This reminds me of these “useless web” sites—this being the primary one—that have managed to stay very popular. (A lot of YouTubers make videos of themselves clicking through this site and I often see kids at school using the site.) And it’s basically a webring. But it’s not a code-based...
This is Part II of my series on the Death of Webrings. Part I is here. For this article I am going to use two examples. I want to make it clear that I am not picking on the example rings, their creators or their intended uses. I do want to point out what I see as flaws in their model that unle...
Think about these two words for a moment: "Search" and "Browse." They're words that are used frequently to describe things we do on computers. But consider their traditional associations:
Browsing is shopping, strolling, flipping through a magazine. Browsing is fun, casual, entertaining.
Searching is mechanical, trial and error, frustrating. Searching is work.
There's a powerful emotional difference between the two. Now let's talk about tags.
In 1996, Paulina Borsook wrote a story that, frankly, really pissed me off. In "Cyberselfish," published in Mother Jones and eventually turned into a book, she wrote about how new have-it-your-way technology was creating a generation of spoiled brats with computers. I took umbrage. Not only was I a proud member of the generation she was lambasting (a generation that is now oldschool on the internet, for whatever that's worth), but I had personally observed just the opposite. I witnessed people using new digital tools to collaborate. I saw more selflessness and altruism online than off.
Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia
I think the internet’s core message can be summed up in one word: Share. ❧
An early reference to the sharing economy?
October 04, 2018 at 09:08AM
The last thing most people need is another microphone. They need something to say. (And time to say it.) ❧
Interesting to hear this from 2006 and looking back now…
October 04, 2018 at 09:12AM
Designing for selfishness does not mean abandoning the group good. ❧
October 04, 2018 at 09:14AM
Except that the aggregate selfish behavior of millions of people tagging billions of photos means that the public tag pages make entertaining surfing for everyone. ❧
How can one leverage selfish behaviour to the benefit of all?
October 04, 2018 at 09:15AM
Earlier this morningand the discussion of topics versus objects got me thinking about semantics on my website in general.
People often ask why WordPress has both a Category and a Tag functionality, and to some extent it would seem to be just for this thing–differentiating between topics and objects–or at least it’s how I have used it and perceived others doing so as well. (Incidentally from a functionality perspective categories in the WordPress taxonomy also have a hierarchy while tags do not.) I find that I don’t always do a great job at differentiating between them nor do I do so cleanly every time. Typically it’s more apparent when I go searching for something and have a difficult time in finding it as a result. Usually the problem is getting back too many results instead of a smaller desired subset. In some sense I also look at categories as things which might be more interesting for others to subscribe to or follow via RSS from my site, though I also have RSS feeds for tags as well as for post types/kinds as well.
I also find that I have a subtle differentiation using singular versus plural tags which I think I’m generally using to differentiate between the idea of “mine” versus “others”. Thus the (singular) tag for “commonplace book” should be a reference to my particular commonplace book versus the (plural) tag “commonplace books” which I use to reference either the generic idea or the specific commonplace books of others. Sadly I don’t think I apply this “rule” consistently either, but hope to do so in the future.
I’ve also been playing around with some more technical tags like math.NT (standing for number theory), following the lead of arXiv.org. While I would generally have used a tag “number theory”, I’ve been toying around with the idea of using the math.XX format for more technical related research on my site and the more human readable “number theory” for the more generic popular press related material. I still have some more playing around with the idea to see what shakes out. I’ve noticed in passing that Terence Tao uses these same designations on his site, but he does them at the category level rather than the tag level.
Now that I’m several years into such a system, I should probably spend some time going back and broadening out the topic categories (I arbitrarily attempt to keep the list small–in part for public display/vanity reasons, but it’s relatively easy to limit what shows to the public in my category list view.) Then I ought to do a bit of clean up within the tags themselves which have gotten unwieldy and often have spelling mistakes which cause searches to potentially fail. I also find that some of my auto-tagging processes by importing tags from the original sources’ pages could be cleaned up as well, though those are generally stored in a different location on my website, so it’s not as big a deal to me.
