[...] 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. [...]
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.
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-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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
"I have two words to leave with you tonight," the actress told the audience after winning her Oscar: "inclusion rider." But she didn't define those words onstage — so, here's a helpful primer. Simply put: It's a stipulation that actors and actresses can ask (or demand) to have inserted into their contracts, which would require a certain level of diversity among a film's cast and crew. For instance, an A-list actor negotiating to join a film could use the inclusion rider to insist that "tertiary speaking characters should match the gender distribution of the setting for the film, as long as it's sensible for the plot," Stacy L. Smith explained in a 2014 column that introduced the idea in The Hollywood Reporter.
"500 million dollars spent on diversity and inclusion in this industry. For any project, when you see that kind of spend, with such a low return on investment, you're facing a failure. In tech, when we have a major failure, we have a post-mortem.
So we're going to do a post-mortem today."
In this talk, Erica Baker, Engineering Manager at Patreon, walks us through an interactive post-morterm on diversity and inclusion initiatives in the tech industry.
Simpson's Paradox Part 2. This video is about how to tell whether or not university admissions are biased using statistics: aka, it's about Simpson's Paradox again!
Original Berkeley Grad Admissions Paper
Interactive Simpson’s Paradox Explainer
No Lawsuit, But Yes, Berkeley Study on Gender Bias
Statistics on college majors by gender:
Earnings by college major
Wall Street Journal Article on Simpson’s Paradox
I am disappointed but unsurprised by the news that an anti-diversity, sexist, manifesto is making the rounds at Google. This is not entirely new behavior. Google has seen hints of this in the past, with employees sharing blog posts about their racist beliefs and the occasional internal mailing list question, “innocently” asking if Black people aren’t more likely to be violent. What is new is that this employee felt safe enough to write and share an 8 page sexist screed, internally.
You have probably heard about the manifesto a Googler (not someone senior) published internally about, essentially, how women and men are intrinsically different and we should stop trying to make it possible for women to be engineers, it’s just not worth it. Until about a week ago, you would have heard very little from me publicly about this, because (as a fairly senior Googler) my job would have been to deal with it internally, and confidentiality rules would have prevented me from saying much in public.
Update 7:25pm ET: Google’s new Vice President of Diversity, Integrity & Governance Danielle Brown has issued her own memo to Google employees in response to the now-viral memo, “Google’s Ideological Echo Chamber.” Brown’s statement, obtained by Motherboard, can be found in full at the end of this article.
The narrowing of diversity in crop species contributing to the world’s food supplies has been considered a potential threat to food security. However, changes in this diversity have not been quantified globally. We assess trends over the past 50 y in the richness, abundance, and composition of crop species in national food supplies worldwide. Over this period, national per capita food supplies expanded in total quantities of food calories, protein, fat, and weight, with increased proportions of those quantities sourcing from energy-dense foods. At the same time the number of measured crop commodities contributing to national food supplies increased, the relative contribution of these commodities within these supplies became more even, and the dominance of the most significant commodities decreased. As a consequence, national food supplies worldwide became more similar in composition, correlated particularly with an increased supply of a number of globally important cereal and oil crops, and a decline of other cereal, oil, and starchy root species. The increase in homogeneity worldwide portends the establishment of a global standard food supply, which is relatively species-rich in regard to measured crops at the national level, but species-poor globally. These changes in food supplies heighten interdependence among countries in regard to availability and access to these food sources and the genetic resources supporting their production, and give further urgency to nutrition development priorities aimed at bolstering food security.
h/t Eat This PodcastSyndicated copies to: