👓 Trying Mastodon | Gary Pendergast

Replied to Trying Mastodon by Gary PendergastGary Pendergast (Gary Pendergast)
It’s no secret that Twitter is red hot garbage fire, so I’ve signed up for a Mastodon account to give them a try. Because I’m super vain, I decided to create my own Mastodon instance, with a custom domain.

I know of a few folks in the IndieWeb and WordPress communities like Ryan Barrett (with FedBridgy) and Mathias Pfefferle (with OStatus plugin) who are actively working on helping bridge the technology between websites and the Fediverse so that one could use their WordPress install as a stand-alone “instance” of Mastodon.

It already seems somewhat obvious that moving from Twitter to Mastodon is bringing along some of the problems and issues that Twitter users are facing, so being able to use your current WordPress (or other) website to interact with other instances, sounds like a very solid idea. In practice, it’s the way I’ve been using my website with Twitter 1 2 (as well as Google+, Instagram, Facebook and other social silos) for some time, so I can certainly indicate it’s been a better experience for me. Naturally, both of their efforts fall underneath the broader umbrella of the web standards solutions generally pushed by the IndieWeb community, so I’m also already using my WordPress-based site to communicate back and forth in a social media-like way with others on the web already using Webmention, Micropub, WebSub, and (soon) Microsub.

These federation efforts have got a way to go to offer a clean user experience without a tremendous amount of set up, but for those technically inclined, they are efforts certainly worth looking at so one needn’t manage multiple sites/social media and they can still own all the data for themselves.

 

References

1.
Aldrich C. @Mentions from Twitter to My Website. BoffoSocko. https://boffosocko.com/2017/04/15/mentions-from-twitter-to-my-website/. Published April 15, 2017. Accessed September 11, 2018.
2.
Aldrich C. Threaded conversations between WordPress and Twitter. BoffoSocko. https://boffosocko.com/2018/07/02/threaded-conversations-between-wordpress-and-twitter/. Published July 2, 2018. Accessed September 11, 2018.
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👓 The way out | Manton Reece

Read The way out by Manton ReeceManton Reece (manton.org)
There have been many articles written in the last month about the role of social networks. Some even reach the obvious conclusion: that the top social networks are too big. This interview on Slate was fairly representative, covering monopolies and centralized power. But these articles always stop sh...
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👓 The world is a terrible place right now, and that’s largely because it is what we make it. | Wil Wheaton

Read The world is a terrible place right now, and that’s largely because it is what we make it. by Wil Wheaton (WIL WHEATON dot NET)
As most of you know, I deactivated my Twitter account earlier this month. It had been a long time coming, for a whole host of reasons, but Twitter’s decision to be the only social network tha…

As I read article this I find myself wondering why Wil Wheaton was looking for a new social media platform? Hasn’t he realized yet that he’s already got one–his very own website?!!

While Wil maintains it more like an old school blog with longer thought pieces and stories, there’s certainly no reason he couldn’t use it to post shorter thoughts, status updates, or notes as he might do on Twitter or Mastodon. It’s also an “instance” which no one is going to kick him off of. He has ultimate control. If people moan and complain, he can moderate their complaints as he sees fit.

This particular post has 410 comments, most of which seem relatively civil and run a paragraph or two–at least enough to convey a complete and coherent thought or two. At some point he decided to cap the commentary for mental health or any other reason he may have, which is certainly his right as well as the right of anyone on their own website. Sadly most social services don’t provide this functionality.

I also notice that instead of trying to rebuild a following on someone else’s platform, he’s already got the benefit of a network of 3,689,638 email subscribers not to mention the thousands more who visit his site regularly or subscribe via RSS. I suspect that those subscribers, who have taken more time and effort to subscribe to his website than they did on any other platform, are likely a much better audience and are far more engaged.

So my short memo to Wil: Quit searching for an alternate when you’ve already got one that obviously seems like a much healthier and happier space.

If you feel like you’re missing some of the other small niceties of other social networks, I’ll happily and freely help you: set up some Micropub apps to make posting to your site easier; add Webmention support so others would need to post to their own websites to @mention you across the web from their service of choice; add a social media-esque Follow buttton; set up Microsub service so you can read what you choose on the web and like/favorite, reply to, bookmark, etc. to your site and send the commentary back to them. Of course anyone can do this on their own with some details and help from the IndieWeb.org community if they wish…

 

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👓 Custom Domains service deprecation | Medium

Read Custom Domains service deprecation (Medium Support)
Medium is no longer offering new custom domains as a feature. Instead, you can create a publication on Medium that will live on a medium.com/publication-name URL. Existing publications on custom do...

The amount of work required to support this feature should be exceedingly low. It’s probably a good indication that Medium won’t be around within a year or so.

This definitely signals the fact that Medium has moved toward the more silo end of the spectrum from a data ownership standpoint. While I might have recommended it with reservations as a potential IndieWeb solution, this change means I can’t recommend it at all.

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Facebook is Censoring My Notes

I don’t post “notes” to Facebook often, but I’d noticed a few weeks ago that several pieces I’d published like this a while back were apparently unpublished by the platform. I hadn’t seen or heard anything from Facebook about them being unpublished or having issues, so I didn’t realize the problem until I randomly stumbled back across my notes page.

They did have a piece of UI to indicate that I wanted to contest and republish them, so I clicked on it. Apparently this puts these notes into some type of limbo “review” process, but it’s been a few weeks now and there’s no response about either of them. They’re still both sitting unseen in my dashboard with sad notes above them saying:

We’re reviewing this post against our Community Standards.

There is no real indication if they’ll ever come back online. Currently my only option is to delete them. There’s also no indication, clear or otherwise, of which community standard they may have violated.

