are multiple plugins and ways to syndicate it. My favorite is the Syndication Links plugin, which we can use for syndicating to other services. Install and activate. 


Next we’ll want an account on Brid.gy for Twitter. This will allow us to publish from our website to Twitter; it will also allow us to reverse syndicate reactions  from on Twitter back to our posts using Webmention.

(Meta: Publishing this way will require Microformats: Your theme will need the proper microformats support to use this method, but again other methods are available.)


Authenticate your website and Twitter account with Bridgy and enable Bridgy publish on your account page: https://brid.gy/twitter/username.

Bridgy Logo


In Syndication Links settings at example.com/wp-admin/admin.php?page=syndication_links

  • Enable Syndication to Other Sites
  • Enable Twitter via Bridgy

Add a custom provider using the following:

  • name: XYZ pressEdconf20
  • UID: XYZ-pressEdconf20
  • target URL: https://indieweb.xyz/en/pressEdconf20/

Save the settings.

WordPress' cartoon character Wapuu holding a ball with the IndieWebCamp logo(Meta: Syndication Links Settings: These will help you set up syndication targets on other platforms and can be configured for a variety of social media.)
 
 
 
 

Now write all of your posts in your presentation as status updates (without titles) and include any media (photos, videos, etc.) making sure to mark up the photos with a class of u-photo in the HTML. Don’t forget the hashtag .

Meme photo from Ferris Bueller's Day Off with Ferris in the bathroom of Chez Louis with superimposed text: A personal IndieWeb site with Webmention, Micropub, Microsub, and WebSub support is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.


Set posts for one every minute. Use the SL Syndicate To meta box to syndicate your Twitter account and to the indieweb.xyz sub where everyone can find them (if they’re not following the proceedings via Twitter).

indieweb.xyz logo


Others at with Webmentions can reply to your posts on their sites. Replies will show up in comments depending on settings. Bridgy will also find responses to your content on Twitter & syndicate those back to your website automatically.

(Meta: Give it a whirl!: Reply to this post on Twitter to see it boomerang back to the comment section of my website.)

Webmention rocks logo
Webmention rocks

Those who are paying attention at will see the value in webmention for allowing cross-site interactions without the need for “social media”. WithKnown, Drupal, Grav, and other CMSs are capable of doing this too.

(Meta: Ownership of your Open Pedagogy Anyone? Who needs invasive corporate social media to interact online now?)


With luck, I’ll have created this entire presentation on my own website and syndicated it to Twitter without actually needing to visit Twitter itself. I’m around for questions. Thank you for your time and attention. [more…]

Those looking for more details can find documentation on the IndieWeb wiki at https://indieweb.org/Getting_Started_on_WordPress, or https://boffosocko.com/2018/04/27/setting-up-wordpress-for-indieweb-use/

I’m also happy to help people set things up and make alternate suggestions via video chat or you can find online help in the IndieWeb WordPress chat.

IndieWebCamp Logo featuring the stylized letters "I W C" over the text "#IndieWebCamp"


P.S. There’s still some time to submit your talk for . Since it’s all designed to be online from the start, I’m hoping it won’t be cancelled like all the other events lately.

(Meta: PressEdConf 2020: A WordPress and Education, Pedagogy and Research Conference on Twitter March 26, 2020)

Others at with Webmentions can reply to your posts on their sites. Replies will show up in comments depending on settings. Bridgy will also find responses to your content on Twitter & syndicate those back to your website automatically.

(Give it a whirl!: Reply to any of the posts in this Twitter thread to see the comments boomerang back to the comment section of my website.)

Next we’ll want an account on Brid.gy for Twitter. This will allow us to publish from our website to Twitter; it will also allow us to reverse syndicate reactions  from on Twitter back to our posts using Webmention.

(Publishing this way will require Microformats: Your theme will need the proper microformats support to use this method, but again other methods are available.)

Next we’ll want the Webmention Plugin (+Semantic Linkbacks) which will let our site communicate with other websites as well as to receive replies and reactions on Twitter with the help of Brid.gy. Install and activate both.

(Want to go deeper into the idea of what Webmention is and how one could use it?  I wrote an article for A List Apart that goes into details.)

Replied to a tweet by curried apotheosiscurried apotheosis (Twitter)
I do something like this on my own website. Post issues there so I can own the data (and tags) and control the details and notes and syndicate a copy to GitHub. I’ve documented some of it here: Enabling two way communication with WordPress and GitHub for Issues. Others have done it as well: https://indieweb.org/issue. I’m sure there are other ways of doing this, but it works well for me and just for the reasons you describe.

If others want to see my details, the’re available on my site (when I make them public), but they’re primarily for my benefit and not others. The public copy conforms to the silo’s requirements and can be modified by the repo owners, if necessary. 

Bookmarked at 2020/01/10 9:51:41 pm

Liked a post by Jamie TannaJamie Tanna (jvt.me)
With the help of snarfed.org I've now got brid.gy running locally and syndicating RSVPs from my website to Meetup.com - hopefully it'll be live next week for the rest of the to enjoy https://github.com/snarfed/bridgy/issues/873
I can’t wait for this. It is awesome.
Spent a few minute to finally set up my website with Brid.gy so that it’s now pulling responses back from Mastodon. It’s so nice to see all the interactions that were once “lost” to me coming back to live with their proper contexts on my website.

For those looking to tinker with their websites as it relates to interacting with Mastodon, the IndieWeb has a reasonable number of potential options in addition to your ability to roll your own.