Reply to Damian Yerrick about leaving Tumblr and recommendation engines

Replied to a tweet by Damian YerrickDamian Yerrick (Twitter)

Because of the decentralized nature of the IndieWeb, it’s most likely that more centralized services in the vein of Indie Map or perhaps a Microsub client might build in this sort of recommendation engine functionality. But this doesn’t mean that all is lost! Until more sophisticated tools exist, bootstrapping on smaller individually published sorts of recommendations like follow posts or things like my Following Page (fka blogroll) with OPML support are more likely to be of interest and immediately fill the gap. Several feed readers like Feedly and Inoreader also have recommendation engines built in as well.

Of course going the direction of old school blogs and following those who comment on your own site has historically been a quick way to build a network. I’m also reminded of Colin Walker’s directory which creates a blogroll of sorts by making a list of websites that have webmentioned his own. Webrings are also an interesting possibility for topic-related community building.

Since Tumblr is unlikely to shut down immediately, those effected could easily add their personal websites to their bios to help transition their followerships to feed readers or other methods for following and reading.

Of course the important thing in the near term is to spend a moment downloading and backing up one’s content just in case.

 

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Reply to Dries Buytaert on follow and subscriptions to blogs

Replied to a tweet by Dries BuytaertDries Buytaert (Twitter)

Happy birthday Dries! If I may, can I outline a potential web-based birthday present based on your  wish?

Follow posts

With relation to your desire to know who’s subscribed and potentially reading your posts, I think there are a number of ways forward, and even better, ways that are within easy immediate reach using Drupal as well as many other CMSes using some simple web standards.

I suspect you’ve been following Kristof De Jaeger’s work with the Drupal IndieWeb module which is now a release candidate. It will allow you to send and receive Webmentions (a W3C recommendation) which are simple notifications much the way they work on Twitter, Facebook, etc. I’ve written a bit about how they could be leveraged to accomplish several things in Webmentions: Enabling Better Communication on the Internet.

Not mentioned in that article for brevity is the ability to send notifications via Webmention when one makes follow or subscription posts.

As an example, I’ve created a follow post for you for which my site would have sent a Webmention. Unfortunately at the time, your site didn’t support receiving it, so you would have missed out on it unless you support older legacy specs like pingback, trackback, or refback.

I also created a larger related Following page of people and sites I’m subscribed to which also lists you, so you would have received another notification from it if you supported Webmention.

I’m unaware of anyone actually displaying these notifications on their website (yet!), though I’ve got some infrastructure on my own site to create a “Followed by” page which will store and show these follows or subscriptions. At present, they’re simply stored in my back end.

Read Posts

As for Rachel’s request, this too is also possible with “read” webmentions. I maintain a specific linkblog feed (RSS) with all of the online material I read. All of those posts send notifications to the linked sites. While it’s not widely supported by other platforms yet, there are a few which do, so that online publications can better delineate and display the difference between likes, bookmarks, reads, etc. There’s at least one online newspaper among 800+WordPress websites which support this functionality. I suspect that with swentel’s Drupal module and some code for supporting the proper microformats, this is a quick reality in the Drupal space as well. Because the functionality is built on basic web standards, it’s possible for any CMS to support them. All that’s left is to ramp up adoption.

A quick note on Microsub and feed readers

Dave Winer in his reply to you linked to a post about showing likes on his site (presumably using the Twitter API) where he laments:

I know the Like icon doesn’t show up in your feed reader (maybe that can change)

Interestingly, swentel’s module also supports Microsub, so that reader clients will allow one to like (bookmark, or reply to) posts directly within readers which will then send Micropub requests to one’s website to post them as well as to potentially send Webmention notifications. These pieces help to close the circle of posting, reading, and easily interacting on the open web the way closed silos like Facebook, Twitter, et al. allow.

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👓 The Future of NetNewsWire | BPXL Craft – Medium

Read The Future of NetNewsWire by George Dick (BPXL Craft – Medium)
Since acquiring NetNewsWire from Newsgator in 2011, we’ve invested a great deal in the continued development and support of the product…

Awesome to see the project come back to the original developer who still wants to shepherd it.

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👓 NetNewsWire is a free and open source feed reader for macOS. | Ranchero

Bookmarked NetNewsWire (Ranchero)
NetNewsWire is a free and open source feed reader for macOS.
It’s at a very early stage — we use it, but we don’t expect other people to use it yet. It’s not actually shipping.
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👓 NetNewsWire Comes Home | inessential

Read NetNewsWire Comes Home by Brent Simmons (inessential.com)
After some years spent traveling the world, NetNewsWire is now back where it started! It’s my app again. We’ve kept its room ready for all these years. And I am thrilled to welcome it home. Thanks to Black Pixel
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👓 NetNewsWire Status Report: the Last 10% | inessential

Read NetNewsWire Status Report: the Last 10% (inessential.com)
I’ve been working on this app — originally Evergreen 1.0, now NetNewsWire 5.0 — for four years, at least. And now GitHub tells me that the 5.0 alpha milestone is 91% complete. Which means, yes, I’m down to that last 10%. Old engineering wisdom says that the last 10% takes as much time as the first 90%, which means I have another fours year to go, and it will ship in late 2022.
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Using Inoreader as an IndieWeb feed reader

It may still be a while before I can make the leap I’d love to make to using Microsub related technology to replace my daily feed reader habits. I know that several people are working diligently on a Microsub server for WordPress and there are already a handful of reader interfaces available. I’m particularly interested in the fact that I can use a reader interface integrated with Micropub so that my reactions in the reader (likes, bookmarks, replies, etc.) are posted back to my own personal website which will then send notifications (via Webmention) to the mentioned websites. Of course it’s going to take some time before I’m using it and even more time after that for the set up to become common and easy to use for others. So until then, I and others will need some tools to use right now.

Toward this end I thought I’d double down on my use of Inoreader in my daily web consumption workflows. I wanted to make it easier to use my feed reader to post all these types of posts to my website which will still handle the notifications. In some sense, instead of relying on a feed reader supporting Micropub, I’ll use other (older) methods for making the relevant posts. As I see it, there are two potential possibilities using Inoreader:
(1) using a service like IFTTT (free) or Zapier (paid) to take the post intents and send them to my WordPress site, or
(2) using the custom posting interface in Inoreader in conjunction with post editor URL schemes with the Post Kinds plugin to create the posts. Using WordPress’ built-in Post This bookmarklet schemes could also be used to make these posts, but Post Kinds plugin offers a lot more metadata and flexibility.

If This Then That (IFTTT)

Below is a brief outline of some of the IFTTT recipes I’ve used to take data from posts I interact with in Inoreader and post them to my own website.

The trigger interface in IFTTT for creating new applets using Inoreader functionality.

Likes

IFTTT has an explicit like functionality with a one click like button. There is an IFTTT recipe which allows taking this datum and adding it directly as a WordPress post with lots of rich data. The  “then that” portion of IFTTT using WordPress allows some reasonable functionality for porting over data.

Favorites

IFTTT also has explicit favorite functionality using a one click starred article button. There is an IFTTT recipe which allows adding this directly as a WordPress post.

Since the “starred” article isn’t defined specifically in Inoreader as a “favorite”, one could alternately use it to create “read” or “bookmark” posts on their WordPress websites. I’m tempted to try this for read posts as I probably wouldn’t often use it to create favorite posts on my own website. Ultimately one at least wants an easy-to-remember 1 to 1 mapping of pieces of functionality in Inoreader to their own website, so whatever I decide I’ll likely stick to it.

Bookmarks

While there is no specific functionality for creating bookmarks in Inoreader (though starred articles could be used this way as previously mentioned), there is a “saved webpage” functionality that could be used here in addition to an IFTTT recipe to port over the data to WordPress.

Reads

While Inoreader has a common feed reader read/unread functionality, it is often not used tacitly and this is a means of reducing friction within the application. Not really wanting to muddle the meaning of the “starred” article to do it, I’ve opted to adding an explicit “read” tag on posts I’ve read.

IFTTT does have a “New tagged article” recipe that will allow me to take articles in Inoreader with my “read” tag and post them to my website. It’s pretty simple and easy.

Replies

For dealing with replies, there is an odd quirk within Inoreader. Confoundingly the feed reader has two similar, yet still very different commenting functionalities. One is explicitly named “comment”, but sadly there isn’t a related IFTTT trigger nor an RSS feed to take advantage of the data one puts into the comment functionality. Fortunately there is a separate “broadcast” functionality. There is an IFTTT recipe for “new broadcasted article” that will allow one to take the reply/comment and post it to one’s WordPress website.

Follows

Like many of the above there is a specific IFTTT recipe that will allow one to add subscriptions directly to WordPress as posts, so that any new subscriptions (or follows) within the Inoreader interface can create follow posts! I doubt many people may use this recipe, but it’s awesome that it exists.  Currently anything added to my blogrolls (aka Following Page) gets ported over to Inoreader via OPML subscription, so I’m curious if them being added that way will create these follow posts? And if so, is there a good date/time stamp for these? I still have to do some experimenting to see exactly how this is going to work.

RSS feed-based functionality

In addition to the IFTTT recipe functionality described above, one could also use IFTTT RSS functionality to pipe RSS feeds which Inoreader provides (especially via tags) into a WordPress website. I don’t personally use this sort of set up, but thought I’d at least mention it in passing so that anyone who might like to create other post types to their website could.

Custom posting in Inoreader with Post Kinds Plugin

If using a third-party service like IFTTT isn’t your cup of tea, Inoreader also allows custom sharing options.  (There are also many pre-built ones for Facebook, Twitter, etc. and they’re also re-orderable as well.) I thus used WordPress’ post editor URL schemes to send the data I’d like to have from the original post to my own website. Inoreader actually has suggestions in their UI for how to effectuate this generically on WordPress. While this is nice, I’m a major user of the Post Kinds Plugin which allows me a lot more flexibility to post likes, bookmarks, favorites, reads, replies, etc. with the appropriate microformats and much richer metadata. Post Kinds has some additional URL structures which I’ve used in addition to the standard WordPress ones to take advantage of this. This has allowed me to create custom buttons for reads, bookmarks, replies, likes, and listens. With social sharing functionality in Inoreader enabled, each article in Inoreader has a sharing functionality in the bottom right corner that has a configuration option which brings up the following interface:

Custom sharing functionality in Inoreader. I’ve added set up to post reads, bookmarks, likes, replies and listens to my personal website.

Once made, these custom button icons appear at the bottom of every post in Inoreader, so, for example, if I want to reply to a post I’ve just read, I can click on the reply button which will open a new browser window for a new post on my website. The Post Kinds plugin on my site automatically pulls in the URL of the original post, parses that page and–where available–pulls in the title, synopsis, post date/time, the author, author URL, author photo, and a featured photo as well as automatically setting the specific post kind and post format. A lot of this data helps to create a useful reply context on my website. I can then type in my reply to the post and add any other categories, tags, or data I’d like in my admin interface. Finally I publish the post which sends notifications to the original post I read (via Webmention).

Screencapture of Inoreader’s interface highlighting some of their social features as well as the custom sharing interface I’ve added. The article shown here is one lamenting the lost infrastructure of feed readers and hopes for future infrastructure from Jon Udell entitled Where’s my Net dashboard?

Conclusion and future

With either of the above set ups, there are a few quick and easy clicks to create my posts and I’m done. Could it be simpler? Yes, but it likely won’t be much more until I’ve got a fully functional Microsub server and reader up and working.

Of course, I also love Inoreader and its huge variety of features and great usability. While I’m patiently awaiting having my own WordPress Microsub server, I certainly wouldn’t mind it if Inoreader decided to add some IndieWeb functionality itself. Then perhaps I wouldn’t need to make the switch in the near future.

What would this look like? It could include the ability to allow me to log into Inoreader using my own website using IndieAuth protocol. It could also add Micropub functionality to allow me to post all these things directly and explicitly to my website in an easier manner. And finally, if they really wanted to go even further, they could make themselves a Microsub server that enables me to use any one of several Microsub clients to read content and post to my own website. And of course the benefit to Inoreader is that if they support these open internet specifications, then their application not only works with WordPress sites with the few appropriate plugins, but Inoreader will also work with a huge variety of other content management systems that support these specs as well.

