Replied to Fixing the financial dilemma at the heart of our broken tech industry by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller (Ben Werdmüller)

I was recently forwarded Jeffrey Zeldman's piece on A List ApartNothing Fails Like Success, on the impact of venture capital on startup business models. At the end, he questions whether the indieweb is a possible answer to the predicament we find ourselves in.

I feel uniquely positioned to answer, because I've been a venture capitalist (at mission-driven accelerator Matter Ventures) and have literally started an indieweb startup, Known. I've also bootstrapped a startup and worked at one that raised hundreds of millions of venture capital dollars.

Ben does an excellent job (in a short space) encapsulating what the VC world is and how it works. He also provides some insight into ways forward for those who might want to build businesses or infrastructure that have an indie web flavor.

I agree with him that we should ultimately be looking for more zebras instead of unicorns. This model is a much better method for building value and particularly for building long term societal value.  

In sum, Ben seems to be saying that it won’t be easy–but what process of business building ever is? This may seem to paint a less-than-rosy picture, but keep in mind that Ben also doesn’t touch on the sea change of individual people who are personally choosing IndieWeb solutions for their online identities, presences, and communication. And it’s just this audience of people which Jeffrey’s piece was trying to reach out to. At the same time a lot of that audience is also most likely to begin building out businesses based upon these things, and here Ben’s expertise will stand in good stead.

Ultimately I’m sure this technology will continue to build until it reaches a full boil, and this will make it much easier for a wide array of creative and service businesses to be built upon it.

For those considering businesses who’d like a leg up, especially if you’d ever written a Twitter client of any kind, take a look at the Micropub and Microsub concepts. I’ll bet that with some modular pieces (and potentially pre-existing ones), you could add these to that old client and bring it back to life for a growing universe of more than 10,000 active websites and a potential universe of millions more. Based on the reaction to my recent presentation of some example Micropub use cases at a WordCamp, there is a huge group of people who are excited to see and use these tools.

Thanks for writing this all out for us Ben.

👓 Fixing the financial dilemma at the heart of our broken tech industry | Ben Werdmüller

Bookmarked Fixing the financial dilemma at the heart of our broken tech industry by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller (Ben Werdmüller)

I was recently forwarded Jeffrey Zeldman's piece on A List ApartNothing Fails Like Success, on the impact of venture capital on startup business models. At the end, he questions whether the indieweb is a possible answer to the predicament we find ourselves in.

I feel uniquely positioned to answer, because I've been a venture capitalist (at mission-driven accelerator Matter Ventures) and have literally started an indieweb startup, Known. I've also bootstrapped a startup and worked at one that raised hundreds of millions of venture capital dollars.

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👓 #LetsFixThis | inessential

Read a post by Brent Simmons (inessential.com)

Jeffrey Zeldman, Nothing Fails Like Success:

On an individual and small collective basis, the IndieWeb already works. But does an IndieWeb approach scale to the general public? If it doesn’t scale yet, can we, who envision and design and build, create a new generation of tools that will help give birth to a flourishing, independent web? One that is as accessible to ordinary internet users as Twitter and Facebook and Instagram?

I think so. I hope so. My part is to write a free RSS reader — and make it open source so that other people can easily use RSS in their apps.

RSS isn’t the only part of the solution, but writing an RSS reader is in my wheelhouse. So this is what I choose.

Do I claim it’s as accessible to ordinary internet users as Twitter (for instance)? I do not. But it’s the step forward that I know how to take.

My point is: don’t give in to despair. Take a step, even if it’s not the step that will solve everything. Maybe your step is just to start a blog or open a Micro.blog account. Whatever it is — do it! :) #LetsFixThis

👓 Medium import for Micro.blog | Manton Reece

Read Medium import for Micro.blog by Manton ReeceManton Reece (manton.org)
Micro.blog can now import blog posts from Medium. You can request a .zip archive of your content from Medium.com, then go to Posts → Import on Micro.blog to upload the file. Because Medium no longer supports custom domain names, we don’t think it’s a good long-term solution for blogging. If yo...

