Recently I discovered the IndieWeb project, and I… think I am a lot more intrigued by it than by other Better Social Media Platform pipe dreams and decentralization projects I’ve seen? Because it’s...
I love that this post has all sorts of ideas and itches which resonate with large swaths of the growing IndieWeb. Some problems here are solved, and many remain to be worked on and improved. Either way, this has a reasonable beginning roadmap for people who are interesting in taking a crack at solving or improving on some of these problems.
I hope Marianne joins into the fray to not only make things better for herself, but for all of us. I know I and many others are happy to help on the WordPress front or otherwise. Here’s an overview video that may help some of the less technical.
It also raises some questions for me:
Do any wikis, bulletin boards/forum software send or receive webmentions yet? I receive refbacks from the IndieWeb wiki, but shouldn’t it handle sending webmentions? How about software for wikis and fora that allow for micropub or simple syndication?
It’s never dawned on me to look before, but I’ve just noticed that at least the IndieWeb wiki actually has an h-card!
In these times of centralised services like Facebook, Twitter, and Medium, having your own website is downright disruptive. If you care about the longevity of your online presence, independent publishing is the way to go. But how can you get all the benefits of those third-party services while still owning your own data? By using the building blocks of the Indie Web, that’s how!
“It touches me that some people have been reading my blog for over a decade.” https://dri.es/forty I've been thinking about that since. It would be nice to know who is subscribed to your blog so you can build a relationship. #indieweb@davewiner
Happy birthday Dries! If I may, can I outline a potential web-based birthday present based on your wish?
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.
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.
Heh – that’s funny – @lizzjoy and I were just saying we need to find a way of knowing who is reading the Drupal community and association blogrolls…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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).
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.
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. ❧
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
At the Indieweb Summit in June, someone said something to me that made me decide to embark on a major rewrite of the Micropub endpoint for WordPress.
For those of you not familiar with it, Micropub is a standard that allows for you to publish to a website.
The major work on this actually finished in...
You might find that the micropub plugin is a worthwhile piece for this. It will give your site an endpoint you can use to post to your site with a variety of third party applications including Quill or Micropublish.net. October 14, 2018 at 01:01AM
My hope is that it will somehow bring comments on Facebook back to the blog and display them as comments here. ❧
Sadly, Aaron Davis is right that Facebook turned off their API access for this on August 1st, so there currently aren’t any services, including Brid.gy, anywhere that allow this. Even WordPress and JetPack got cut off from posting from WordPress to Facebook, much less the larger challenge of pulling responses back. October 14, 2018 at 01:03AM
Seeing the commentary from Greg McVerry and Aaron Davis, it’s probably worthwhile to point you to the IndieWeb for Education wiki page which has some useful resources, pointers, and references. As you have time, feel free to add yourself to the list along with any brainstorming ideas you might have for using some of this technology within your work realm. Many hands make light work. Welcome to the new revolution! October 14, 2018 at 01:08AM
a hanging thought? I feel like I do this on my site all too often… October 14, 2018 at 01:09AM
I am giving this one a go as it seems to be the most widely used. ❧
It is widely used, and I had it for a while myself. I will note that the developer said he was going to deprecate it in favor of some work he’d been doing with another Mastodon/WordPress developer though. October 14, 2018 at 01:19AM
Hi! I'm going to return to spending more time on Known. As you may know, I was Director of Investments at Matter Ventures for the last two years or so, which occupied a disproportionate amount of my time. This is no longer the case. While I'm working on another open source project - Unlock - during the day, I'll be able to devote more attention to Known.
Known deserves a 1.0 release, and will get one. Marcus and I have spoken quite a bit about the route forward.
Commercial enhancements to Known, like the hosted service and Convoy, will get their own update. Going forward, any commercial ambitions or support for Known will be secondary to the open source project, if they exist at all.
Okay. With all of that said, I'd like to put the following out for discussion. Replies, questions, and criticisms are welcome!
This may be some of the best news I’ve heard in months! Known is one of my favorite open source CMSes that’s easy to spin up and use. It also supports so many awesome IndieWeb specs like Webmention, Micropub, WebSub, etc. right out of the box.
The runner up awesome news is that Reclaim Hosting is very likely to revamp their installatron version of it.
I’ve been using Micropub more and more over the past couple of years and I love the convenience and simplicity for a huge variety of posting needs including custom apps like Teacup and Screech for audio/podcasting.
Marco, your post about supporting rel=”payment” for Overcast made me start thinking about other potential solve-able problems in the podcast space. Now that you’ve solved a piece of the support/payment problem, perhaps you can solve for a big part of the “who actually listened to my podcast” problem?
In a recent article on the topic of Webmention for A List Apart, I covered the topic of listen posts and sending webmentions for them. In addition to people being able to post on their own website that they’ve listened to a particular episode, the hosting podcast site can receive these mentions and display them as social proof that the episode was actually listened to. In addition to individual websites being able to do this, it would be awesome if podcast players/apps could send webmentions on behalf of their users (either with user specific data like Name, website, avatar, etc. if it’s stored, without it, or anonymized by the player itself) so that the canonical page for the podcast could collect (and potentially display) them.
