ReadHello Goodbye by Robert Talbert (The Chronicle of Higher Education)
Today I want to officially announce the end of one era at this blog and the beginning of a new one. Beginning Fall 2015 (I don’t know the exact date), the Chronicle of Higher Education will no longer be hosting Casting Out Nines. The article you are reading now is the last one I will be posting at...
Ran across this as I was updating my following list. I suspect after having done this for several years he wishes he had maintained his own blog and syndicated out to the Chronicle. He’s also got some interesting thoughts on the community he encountered in this new space that he didn’t/couldn’t control himself.
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.
I’ve been paying a lot more attention to the IndieWeb space this year, with the intention of revamping my lifelogging site to both include more services that I still use (and remove the fitness tracking that I decided to stop), as well as become a repository for webmentions.
David, Welcome! Come on in, the water’s fine…
I remember lurking for over a year and a half before dipping a toe in for the first time myself. Everyone I’ve met has been so kind, thoughtful, supportive, and helpful that I now regret having let so much time pass before jumping in with both feet.
Since it looks like you’re playing in the WordPress world, feel free to drop into the #WordPress channel (or any of the others for that matter) anytime to ask questions, help others solve problems (we can always use help with UX/UI, and themes especially), talk about what itches you’re working on, or even just to say “hi”. If you haven’t yet, I’m sure you’ll enjoy meeting some of the WP regulars including pfefferle (Germany), GWG (New York), miklb (Florida), snarfed (San Francisco), jgmac1106 (Connecticut), jeremycherfas (Rome), and me: chrisaldrich (Los Angeles).
I hope that the most overwhelming part isn’t getting to know the community, but the sheer number of things that are becoming possible to do with one’s website that weren’t as easily possible just a few years ago. My biggest problem reading the chat logs usually comes in the form of saying, “That sounds/looks cool, I want that too!” about 8 times a day. My best advice for “eating the whole whale” is to do it one bite at a time.
I’ll also personally extend an invitation to the upcoming IndieWeb Summit in Portland at the end of the month. If you can’t make it in person, there should be enough support to allow a lot of direct participation via chat and live streaming video–it’s not quite as much fun as attending in person, but you can participate to a level higher than most conferences typically allow.
Whenever I find myself actively seeking something to RT it always feels like there’s nothing but noise. Seem to find the most interesting things to share after I’ve already found too many things to RT at once.
Sometimes I find myself wanting to tweet just in general, and wish there was an easy way to just have casual conversations on here, tweet about the weather or something. It’s often really just a proxy for trying to meet people anyway.
I’ve had this feeling before and often long for the earlier days of Twitter when it functioned more like this. The popularization of Twitter in 2009 and the subsequent iteration on the platform and its community killed all the original spirit. It also reminds me of a piece I’d read recently by John Naughton1 about how toxic the retweet functionality (and other gamification like likes/favorites) can be.
I’ve seen the type of interaction you’re describing in smaller pockets of the internet on services like App.net (aka ADN, now defunct), pnut, and 10centuries, and a few corners of the Mastodon sphere.
The place I’ve seen it done well most recently is on Manton Reece‘s awesome micro.blog service, which I think has some strong community spirit and a greater chance of longevity. They’ve specifically left off “features” like follower counts, number of likes, and made conversation front and center. As a result it is a much more solid and welcoming community. I’m curious, as always, if they can maintain it as they scale, but the fact that they encourage people to have their own website and own their own data mean that you can take it all with you somewhere else if they ever cease meeting your needs in the future–something that certainly can’t be easily done on Twitter.
I hope you find the connections with the types of people you’d like to meet.
Originally bookmarked on April 01, 2018 at 09:22PM
One of the things I love most about micro.blog is that it feels like an honest community of actual neighbors despite the geographic distance between us. I can freely post tidbits about my life and people have genuine responses to them.
For a quite a while I’ve been thinking about writing a book about the IndieWeb to provide a broader overview of what it is philosophically, how it works, how its community functions, and most specifically how the average person can more easily become a part of it.
Back in January Timo Reitnauer wrote Let’s Make 2017 The Year of the Indie Web. I agree wholehearted with the sentiment of his title and have been personally wanting to do something specific to make it a reality. With the changes I’ve seen in the internet over the past 22 years, and changes specifically in the last year, we certainly need it now more than ever.
As a result, I’m making my 2018 IndieWeb resolution early. For the month of November, as part of NaNoWriMo, I’m going to endeavor to lovingly craft together a string of about 2,000 words a day on the topic of the IndieWeb to create a book geared toward helping non-developers (ie. Generation 2 and Generation 3 people) more easily own their online identities and content.
Over the past year, surely I’ve read, written about, or interacted with the IndieWeb community concretely in one way or another on at least 70 days. This sprint of 30 days should round out a 100 days project. To be honest, I haven’t necessarily posted about each of these interactions on my own site nor are they necessarily visible changes to my site, so it may not follow the exact requirements of the 100 Days of IndieWeb, but it follows the spirit of the creator idea with the hopes that the publicly visible result is ever more people adopting the principles of the movement for themselves.
I’ll focus the book primarily on how the average person can utilize the wealth of off-the-shelf tools of the WordPress content management system and its community–naturally with mentions of other easy-to-use platforms like Known and Micro.blog sprinkled throughout–to own their own domain, own their content, and better and more freely communicate with others online.
If you haven’t heard about the movement before, I’ll direct you to my article An Introduction to the IndieWeb, portions of which will surely inform the introduction of the book.
If you’ve recently joined the IndieWeb, I’d certainly love to hear your thoughts and stories about how you came to it, why you joined, and what the most troublesome parts have been so I can help direct people through them more easily–at least until there are a plurality of one-click solutions to let everyone IndieWeb-ify themselves online.
As a publisher who realizes the value of starting a PR campaign to support the resultant book, I’m also curious to hear thoughts about potentially launching a crowdfunding campaign to support the modest costs of the book, with profits (if any) going toward supporting the IndieWeb community.
I’m happy to entertain any other thoughts or considerations people have, so feel free to reply in the comments below, or better yet, reply on your own site and send me a webmention.
After Twitter extending their risible “abuse” policy to a suspension of a celebrity white woman speaking out against sexual violence, the problems in their model have been laid bare, and to my pleasant surprise, people are talking about taking action (I’d been pessimistic about this).
Unfortunately, it’s entirely the wrong kind of action: a women’s boycott. This is a problem, because once again, it forces us to do the heavy lifting. And once again, it forces us to silence ourselves: the very opposite of what we should be doing.
So, here’s two things that can be done. One is an activity for men who consider themselves allies. The other is for all of us. Especially women.
I took part in #WomenBoycottTwitter today and it honestly wasn’t too difficult, though I did miss out on some of the scientific chatter that crosses my desk during the day. Since I post mostly to my own website more often and syndicate to Twitter only occasionally, the change didn’t feel too drastic to me, though there were one or two times I almost accidentally opened Twitter to track down people’s sites. Fortunately I’ve taken control of more of my online experience back for myself using IndieWeb principles.
This particular post has some seemingly interesting methods for fighting against the status quo on Twitter for those who are entrenched though. The first #AmplifyWomen sounds a lot like the great advice I heard from Valerie Alexander a few months ago at an Innovate Pasadena event.
Some of the others almost seek to reverse-gamify Twitter’s business model. People often complain about silos and how they work, but few ever seek to actively subvert or do this type of reverse-gamification of those models. This is an interesting concept though to be as useful tools as they might be, it may be somewhat difficult to accomplish in some cases and may hamper one’s experience on such platforms. This being said, having ultimate control over your domain, data, and interactions is still a far preferable model.
And while we’re thinking about amplifying women, do take a look at some of Zoe’s other content, she’s got a wealth of good writing. I’ll be adding her to my follow list/reader.
