Non-technical IndieWeb: Fun, Creativity, Community, and “Content”

I resemble that remark.

–Credit: Rakhim


Er… I mean…

I resent that remark. 😉 

The point of having a website is putting something interesting on it right?

The IndieWeb wiki does tend toward the technical, but many of us are working toward remedying that. For those who haven’t found them yet, there are some pages around a variety of topics like poetry, crafts, hobbies, music, writing, journalism, education, and a variety of other businesses and use cases. How we don’t have one on art (yet) is beyond me… Hopefully these might help us begin to use our sites instead of incessantly building them, though this can be a happy hobby if you enjoy it.

If you’ve got an IndieWeb friendly site, why not use it to interact with others? Help aggregate people around other things in which you’re interested. One might interact with the community around any of their tagmoji. (I’m personally hoping there will be one for the stationery, pen, and typewriter crowd.) One might also find some community on any of the various stubs (or by creating new stubs) on

For more practical advice and to borrow a proverbial page from the movie Finding Forrester, perhaps reading others’ words and borrowing or replying to them may also help you along. I find that starting and ending everything from my own website means that I’m never at a loss for content to consume or create. Just start a conversation, even if it’s just with yourself. This started out as a short reply, but grew into a longer post aggregating various ideas I’ve had banging around my head this month.

Rachel Syme recently made me think about “old school blogs”, and as interesting as her question was, I would recommend against getting stuck in that framing which can be a trap that limits your creativity. It’s your site, do what you want with it. Don’t make it a single topic. That will make it feel like work to use it.

The ever-wise Charlie Owen reminds of this and suggests a solution for others reading our content. 

Of course if building websites is your passion and you want to make a new one on a new platform every week, that’s cool too. Perhaps you could document the continuing refreshing of the process each time and that could be your content?

Of course if this isn’t enough, I’ll also recommend Matthias Ott‘s advice to Make it Personal. And for those with a more technical bent, Simon Collison has a recent and interesting take on how we might be a bit more creative with our technical skills in This Used to be Our Playground.

In any case, good luck and remember to have some fun!

Read - Want to Read: Collaborative Circles: Friendship Dynamics and Creative Work by Michael P. Farrell (University of Chicago Press)
Many artists, writers, and other creative people do their best work when collaborating within a circle of like-minded friends. In a unique study, Michael P. Farrell looks at the group dynamics in six collaborative circles, and gives vivid narrative accounts of each: the French Impressionists; Sigmund Freud and his friends; C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, and the Inklings; social reformers Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony; the Fugitive poets; and the writers Joseph Conrad and Ford Maddox Ford.
This looks like an interesting read. Came to my attention by way of

Thirteen: Backfeeding ideas with

Let’s say I syndicate a thought to Twitter. I can use to backfeed ideas and interactions with my Tweet back to my original in my digital notebook (where it’s most useful).  This helps outside ideas filter into and interact with my own ideas.


You knew ideas can have sex, right?!!

Read Create Zettel from Reading Notes According to the Principle of Atomicity (Zettelkasten Method)
I separate collecting from processing because I don’t hack everything that pops up in my mind while I read a text into my computer. Instead, I take notes on paper.

Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while.
—Steve Jobs (via lifehacker and Zettel no. 201308301352) 

in other words, it’s just statistical thermodynamics. Eventually small pieces will float by each other and stick together in new and hopefully interesting ways. The more particles you’ve got and the more you can potentially connect or link things, the better off you’ll be.
Annotated on March 23, 2020 at 04:36PM

Read Different Kinds of Ties Between Notes (Zettelkasten Method)
After the awesome discussion of Sascha’s latest blog post, I meditated about all the different kinds of ties between notes. Here’s what I came up with.

You can translate “Folgezettel” (literally: “subsequent note”) as “note sequence”. 

Annotated on March 23, 2020 at 04:47PM

Our brain can only hold to so much information at a time. 

of course this is why I like mnemonics and specific techniques like the method of loci. We can not only retain more but the memories can be stored in interesting ways that increase their potentially creativity like creating a Zettelkasten in the brain.
Annotated on March 23, 2020 at 04:53PM

What is your creative dream for the web?

Often the IndieWeb is re-creating functionality from traditional media or the social spaces to our own sites. Who is going to innovate and turn the tide in the other direction?

