👓 Icro 1.0 | Manton Reece

Read Icro 1.0 by Manton Reece (manton.org)

For Micro.blog, I always want to encourage third-party apps. We support existing blogging apps like MarsEdit, and we have an API for more Micro.blog-focused apps to be built. I’m excited to say that a big one just shipped in the App Store: Icro.

Icro is well-designed, fast, and takes a different approach to some features compared to the official Micro.blog app. In a few ways, it’s better than the app I built. This is exactly what I hoped for. We wanted an official app so that there’s a default to get started, but there should be other great options for Micro.blog users to choose from.

I’m wondering if any of the pnut or ADN crowd have migrated over to micro.blog yet? I suspect that many of their apps (and especially mobile apps) could be re-purposed as micropub applications. I’m particularly interested in more Android related apps as a lot of the micro.blog crowd seems to be more directly focused on the Apple ecosystem.

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A pencast overview (with audio and recorded visual diagrams) of IndieWeb technologies

I’ve seen a bunch of new folks coming into the IndieWeb community recently who are a bit overwhelmed with the somewhat steep learning curve of both new jargon as well as new ideas and philosophies of what it means to have one’s own domain and presence on the internet.

While parts of the IndieWeb’s overall idea are quite simple, where the actual rubber meets the road things can be a bit overwhelming, and more so if you’re a non-technical person. This doesn’t have to be the case. Generally I’d recommend to people to begin attending local Homebrew Website Clubs or, even better, to attend an IndieWebCamp in person to get a one day crash course followed by a day of building and help. Sadly, life can intervene making these not as quick and immediate a reality as one might otherwise like.

So toward the end of making the crash course to explain in relatively broad terms some of the basic terminology as well as some of the bigger individual pieces and what’s happening when using an IndieWeb site with most of the major new functionality built in, I’ve made a short pencast of what is going on. Naturally there’s still a tremendous amount to learn and do, and a million things which could always be better or improved, but if you’re setting up a site using WordPress this overview will hopefully get you a lot further a lot faster. (It may also be useful for those setting up Known or even something for micro.blog, though those will have different plugins and other small quirks that aren’t covered here.)

What is a Pencast?

Pencast?! What is that? It’s a technology that has been around for a while courtesy of Livescribe.com digital pens which not only record an audio file of what is being said, but also record penstroke by penstroke what is being written. Even better the audio and the penstrokes are crosslinked, so you can more easily jump around within a lecture or talk.

To do this you should download the version of the notes in Livescribe’s custom Pencast .pdf format. This seems like a standard .pdf file but it’s a bit larger in size because it has an embedded audio file in it that is playable with the free Adobe Reader X (or above) installed. With this version of the notes, you should be able to toggle the settings in the file (see below) to read and listen to the notes almost as if you were sitting with me in person and I was drawing it out in front of you as I spoke. You can also use your mouse to jump around within the pencast by touching/mousing to particular areas or by jumping forward and back by means of the audio bar. If you need to, also feel free to zoom in on the page to have a closer look.

Pencast version

An IndieWeb Crash Course [14.9MB .pdf with embedded audio]

Viewing and Playing a Pencast PDF

Pencast PDF is a new format of notes and audio that can play in Adobe Reader X or above.

You can open a Pencast PDF as you would other PDF files in Adobe Reader X. The main difference is that a Pencast PDF can contain ink that has associated audio—called “active ink”. Click active ink to play its audio. This is just like playing a Pencast from Livescribe Online or in Livescribe Desktop. When you first view a notebook page, active ink appears in green type. When you click active ink, it turns gray and the audio starts playing. As audio playback continues, the gray ink turns green in synchronization with the audio. Non-active ink (ink without audio) is black and does not change appearance.

Audio Control Bar

Pencast PDFs have an audio control bar for playing, pausing, and stopping audio playback. The control bar also has jump controls, bookmarks (stars), and an audio timeline control.

Active Ink View Button

There is also an active ink view button. Click this button to toggle the “unwritten” color of active ink from gray to invisible. In the default (gray) setting, the gray words turn green as the audio plays. In the invisible setting, green words seem to write themselves on blank paper as the audio plays.

 
If you have comments or feedback, I’m thrilled to receive it. Feel free to comment below, or if you’ve already IndieWebified your site, write your comment there and send it to me via webmention, or add your permalink to the box below. Ideally this version of the pencast is a first draft and I’ll put something more polished together at a later date, but I wanted to get this out there to have a few people test-drive it to get some feedback.

Thanks!​​​​​​​​​

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Today I updated the IndieAuth plugin for WordPress, and I can now use my own website as an IndieAuth authorization endpoint (including provisioning and revoking tokens) for a multitude of things including a huge number of micropub clients.

Special thanks to David Shanske and Aaron Parecki for all their work in getting this to happen!

