Reflections on WordCamp Santa Clarita Valley 2019

I really had a grand time at WordCamp Santa Clarita Valley yesterday. I’d like to thank the visionary Joe Simpson, Jr. and his entire group of fantastic organizers and kind volunteers for putting the entire thing together. I couldn’t imagine a better launch for a brand new camp.

College of the Canyons was a fantastic location for the camp and even had some excellent outdoor patio and dining space for lunch.

I do wish I’d been able to make my schedule work out to have been able to attend on Friday. I’m particularly bummed that I didn’t get to see Glenn Zucman’s presentation as he’s always doing some of the most interesting and creative things with WordPress. I’ll wait patiently for WordPress.tv to deliver it for me.

Some of my favorite highlights:

  • David Nuon wearing a blonde Richard Dean Anderson wig during his talk MacGyver plays with blocks: Using the Gutenberg editor in new and surprising ways
  • Chatting with Kat Christofer of Woo Commerce about how she and the Woo team create better documentation for their product. I think there’s some things we can learn for documenting pieces of the IndieWeb experience with WordPress. She also mentioned the beginning of a new short Mustang road trip.
  • Joseph Dickson going old school on Upgrading Kubrick for Gutenberg. His highlighting the fact that the editor is able to better mirror the ultimate output as a time saver is an intriguing idea.
  • Not that they aren’t always in general, and I didn’t think about it until reflecting on it today, but I also want to mention the spectacular diversity of speakers and attendees at the camp. It really made for a better and more well-rounded experience. I’ll give all the credit to Joe and his team who I suspect are directly responsible for designing it to be that way from the very beginning.

On a more personal level, my two favorite parts included:  Seeing the viceral reactions of a handful of people as the proverbial light switch was turned on when they realized the power and flexibility of the posting interfaces provided by micropub clients during my talk. There was also a palpable rush at the end while using a few minutes of extra time demoing some examples of my website and and the power of Micropub, Webmention, and backfeed along with some other IndieWeb goodness. I’ve already had a number of people following up with additional questions, conversations, and emails.

For those who may have missed them, here is a link to my slides from the Micropub and WordPress talk and a link to some of the bigger pieces I’ve wrtitten about with respect to WordPress and IndieWeb technologies in the past. Naturally, these are only a supplement to the hundreds of others who are working in and documenting the space

I’ll also give a special thanks to Joseph Dickson for the photo/tweet of me just before the talk:

A selfie by Chris Aldrich with other campers in the background
Hanging out with old friends and new after WordCamp on the patio at Draconum.
Joseph Dixon, Erik Blair

👓 A Room of One’s Own White Colleagues | Diverse Education

Read A Room of One’s Own White Colleagues by (Diverse)
Every spring, I dread putting together my annual review materials. In March, a predominantly White room full of senior colleagues will discuss whether I meet th

He doesn’t even mention all the additional heavy mentoring work that he likely does for other minorities, POC, etc. which go above and beyond what his white colleagues are doing.

A Room of One’s Own White Colleagues  

Subtle hat tip to Virginia Woolf.

March 19, 2019 at 03:02PM

🎧 The Daily: A Rift Over Power and Privilege in the Women’s March | New York Times

Listened to The Daily: A Rift Over Power and Privilege in the Women’s March from New York Times

How tensions in the leadership of the protest movement burst into the open.

👓 Silicon Valley pledged to break up the boys’ club of investing in 2018. How did it do? | Recode

Read Silicon Valley pledged to break up the boys’ club of investing in 2018. How did it do? (Recode)
Venture capitalists spent 2018 welcoming women to the fold, but the welcome has been fitful, uneven and, scariest of all, tentative.

Lack of diversity is going to be like the cigarette problem of the early 70’s. We know that it’s bad for us, but in the present it doesn’t seem as significant on a marginal individual basis. But worked on over decades it will make us and our society much healthier and richer for having solved for it.

👓 Name Change | N.I.P.S.