Many people who have suffered harassment on Twitter (largely women), are understandably fed up with Twitter’s practices, and have staged a boycott of Twitter today October 13, 2017. Presumably the goal is to highlight the flaws in Twitter’s moderation policies, and to push the company to make meaningful changes in their policies, but I’d like to argue that we shouldn’t expect Twitter’s policies to change.
I think I believe Tara when she says about Twitter:
It’s not going to get better.
I think there are a lot of people, including myself, who also think like she does here:
I want online media to work much more like a democracy, where users are empowered to decide what their experience is like.
The difference for her is that she’s actively building something to attempt to make things better not only for herself, but for others. This is tremendously laudable.
I’d heard of her project Beaker and Mastodon before, but hadn’t heard anything before about Patchwork, which sounds rather interesting.
h/t Richard Eriksson for highlighting this article on Reading.am though I would have come across it tomorrow morning likely in my own feed reader.
After I've suffered almost two years of Little Free Library envy, you're cordially invited to the grand opening of the first Little Free Library in Adams Hill (Charter #8424) on Sunday, August 9th, 2015 from 4pm - 5pm.
About two years ago while surfing online I came across the concept of the Little Free Library and instantly fell in love. It turned out I had been driving by one on my commute regularly and had always wondered what it was and what was going on. I immediately had big dreams for building my own. I surfed their website for ideas and building plans. I registered for my placard. I received my placard. I drew up elaborate plans for building my own. I debated buying new parts versus recycling or upcycling parts. [Trigger warning for bibliophiles: addictive material to follow] I spent hours surfing photos of Little Free Libraries on their Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Flickr pages. This is when Little Free Library Envy set in… for almost two years.
Come chat with your neighbors, say hello, and check out the library. If you’re so motivated, feel free to bring a book (or two) to help stock the library.
More information about the Adams Hill “branch” can be found at our library’s page Little Free Library #8424, but the scant basics are below:
The books in our library are always free and never for sale.
Feel free to take a book.
If you have a book you’d like to share, please feel free to donate it.
When you’re done with your book: return it, pass it along to a friend, or release it back into the wild.
You don’t need to “check the book out” or “check it in”, but we do encourage you to sign our guest book and participate via Book Crossing.
More Details About Little Free Library #8424
First, What is a Little Free Library?
It’s a “take a book, return a book” gathering place where neighbors share their favorite literature and stories. In its most basic form, a Little Free Library is a box full of books where anyone may stop by and pick up a book (or two) and bring back another book to share. You can, too!
If you want to learn more about the movement or host your own Little Free Library, please visit their website.
Little Free Library Charter #8424 is located at 1411 Dartmouth Drive, Glendale, CA 91205. It is located at the dog-leg on Dartmouth on the west side of the street. It is just west of S. Adams Street, roughly at the top of the hill.
Our Library Philosophy
Though Chris built and hosts the library, he’s simply a steward or caretaker, of the branch. The library is free and open for the use of our friends and neighbors in Adams Hill and the surrounding neighborhoods. If you’ve stopped to check things out, you’re automatically an associate librarian. It is appreciated if everyone helps to care for and maintain the library.
The books in our library are always free and never for sale.
Feel free to take a book.
If you have a book you’d like to share, please feel free to donate it.
When you’re done with your book: return it, pass it along to a friend, or release it back into the wild.
You don’t need to “check the book out” or “check it in”, but we do encourage you to sign our guest book and participate via Book Crossing [see below].
Arrangement of Books
Since there isn’t a full time librarian and only so much space, there isn’t (usually) a set order to the arrangement of our books. Since it’s been a long trip up the hill, feel free to stop for a minute to cool off, consider yourself an associate librarian, and rearrange them to suit your whimsy – it is your neighborhood library after all. We only ask that you try to keep any children’s books on the lower shelf for short legs and arms to be able to reach, and that your arrangement ensures all the books fit into the library just in case it rains.
Possible suggestions for arrangements might include:
by the order in which you’ve read them
by author’s first name
by publication date
by publisher or imprint
by topic in reverse alphabetic order
by best to worst (in your opinion or someone else’s)
by those you’ve read and those you haven’t
The options are infinite, so be creative.
