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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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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👓 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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🔖 Read.as

Bookmarked Read.as by Matt BaerMatt Baer (Read.as)
Long-form reader built on open protocols.

This is a cool looking reader project that’s got some ActivityPub. Would be cool to see integrated microformats h-feeds or even some mixing with Microsub to help bridge the Fediverse and IndieWeb efforts. His write.as project is fantastic looking too.

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Extending a User Interface Idea for Social Reading Online

This morning I was reading an article online and I bookmarked it as “read” using the Reading.am browser extension which I use as part of my workflow of capturing all the things I’ve been reading on the internet. (You can find a feed of these posts here if you’d like to cyber-stalk most of my reading–I don’t post 100% of it publicly.)

I mention it because I was specifically intrigued by a small piece of excellent user interface and social graph data that Reading.am unearths for me. I’m including a quick screen capture to better illustrate the point. While the UI allows me to click yes/no (i.e. did I like it or not) or even share it to other networks, the thing I found most interesting was that it lists the other people using the service who have read the article as well. In this case it told me that my friend Jeremy Cherfas had read the article.1

Reading.am user interface indicating who else on the service has read an article.

In addition to having the immediate feedback that he’d read it, which is useful and thrilling in itself, it gives me the chance to search to see if he’s written any thoughts about it himself, and it also gives me the chance to tag him in a post about my own thoughts to start a direct conversation around a topic which I now know we’re both interested in at least reading about.2

The tougher follow up is: how could we create a decentralized method of doing this sort of workflow in a more IndieWeb way? It would be nice if my read posts on my site (and those of others) could be overlain on websites via a bookmarklet or other means as a social layer to create engaged discussion. Better would have been the ability to quickly surface his commentary, if any, on the piece as well–functionality which I think Reading.am also does, though I rarely ever see it. In some sense I would have come across Jeremy’s read post in his feed later this weekend, but it doesn’t provide the immediacy that this method did. I’ll also admit that I prefer having found out about his reading it only after I’d read it myself, but having his and others’ recommendations on a piece (by their explicit read posts) is a useful and worthwhile piece of data, particularly for pieces I might have otherwise passed over.

In some sense, some of this functionality isn’t too different from that provided by Hypothes.is, though that is hidden away within another browser extension layer and requires not only direct examination, but scanning for those whose identities I might recognize because Hypothes.is doesn’t have a specific following/follower social model to make my friends and colleagues a part of my social graph in that instance. The nice part of Hypothes.is’ browser extension is that it does add a small visual indicator to show that others have in fact read/annotated a particular site using the service.

A UI example of Hypothes.is functionality within the Chrome browser. The yellow highlighted browser extension bug indicates that others have annotated a document. Clicking the image will take one to the annotations in situ.

I’ve also previously documented on the IndieWeb wiki how WordPress.com (and WordPress.org with JetPack functionality) facepiles likes on content (typically underneath the content itself). This method doesn’t take things as far as the Reading.am case because it only shows a small fraction of the data, is much less useful, and is far less likely to unearth those in your social graph to make it useful to you, the reader.

WordPress.com facepiles likes on content which could surface some of this social reading data.

I seem to recall that Facebook has some similar functionality that is dependent upon how (and if) the publisher embeds Facebook into their site. I don’t think I’ve seen this sort of interface built into another service this way and certainly not front and center the way that Reading.am does it.

The closest thing I can think of to this type of functionality in the analog world was in my childhood when library card slips in books had the names of prior patrons on them when you signed your own name when checking out a book, though this also had the large world problem that WordPress likes have in that one typically wouldn’t have know many of the names of prior patrons necessarily. I suspect that the Robert Bork privacy incident along with the evolution of library databases and bar codes have caused this older system to disappear.

This general idea might make an interesting topic to explore at an upcoming IndieWebCamp if not before. The question is: how to add in the social graph aspect of reading to uncover this data? I’m also curious how it might or might not be worked into a feed reader or into microsub related technologies as well. Microsub clients or related browser extensions might make a great place to add this functionality as they would have the data about whom you’re already following (aka your social graph data) as well as access to their read/like/favorite posts. I know that some users have reported consuming feeds of friends’ reads, likes, favorites, and bookmarks as potential recommendations of things they might be interested in reading as well, so perhaps this would be an additional extension of that as well?


[1] I’ve certainly seen this functionality before, but most often the other readers are people I don’t know or know that well because the service isn’t huge and I’m not using it to follow a large number of other people.
[2] I knew he was generally interested already as I happen to be following this particular site at his prior recommendation, but the idea still illustrates the broader point.

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👓 My Feedly wishlist | Paul Jacobson

Replied to My Feedly wishlist by Paul Jacobson (Paul Jacobson)
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.

Screenshot of the custom share functionality set up from within Feedly.com.

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:

https://example.com/wp-admin/post-new.php?kindurl=URL&kind=bookmark

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.

In addition to some of what I’ve written about the Post Kinds plugin before, I’ve also detailed how to dovetail it with sharing from my Android phone quickly in the past.

Highlights and Annotations

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.

An Outline for Using Hypothesis for Owning your Annotations and Highlights

I will mention that I’ve seen bugs in trying to annotate easily on Chrome’s mobile application, but haven’t had any issues in using Firefox’s mobile browser.

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Reply to Jan Cavan Boulas about WordPress Microsub feed reader

Replied to a tweet by Jan Cavan BoulasJan Cavan Boulas (Twitter)

Jan, as I had mentioned to you earlier this year at WordCamp Orange County, the work on the IndieWeb concept of Microsub with respect to feed readers is continuing apace. In the last few months Aaron Parecki has opened up beta versions of his Aperture microsub server as well as limited access to his Monocle reader interface in addition to the existing Indigenous and Together reader interfaces.

My friend Jack Jamieson is in the midst of building a WordPress-specific Microsub server implementation which he’s indicated still needs more work, but which he’s self-dogfooding on his own website as a feed reader currently.

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.[1][2]

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!

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👓 Indiepaper, an open alternative to Instapaper and Pocket | Cult of Mac

Read Indiepaper, an open alternative to Instapaper and Pocket (Cult of Mac)
Indiepaper is a read-later service built for the open web. Save your articles, and never again get locked out by a proprietary service like Instapaper.
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A reply to David Shanske regarding implementation of the DiSo Project

Replied to a post by David ShanskeDavid Shanske (David Shanske)

People continued working on it. Everything you need using W3C standards like Webmention, Microformats2…give it a try? https://IndieWeb.org/WordPress/Plugins

I suspect that @chrismessina could do it quickly, but for those who’d like to leave Twitter for #WordPress with similar functionality (but greater flexibility and independence), I recorded a 2 hour video for an #IndieWeb set up/walk through with some high level discussion a few months back. If you can do the 5 minute install, hopefully most of the rest is downhill with some basic plugin installation and minor configuration. The end of the walk through includes a live demonstration of a conversation between a WordPress site on one domain and a WithKnown site running on another domain.

tl;dr for the video:

Additional pieces are discussed on my IndieWeb Research Page (focusing mostly on WordPress), in addition to IWC getting started on WordPress wiki page. If you need help, hop into the IndieWeb WordPress chat.

For those watching this carefully, you’ll notice that I’ve replied to David Shanske’s post on his website using my own website and sent him a webmention which will allow him to display my reply (if he chooses). I’ve also automatically syndicated my response to the copy of his reply on Twitter which includes others who are following the conversation there. Both he and I have full copies of the conversation on our own site and originated our responses from our own websites. If you like, retweet, or comment on the copy of this post on Twitter, through the magic of Brid.gy and the Webmention spec, it will come back to the comment section on my original post (after moderation).

Hooray for web standards! And hooray for everyone in the IndieWeb who are helping to make this type of social interaction easier and simpler with every passing day.

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Reply to Mariko Kosaka on RSS, blogging, and linkbacks

Replied to a tweet by Mariko KosakaMariko Kosaka (Twitter)

Webmention is the more modern specification now as some have mentioned. I wrote a piece on it in @alistapart recently which includes some background, UI examples, and links to more technical resources:
https://alistapart.com/article/webmentions-enabling-better-communication-on-the-internet

It is a small part of an #IndieWeb suite of open protocols including Micropub, WebSub, and Microsub for allowing site to site communication and interaction which goes to the broader scope of your question about RSS feeds and blogs. See also: Lost Infrastructure

I keep meaning to provide a better overview of it all, but this recent pencast overview captures a chunk of it. Aaron Parecki’s article Building an IndieWeb Reader captures some of the rest of the microsub/reader portion.

 

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An Indieweb Podcast: Episode 8 Interflux

Episode 8: Interflux


Running time: 1h 23m 35s | Download (26.2 MB) | Subscribe by RSS

Summary: David Shanske and I recap the recent IndieWeb Summit 2018 in Portland Oregon including recent developments like microsub, readers, Vouch, and even the comeback of webrings!