This is some awesome news, particularly for all the people fleeing Medium. Now they can own their own data on their own domain a whole lot easier. I wouldn’t be surprised to see more of the crowd joining Micro.blog as an option too.

👓 12 days of microblogging: linkblogging | Manton Reece

Read 12 days of microblogging: linkblogging by Manton ReeceManton Reece (manton.org)
For the 7th post in our 12 days of microblogging series, I want to talk about linkblogging. Micro.blog users have a variety of approaches to posting links on their blog. Some people read an interesting article and type in a summary of it, pasting in the URL to the full article, and some people prefe...

👓 12 days of microblogging: daily log | Manton Reece

Read 12 days of microblogging: daily log by Manton ReeceManton Reece (manton.org)
We’ve seen a lot of people use their microblog as a daily log to track activities, from running or cycling routes, to meditation or posting photos of food. Some apps even make this easier, like indiebookclub.biz for sharing reading progress in a book. In 2016 when I visited a different library in ...

👓 12 days of microblogging: developer journal | Manton Reece

Read 12 days of microblogging: developer journal by Manton ReeceManton Reece (manton.org)
For the 9th day in our 12 days of microblogging series, we want to talk about developer blogs. Most developers on Micro.blog use their blogs like everyone else — posting photos, sharing stories, recording a microcast, or linking to articles they’ve read — but some developers use the microblo...

👓 12 days of microblogging: custom design | Manton Reece

Read 12 days of microblogging: custom design by Manton ReeceManton Reece (manton.org)
It’s day 4 of our 12 days of microblogging series. Today we want to highlight how Micro.blog supports blog themes and what people can do to give their blog a unique design. There are 3 ways to customize your microblog: Pick from one of the default 7 themes. These themes are based on existing desig...

👓 12 days of microblogging: business sites | Manton Reece

Read 12 days of microblogging: business sites by Manton ReeceManton Reece (manton.org)
It’s the 8th day in our 12 days of microblogging blog post series. Most Micro.blog accounts use the author’s name — personal blogs, writing about everyday topics or sharing stories and photos. But since Micro.blog-hosted blogs can have a custom design, separate pages, and a domain name, you ca...

📺 Micro.blog custom themes | YouTube

Watched Micro.blog custom themes from YouTube

Importing and editing custom templates on Micro.blog.

I do sort of wonder if Micro.blog functionality would break if new themes don’t have the correct microformats 2 markup? I suspect it runs in conjunction with various common parsers and thus may have issues. It’s a cool thing though that this sort of customization is available now on the platform which is quickly becoming more and more flexible.

👓 My IndieWeb experience so far | RianVDM

Read [Meta-post] My IndieWeb experience so far (rianvdm.com)
My side project for the past month or so has been to try to extract myself from centralized networks by digging into the IndieWeb movement. I have a lot more to do and learn, but I’m at a point where I wanted to take a step back and reflect on the process a little bit. First, I want to talk about ...

🎧 Radio Atlantic: How to Fix Social Media | The Atlantic

Listened to Radio Atlantic: How to Fix Social Media by Matt Thompson, Alexis Madrigal from The Atlantic

Social-media platforms once promised to connect the world. Today’s digital communities, though, often feel like forces for disunity. Anger and discord in 2018 seemed only amplified by the social-media institutions that now dictate our conversations. Executive Editor Matt Thompson sits down with the staff writer Alexis Madrigal to find out how we got to this state, and whether we can do anything to change it.

Discussion topics include: why our online problems are really offline ones, what these platforms have lost in pursuit of scale, and how Matt’s and Alexis’s experiments with solutions have fared.

Last year, Alexis removed retweets from his Twitter account (and was pessimistic about new changes bringing back the old Twitter). Matt just began an experiment turning his Twitter account into a place for conversation rather than performance by reclaiming “the ratio.” The effort reminds Alexis of another noble attempt at making your own rules online. Has it Made the Internet Great Again? Listen to find out.

Voices

Definitely a fascinating episode; potentially worth a second listen.

Of primary interest here, Matt Thompson discusses his concept of “Breaking the Ratio” (🎧 00:23:16-00:27:28a take on the idea of being ratioed on Twitter.

His concept immediately brings to mind a few broad ideas:

Micro.blog is, to some extent, a Twitter clone–loathe as I am to use the phrase as it is so much more than that–which acts in almost exactly the way that Matt and likely Alexis wish Twitter would. Manton Reece specifically designed Micro.blog to not have the idea of retweets or likes, which forces people to have more direct conversations and discussions. Instead of liking or retweeting a post, one must reply directly. Even if one just sends a heart or thumbs up emoji, it has to be an explicit reply. Generally replies are not so sparse however, and the interactions are much more like Matt describes in his personal community.

(I’ll be clear that micro.blog does have a “favorite” functionality, but it is private to the user and doesn’t send any notifications to the post on which it is given. As a result, the favorite functionality on micro.blog is really more semantically akin to a private bookmark, it just has a different name.)

The second thing, albeit tangential to the idea of breaking the ratio, is Ben Werdmüller‘s idea of people taking back agency and using their own voices to communicate.

While the retweet is a quick and useful shorthand, it decimates the personal voices and agency of the people who use it. He’s suggested that they might be better off restating the retweet in their own voice before sending it on, if they’re going to pass the information along. I wonder if he’s ultimately ended up somewhere interesting with his original thesis and research I know he has been doing.[1][2]

If one thinks about it for a moment the old blogosphere was completely about breaking the ratio as most writers wanted to communicate back and forth with others in a more direct and real manner. The fact that the blogosphere didn’t have likes, favorites, or retweets was a feature not an issue. The closest one usually got to a retweet was a blockquote of text which was usually highlighted, featured, and then either argued with or expounded upon.

I’ll note that I most typically use Twitter in a read-only mode almost exactly like Alexis indicates (🎧 00:29:56) that he uses it: plugged into Nuzzel to surface some of the best articles and ideas along with the ability to see the public commentary from the Tweets of the people I’m following and care about. To me this method filters out a lot of the crap and noise and tends to surface a lot more interesting content for me. I’ve created several dozen Twitter lists of various people and plugged them into Nuzzel, so invariably almost everything I come across while using it is useful and interesting to me.

Finally, I’d invite both Matt and Alexis, as fans of the old-school blogosphere, to take a look at what is happening within the IndieWeb community and the newer functionalities that have been built into it to extend what the old blogosphere is now capable of doing. My experience in having gone into it “whole hog” over the past several years has given me a lot of the experiences that Matt describes and which Alexis wishes he had (without all the additional work). I’m happy to chat with either of them or others who are looking for alternate solutions for community and conversation without a lot of the problems that come along as part and parcel with social media services.

👓 New example code: Snippets | Manton Reece

Read New example code: Snippets by Manton ReeceManton Reece (manton.org)
It might surprise some developers to learn that the 4 official apps for Micro.blog — the iOS and macOS apps, Sunlit, and our microcasting app Wavelength — don’t actually share very much Objective-C or Swift code. To minimize dependencies and so that we could more easily develop each app quick...

I saw Snippets and thought about micro.blog’s predecessor. This post turned out to be about something related but much different.

Great to see pieces of micro.blog opening up like this.

📑 Welcome to my online sandbox. | Joyce Garcia

Annotated Welcome to my online sandbox. by Joyce GarciaJoyce Garcia (Gratuitous Web Presence)
Then I learned about the IndieWeb movement and Micro.blog, and I fell in love with the Internet as I once hoped it would be: a place where people could congregate, converse, and learn from one another with somewhat minimal rancor — and without an overtly overarching need to make a buck with their “content.”