All of our books in the Adams Hill Branch are “traveling” books. We try to register all of them on Book Crossing. This is a free web service for watching the journey of individual books as they meander about the world. If you’d like to, you can enter the BCID number inside the front of the book to see where it’s been and even where it goes after you’ve read it. You can also enter any data, thoughts, reviews, etc. for the book on your own, as well as create a note about where you re-released it. (Note that we don’t expect all of our books to necessarily come back to our branch, but we do ask that you pass them along when you’re done with them.)
Pending people updating the location of books removed, check availability at our Book Crossing Zone.
We gladly accept your donated books.
If you have more books than the little library will fit, please don’t simply dump them! You can leave them in a covered box preferably on our stairs/landing – this will keep our sprinklers and the elements from ruining them or you can contact me through Nextdoor.com. If the library has more books than will fit, we’ll occasionally rotate them to help improve the diversity of the available collection over time.
If you’d like to, please write the titles of your donations into our guest book as this will help us to register them on Book Crossing. (You’re welcome to register them on book crossing yourself prior to donation as well.)
Our library has guest book and a pen. Feel free to write down any thoughts, comments, or suggestions you might have about the library and leave them in the library for the other associate librarians who happen by.
You’ll find a red composition book (and pen) inside our library where you can leave your thoughts and comments. Kindly leave the guest book in the library – it’s the one book we have that doesn’t circulate!
In some part the guest book is meant to help catalog the progress of our library. Below are some suggestions for what you might write into our guest book when you visit:
Patrons/Associate Librarians are encouraged to (optionally) write in the books they donate or check out.
Say hello to your fellow neighbors! You can simply write down the day and time of your visit along with a note for future visitors.
Bringing back a book? Feel free to write in a short review of the book you’re returning so others will know what they’re getting into. (If you give it a number of stars, be sure to indicate out of how many possible, so we know your scale.)
Liked a book you borrowed? Flip back into the guest book to see who made the donation and write in a thank you to the donor.
Have a book you’ve been longing for? Write it in and maybe a fellow neighbor has a copy they can donate on a future visit.
Visiting our branch from far away? Be sure to write down your hometown and country so we know how far away our books travel.
Maybe you’re waxing poetic when stopping by? Feel free to write a short poem or haiku about our library.
Our wish list has two functions:
Write down any books you’d love to see come to our library so you can borrow them in the future.
Read the list to see if you have any of the books you might donate so that others can enjoy them.
A Tiny Library with Its Own Social Media
To help support the neighborhood library (in the digital age every library needs a blog right?), I’ve created a website for it at: http://lfl8424.boffosocko.com/. The site has a variety of resources relating to our branch. For those that prefer to follow and interact with the content via social media, there are also the following:
For those interested in my particular process, here’s how I did it.
Recently I saw something a bit more quirky and interesting than my original plans that I could up-cycle, so I made the purchase (happy belated birthday to me)! It was a nice little metal newsstand that Cost Plus World Market had put on clearance as they’re no longer going to carry it. The last one the store had was a bit dinged up and had some scratches, so I negotiated an additional discount. It’s got two spacious shelves with two doors including a glass fronted one, and it’s got the capacity for at least 6 linear feet of books.
A trip to the hardware store for a small sheet of plywood, an 8′ post, and some wood screws, machine screws and nuts finished up the material needs. I cut the post down to 54″ and cut the plywood down to fit underneath the newsstand. I pre-drilled some small holes in the plywood to screw the plywood down onto the post. Then I drilled holes into the bottom of the newsstand and fit it down on top of the plywood and attached with the screws and nuts.
I posted a note on Nextdoor.com and within just minutes had an offer from two neighbors to loan me a post hole digger. (Thanks Rob and Scott!) The following day the 2 foot hole was open and the library was planted. (And I returned the post hole digger to Rob.)
Following this, I dug up a handful of seeder books, registered them with BookCrossing.com and put them on a GoodReads.com shelf, and put them into the library. We’ve technically been open for a week and without any publicity at all, we’ve had over a dozen books flow through the library already.