This is my reality. I am not an emotionally empathetic kind of person and that probably doesn't come as a big surprise to anybody. Least of all me. The fact that I then misread people and don't realize (for years) how badly I've judged a situation and contributed to an unprofessional environment is not good.
I deleted my account on the Mastodon instance social.coop yesterday. I still don't fully understand what went down, but here's some details from [...]
Just goes to show you that a social media silo doesn’t need to be a big platform run by a corporation.
Reminds me of Kevin Marks’ tweet the other day:
Pearl-clutching twitter users: but what if the hobbyist sysadmin gives up on my mastodon instance?
Me: have you met venture funded social sites? https://t.co/RK483sl1yX
— Kevin Marks (@kevinmarks) August 19, 2018
The rise of the massive corporate-run social networks—silos, where everything was stored inside and nothing left—changed distributed online social relationships. The silos replaced distributed with centralized; all of your social connections were now in one place, making it faster and “easier” to keep up with everyone. Easier in some ways, yes, but now everyone could see every aspect of you, even if you didn’t want them to. Worse, your constant software talk annoyed your bowling-league friends, and your one uncle could not stand the fact you supported the Democratic Party. All of that didn’t happen at once; it took time for these corporate social networks to consume all of your communities, to seize ownership of all of your connections and relationships, transforming something very human into mere pieces of computer data, eventually hollowing out your communities and your humanness in the process. But once it had happened, and once you realized those downsides (and others, such as abuse, Nazis, and anti-democratic propaganda), how could you escape? Was there even anywhere to escape to?
To a large extent, some of the questions and observations in this article are the things that drive me to have my own domain and have my own website. I and many others in the IndieWeb are still working on the infrastructure to support the web we’d like to have instead of the web we’re given. We’re still not there yet, and it may never be the utopia we’re hoping for, but we’ll never get there if we don’t try.
Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia
Just like in real life, where your bar trivia team doesn’t really overlap with your work softball team or your church bowling league, all of your online communities gathered in their own places, ones best suited to them, and you didn’t have to act as all facets of yourself simultaneously when trying to only interact with one. ❧
August 21, 2018 at 01:19PM
our brains have been trained to believe that we want, that we need, a single place where all of “our people” can gather, where it is “easy” to keep up with all of them: a massive network service, just without all the “bad stuff” of the existing ones. ❧
August 21, 2018 at 01:21PM
You find them in a place that you curate yourself, not one “curated” for you by a massive corporate social network intent on forcing you to be every part of yourself to everyone, all at once. You should control how, when, and where to interact with your people. ❧
August 21, 2018 at 01:23PM
web we lost ❧
August 21, 2018 at 01:24PM
we can’t just recreate the same thing we’re trying to escape, and we can’t expect the solution to be precisely as easy on us as the problem was. ❧
August 21, 2018 at 01:25PM
As I noted in my last post, I recently read Miranda Joseph’s Against the Romance of Community as a means of thinking a bit more deeply about the ways that Generous Thinking deploys the notion of community.
Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia
Calls to work on behalf of the community or to the community’s values wind up not only, as I noted in my last post, ignoring community’s supplementary role with respect to capital but also essentializing a highly complex and intersectional set of social relations. ❧
This reminds me of some studies in psychology about why people vote and for whom they vote. It’s not always who they would vote for individually, but who would a group of people like them vote? This makes the “community” portion far more complex than it would appear.
I should track down the original references, but I think I remember reading about them via either George Lakoff or possibly Malcolm Gladwell.
Under late capital, the non-profit has been asked to take over the space of providing for community needs or supporting community interests that had formerly been occupied by the state as the entity responsible for the public welfare. ❧
I know the book American Amnesia talks about the value built up by a strong government working in conjunction with a capitalist machine over the past century or so. I wonder if the later half of the book gets into how to shift things back in this manner?
Thanks to a recommendation from Danica Savonick, I’ve been reading Miranda Joseph’s Against the Romance of Community. Danica pointed me toward it as a corrective for some of the ways my gestures toward community flirted with the romanticized notions Joseph seeks to question, and hard as it is for me (an optimist, for better or for worse) to open some of the ideals I hold to harder questioning, that questioning is proving fruitful.
Much of the internet feels terrible. But using the web to learn an offline hobby can give you a glimpse of a healthier relationship with your digital devices.
I see a lot of what I love about the IndieWeb community being discussed tangentially in this article. Interestingly, with respect to this article’s headline there’s a double-entendre with regard to who they are and what they actually happen to be doing as an online community.
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:
- a website;
- an independent network of websites;
- an idea;
- a concept;
- a set of broad-based web standards;
- a set of principles;
- a philosophy;
- a group of people;
- a support network;
- an organization;
- an inclusive community;
- a movement;
- a Utopian dream of what the decentralized, open Internet could be.
In some sense it is all of these things and many more.
In the end though, the real question is:
What do you want the IndieWeb to be?
Come help us all define it.
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.
Summary: With the IndieWeb Summit coming up at the end of June in Portland, David Shanske and I discuss it, participation, and other parts of the IndieWeb community.
Related Articles and Posts
Do I know anyone interested in building #indieweb tech or federated services? I’m having trouble conceptualizing some things without having people to bounce ideas off of.
— David v3.0.3 (@davidlaietta) May 13, 2018
Related IndieWeb wiki pages
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.Syndicated copies to: