Replied to Context challenges between and social media silos by David MeadDavid Mead (David John Mead)

My utopian dream of owning all my content would be to post it on my blog first. Syndicating to whatever social media silo's I choose afterwards.

This isn't a reality as some of these silos (Instagram) don't allow posting apart through their apps.

This forces me to accept their context for my content if I consume it into my site, from them.

This context piece David Mead is talking about is a far bigger issue than most people might give it credit for. Most don’t even notice it because their lives are split up so tragically online that they simply have never had any other experiences. Seeing things from a different perspective, I can guarantee that they’re missing out.

I’m reminded of chef Alton Brown who regularly gives the cooking advice that one should never buy unitasker kitchen tools, but instead get multi-taskers that can do a variety of jobs. This typically cuts down on a lot of the mess and fuss in one’s kitchen and generally makes it a nicer place to prepare food. Nine times out of ten the unitasker is a much more expensive and infrequently used tool and ultimately gets lost in a junk drawer. More often than not, there are one or multi-taskers that can do a better job for far less. 

In some sense social silos like Twitter (with functionality for notes and bookmarks), Instagram (photos), Facebook (notes, photos, links, etc.), Swarm (locations and photos), etc. are just like those unitaskers in the kitchen. They only do one (or sometimes a very few) thing(s) well and generally just make for a messier and more confused social media life. They throw off the mise en place of my life by scattering everything around, making my own content harder to find and use beneficially. On my own website, I have all of the functionalities of these four examples–and lots more–and its such a much better experience for me.

As time goes by and I’m able to post more content types (and cross link them via replies) on my own website and even to others’, I do notice that the increased context on my website actually makes it more interesting and useful. In particular, I can especially see it when using my “On This Day” functionality or various archive views where I can look back at past days/months/years to see what I had previously been up to. This often allows me to look at read posts, bookmark posts, photos, locations to put myself back in the context of those prior days. Since all of the data is there and viewable in a variety of linear and non-linear manners, I can more easily see the flow of the ideas, where they came from and where they  may be going. I can also more easily search for and find ideas by a variety of meta data on my site that would probably have never been discoverable on disparate and unrelated social sites. That article I read in July and posted to Twitter could never be grouped again with the related photo on Instagram or the two other bookmarked journal articles I put on Diigo or the annotations I made with Hypothes.is. But put all that on my own website, and what a wonderful exploding world of ideas I can immediately recall and continue exploring at a later date. In fact, it is this additional level of aggregation and search that makes my website that much more of a valuable digital commonplace book.

I’ll note, as a clever bit of of search and serendipity to underscore the discussion of context, it’s nearly trivial for me to notice that exactly two years ago today I was also analogizing social media and food culture. Who knows where those two topics or even related ones from my site will take me next?

On This Day functionality for WordPress

Last night while catching up on some of my feeds and I ran across a new WordPress plugin for creating On This Day-type functionality from Alan Levine.

Having enjoyed the mobile app TimeHop and its functionality for a long time, I’d spent a long time a while back searching for what I was sure would be multiple WordPress plugins that might offer such functionality. At the time I could only find one and seemed deeply hidden: the Room 34 Presents On This Day plugin which has served my needs for a while.

While the two are implemented somewhat differently and have different levels of UI features, it’s nice that there’s now a bit of competition and options available in the space. Alan’s excellent version is a shortcode-based plugin with some options for configuring the output and he’s got lots of additional details for customizing it. The Room 34 version creates an archive view of most of its data and also includes  a widget for adding the output to various widget locations.

I’ve added some of these examples and links to the On This Day page of the IndieWeb wiki, so that others looking for UI examples, options, and brainstorming for their WordPress-based or other sites might have an easier time tracking them down and building additional iterations or coming up with new ideas.

These sorts of plugins provide some useful functionality commonly found in other social media sites, including Facebook which allow you to go back in time. I find they’re even more valuable on my own site as my content here is generally far richer and more valuable to me than it is on other social sites which often have a “throw away” or a more ephemeral feel to some of their content. It’s nice to be able to look back at old thoughts, revisit them, possibly reshape them, or even see how far I’ve come in some of my thinking since those older days.

Now, if we could only get Timehop to dovetail with the WordPress API so that they could add WordPress websites to their offerings…

I’m really enjoying the fact that my website has an On This Day feature now. It’s nice to be reminded of interesting things I’ve done or things I’ve bookmarked and meant to read, but haven’t yet had the time. It also makes me want to pull in more data from older services to have a longer timeline for it.

Incidentally, Happy Anniversary to my Little Free Library which is celebrating its third birthday in a new location.

Tonight I added an On This Day widget to the sidebar of my homepage. I also added an archive page at https://boffosocko.com/archives/otd/. They show old posts from the same day from prior years.

There may be one or two small display issues that I’ll come back and tweak, but functionally things are working reasonably well. I can already see that I may use it not only as a reminder, but a means of helping to clean up broken links and/or missing photos on posts.

Now if we could only get the Timehop app to add WordPress to it’s data stores…