I can’t imagine how either of the posts may have run afoul of their community standards, or why “notes” in particular seem to be more prone to this sort of censorship in comparison with typical status updates. I’m curious if others have had this same experience?

We’re reviewing these posts against our Community Standards.

This is just another excellent example of why one shouldn’t trust third parties over which you have no control to publish your content on the web. Fortunately I’ve got my own website with the original versions of these posts [1][2] that are freely readable. If you’ve experienced this or other pernicious problems in social media, I recommend you take a look at the helpful IndieWeb community which has some excellent ideas and lots of help for re-exerting control over your online presence.

Notes Functionality

Notes on Facebook were an early 2009 era attempt for Facebook to have more blog-like content and included a rather clean posting interface, not un-reminiscent of Medium’s interface, that also allowed one to include images and even hyperlinks into pages.

The note post type has long since fallen by the wayside and I rarely, if ever, come across people using it anymore in the wild despite the fact that it’s a richer experience than traditional status updates. I suspect the Facebook black box algorithm doesn’t encourage its use. I might posit that it’s not encouraged as unlike most Facebook functionality, hyperlinks in notes on desktop browsers physically take one out of the Facebook experience and into new windows!

The majority of notes about me are spammy chain mail posts like “25 Random Things About Me”, which also helpfully included written instructions for how to actually use notes.

25 Random Things About Me

Rules: Once you’ve been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it’s because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to “notes” under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)

Most of my published notes were experiments in syndicating my content from my own blog to Facebook (via POSSE). At the time, the engagement didn’t seem much different than posting raw text as status updates, so I abandoned it. Perhaps I’ll try again with this post to see what happens? I did rather like the ability to actually have links to content and other resources in my posts there.

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IndieWeb: The Book

For a quite a while I’ve been thinking about writing a book about the IndieWeb to provide a broader overview of what it is philosophically, how it works, how its community functions, and most specifically how the average person can more easily become a part of it.

Back in January Timo Reitnauer wrote Let’s Make 2017 The Year of the Indie WebI agree wholehearted with the sentiment of his title and have been personally wanting to do something specific to make it a reality. With the changes I’ve seen in the internet over the past 22 years, and changes specifically in the last year, we certainly need it now more than ever.

In large part, I’ve been inspired by the huge number of diverse and big-hearted developers who are an active part of the growing community, but specifically today I came across a note by Doc Searls, an email about the upcoming NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), and then a reminder about the 100 Days of IndieWeb project. This confluence of events is clearly my tipping point.

As a result, I’m making my 2018 IndieWeb resolution early. For the month of November, as part of NaNoWriMo, I’m going to endeavor to lovingly craft together a string of about 2,000 words a day on the topic of the IndieWeb to create a book geared toward helping non-developers (ie. Generation 2 and Generation 3 people) more easily own their online identities and content.

IndieWeb Generations Diagram by Amber Case (Caseorganic.com) as depicted on the IndieWeb Wiki

Over the past year, surely I’ve read, written about, or interacted with the IndieWeb community concretely in one way or another on at least 70 days. This sprint of 30 days should round out a 100 days project. To be honest, I haven’t necessarily posted about each of these interactions on my own site nor are they necessarily visible changes to my site, so it may not follow the exact requirements of the 100 Days of IndieWeb, but it follows the spirit of the creator idea with the hopes that the publicly visible result is ever more people adopting the principles of the movement for themselves.

I’ll focus the book primarily on how the average person can utilize the wealth of off-the-shelf tools of the WordPress content management system and its community–naturally with mentions of other easy-to-use platforms like Known and Micro.blog sprinkled throughout–to own their own domain, own their content, and better and more freely communicate with others online.

If you haven’t heard about the movement before, I’ll direct you to my article An Introduction to the IndieWeb, portions of which will surely inform the introduction of the book.

If you’ve recently joined the IndieWeb, I’d certainly love to hear your thoughts and stories about how you came to it, why you joined, and what the most troublesome parts have been so I can help direct people through them more easily–at least until there are a plurality of one-click solutions to let everyone IndieWeb-ify themselves online.

As a publisher who realizes the value of starting a PR campaign to support the resultant book, I’m also curious to hear thoughts about potentially launching a crowdfunding campaign to support the modest costs of the book, with profits (if any) going toward supporting the IndieWeb community.

I’m happy to entertain any other thoughts or considerations people have, so feel free to reply in the comments below, or better yet, reply on your own site and send me a webmention.

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👓 Link: The futility of science communication conferences by John Hawks

Read Link: The futility of science communication conferences by John Hawks (johnhawks.net)
Rich Borschelt is the communication director for science at the Department of Energy, and recently attended a science communication workshop. He describes at some length his frustration at the failed model of science communication, in which every meeting hashes over the same futile set of assumptions: “Communication, Literacy, Policy: Thoughts on SciComm in a Democracy. After several other issues, he turns to the conferences’ attitude about scientists...

John’s note reminds me that I’ve been watching a growing and nasty trend against science, much less science communication, in the past several years. We’re going to be needing a lot more help than we’re getting lately to turn the tide for the better. Perhaps more scientists having their own websites and expanding on the practice of samizdat would help things out a bit?

I recently came across Science Sites, a non-profit web company, courtesy of mathematician Steven Strogatz who has a site built by them. In some sense, I see some of what they’re doing to be enabling scientists to become part of the IndieWeb. It would be great to see them support standards like Webmention or functionality like Micropub as well. (It looks like they’re doing a lot of building on SquareSpace, so by proxy it would be great if they were supporting these open standards.) I love that it seems to have been created by a group of science journalists to help out the cause.

As I watch some of the Domain of One’s Own community in higher education, it feels to me that it’s primarily full of humanities related professors and researchers and doesn’t seem to be doing enough outreach to their science, engineering, math, or other colleagues who desperately need these tools as well as help with basic communication.

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