Read NIPS Name Change by Terrence Sejnowski, Marian Stewart Bartlett, Michael Mozer, Corinna Cortes, Isabelle Guyon, Neil D. Lawrence, Daniel D. Lee, Ulrike von Luxburg, Masashi Sugiyama, Max Welling (nips.cc)

As many of you know, there has been an ongoing discussion concerning the name of the Neural Information Processing Systems conference. The current acronym NIPS has unintended connotations that some members of the community find offensive.

Following several well-publicized incidents of insensitivity at past conferences, and our acknowledgement of other less-publicized incidents, we conducted community polls requesting alternative names, rating the existing and alternative names, and soliciting additional comments.

After extensive discussions, the NIPS Board has decided not to change the name of the conference for now. The poll itself did not yield a clear consensus on a name change or a well-regarded alternative name.

This just makes me sick…

👓 "The Danger of a Single Story" in Mathematics | Roots of Unity

Read "The Danger of a Single Story" in Mathematics (Scientific American Blog Network)
The Lathisms podcast shares the varied stories of Hispanic and Latinx mathematicians

👓 Why I’m leaving Micro.blog | Belle B. Cooper

Read Why I'm leaving Micro.blog by Belle B. CooperBelle B. Cooper (blog.bellebcooper.com)
I've come and gone from Micro.blog several times before. I joined long before the Kickstarter, when barely anyone was there. I tried it again after the Kickstarter, when the community looked more like it does today. And I came back again a few weeks ago for the most fun, if not the longest, period of time I've spent there.

👓 a post | Flashing Palely in the Margins | Sameer Vasta

Read a post by Sameer VastaSameer Vasta (inthemargins.ca)
[...] We like to tell ourselves that micro.blog is a great place because we are civil and we have good conversations and discussions, even when we disagree, but I have faced more dismissiveness and insult on micro.blog in the past year than I have at any time in that other “micro” social network. This is not the civil community that we make it out to be, and by pretending that it is, we ignore when people feel actively excluded. [...]

📺 How the tech sector could move in One Direction | Sacha Judd

Watched How the tech sector could move in One Direction from Sacha Judd

This is a talk I gave at Beyond Tellerrand in Berlin in November, 2016 and at Webstock in February, 2017. A text version with the slides appears below.

👓 “Help! someone has pointed out my conference has diversity issues! | Samsung Internet Dev | Medium

Read “Help! someone has pointed out my conference has diversity issues! by Ada Rose Cannon (Medium)
How do I fix this?”

👓 Diversity on Micro.Blog | Kicks Condor

Read Reply to Diversity on Micro.Blog by Kicks Condor (kickscondor.com)
One question I wonder: while I think the self-made entrepreneur has got to be synonymous with imperialist America—couldn’t the independent autodidact, operating apart from corporate interests, be a modern type of vanguard for the dispossessed? I feel like the Instagram influencer is more a direct descendant of The American Dream; the bespoke blog a piece of the underground press—particularly in 2018, when they have become ancient machinery.

IndieWeb Summit 2018 Recap

Last week was the 8th annual IndieWeb Summit held in Portland, Oregon. While IndieWeb Camps and Summits have traditionally been held on weekends during people’s free time, this one held in the middle of the week was a roaring success. With well over 50 people in attendance, this was almost certainly the largest attendance I’ve seen to date. I suspect since people who flew in for the event had really committed, the attendance on the second day was much higher than usual as well. It was great to see so many people hacking on their personal websites and tools to make their personal online experiences richer.

The year of the Indie Reader

Last year I wrote the post Feed Reader Revolution in response to an increasingly growing need I’ve seen in the social space for a new sort of functionality in feed readers. While there have been a few interesting attempts like Woodwind which have shown a proof-of-concept, not much work had been done until some initial work by Aaron Parecki and a session at last year’s IndieWeb Summit entitled Putting it all Together.

Over the past year I’ve been closely watching Aaron Parecki; Grant Richmond and Jonathan LaCour; Eddie Hinkle; and Kristof De Jaeger’s collective progress on the microsub specification as well as their respective projects Aperture/Monocle; Together; Indigenous/Indigenous for iOS; and Indigenous for Android. As a result in early May I was overjoyed to suggest a keynote session on readers and was stupefied this week as many of them have officially launched and are open to general registration as relatively solid beta web services.