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Microblogging by Paul Robert Lloyd

Bookmarked Microblogging by Paul Robert Lloyd (paulrobertlloyd.com)
I stopped using Facebook because I didn’t trust the people behind Facebook. I had grown weary of the sly and underhand tactics used to grow their network and was unwilling to remain part of it. But if I’m honest, I couldn’t trust myself either. Visiting Facebook would elicit behaviour you could only describe as stalking; trawling through the feeds of my friends, seeking out people I vaguely knew. I had better things to do with my time. Almost a decade later, I’m having similar thoughts about Twitter.

He’s got some interesting, but subtle references to pieces of the “old” web including Small Pieces, Loosely Joined.
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An update to read posts for physical books

Inspired by gRegor Morrill’s IndieWebCamp Austin project, I went back and took a look at some of my read posts, and particularly for books.

For online material, I use the Post Kinds Plugin which does a good job of adding h-cite and p-read-of (experimental) microformats classes to the data for the things I’ve read.

Because Post Kinds doesn’t (yet?) support percentage finished or number of pages read, I generally do read posts for books by hand as notes with the relevant data. So I decided to add some better mark up to my book-specific read posts and added microformats classes of h-cite, u-url, u-read-of, p-name, p-author, h-card and dt-published. I’m far from an expert on microformats, but hopefully the way I’m nesting them makes sense to parsers off in the future. (Suggestions for improvement are more than welcome.)

I like Gregor’s idea of p-read-status for things he’s posting and will have to see how I can pull that off for posts in the future (or suggest it as an addition to Post Kinds). Presently I’m just adding a want to read tag, but that could be improved to better match the functionality I appreciate in silos like Goodreads. I’ll also have to load up Gregor’s recent modifications to Quill and test them out on my site as well. I know David Shanske has expressed interest in better aligning Quill and micropub clients to post to WordPress with Post Kinds in mind.

Here’s an example of the mark up of a recent read post:

Read pages 381-461 to finish reading <span class="h-cite"><cite><a class="u-url u-read-of p-name" href="http://amzn.to/2zXnQDC" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Origin: A Novel</a></cite> by <span class="p-author h-card"><a class="p-name u-url" href="http://danbrown.com/">Dan Brown</a></span><time class="dt-published" datetime="2017-10-103 00:00:00"></time></span>

It’s also made me begin to feel itchy about some of my past quote posts and potentially revisiting them to add the appropriate h-cite and related mark up to them as well. (Or at least fix it moving forward.)

Incidentally, my real camp project was some heavy editing work on “The Book.” More on that later…

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📺 The Decentralized Social Web by Keith J. Grant

Bookmarked The Decentralized Social Web by Keith J. Grant (Recall Act)
We tend to have a love/hate relationship with social networks. The ability to interact with friends, colleagues, and even celebrities is wonderful, but the lack of control over privacy or content algorithms is troubling. A better way lies ahead, where you aren't tied to large social networks and where you can own your own data. Recorded at Atlanta Connect.Tech 2017 on 9/21/2017

A few weeks back Keith gave a great non-platform specific overview to some of the moving pieces of the IndieWeb at Connect.Tech 2017 in Atlanta. I wish I could have been there in person, but glad that it was archived on video for posterity.

Somehow I managed to get a mention in his talk as did our friend Jeremy Cherfas.

The slides for his talk are archived, naturally, on his own website.
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Reply to Gutenberg: First Impressions | MattCromwell.com

Replied to Gutenberg: First Impressions by Matt Cromwell (MattCromwell.com)
Gutenberg is the future of content in WordPress. It will deliver the elegance of Medium but with far more power and flexibility of layouts and content types

I love how this looks and works and it’s certainly about time that WordPress had alternate means of publishing to its platform. (I miss the days when Twitter had thousands of different configurable apps to post to it, though these were far simpler.)

Not only does it remind me a bit of Medium.com’s interface, it is highly reminiscent of Aaron Parecki’s Quill editor which uses the open Micropub spec to publish to the Micropub endpoint on my blog. Though his isn’t as fully featured as the Gutenberg example, he could certainly add to it, but then it could be used to publish to any site that supports the spec.

A sample of the Quill interface for posting to WordPress via Micropub.

The nice part about Micropub (and the fact that there’s already a Micropub plugin for WordPress) is that developers can build multiple competing publishing interfaces to publish to any website out there. (Or developers could even build custom publishing interfaces for their clients.)

In fact, if they wanted to do a highly valuable pivot, Medium.com could add publishing via Micropub to their platform and really become the billionaire’s typewriter that some have suggested it to be.

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Feed reader revolution

It's time to embrace open & disrupt social media

The state-of-the-art in feed readers was frozen in place sometime around 2010, if not before. By that time most of the format wars between RSS and Atom had long since died down and were all generally supported. The only new features to be added were simple functionalities like sharing out links from readers to social services like Facebook and Twitter. For fancier readers they also added the ability to share out to services like Evernote, OneNote, Pocket, Instapaper and other social silos or silo related services.