Huffduff this Episode

Shownotes

Recap of IndieWeb Summit 2018

Vouch(🎧 00:7:13)

The Year of the Reader (🎧 00:38:32)

Webrings (🎧 00:59:03)

Aaron Parecki posts (🎧 1:12:10)

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👓 Microsub and the new reader evolution | skippy.net

Read Microsub and the new reader evolution by Scott MerrillScott Merrill (skippy.net)
I was an avid Google Reader user.  When it shut down, I started hosting my own RSS reader: first tt-rss, and later miniflux. I very much liked being able to subscribe to sites and read them at my leisure. I also appreciated not having my reading habits tracked or quantified. I had maybe two dozen f...

What I was really after was the confluence of RSS feeds and Twitter and the ability to post to my own site.

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IndieWeb Summit 2018 Recap

Last week was the 8th annual IndieWeb Summit held in Portland, Oregon. While IndieWeb Camps and Summits have traditionally been held on weekends during people’s free time, this one held in the middle of the week was a roaring success. With well over 50 people in attendance, this was almost certainly the largest attendance I’ve seen to date. I suspect since people who flew in for the event had really committed, the attendance on the second day was much higher than usual as well. It was great to see so many people hacking on their personal websites and tools to make their personal online experiences richer.

The year of the Indie Reader

Last year I wrote the post Feed Reader Revolution in response to an increasingly growing need I’ve seen in the social space for a new sort of functionality in feed readers. While there have been a few interesting attempts like Woodwind which have shown a proof-of-concept, not much work had been done until some initial work by Aaron Parecki and a session at last year’s IndieWeb Summit entitled Putting it all Together.

Over the past year I’ve been closely watching Aaron Parecki; Grant Richmond and Jonathan LaCour; Eddie Hinkle; and Kristof De Jaeger’s collective progress on the microsub specification as well as their respective projects Aperture/Monocle; Together; Indigenous/Indigenous for iOS; and Indigenous for Android. As a result in early May I was overjoyed to suggest a keynote session on readers and was stupefied this week as many of them have officially launched and are open to general registration as relatively solid beta web services.

I spent a few minutes in a session at the end of Tuesday and managed to log into Aperture and create an account (#16, though I suspect I may be one of the first to use it besides the initial group of five developers). I also managed to quickly and easily add a microsub endpoint to my website as well. Sadly I’ve got some tweaks to make to my own installation to properly log into any of the reader app front ends. Based on several of the demos I’ve seen over the past months, the functionality involved is not only impressive, but it’s a properly large step ahead of some of the basic user interface provided by the now-shuttered Woodwind.xyz service (though the code is still available for self-hosting.)

Several people have committed to make attempts at creating a microsub server including Jack Jamieson who has announced an attempt at creating one for WordPress after having recently built the Yarns reader for WordPress from scratch this past year. I suspect within the coming year we’ll see one or two additional servers as well as some additional reading front ends. In fact, Ryan Barrett spent the day on Wednesday hacking away at leveraging the News Blur API and leveraging it to make News Blur a front end for Aperture’s server functionality. I’m hoping others may do the same for other popular readers like Feedly or Inoreader to expand on the plurality of offerings. Increased competition for new reader offerings can only improve the entire space.

Even more reading related support

Just before the Summit, gRegor Morrill unveiled the beta version of his micropub client Indiebookclub.biz which allows one to log in with their own website and use it to post reading updates to their own website. For those who don’t yet support micropub, the service saves the data for eventual export. His work on it continued through the summit to continue to improve an already impressive product. It’s the fist micropub client of its kind amidst a growing field of websites (including WordPress and WithKnown which both have plugins) that offer reading post support. Micro.blog has recently updated its code to allow users of the platform the ability to post reads with indiebookclub.biz as well. As a result of this spurt of reading related support there’s now a draft proposal to add read-of and read-status support as new Microformats. Perhaps reads will be included in future updates of the post-type-discovery algorithm as well?

Given the growth of reading post support and a new micropub read client, I suspect it won’t take long before some of the new microsub-related readers begin supporting read post micropub functionality as well.

IndieAuth Servers

In addition to David Shanske’s recent valiant update to the IndieAuth plugin for WordPress, Manton Reece managed to finish up coding work to unveil another implementation of IndieAuth at the Summit. His version is for the micro.blog platform which is a significant addition to the community and will add several hundred additional users who will have broader access to a wide assortment of functionality as a result.

