A pencast overview (with audio and recorded visual diagrams) of IndieWeb technologies

I’ve seen a bunch of new folks coming into the IndieWeb community recently who are a bit overwhelmed with the somewhat steep learning curve of both new jargon as well as new ideas and philosophies of what it means to have one’s own domain and presence on the internet.

While parts of the IndieWeb’s overall idea are quite simple, where the actual rubber meets the road things can be a bit overwhelming, and more so if you’re a non-technical person. This doesn’t have to be the case. Generally I’d recommend to people to begin attending local Homebrew Website Clubs or, even better, to attend an IndieWebCamp in person to get a one day crash course followed by a day of building and help. Sadly, life can intervene making these not as quick and immediate a reality as one might otherwise like.

So toward the end of making the crash course to explain in relatively broad terms some of the basic terminology as well as some of the bigger individual pieces and what’s happening when using an IndieWeb site with most of the major new functionality built in, I’ve made a short pencast of what is going on. Naturally there’s still a tremendous amount to learn and do, and a million things which could always be better or improved, but if you’re setting up a site using WordPress this overview will hopefully get you a lot further a lot faster. (It may also be useful for those setting up Known or even something for micro.blog, though those will have different plugins and other small quirks that aren’t covered here.)

What is a Pencast?

Pencast?! What is that? It’s a technology that has been around for a while courtesy of Livescribe.com digital pens which not only record an audio file of what is being said, but also record penstroke by penstroke what is being written. Even better the audio and the penstrokes are crosslinked, so you can more easily jump around within a lecture or talk.

To do this you should download the version of the notes in Livescribe’s custom Pencast .pdf format. This seems like a standard .pdf file but it’s a bit larger in size because it has an embedded audio file in it that is playable with the free Adobe Reader X (or above) installed. With this version of the notes, you should be able to toggle the settings in the file (see below) to read and listen to the notes almost as if you were sitting with me in person and I was drawing it out in front of you as I spoke. You can also use your mouse to jump around within the pencast by touching/mousing to particular areas or by jumping forward and back by means of the audio bar. If you need to, also feel free to zoom in on the page to have a closer look.

Pencast version

An IndieWeb Crash Course [14.9MB .pdf with embedded audio]

Viewing and Playing a Pencast PDF

Pencast PDF is a new format of notes and audio that can play in Adobe Reader X or above.

You can open a Pencast PDF as you would other PDF files in Adobe Reader X. The main difference is that a Pencast PDF can contain ink that has associated audio—called “active ink”. Click active ink to play its audio. This is just like playing a Pencast from Livescribe Online or in Livescribe Desktop. When you first view a notebook page, active ink appears in green type. When you click active ink, it turns gray and the audio starts playing. As audio playback continues, the gray ink turns green in synchronization with the audio. Non-active ink (ink without audio) is black and does not change appearance.

Audio Control Bar

Pencast PDFs have an audio control bar for playing, pausing, and stopping audio playback. The control bar also has jump controls, bookmarks (stars), and an audio timeline control.

Active Ink View Button

There is also an active ink view button. Click this button to toggle the “unwritten” color of active ink from gray to invisible. In the default (gray) setting, the gray words turn green as the audio plays. In the invisible setting, green words seem to write themselves on blank paper as the audio plays.

 
If you have comments or feedback, I’m thrilled to receive it. Feel free to comment below, or if you’ve already IndieWebified your site, write your comment there and send it to me via webmention, or add your permalink to the box below. Ideally this version of the pencast is a first draft and I’ll put something more polished together at a later date, but I wanted to get this out there to have a few people test-drive it to get some feedback.

Thanks!​​​​​​​​​

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An Indieweb Podcast: Episode 3 “Syndication”

Episode 3: Syndication


Running time: 52m 56s | Download (24.9 MB) | Subscribe by RSS

Summary: Facebook has recently announced it will be shutting off its API access on August 1st for automating posts into its ecosystem. For a large number of users this means it will be much more difficult to crosspost or syndicate their content into the platform. As a result, this week David Shanske and I discuss the good and the bad of this move as well as some general thoughts around the ideas of syndicating content from one site to another.

David also discusses plans he’s got for changes to both the Bridgy Publish Plugin and the Syndication Links Plugin.

 
Huffduff this Episode


Show Notes

Related Articles and Posts

Resources and mentions within the episode

# Indicates a direct link to the appropriate part of the audio within the episode for the mentioned portion.

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Reply to Wat is POSSE en PESOS op het IndieWeb? by Frank Meeuwsen

Replied to Wat is POSSE en PESOS op het IndieWeb? by Frank Meeuwsen (Digging the digital)
Nieuwe termen, nieuwe wijn? Of is het meer van wat we al kenden?

I like to think of the IndieWeb as delivering on the original promise of the original decentralized internet. It’s nice that billions of people can now more easily communicate with so-called “free” services like Twitter, Facebook, et al., but it’s at a much larger expense of giving away all of their data, control, and often their privacy and even identities. Social media sites all have their own standards, functionalities, and even quirks, none of which is controllable by individuals, so if you use them, you are forced to use them on their terms instead of your own. The dumpster fire that Twitter has become as a “community” is a prime example. I also think it’s a terrible drawback that if you have a Facebook account and want to communicate with someone on Twitter, you need a Twitter account to do so. Here’s an example of what happens with this type of service-proliferation. Who wants to have to manage all of this, much less remember which service you were having which conversation on?

As you say, much of the data one posts may have little value and feel ephemeral, but certainly not all of it, and certainly not in aggregate. At least the individual should get to decide and have agency over the decision. As it stands, I can delete individual posts from Facebook, but I have no guarantee that the data is physically removed from their servers and still available for either their internal use or for possible future governmental use.

Another way to frame it all is to think of your web presence as a commonplace book.

If you recall the early days of social media, you may appreciate this alternate viewpoint of social media that I wrote about a few months ago: http://boffosocko.com/2017/04/11/a-new-way-to-know-and-master-your-social-media-flow/

Interestingly, I came across your post almost immediately after fleshing out some detail on the wikipage for cross-posting which may be a worthwhile overview from the perspective of a traditional social media user. To help conglomerate all of the various pieces for you and others in the future, I’ve created a category page under the heading “syndication” with links to all of the various pieces which may together make a more coherent whole.

As for your question (excuse my rough translation):

Then I think again, if I put my tweets first on my own site, what about the possible conversations that result from it? If someone answers and I reply again, do I do that on my own site? The IndieWeb wiki is not very clear here…

There isn’t a direct answer within some of the pages you mention, but ideally, yes, all of the conversation takes place in a back and forth manner on your own website (as well as that of those with whom you’re communicating). Sadly, not all of the moving pieces have been solved completely with respect to user interface which could be done in multiple ways. One standard in particular that isn’t supported by many is that of salmention. Until then, some of us are managing to do this manually to maintain the threaded comments so that the entire context of a conversation is still available on our own sites. Even without it, some semblance of threading is possible by providing permalink URLs for all the parts of the conversations on individual pages until such time as it’s more feasible. If you care to experiment, try commenting on this on my site and see what happens.

Incidentally, especially if you haven’t come across it yet, I hope that as you continue to explore and write that you’ll syndicate your content to https://news.indieweb.org/nl for the benefit of others.

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