Naturally I find myself also thinking about the ontogeny/phylogeny problems of how I do these things versus how others at large do them as well, so feel free to chime in with your ideas, especially if you take tags/categories for your commonplace book/website seriously. I’d like to ultimately circle back around on this with regard to the more generic tagging done from a web-standards perspective within the IndieWeb and Microformats communities. I notice almost immediately that the “tag” and “category” pages on the IndieWeb wiki redirect to the same page yet there are various microformats including
u-category which are related but have slightly different meanings on first blush. (There is in fact an example on the IndieWeb “tag” page which includes both of these classes neither of which seems to be counter-documented at the Microformats site.) I should also dig around to see what Kevin Marks or the crew at Technorati must surely have written a decade or more ago on the topic.
Can the failing, impotent web directory be transformed? Be innovated??
My random thought for the day. These can be dangerous. Hold my beer. What would happen if you combined a standard web directory script with Indieweb.org features like webmentions and such? I think you could end up with a very powerful tool for a directory. I have not the slightest idea how on...
I listen to several dozen podcasts, usually when doing boring tasks like errands, dishes, or car trips, on the order of 5-8 hours per week, and mostly at the expense of time I used to spend listeni…
Ok, Indieweb.xyz has been open for a month! The point of the site is to give you a place to syndicate your essays and conversations where they’ll actually be seen. In a way, it’s a silo—a central info container. Silos make it easy. You go there and dump stuff in. But, here in the Indieweb, we want No Central. We want Decentral. Which is more difficult because all these little sites and blogs out there have to work together—that’s tough! Ok so, going to back to how this works: Brad Enslen and I have been posting our thoughts about how to innovate blog directories, search and webrings to the /en/linking sub on Indieweb.xyz. If you want to join the conversation, just send your posts there by including a link like this in your post:
This was also posted to /en/linking.If your blog supports Webmentions, then Indieweb.xyz should be notified of the post when you publish it. But even if your blog doesn’t support Webmentions, you can just submit your link by hand. How Indie Do I Need to Be? One of my big projects lately has been to make it very easy for you all out there to participate. You no longer need a ton of what they call ‘microformats’ everywhere on your blog. You literally just need to: Include the link above in your blog post. (You don’t even need the class="u-syndication" part, but I would still recommend it. If you have multiple links to Indieweb.xyz in your post, the one marked u-syndication will be preferred.) Send the Webmention. It helps if you have the microformats—this makes it easy to figure out who the author of the post is and so on. But Indieweb.xyz will now fallback to using HTML title tags (and RSS feed even) to figure out who is posting and what they are posting. The Blog Directory A feature I’m incredibly excited about is the blog directory, which lists all the blogs that post to Indieweb.xyz—and which also gives you a few hundred characters to describe your blog! (It uses the description meta tag from your blog’s home page.) I think of Indieweb.xyz as an experiment in building a decentralized forum in which everyone contributes their bits. And Indieweb.xyz merges them together. It’s decentralized because you can easily switch all your Indieweb.xyz links to another site, send your Webmentions—and now THAT site will merge you into their community. In a way, I’m starting to see it as a wiki where each person’s changes happen on their own blog. This blog directory is like a wiki page where everyone gets their little section to control. I’m going to expand this idea bit-by-bit over the next few months. Just to clarify: the directory is updated whenever you send a Webmention, so if you change your blog description, resend one of your Webmentions to update it. Bad Behavior and the Robot Police We are a long way off from solving abuse on our websites. We desperately want technology to solve this. But it is a human problem. I am starting to believe that the more we solve a problem with technology, the more human problems we create. (This has been generally true of pollution, human rights, ecology, quality of life, almost every human problem. There are, of course, fortuitous exceptions to this.) Decentralization is somewhat fortuitous. Smaller, isolated communities are less of a target. The World Trade Tower is a large, appealing target. But Sandy Hook still happens. A smaller community can survive longer, but it will still degenerate—small communities often become hostile to outsiders (a.k.a newcomers). So while a given Mastodon instance’s code of conduct provides a human solution—sudden, effortless removal of a terrorist—there will be false positives. I have been kicked out, hellbanned, ignored in communities many times—this isn’t an appeal for self-pity, just a note that moderation powers are often misdirected. I moved on to other communities—but I earnestly wanted to participate in some of those communities that I couldn’t seem to penetrate. So, yeah: rules will be coming together. It’s all we have. I’m impressed that the Hacker News community has held together for so long, but maybe it’s too much of a monoculture. HN’s guidelines seem to work. Commenting Last thing. A recent addition is a comment count on each submission. These comment counts are scraped from the blog post. It seems very “indieweb” to let the comments stay on the blog. The problem is that the microformats for comments are not widely supported and, well, they suck. It’s all just too complicated. You slightly change an HTML template and everything breaks. Not to mention that I have no idea if the number is actually correct. Are these legit comments? Or is the number being spoofed? I will also add that—if you submit a link to someone else’s blog, even if it’s an “indieweb” blog—the comment count will come from your blog. This is because the original entry might have been submitted by the author to a different sub. So your link contains the comments about that blog post for that sub. Really tight microformat templates will need to become widespread for this to become really useful. In the meantime, it’s a curious little feature that I’m happy to spend a few characters on.
