Today I launched some updates to OwnYourSwarm, the service that sends your Swarm checkins to your own website. It does this by watching your Swarm account and sending checkins to your site via Micropub.
I made two changes to how OwnYourSwarm can handle private posts. Private posts ar...
Hypothesis – a service that allows me to quickly highlight and annotate content on almost any web page or .pdf file
IFTTT.com – a service which I use in combination with other services, most often to get data from those sites back to my own. For example:
- Recipe to get Hypothesis annotations from Hypothesis to my site
- Recipe to syndicate Goodreads posts of books I’m reading to my website
Huffduffer.com – a service I with audio related content I find online. I use its bookmarklet to save audio from web pages. Huffduffer then creates a custom RSS feed that I can subscribe to in any podcatcher for catching up on podcasts while I’m on the go.
Post Kinds Plugin for WordPress – since many in the class are also using it, I’ll mention that I love using its bookmarklet functionality to quickly bookmark, favorite, or reply to other posts on the web.
URL Forwarder – This is an Android-based app that I’ve configured to dovetail with the Post Kinds Plugin and my website for posting to my site more quickly via mobile.
Jon Udell’s media clipper – I use this audio/video tool for finding and tagging the start and stop points of media so that I can highlight specific portions for others
I still have a few minor tweaks to get things working properly with Post Kinds to display everything correctly, but I feel like I’m almost there. Next we’ll have to delve back to May sometime when my system between IndieAuth and OwnYourCheckin fell apart.
Still have my fingers half-crossed that I don’t botch anything up…
Running time: 52m 56s | Download (24.9 MB) | Subscribe by RSS
Summary: Facebook has recently announced it will be shutting off its API access on August 1st for automating posts into its ecosystem. For a large number of users this means it will be much more difficult to crosspost or syndicate their content into the platform. As a result, this week David Shanske and I discuss the good and the bad of this move as well as some general thoughts around the ideas of syndicating content from one site to another.
David also discusses plans he’s got for changes to both the Bridgy Publish Plugin and the Syndication Links Plugin.
Related Articles and Posts
- New Facebook Platform Product Changes and Policy Updates
- Bridgy Publish for Facebook shuts down in August by Ryan Barrett (#)
- Buffer responds to syndication question, but then checks itself (#)
- I’m done with Syndication. Let’s help people be themselves on the web. by Ben Werdmuller (#)
- Deprecating and Replacing Bridgy Publish for WordPress by David Shanske (#)
Resources and mentions within the episode
- ThinkUp (#) — (my instance is still up,though no longer working!)
- BBC Audio Archive (#)
- IndieNews a community-curated list of articles relevant to the IndieWeb (#)
- Convoy a syndication tool for WithKnown (#)
- Faux-casts (#)
- Related IndieWeb wiki pages
- Related WordPress Plugins
# Indicates a direct link to the appropriate part of the audio within the episode for the mentioned portion.
His site certainly provides an interesting example of either POSSE or PESOS in the wild, particularly from an IndieWeb for Journalism or even an IndieWeb for Education perspective. I suspect his article posts occur on the particular outlet first and he’s excerpting them with a link to that “original”. (Example: A post on his site with a link to a copy on The Guardian.) I’m not sure whether he’s (ideally) physically archiving the full post there on his site (and hiding it privately as both a personal and professional portfolio of sorts) or if they’re all there on the respective pages, but just hidden behind the “read more” button he’s providing. I will note that his WordPress install is giving a rel=”canonical“ link to itself rather than the version at The Guardian, which also has a rel=”canonical” link on it. I’m curious to take a look at how Google indexes and ranks the two pages as a result.
In any case, this is a generally brilliant set up for any researcher, professor, journalist, or other stripe of writer for providing online content, particularly when they may be writing for a multitude of outlets.
I’ll also note that I appreciate the ways in which it seems he’s using his website almost as a commonplace book. This provides further depth into his ideas and thoughts to see what sources are informing and underlying his other writing.
Alas, if only the rest of the world used the web this way…
I’m a big proponent of owning the data that you create. I use WordPress (of course) wherever I blog, and I use the Keyring Social Importers plugin to make backup copies of my Twitter updates and Foursquare checkins. And as of today, I am also syncing my Facebook updates back to a private WordPress blog using Keyring Social Importers. Not familiar with Keyring Social Importers? That’s too bad, it’s amazing. Install it, and within minutes, you can be importing data from any one of a dozen sites to your blog. Remember all of that data you put into Myspace/Jaiku/Bebo/Pownce and how it disappeared when the site shut down? Wouldn’t it have been nice to be able to save a copy of all of that? That’s what Keyring Social Importers makes possible.