I spent a few minutes in a session at the end of Tuesday and managed to log into Aperture and create an account (#16, though I suspect I may be one of the first to use it besides the initial group of five developers). I also managed to quickly and easily add a microsub endpoint to my website as well. Sadly I’ve got some tweaks to make to my own installation to properly log into any of the reader app front ends. Based on several of the demos I’ve seen over the past months, the functionality involved is not only impressive, but it’s a properly large step ahead of some of the basic user interface provided by the now-shuttered Woodwind.xyz service (though the code is still available for self-hosting.)

Several people have committed to make attempts at creating a microsub server including Jack Jamieson who has announced an attempt at creating one for WordPress after having recently built the Yarns reader for WordPress from scratch this past year. I suspect within the coming year we’ll see one or two additional servers as well as some additional reading front ends. In fact, Ryan Barrett spent the day on Wednesday hacking away at leveraging the News Blur API and leveraging it to make News Blur a front end for Aperture’s server functionality. I’m hoping others may do the same for other popular readers like Feedly or Inoreader to expand on the plurality of offerings. Increased competition for new reader offerings can only improve the entire space.

Even more reading related support

Just before the Summit, gRegor Morrill unveiled the beta version of his micropub client Indiebookclub.biz which allows one to log in with their own website and use it to post reading updates to their own website. For those who don’t yet support micropub, the service saves the data for eventual export. His work on it continued through the summit to continue to improve an already impressive product. It’s the fist micropub client of its kind amidst a growing field of websites (including WordPress and WithKnown which both have plugins) that offer reading post support. Micro.blog has recently updated its code to allow users of the platform the ability to post reads with indiebookclub.biz as well. As a result of this spurt of reading related support there’s now a draft proposal to add read-of and read-status support as new Microformats. Perhaps reads will be included in future updates of the post-type-discovery algorithm as well?

Given the growth of reading post support and a new micropub read client, I suspect it won’t take long before some of the new microsub-related readers begin supporting read post micropub functionality as well.

IndieAuth Servers

In addition to David Shanske’s recent valiant update to the IndieAuth plugin for WordPress, Manton Reece managed to finish up coding work to unveil another implementation of IndieAuth at the Summit. His version is for the micro.blog platform which is a significant addition to the community and will add several hundred additional users who will have broader access to a wide assortment of functionality as a result.

The Future

While work continues apace on a broad variety of fronts, I was happy to see that my proposal for a session on IndieAlgorithms was accepted (despite my leading another topic earlier in the day). It was well attended and sparked some interesting discussion about how individuals might also be able to exert greater control over what they’re presented to consume. With the rise of Indie feed readers this year, the ability to better control and filter one’s incoming content is going to take on a greater importance in the very near future. With an increasing number of readers to choose from, more people will hopefully be able to free themselves from the vagaries of the blackbox algorithms that drive content distribution and presentation in products like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others. Based on the architecture of servers like Aperture, perhaps we might be able to modify some of the microsub spec to allow more freedom and flexibility in what will assuredly be the next step in the evolution of the IndieWeb?

Diversity

While there are miles and miles to go before we sleep, I was happy to have seen a session on diversity pop up at the Summit. I hope we can all take the general topic to heart to be more inclusive and actively invite friends into our fold. Thanks to Jean for suggesting and guiding the conversation and everyone else for continuing it throughout the rest of the summit and beyond.

Other Highlights

Naturally, the above are just a few of the bigger highlights as I perceive them. I’m sure others will appear in the IndieNews feed or other blogposts about the summit. The IndieWeb is something subtly different to each person, so I hope everyone takes a moment to share (on your own sites naturally) what you got out of all the sessions and discussions. There was a tremendous amount of discussion, debate, and advancement of the state of the art of the continually growing IndieWeb. Fortunately almost all of it was captured in the IndieWeb chat, on Twitter, and on video available through either the IndieWeb wiki pages for the summit or directly from the IndieWeb YouTube channel.