Whether or not Inoreader supports these protocols, there is a coming wave of new social feed readers that will begin to close many of these functional gaps that made RSS difficult. I know things will slowly, but eventually get better, simpler, and easier to use. Soon posting to one’s website and doing two way communication on the internet via truly social readers will be a reality, and one that’s likely to make it far easier to eschew the toxicity and problems of social sites like Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

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🔖 FlowReader: A modern reader with a social twist.

Bookmarked FlowReader: A modern reader with a social twist. (flowreader.com)
FlowReader is a faster way to manage your online content! Combine your favorite sources & networks to get the news the matters most - all in one place.

A feed reader I hadn’t heard about before. Looks vaguely interesting, but the UI doesn’t make me want to throw my current feed reader set up overboard.

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👓 Where’s my Net dashboard? | Jon Udell

Read Where’s my Net dashboard? by Jon UdellJon Udell (Jon Udell)
Yesterday Luann was reading a colleague’s blog and noticed a bug. When she clicked the Subscribe link, the browser loaded a page of what looked like computer code. She asked, quite reasonably: “What’s wrong? Who do I report this to?” That page of code is an RSS feed. It works the same way as...

RSS certainly has some significant user interface problems and Jon’s post certainly highlights a few of them. Lately I’ve far preferred how SubToMe helps ease some of these UI challenges. Their simple button is a great way for blogs to help pave the way to allow users to ore easily subscribe to a website via RSS.

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

It’s not just that the silos can shut down their feeds. It’s that we allowed ourselves to get herded into them in the first place.  

December 02, 2018 at 09:16PM

“Who do I report this to?”

Everyone.  

A brilliant ending!
December 02, 2018 at 09:17PM

Where’s my Net dashboard?  

Interestingly, I came to this post in my feed reader while randomly looking for something I could use as an example in something I was writing about feed readers!!!
December 02, 2018 at 09:18PM

Where’s my next dashboard? I imagine a next-gen reader that brings me the open web and my social circles in a way that helps me attend to and manage all the flow. There are apps for that, a nice example being FlowReader, which has been around since 2013. I try these things hopefully but so far none has stuck.  

I’m currently hoping that the next wave of social readers based on Microsub and which also support Micropub will be a major part of the answer.
December 02, 2018 at 09:20PM

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👓 More control over comments | Inoreader blog

Read More control over comments (Inoreader blog)
You can see that we are focused lately on the social stuff. Why? Because it was always there in front of you, but there were many obstacles that made it not very usable or friendly. Comment has improved, but one thing with them remained. Many people don’t know that comments in InoReader are actually public …
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👓 Inoreader How-to: Share with friends | Inoreader blog

Read Inoreader How-to: Share with friends (Inoreader blog)
Reading is fun, but it can be even more rewarding with friends. We have built Inoreader with productivity in mind, but we never wanted to leave out the social element – so there are plenty of ways to share that interesting piece of content you just read with friends on social media or in Inoreader …
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👓 Boost your feeds! | Inoreader blog

Read Boost your feeds! (Inoreader blog)
You can also read this post in Chinese. Our servers are dealing with millions of feeds like the ones you read every day. We have to have this smart mechanism which balances them and fetches every feed at different interval. This interval is calculated from many factors and is aimed to provide you with the …
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👓 Inoreader How-to: Share your personal feeds and HTML clips | Inoreader

Read Inoreader How-to: Share your personal feeds and HTML clips (Inoreader blog)
You probably spend some time to carefully group subscriptions in folders, star and save interesting articles, tag pieces of interest. If you take pride in your content curation work in Inoreader, you’d probably like to share the results with others – and this is really easy in Inoreader, thanks to custom RSS feeds and HTML …
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👓 Upgrade for even more smart features. | Inoreader

Read Upgrade for even more smart features. (Inoreader)
Upgrade Inoreader for 1 year and get 6 months free.

Considering doing this just to help support the product even though there’s a different direction I’d like to move in shortly.

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👓 Meeting subscribers where they’re at | Ben Werdmüller

Read Meeting subscribers where they're at by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller (Ben Werdmüller)
Yesterday I upgraded my laptop to OSX Mojave. Among the improvements: a desktop version of the iOS news app, which is slick. I checked into it a few times yesterday, and I expect I will again today. Under the hood, it's a highly-curated feed reader. There's a proprietary API, but a lot of content is...
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