Where is the avant guarde? Who is going to be the next Stan Brakhage, George Antheil, Luis Buñuel, or Walter Murch of the web?

burger lol GIF by Robbie Cobb

How can we push corporate social media back onto their heels?

I can’t wait for someone to create the next social media craze because it’s something they’re creatively posting on their own website as a media format that social silos don’t allow.

Who is experimenting with quirky multimedia posts on their websites? Who’s going to have the next meme generator/Tik Tok/SnapChat stories/inventive new functionality first? I’m imagining something in the vein of Marty’s Kapowski, Aaron’s emoji avatars, or Jeremy’s Indy maps, but I’m sure we could go crazier and push the envelope even further.

Bonus points if it’s done in the form of a micropub client! 🙂

Watched Bird Song Preludes - Proof of Concept by Tim PrebbleTim Prebble from YouTube

This is a proof of concept for a project I am doing later in the year, as part of the Auckland City Council Artists Residency, where I will be based in Little Huia for two months...

A fascinating experiment of taking birdsong and translating it into music. This is pretty cool!
Read The daily creativity prompts that help me spend time on myself by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller (Ben Werdmüller)
Last month, I drew a new picture every day as part of Inktober, responding to daily word prompts. In response to the word Ash, I drew a response to Brexit: In response to the word Mindless, I drew a self-portait of sorts: And in response to Frozen, I drew a heart. I'm not an artist by any means, ...
Listened to Steven Johnson on the Importance of Play and the Decisions We Make by Alan Alda from Clear+Vivid with Alan Alda

How do we come up with ideas? How do we make decisions? And how can we do both better? Steven Johnson has explored this question and written a dozen books about it. In this playful, thoughtful episode, Steven has some fascinating stories, like how Darwin made the decision to get married — or how a defecating duck helped lead to the invention of the computer. Through their own stories, Steven and Alan Alda share their thoughts about the transformative nature of ideas and what sort of environments best give rise to creativity.

I love the idea of the slow hunch discussed here. It’s part of the reason I keep a commonplace book. Johnson also discusses his own personal commonplace book, though he doesn’t give it that particular name here.

The commercial about Alda Communication Training makes me wonder if they recommend scientists and communicators have their own websites? In particular, I’m even more curious because of Johnson’s mention of his commonplace book and how he uses it in this episode. I suspect that scientists having a variety of interconnecting commonplaces (via Webmention) using basic IndieWeb or A Domain of One’s Own principles could better create slow hunches, create more links, increase creativity and diversity, and foster greater innovation. I’ll have to follow up on this idea. While some may do something slightly like this within other parts of social media, I don’t get the impression that it’s as useful a tool in those places (isn’t as searchable or permanent feeling, and is likely rarely reviewed over). Being able to own your digital commonplace as a regular tool certainly has more value as Johnson describes. Functionality like On This Day dramatically increases its value.

But there’s another point that we should make more often, I think, which is that one of the most robust findings in the social sciences and psychology over the last 20 years is that diverse groups are just collectively smarter and more original in the way that they think in, in both their way of dreaming up new ideas, but also in making complicated decisions, that they avoid all the problems of group think and homogeneity that you get when you have a group of like minded people together who are just amplifying each other’s beliefs.—Steven Johnson [00:09:59]

Think about a big decision in your life. Think about the age span of the people you’re talking to about that choice. Are they all your peers within three or four years? Are you talking somebody who’s a generation older and a generation younger?—Steven Johnson [00:13:24]

I was talking to Ramzi Hajj yesterday about having mentors (with a clear emphasis on that mentor being specifically older) and this quote is the same sentiment, just with a slightly different emphasis.

One of the things that is most predictive of a species, including most famously, humans, of their capacity for innovation and problem solving as an adult is how much they play as a newborn or as a child.—Steven Johnson [00:28:10]

Play is important for problem solving.

I think you boil this all down into the idea that if you want to know what the next big thing is, look for where people are having fun.—Alan Alda [00:31:35]

This is interesting because I notice that one of the  binding (and even physically stated) principles of the IndieWeb is to have fun. Unconsciously, it’s one of the reasons I’ve always thought that what the group is doing is so important.

Ha! Alda has also been watching Shtisel recently [00:50:04].