I suspect David Shanske and I will have more to say in what is sure to be a recap episode in our next podcast.

Photos

Finally, below I’m including a bunch of photos I took over the course of my trip. I’m far from a professional photographer, but hopefully they’ll give a small representation of some of the fun we all had at camp.

Final Thanks

People

While I’m thinking about it, I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who came to the summit. You all really made it a fantastic event!

I’d particularly like to thank Aaron Parecki, Tantek Çelik, gRegor Morrill, Marty McGuire, and David Shanske who did a lot of the organizing and volunteer work to help make the summit happen as well as to capture it so well for others to participate remotely or even view major portions of it after-the-fact. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Martijn van der Ven for some herculean efforts on IRC/Chat in documenting things in real time as well as for some serious wiki gardening along the way. As always, there are a huge crew of others whose contributions large and small help to make up the rich fabric of the community and we wouldn’t be who we are without your help. Thank you all! (Or as I might say in chat: community++).

And finally, a special personal thanks to Greg McVerry for kindly letting me join him at the Hotel deLuxe for some late night discussions on the intersection of IndieWeb and Domain of One’s Own philosophies as they dovetail with the education sector.  With growing interest and a wealth of ideas in this area, I’m confident it’s going to be a rapidly growing one over the coming years.

Sponsors

I’d also like to take a moment to say thanks to all the sponsors who helped to make the event a success including Name.com, GoDaddy, Okta, Mozilla, DreamHost, and likely a few others who I’m missing at the moment.

I’d also like to thank the Eliot Center for letting us hosting the event at their fabulous facility.

🎧 Season 2 Episode 3 Miss Buchanan’s Period of Adjustment | Revisionist History

Listened to Season 2 Episode 3 Miss Buchanan's Period of Adjustment by Malcolm GladwellMalcolm Gladwell from Revisionist History

Brown v Board of Education might be the most well-known Supreme Court decision, a major victory in the fight for civil rights. But in Topeka, the city where the case began, the ruling has left a bittersweet legacy. RH hears from the Browns, the family behind the story.



This is a stunning episode with several ideas and thought’s I’d not previously heard or considered. I feel guilty that I’ve been ignorant to some forces in society like these, but I suspect far too many others are as well. Veritas vos liberabit.

The brilliant idea here is that even the romantic view of Brown v. Board of Education many have isn’t really the victory it might have been. Because the continued racism and segregation of the teachers, things may have become even worse! The Supreme Court should and could have done better and the world would have healed a bit quicker.

Sadly we’ve still got similar problems today and they stretch across many other professions including law enforcement. I wonder what we can do to dramatically improve the teacher diversity problem?

Those who appreciated this episode are likely to appreciate this recent episode of The Daily’s podcast: Racism’s Punishing Reach which has several examples that underline the importance of teachers and provides some studies that just weren’t available at the time of Brown v. Board.

I hope to circle back and create a playlist of some of the more interesting things I’ve heard in the last year on the history of race and racism in the United States. This would certainly fit into that list.

🎧 Social Bubble Bath | IRL

Listened to IRL Podcast Episode 13: Social Bubble Bath by Veronica Belmont from irlpodcast.org

How technology can create, and can break, our filter bubbles.

We’ve long heard that the ways the web is tailored for each user—how we search, what we’re shown, who we read and follow— reinforces walls between us. Veronica Belmont investigates how social media can create, and can break, our filter bubbles. Megan Phelps-Roper discusses the Westboro Baptist Church, and the bubbles that form both on and offline. B.J. May talks about the bubbles he encountered every day, in his Twitter feed, and tells us how he broke free. Rasmus Nielsen suggests social media isn’t the filter culprit we think it is. And, within the context of a divided America, DeRay McKesson argues that sometimes bubbles are what hold us together.



Show Notes
Read B.J. May’s How 26 Tweets Broke My Filter Bubble.
Grab a cup of coffee and Say Hi From the Other Side.

An interesting take which takes filter bubbles and places them not necessarily just online, but often starting in the real world first and then extending from there.

h/t Kevin Marks