Replied to Indie Communities and Making Your Audience Known by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller (Ben Werdmüller)

It sounds ludicrous now, but back in 2014, when I cofounded Known as a startup, a lot of people were questioning whether a business even needed a website. Pockets of people - for example in the indieweb community, which I enthusiastically joined - were pointing out how short-sighted this was, but it was a minority opinion. There was Facebook and Twitter! Why would you want to have any kind of property that you fully controlled on the internet?

Fast forward to today, and... 

As I read this, there are some underlying ideas that again make me think that newspapers, magazines, and other journalistic outlets should pick up the mantle of social media and help their readers (aka community) by providing them with websites that they can control and use to interact. Many newspapers and other outlets are already building their own CMSes and even licensening them out to other papers, why not take the next step and build a platform that can host and manage websites for individual users? They’ve got most of the infrastructure there already? Why not tack on a few simple things that allow their users to better interact with them on the open web. It solves their ownership issues as well as their reliance on social media silos and could even provide a nice, modest income stream (or even a bonus that comes along with one’s subscription?)

Perhaps Kinja wasn’t a bad idea for a CMS cum commenting system, it just wasn’t open web enough?

👓 In the Shadow of the CMS | The Nation

Read In the Shadow of the CMS by Kyle ChaykaKyle Chayka (The Nation)
How content-management systems will shape the future of media businesses big and small. 

With all these self-made CMSes for distributing journalism, why not go a half step further and create a full-on network of hosted and managed IndieWeb websites? These could be for both their journalists to use (the way many do with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) in their research as well as for their own users which could also incidentally use them to interact with the paper itself as well as their surrounding communities?

For a low cost per month, it could be an interesting side business, or even be bundled with paid subscriptions?

📑 Publishers build a common tech platform together | Nieman Lab

Annotated Publishers build a common tech platform together by Jonathan GillJonathan Gill (Nieman Lab)

One way to meet the many needs that most if not all publishers share would be to collaboratively develop their digital products. Specifically, they should build for interoperability. One publisher’s CMS, another’s content APIs, a third company’s data offering — they might one day all work together to allow all ships to rise and to reclaim advertising and subscription revenue from the platforms. This might allow publishers to refocus on differentiating where it truly matters for the user: in the quality of their content.  

Some of this is already afoot within the IndieWeb community with new protocols like Webmention, Micropub, WebSub, and Microsub. Journalists should know about this page on their wiki.

👓 Publishers build a common tech platform together | Nieman Journalism Lab

Read Publishers build a common tech platform together by Jonathan GillJonathan Gill (Nieman Lab)
"From a business standpoint, publishers aren't competing with each other so much as they are with the big technology platforms — Google, Facebook, Apple, and so on. Yet publishers expend huge amounts of energy optimizing competitively against one another."

👓 The platform tide is turning | Nieman Journalism Lab

Read The platform tide is turning by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller (Nieman Lab)
“Instead of becoming more like technology companies or remaining beholden to platforms, publishers could help to build the internet they need.”

There are an impressive number of IndieWeb-related articles in this year’s list of Nieman Journalism Lab 2019 Predictions. Somehow I had missed the one written by our own Ben Werdmüller, or perhaps they continued publishing them after I’d seen the first batch?

👓 The year we step back from the platform | Nieman Journalism Lab | Ernie Smith

Read The year we step back from the platform by Ernie SmithErnie Smith (Nieman Lab)
"Let's replace the shadows that Twitter and Facebook and Google have been on the media with some business-model fundamentals. As 2018 has shown, they've offered us a lot more heartache than it feels like they're actually worth."

This is a very staid and sober statement about the ills of social media platforms (aka silos) and a proposed way forward for 2019. His argument is tremendously bolstered by the fact that he’s actually got his own website where he’s hosting and distributing his own content.

Ernie, should you see this, I’d welcome you to come join a rapidly growing group of creators who have been doing almost exactly what you’ve prescribed. We’re amassing a wealth of knowledge, tools, code, and examples at Indieweb.org to help you and others on their journey to better owning and controlling their online identities in almost the exact way in which you’re talking about in your article. Both individually and together we’re trying to build web websites that allow all the functionality of the platforms, but in a way that is both easy and beautiful for everyone to manage and use. Given the outlet for your piece, I’ll also mention that there’s a specific page for IndieWeb and Journalism.

I’d invite you to join the online chat and add yourself as an example to any of the appropriate pages, including perhaps for Craft. Also feel free to discuss your future plans and ask for any help or support you’d like to see for improving your own website. Together I hope we can all make your prediction for 2019 a reality.

 

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

But what if, in 2019, we take a step back and decide not to let the platform decide how to run the show?  

The IndieWeb has already made some solid strides.

January 09, 2019 at 07:55AM

I’ve been working on a redesign of my site recently, using a more robust CMS, and the advantages of controlling the structure of the platform soup-to-nuts are obvious, even if it requires more upfront work.  

January 09, 2019 at 07:57AM

2019 is the year when publishers — whether big ones like Axios or the Los Angeles Times or tiny ones like mine or Judd Legum’s Popular Information — move away from letting someone else call all the shots. Or, at least, they should.  

There’s already some work and movement in the IndieWeb with respect to journalism.

January 09, 2019 at 08:01AM

👓 Newsrooms take the comments sections back from platforms | Nieman Journalism Lab

Read Newsrooms take the comments sections back from platforms by Marie K. ShanahanMarie K. Shanahan (Nieman Lab)
"Local news organizations should become a driving force for better online public discourse, because Facebook and Twitter aren’t cutting it."

I wonder in an age of caustic social media why newspapers don’t build their own (open and IndieWeb-flavored) social media platforms into their products as a benefit to not only their readers but for the communities they service? This could help not only their bottom line, allow them to add a useful service to their product, but fight the vagaries of what social media networks have done to them and give them some additional ways to help improve community conversations.

This idea isn’t too dissimilar to Greg McVerry’s idea of having local libraries allow users to “check” out domain names and pre-built IndieWeb content management systems to use. (Greg, have you fleshed this out on your site somewhere?)

In any case, I’ve outlined a bit about how newspapers and journalistic outlets could use read posts in an IndieWeb way to take more control over their comments sections instead of farming them out to caustic social media platforms that they have no control over. There’s at least one outlet that has begun experimenting with these types of read posts.  Some of these ideas (and similar ones on podcasting) might begin to address Marie’s idea about improving online discourse and making a better forum.

I see she’s got a book on the topic entitled Journalism, Online Comments, and the Future of Public Discourse. I’ll have to take  a look at it soon.

👓 The power to publish as an individual | DaveNet

Read The power to publish as an individual by Dave Winer (scripting.com via DaveNet)
Weblogs: A new source of News

An awesome “old” and prescient post about blogging and journalism. It’s interesting to look at this through the modern lens of social media and IndieWeb. Of course this article was written at a time when IndieWeb was the only thing that existed.

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

media organizations would do well to incorporate them [blogs] into their Web sites as an important new addition to the journalistic toolkit.  

December 21, 2018 at 08:09PM

Regular readers of Gillmor’s eJournal will recognize his commitment to user participation. “One of the things I’m sure about in journalism right now is that my readers know more than I do,” he says. “To the extent that I can take advantage of that in a way that does something for everyone involved ó that strikes me as pretty cool.”
One fascinating aspect of Gillmor’s Weblog is how he lifts the veil from the workings of the journalism profession. “There have been occasions where I put up a note saying, ‘I’m working on the following and here’s what I think I know,’ and the invitation is for the reader to either tell me I’m on the right track, I’m wrong, or at the very least help me find the missing pieces,” he says. “That’s a pretty interesting thing. Many thousands more people read my column in the newspaper than online, but I do hear back from a fair number of people from the Weblog.”  

Awesomely, this sounds almost exactly like something that David Fahrenthold would tell Jay Rosen about Twitter nearly 16 years later in an interview in The Correspondent.
My listen post

December 21, 2018 at 08:20PM

Anyone who’s dealt with networks knows that the network knows more than the individual.”  

December 22, 2018 at 09:15AM

Man, this is a beast that’s hungry all the time.”  

Mind you he’s saying this in 2001 before the creation of more wide spread social networks.

December 22, 2018 at 09:18AM

While many blogs get dozens or hundreds of visitors, Searls’ site attracts thousands. “I partly don’t want to care what the number is,” he says. “I used to work in broadcasting, where everyone was obsessed by that. I don’t want an audience. I feel I’m writing stuff that’s part of a conversation. Conversations don’t have audiences.”  

Social media has completely ignored this sort of sentiment and gamified and psychoanalyzed its way into the polar opposite direction all for the sake of “engagement”, clicks, data gathering, and advertising.

December 22, 2018 at 09:22AM

“The blog serves as a kind of steam valve for me,” he says. “I put stuff out there that I’m forming an opinion about, and another blogger starts arguing with me and giving me feedback, and I haven’t even finished what I was posting!”  

An early written incarnation of the idea of blogs as “thought spaces”.

December 22, 2018 at 09:24AM

The Weblog community is basically a whole bunch of expert witnesses who increase their expertise constantly through a sort of reputation engine.”  

The trouble is how is this “reputation engine” built? What metrics does it include? Can it be gamed? Social media has gotten lots of this wrong and it has caused problems.

December 22, 2018 at 09:28AM

His dream is to put a live Web server with easy-to-edit pages on every person’s desktop, then connect them all in a robust network that feeds off itself and informs other media.  

An early statement of what would eventually become all of social media.

December 22, 2018 at 09:31AM

He suggests that struggling sites like Salon begin broadening their content offerings by hosting user-created Weblogs, creating a sort of farm system for essayists. “Salon could highlight the best ones on page one and invest time and effort in the ones that are inspiring and exceptional.”  

This is a rough sketch of something I’ve been thinking that newspapers and media outlets should have been doing all along. If they “owned” social media, we might all be in a better place socially and journalistic-ally than if advertising driven social media owned it all.

December 22, 2018 at 09:35AM

Indeed, Winer says his most gratifying moments come when he posts an entry without running the idea by his colleagues first. “It can be a very scary moment when you take a stand on something and you don’t know if your argument holds together and you hit the send button and it’s out there and you can’t take it back. That’s a moment that professional journalists may never experience in their careers, the feeling that it’s just me, exposed to the world. That’s a pretty powerful rush, the power to publish as an individual.”  

December 22, 2018 at 09:36AM

👓 The year you actually start to like your CMS | Nieman Journalism Lab | Eric Ulken

Read The year you actually start to like your CMS by Eric UlkenEric Ulken (Nieman Lab)
"If we do it right, users benefit from a feedback loop that helps make our work more valuable and relevant to them. And no journalist ever again has to wear their clunky CMS as a badge of honor."

Without saying it directly, there’s a very IndieWeb flavor to this piece. I’d love to see more journalists and technologists who are working in journalism contributing to improving the web.  The Nieman Lab’s collection of Predictions for Journalism in 2019 also has some other IndieWeb-centric articles for those who might be interested.

Eric Ulken, product director for newsroom tools at the USA TODAY NETWORK, has a great list of UI elements in the article that many journalists, newsrooms, and even average people would love to see built into content management systems. I hope that as people build and iterate that they write about their experiences and open source pieces so others can use and leverage them.

Personally, I think that W3C specs like Webmention, Micropub, and Microsub can help change the tide in the coming year.

Some things your tools will soon do for you — if they don’t already:

  • Automatically find and link relevant background material.
  • Suggest topics and contextualize newly created content as part of a bigger story arc, when relevant.
  • Show which topics, story forms and content types, in the aggregate, are resonating with priority audience segments and help you take action based on that info.
  • Dynamically alert you when there’s potential for promoting your work on other platforms and help you prioritize those efforts.
  • Keep track of the things you’ve published, show you how they’re doing with key audiences and suggest follow-up opportunities.
  • Call out popular evergreen content that could use freshening.
  • Run headline tests and other content experiments directly from the authoring and curation environment.
  • Identify missed opportunities and help you find out where your content fell flat with readers.
  • Enable the creation of mobile-first multimedia narratives and other non-text story forms.
  • Help you productively interact with your audiences and help them inform your coverage.
  • Calculate — at the staff, team and individual level — effort spent on things that don’t serve audiences well (thereby helping you devote more time to the things that do).
  • Elevate your phone from in-the-field last resort to full-fledged content creation and management tool, because the best device is the one you have with you.

Highlights, Quotes, Annotations, & Marginalia

Today’s leading-edge content tools are integrated context, collaboration and insight machines. We’re moving from unidirectional publishing of articles to organizing all our work and closing the feedback loop with our customers. I call this “full-stack publishing”.  

This sounds a little bit like what the IndieWeb is building for itself!

December 21, 2018 at 08:02PM

And while content analytics tools (e.g., Chartbeat, Parsely, Content Insights) and feedback platforms (e.g., Hearken, GroundSource) have thankfully helped close the gap, the core content management experience remains, for most of us, little improved when it comes to including the audience in the process.  

December 21, 2018 at 08:00PM

🔖 JSON-LD And You – Google Slides | Aram Zucker-Scharff

Bookmarked JSON-LD And You: A Guide to Structured Metadata for Journalism by Aram Zucker-ScharffAram Zucker-Scharff (docs.google.com)

A presentation on Google Docs.

Hi, I’m Aram Zucker-Scharff and now that we’re settled in, I’ll take a minute to introduce myself. I’m the Director of Ad Tech Engineering at The Washington Post, where I work with teams across the organization to help the Post make money and, through our Arc platform, help other publications make money as well. But I’ve taken a long road to this point, I started off as a journalist, then an editor, a social media manager, a product manager, a freelance strategy consultant and developer and last a full stack developer. I even spent some time being very bad at selling ads.

Aram Zucker-Scharff is about as sharp as it gets when it comes to journalism, adtech, and technology. I do wish he’d spent some additional time on Microformats (or even the v2 implementation) as they’re still broadly supported and much less likely to be treated as the flavor-of-the-month that JSON-LD and schema.org are currently.

I dug around a bit and didn’t see any video from this session.

🎧 This Week in Google 481 Stoned on Cheese | TWIG.tv

Listened to This Week in Google 481 Stoned on Cheese by Leo Laporte, Jeff Jarvis, Stacey Higginbotham from TWiT.tv
Foldable Phone, Online Civility

  • The Samsung Developers Conference Keynote features a foldable phone, SmartThings IoT, and Bixby innovations.
  • Android will support foldable phones.
  • Google employees stage a walkout over sexual harassment
  • Tim Berners-Lee's Contract for the Web
  • How to encourage civility online
  • YouTube Content ID
  • Facebook and "White Genocide"
  • Young people are deleting Facebook in droves
  • Facebook's holiday pop-up store
  • Everybody gets free Amazon shipping
  • Amazon's new HQ2(s)
  • 8 new Chromebook features
  • Google Home Hub teams up with Sephora
  • Ajit Pai's FCC is hopping mad about robocalls

Picks of the Week

  • Jeff's Number: Black Friday home tech deals
  • Stacey's Thing: Extinct cables, Alexa Christmas Lights

Leo Laporte doesn’t talk about it directly within an IndieWeb specific framework, but he’s got an interesting discussion about YouTube Content ID that touches on the ideas of Journalism and IndieWeb and particularly as they relate to video, streaming video, and YouTube Live.

While most people are forced to rely on Google as their silo of choice for video and specifically live streaming video, he points out a painful single point of failure in their system with regard to copyright rules and Google’s automatic filters that could get a user/content creator permanently banned. Worse, as Leo indicates, this ban could also extend to related Google accounts (YouTube, Gmail, etc.) One is thus open to potential chilling effects of intimidation, censorship, and deplatforming.

Leo discusses the fact that he’s not as beholden to YouTube because he streams and hosts all of his content on his own website and only utilizes silos like YouTube as ancillary distribution. In IndieWeb parlance what he does is known as POSSE or Post to your Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere and this prevents his journalism, commentary, and even his business from being ravaged by the whims of corporate entities whose rules he can’t control directly.

The discussion starts at 1:05:11 into the episode and goes for about 10 minutes for those who are interested in this particular sub-topic.

This idea also impinges on Cal Newport’s recent article Is YouTube Fundamental or Trivial? which I read the other day.

 

Reply to It’s time for a new branch of public media by Ben Werdmüller

Replied to It's time for a new branch of public media by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller (Ben Werdmüller)
President Lyndon B Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act in 1967, which established the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Previously, an independent public broadcaster had been established through grants by the Ford Foundation, but Ford began to withdraw its support. Here's what he said: "It...

I’ve been thinking very similarly along these lines for six months or more, but with a particular slant at journalistic enterprises. I’ve specifically been considering what would happen if small local newspapers and other journalistic outlets were running IndieWeb-esque platforms for their local communities. This would potentially help to moderate and encourage local conversations and consumption of local grown content and journalism and potentially improve the toxicity of general social media or massive issues like those that Facebook is facing with genocidal effects of their platform in Myanmar where they didn’t have any local presence or moderation much less people in-house who had language capabilities to even begin to deal with these issues. This type of mission could better empower entities to improve both local journalism by binding it to a different substrate as a financial model  and fix many of the issues we see with social media simultaneously.

This general idea also isn’t too dissimilar from Greg McVerry’s idea of having local libraries allow patrons to “check out” (aka set up) their own domains and social presences/identities using their library cards.

The difficulty I see is that as the world moves toward increased specialization, that looking for newspapers or even municipalities to oversee and maintain such infrastructure may be difficult. I already see issues with smaller outlets building and maintaining their own publishing platforms with simple out-of-the-box CMS solutions that are relatively easy-to-use and modify with simple plugins. (In a recent inventory of my local news sources, I’ll note here that nearly 100% of the local online news sources for my community are running on WordPress, but not all of them have a huge amount of technical knowledge about what and how they’re doing it in those spaces). The growth of content management systems like Ghost, which has a journalistic bent, also indicates that there isn’t a “perfect solution” to the CMS problem, much less the issues of running IndieWeb-like platforms/clusters based on simpler platforms like WordPress or even Known. There’s certainly a lot of space out there for third party companies to help grow and expand in both of these areas (community-based social platforms as well as journalism platforms and admixtures thereof.)

If local institutions or even governments did move in this direction, then their users are at the potential mercy of third-party businesses which may not necessarily be aligned with local values.  An example of something akin to this was covered recently in The Daily on their episode Taking Over Local News. I’m also reminded about of my poor experiences  with un-moderated third party platforms like Nextdoor.com can be.

Another microcosm to look at is how hundreds of thousands of public libraries are interfacing with the four or more media suppliers of e-books and what that financial model looks like as, if taken, I would suspect a similar trajectory for local social public media. Similarly looking at how municipalities interface with cable franchising can reveal some pitfalls to avoid moving forward with respect to monopolies and competition.

Certainly some additional thought about how to solve these issues at the smaller local and personal levels is welcome. Thanks for dipping into and expanding my surface area of thinking Ben.

👓 Putting Stickers On Your Laptop Is Probably a Bad Security Idea | Motherboard / Vice

Read Putting Stickers On Your Laptop Is Probably a Bad Security Idea by Joseph Cox (Motherboard)
From border crossings to hacking conferences, that Bitcoin or political sticker may be worth leaving on a case at home.

I had a very short conversation at the IndieWeb Summit 2018 in Portland with Nate Angell about the stickers on his laptop. Who knew he was such a subject area expert that Motherboard/Vice was using his material?

Of course this also reminds me that if academics, journalists, and publications/outlets were using webmentions when they credited creative commons articles, photos, audio, or other content, then the originator would get a notification that it was being used. This could also tip the originator off that their licensed content is being properly used.