📑 The Vulnerability of Learning | Cathie LeBlanc

Replied to The Vulnerability of Learning by Cathie LeBlancCathie LeBlanc (Desert of My Real Life)

When I received Chris’s comment, my first response was that I should delete my post or at least the incorrect part of it. It’s embarrassing to have your incorrect understandings available for public view. But I decided to leave the post as is but put in a disclaimer so that others would not be misled by my misunderstandings.
This experience reminded me that learning makes us vulnerable. Admitting that you don’t know something is hard and being corrected is even harder. Chris was incredibly gentle in his correction. It makes me think about how I respond to my students’ work. Am I as gentle with their work as Chris was to mine? Could I be more gentle? How often have I graded my students’ work and only focused on what they did wrong? Or forgotten that feeling of vulnerability when you don’t know something, when you put your work out for others to judge? This experience has also reminded me that it’s important that we as teachers regularly put ourselves into situations in which we authentically grapple with not knowing something. We should regularly share our less than fully formed understandings with others for feedback. It helps us remember that even confident learners can struggle with being vulnerable. And we need to keep in mind that many of our students are not confident learners.  

I’m reminded here of the broad idea that many bloggers write about sooner or later of their website being a “thought space” or place to contemplate out in the open. More often than not, even if they don’t have an audience to interact with, their writings become a way of thinking out loud, clarifying things for themselves, self-evolving, or putting themselves out there for potential public reactions (good, bad, or indifferent).

While writing things out loud to no audience can be helpful and useful on an individual level, it’s often even more helpful to have some sort of productive and constructive feedback. While a handful of likes or positive seeming responses can be useful, I always prefer the ones that make me think more broadly, deeply, or force me to consider other pieces I hadn’t envisioned before. To me this is the real value of these open and often very public thought spaces.

For those interested in the general idea, I’ve been [bookmarking/tagging things around the idea of thought spaces I’ve read on my own website]( Hopefully this collection helps others better understand the spectrum of these ideas for themselves.

With respect to the vulnerability piece, I’m reminded of an episode of The Human Current I listened to a few weeks back. There was an excellent section that touched on building up trust with students or even a class when it comes to providing feedback and criticism. Having a bank of trust makes it easier to give feedback as well as to receive it. Here’s a link to the audio portion and a copy of the relevant text.

👓 The Vulnerability of Learning | Desert of My Real Life

Read The Vulnerability of Learning by Cathie LeBlancCathie LeBlanc (Desert of My Real Life)
Listening to the students talk about feeling unsure and vulnerable when they first encountered open educational practices made me think about my own learning. As a mid-career academic who has changed jobs and even disciplines, I am a confident learner. I have received lots of praise and other kinds of positive reinforcement for my ability to learn new things. If you have read previous posts on my blog, you might know that I am really interested in developments in the IndieWeb movement and am trying to write about some of my experiences with using IndieWeb tools to build my own web site. I’ve been building my own sites for years and so I have a lot of confidence in my ability there as well. Working on the IndieWeb stuff has been challenging because there’s a lot of new language and new concepts as well as some aspects of web development that I have not engaged with before. I often feel vulnerable when I write my posts about the IndieWeb because my understanding of how everything works is emerging. In other words, I don’t get it all yet but I’m still writing publicly about my work.

📑 The Vulnerability of Learning | Cathie LeBlanc

Replied to The Vulnerability of Learning by Cathie LeBlancCathie LeBlanc (Desert of My Real Life)

Chris was incredibly gentle in his correction. It makes me think about how I respond to my students’ work. Am I as gentle with their work as Chris was to mine?  

What a relief to hear this! The hardest part about writing my response was in possibly coming off too hard or painfully pedantic and not wanting to turn you off in your explorations.

📖 Read pages i-8 of Category Theory for the Sciences by David I. Spivak

📖 Read pages i-8, front matter and Chapter 1: Introduction of Category Theory for the Sciences by David I. Spivak.

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

But it is easy to think we are in agreement, when we really are not. Modeling our thoughts on heuristics and graphics may be convenient for quick travel down the road, but we are liable to miss our turnoff at the first mile. The danger is in mistaking convenient conceptualizations for what is actually there.

A functor is like a conductor of mathematical truth.

The answer is that when we formalize our ideas, our understanding is clarified.

Creativity demands clarity of thinking, and to think clearly about a subject requires an organized understanding of how its pieces fit together. Organization and clarity also lead to better communication with others. Academics often say they are paid to think and understand, but that is not the whole truth. They are paid to think, understand, and communicate their findings.