The Future

While work continues apace on a broad variety of fronts, I was happy to see that my proposal for a session on IndieAlgorithms was accepted (despite my leading another topic earlier in the day). It was well attended and sparked some interesting discussion about how individuals might also be able to exert greater control over what they’re presented to consume. With the rise of Indie feed readers this year, the ability to better control and filter one’s incoming content is going to take on a greater importance in the very near future. With an increasing number of readers to choose from, more people will hopefully be able to free themselves from the vagaries of the blackbox algorithms that drive content distribution and presentation in products like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others. Based on the architecture of servers like Aperture, perhaps we might be able to modify some of the microsub spec to allow more freedom and flexibility in what will assuredly be the next step in the evolution of the IndieWeb?

Diversity

While there are miles and miles to go before we sleep, I was happy to have seen a session on diversity pop up at the Summit. I hope we can all take the general topic to heart to be more inclusive and actively invite friends into our fold. Thanks to Jean for suggesting and guiding the conversation and everyone else for continuing it throughout the rest of the summit and beyond.

Other Highlights

Naturally, the above are just a few of the bigger highlights as I perceive them. I’m sure others will appear in the IndieNews feed or other blogposts about the summit. The IndieWeb is something subtly different to each person, so I hope everyone takes a moment to share (on your own sites naturally) what you got out of all the sessions and discussions. There was a tremendous amount of discussion, debate, and advancement of the state of the art of the continually growing IndieWeb. Fortunately almost all of it was captured in the IndieWeb chat, on Twitter, and on video available through either the IndieWeb wiki pages for the summit or directly from the IndieWeb YouTube channel.

I suspect David Shanske and I will have more to say in what is sure to be a recap episode in our next podcast.

Photos

Finally, below I’m including a bunch of photos I took over the course of my trip. I’m far from a professional photographer, but hopefully they’ll give a small representation of some of the fun we all had at camp.

Final Thanks

People

While I’m thinking about it, I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who came to the summit. You all really made it a fantastic event!

I’d particularly like to thank Aaron Parecki, Tantek Çelik, gRegor Morrill, Marty McGuire, and David Shanske who did a lot of the organizing and volunteer work to help make the summit happen as well as to capture it so well for others to participate remotely or even view major portions of it after-the-fact. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Martijn van der Ven for some herculean efforts on IRC/Chat in documenting things in real time as well as for some serious wiki gardening along the way. As always, there are a huge crew of others whose contributions large and small help to make up the rich fabric of the community and we wouldn’t be who we are without your help. Thank you all! (Or as I might say in chat: community++).

And finally, a special personal thanks to Greg McVerry for kindly letting me join him at the Hotel deLuxe for some late night discussions on the intersection of IndieWeb and Domain of One’s Own philosophies as they dovetail with the education sector.  With growing interest and a wealth of ideas in this area, I’m confident it’s going to be a rapidly growing one over the coming years.

Sponsors

I’d also like to take a moment to say thanks to all the sponsors who helped to make the event a success including Name.com, GoDaddy, Okta, Mozilla, DreamHost, and likely a few others who I’m missing at the moment.

I’d also like to thank the Eliot Center for letting us hosting the event at their fabulous facility.

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👓 Brainstorming on Implementing Vouch, Following and Blogrolls | David Shanske

Read Brainstorming on Implementing Vouch, Following and Blogrolls by David ShanskeDavid Shanske (David Shanske)
Vouch is an extension to the webmention protocol. Webmentions usually have two parameters…source and target. Target is the URL on your website  that the Source URL is linking to. The vouch parameter is a third URL to help the target determine whether or not they should accept the webmention. This...

I like the sound of where this is going already! All these small little pieces loosely joined to build a much larger edifice is certainly interesting.

I’ve got a somewhat reasonable bookmarklet for quickly following people, though it’s not marked up with XFN data (yet) — perhaps another data field for Post Kinds? I do wish that there was either a mechanism for adding those to my Following page via the WordPress Link Manager or someone had a means of parsing lots of follow posts so I could quickly have data for both Vouch as well as for microsub readers either via my follow feed list or via OPML export and/or OPML subscription. WordPress obviously has some of the infrastructure built already, but there’s certainly a more IndieWeb way of doing it that wouldn’t require side-files like OPML.

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