In addition to aggregate numbers of downloads a podcast is receiving, they could also begin to have direct data about actual listens. Naturally the app/player would have to set (or allow a configuration) some percentage threshold of how much was played before sending such a notification to the receiving site. Perhaps the webmention spec for listens could also include the data for the percentage listened and send that number in the payload?
The toughest part may be collecting the rel=”canonical” URL for the podcast’s post (to send the webmention there) rather than the audio file’s URL, though I suspect that the feed for the podcast may have this depending on the feed’s source.
If you want to go a step further, you could add Micropub support to Overcast, so that when people are done listening to episodes, the app could send a micropub request to their registered website (perhaps via authentication using IndieAuth?). This would allow people to automatically make “listen posts” to their websites using Overcast and thereby help those following them to discover new and interesting podcasts. (Naturally, you might need a setting for sites that support both micropub and webmention, so that the app doesn’t send a webmention when it does a micropub post for a site that will then send a second webmention as well.)
One could also have podcast players with Micropub support that would allow text entry for commenting on particular portions of podcasts (perhaps using media fragments)? Suddenly we’re closer to commenting on individual portions of audio content in a way that’s not too dissimilar to SoundCloud’s commenting interface, but done in a more open web way.
A Micropub browser extension. Contribute to keithjgrant/omnibear development by creating an account on GitHub.
WordPress installs will frequently use multi-word tags/categories, thus there is no way to send those tags when Omnibear defaults to space separated tags. Comma, semi-colon, or other separators may be better in these situations.
Richard MacManus wrote about the state of feed readers as he saw it in his AltPlatform.org post titled “The state of feed readers”. He mentioned a couple things in his Feedly wishlist that prompted me to think more about what I’d like to see added to Feedly.
Feedly and custom sharing
Apparently there were a bunch of us thinking and writing about feed readers and the open web a year ago last June. Several week’s prior to Richard’s article, I’d written a piece for Richard’s now defunct AltPlatform entitled Feed reader revolution(now archived on my site), which laid out some pieces similar to Paul’s take here, though it tied in some more of what was then the state of the art in IndieWeb tech.
Around that time I began tinkering with other feed readers including Inoreader, which I’ve been using for it’s ability to auto-update my RSS feeds using OPML subscriptions from the OPML files I maintain on my own website. Currently I’m more interested in what the Microsub specification is starting to surface in the feed reader space.
I’m not sure if he’s played around with it since, but, like Paul, I was using some of the Press This bookmarklet functionality in conjunction with David Shanske’s Post Kinds plugin for WordPress to make posting snippets of things to my website easier.
Feedly has a Pro (aka paid) functionality to allow one to share content using custom URLs.
While one can use the Share to WordPress URL functionality, I’d recommend the Custom Sharing feature. Using the Post Kinds plugin, one can use the following example URL to quickly share things from their Feedly account to their personal website:
One should change the URL to reflect their own site, and one can also change the word “bookmark” to the appropriate desired kind including “like”, “favorite”, “read”, or any of the others they may have enabled within the Post Kinds plugin.
I personally don’t use this method as it only allows one custom sharing URL (and thus allows only one post kind), and instead (again) prefer Inoreader which allows one to configure custom sharing similarly to Feedly, but doesn’t limit the number of kinds and the feature is available in their free tier as well.
Also like Paul, I was greatly interested in quickly creating highlights and annotations on web content and posting them to my own website. Here I’m using a modified version of the Post Kinds plugin to accomplish this having created highlight posts and annotation posts for my site. Next I’m utilizing the ability to prepend http://via.hypothes.is to URLs on my mobile phone to call up the ability to use my Hypothesis account to easily and quickly create highlights and annotations. I then use some details from the outline linked below to capture that data via RSS using IFTTT.com.
Naturally, the process could be streamlined a lot from a UI perspective, but I think it provides some fairly nice results without a huge amount of work.
If it’s of interest, you or your colleagues at Automattic might want to take a look at it in terms of potentially adding a related Microsub reader interface as the other half of his Microsub server. Given your prior work on the beautiful WordPress.com feed reader, this may be relatively easy work which you could very quickly leverage to provide the WordPress ecosystem with an incredibly powerful feed reader interface through which users can interact directly with other sites using the W3C’s Micropub and Webmention specifications for which there are already pre-existing plugins within the repository.
For some reference I’ll include some helpful links below which might help you and others get a jump start if you wish:
While I understand most of the high level moving pieces, some of the technical specifics are beyond my coding abilities. Should you need help or assistance in cobbling together the front end, I’m positive that Jack, Aaron Parecki, David Shanske, and others in the IndieWeb chat (perhaps the #Dev or #WordPress channels–there are also bridges for using IRC, Slack, or Matrix if you prefer them) would be more than happy to lend a hand to get another implementation of a Microsub reader interface off the ground. I suspect your experience and design background could also help to shape the Microsub spec as well as potentially add things to it which others haven’t yet considered from a usability perspective.
In the erstwhile, I hope all is well with you. Warmest regards!