I really should be syndicating to Indieweb.xyz more. It’s the type of interesting experiment I’m really enjoying watching unfold.
RSS died. Whether you blame Feedburner, or Google Reader, or Digg Reader last month, or any number of other product failures over the years, the humble protocol has managed to keep on trudging along despite all evidence that it is dead, dead, dead. Now, with Facebook’s scandal over Cambridge Analyt…
Brad, much like you’re making a laudable effort, and one of the ways our work grows is to both keep up with it and experiment around., I think
If I recall, programming wasn’t necessarily your strong suit, but like many in the IndieWeb will say: “Manual until it hurts!” By doing things manually, you’ll more easily figure out what might work and what might not, and then when you’ve found the thing that does, then you spend some time programming it to automate the whole thing to make it easier. It’s quite similar to designing a college campus: let the students walk around naturally for a bit then pave the natural walkways that they’ve created. This means you won’t have both the nicely grided and unused sidewalks in addition to the ugly grass-less beaten paths. It’s also the broader generalization of paving the cow paths.
In addition to my Following page I’ve also been doing some experimenting with following posts using the Post Kinds Plugin. It is definitely a lot more manual than I’d like it to be. It does help to have made a bookmarklet to more quickly create follow posts, but until I’ve got it to a place that I really want it, it’s not (yet) worth automating taking the data from those follow posts to dump them into my Follow page for output there as well. Of course the fact that my follow posts have h-entry and h-feed mark up means that someone might also decide to build a parser that will extract my posts into a feed which could then be plugged into something else like a microsub-based reader so that I could make a follow post on my own site and the source is automatically added to my subscription list in my reader automatically.
In addition to Kicks Condor, I’me seeing others start to kick the tires of these things as well. David Shanske recently wrote Brainstorming on Implementing Vouch, Following, and Blogrolls, but I think he’s got a lot more going on in his thinking than he’s indicated in his post which barely scratches the surface.
I also still often think back to a post from Dave Winer in 2016: Are you ready to share your OPML? This too has some experimental discovery features that only scratch the surface of the adjacent possible.
And of course just yesterday, Kevin Marks (previously of Technorati) reminded us about rel=”directory” which could have some interesting implications for discovery and following. Think for a bit of how one might build a decentralized Technorati or something along the lines of Ryan Barrett’s indie map.
As things continue to grow, I’m seeing some of all of our decisions and experiments begin to effect others as these are all functionality and discovery mechanisms that we’ll all need in the very near future. I hope you’ll continue to experiment and make cow paths that can eventually be paved.
In architecture desire lines or cowpaths describe well-worn paths that appear in a landscape over time. I discuss how this relates to web design.
This is interesting/relevant to the idea of “manual until it hurts”. I particularly like the twist idea at the end of looking at activity after-the-fact and then paving over those methods rather than starting at free range and then paving.
I’m hitting a fork in the road with this site and the experiment of using a blog as a directory of blogs. The problem here is me: I’m running out of time. I’m duplicating a lot …
I think the idea behind Blog Snoop is solid—I mean you’re just talking about trying to define the edges of a certain community. I’m sufficiently convinced now (between Reddit wikis and ‘awesome lists’) that directories still serve this purpose. Find The Others. I guess part of the problem ...
Response to Brad and Kicks forthcoming…
I’m hitting a fork in the road with this site and the experiment of using a blog as a directory of blogs. The problem here is me: I’m running out of time. I’m duplicating a lot … Source: Announcement: The Future of Blog Snoop – Blog Snoop Weblog Directory We’ll see what happens. It...