So the real question facing companies with stand alone traditional feed reader products–like Feedly, Digg Reader, The Old Reader, Inoreader, Reeder, NewsBlur, Netvibes, Tiny Tiny RSS, WordPress reader–and the cadre of others is:

  • What features could/should we add?
  • How can we improve?
  • How can we gain new users?
  • How can we increase our market share?

In short the primary question is:

What should a modern RSS feed reader be capable of doing?

Continue reading “Feed reader revolution”

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My reply to Micro.blog Project Surges Past $65K on Kickstarter, Gains Backing from DreamHost | WordPress Tavern

Replied to Micro.blog Project Surges Past $65K on Kickstarter, Gains Backing from DreamHost (WordPress Tavern)
With one week remaining on its Kickstarter campaign, the Micro.blog indie microblogging project has surged past its original $10K funding goal with $66,710 pledged by 2,381 backers. This puts proje…

I love that Micro.blog is doing so well on Kickstarter! I’m even more impressed that DreamHost is backing this and doubling down in this area.

I coincidentally happened to have a great conversation yesterday with Jonathan LaCour before I saw the article and we spoke about what DreamHost is doing in the realm of IndieWeb and WordPress. I love their approach and can’t wait to see what comes out of their work and infectious enthusiasm.

I’m really surprised that WordPress hasn’t more aggressively taken up technologies like Webmention, which is now a W3C recommendation, or micropub and put them directly into core. For the un-initiated, Webmention works much like @mention on Twitter, Medium, Facebook, and others, but is platform independent, which means you can use it to ping any website on the internet that supports it. Imagine if you could reply to someone on Twitter from your WordPress site? Or if you could use Facebook to reply to a post on Medium? (And I mean directly and immediately in the type @mention/hit publish sense, not doing any laborious cut and paste from one platform to another nonsense that one is forced to do now because all the social silos/walled gardens don’t inter-operate nicely, if at all.) Webmention can make all that a reality.  Micropub is a platform independent spec that allows one to write standalone web or mobile apps to create publishing interfaces to publish almost any type of content to any platform–think about the hundreds of apps that could publish to Twitter in its early days, now imagine expanding that to being able to use those to publish to any platform anywhere?

While Twitter has been floundering for a while, WordPress has the structure, ecosystem, and a huge community to completely eat Twitter’s (and even Facebook/ Instagram’s, Medium’s, & etc.) lunch not only in the microblog space, but the larger space which includes blogging, photos, music, video, audio, and social media in general. The one piece they’re missing is a best-in-class integrated feed reader, which, to be honest, is the centerpiece of both Twitter and Facebook’s services. They seem to be 98% readers and 2% dead-simple posting interface while WordPress is 98% posting interface (both more sophisticated/flexible and more complicated), and nearly non-existent (and unbundled) reader.

WordPress has already got one of the best and most ubiquitous publishing platforms out there (25+% of the web at last count). Slimming down their interface a tad to make it dead simple for my mom to post, or delegating this to UX/UI developers with micropub the way that Twitter allowed in the early days with their open API and the proliferation of apps and interfaces to post to twitter, in addition to Webmentions could create a sea-change in the social space. Quill is a good, yet simple example of an alternate posting interface which I use for posting to WordPress. Another is actually Instagram itself, which I use in conjunction with OwnYourGram which has micropub baked in for posting photos to my site with Instagram’s best-in-class mobile interface. Imagine just a handful of simple mobile apps that could be customized for dead-simple, straightforward publishing to one’s WordPress site for specific post types or content types…

With extant WordPress plugins, a lot of this is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed yet, to borrow the sentiment from William Gibson.

For just a few dollars a year, everyday people could more easily truly own all their content and have greater control over their data and their privacy.

I will note that it has been interesting and exciting seeing the Drupal community stepping on the gas on the Webmention spec (in two different plugins) since the W3C gave it recommendation status earlier this month. This portends great things for the independent web.

I haven’t been this excited about what the web can bring to the world in a long, long time.

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Reply to Dave Rupert’s Poll with another alternative

Replied to a tweet by Dave RupertDave Rupert (Twitter)
Anyone else starting to look for a way out of Twitter?

#4 IndieWeb: Publish on your own site, syndicate elsewhere. (The missing option.)

I’ve been microblogging from my own site and syndicating content to Twitter and other social silos for a while.

I usually consume Twitter via an RSS hack and respond either via Woodwind.xyz which micropubs directly to my site or from a built in RSS reader on my own site. I use Brid.gy and webmention to collect replies back to my site to continue the conversation.

For me, my personal website is my end-all-be-all hub for reading/publishing and Twitter, Facebook, et al. are just distribution channels.

From what I understand about Manton’s proposed implementation, he’ll be using or making a lot of these technologies available, he’ll just be making it a bit easier for my parents and the “masses” to do it.

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