I was looking for something in the range of a bulk Facebook Importer to exit Facebook altogether whereas this solution keeps you addicted to it. I would classify it more of a PESOS solution than a POSSE solution.
Comparing two different approaches that help you take control back over your own data on the web.
One thing that I think you’ve only briefly touched upon is the ability to also have likes, replies/comments, etc. also come back to your site as native content via webmentions. I’ve been able to get rid of five apps and their incessant notifications and trim it all back to just using my own site to handle everything instead. Using something I choose to use instead of something I’m forced to, while also owning my data, is really very liberating.
Like you, I too have always wanted to own my own content on the web, and there are some easier and some harder methods. Not being as strong a developer as many, I’ve taken a more hybrid approach to things which is still evolving. To some extent I began at the easy end with some PESOS based workflows and relying on simple tools like IFTTT.com to at least begin owning all my content. For many content management systems, this is nearly dead easy, and could even be done with something as simple and flexible as Tumblr without much, if any, coding experience.
Over time, as I’ve been able, I’ve moved to a more direct POSSE method as either I or, more often, others have managed to master making the simple posting interfaces easier and easier. I think in the end, POSSE is the strongest of the methods, so that has always been my ultimate goal.
From a Drupal-centric approach, you might be able to gain an interesting perspective on the multitude of ways POSSE/PESOS can be done by looking at the various ways that are available in WordPress ecosystem. It’s probably easy to discern that some are far easier than others based on one’s facility with coding. In general, I’ve noticed that the more freedom and flexibility a particular method or plugin has, the longer it takes to code and/or configure. The less flexibility a plugin offers, the easier. (So one could compare something like SNAP at the more comprehensive/difficult end to something simpler like JetPack for POSSE.) The difficulty is in the administrative tax of keeping up with the panoply of social media platform APIs to keep things working smoothly over time, particularly when you want your posts to be able to leverage the broad arrays of posting options and display outputs platforms like Facebook and Twitter offer. The other difficult questions can sometimes be: am I just replacing one or two social platforms, or am I trying to replace 20? and am I doing them with one plugin or with 20? and finally, how DRY is that process? Sometimes manually cutting and pasting is just as good.
As you do, I write first and foremost for myself and then a distant second for reaction and conversation with others. Thus I think of my personal site as just that: personal. To some extent it’s a modern day version of a commonplace book where I collect a variety of thoughts in a variety of means, while still trying somewhat to keep it in an outer facing form to look what people might expect a site to look like. This means that I have a good number more than the traditional types of posts most social media sites have. I try to own all my own bookmarks and even post what I’m reading both online and in physical form. I keep highlights and annotations of things I find interesting. I naturally keep longer posts, status updates, and photos like many. I even log scrobbles of music and podcasts I listen to as well as film and television I watch. Interestingly there’s a tremendous amount I only publish privately to myself or a small circle of others that’s hidden on my site’s back end. Depending on how far and deep you want your experience to go you might want to consider how all these will look or be represented on your site. To a great extent, I think that WordPress’s attempt to copy Tumblr (text, photo, quote, link, chat, audio, video) with their Post Formats was interesting, it just didn’t go far enough. Naturally, this may take a different form for you depending on whether you’re building just for yourself or if you’re planning something more modular for the larger Drupal community to leverage.
The best part of all this is that I’ve not done any of it alone. While I try to maintain a list of some of my experiments to help others (you’ll probably appreciate the ones on mobile posting and RSS based on your outline), there’s also a wealth of other examples on the IndieWeb wiki and a terrifically stellar group of people around almost 24-7 in the IndieWeb chat to help spur me along. I’ll echo Tantek’s welcome to what I think is a more thoughtful and vibrant open web.
I hope others also find these resources so they’re not fumbling around in the dark as I was for so long. Since you’re obviously building in Drupal, I can recommend you take a look at some of the examples provided by the WordPress and the Known communities which Ben referenced. Since they’re all .php based and open-source, you may get further faster in addition to being able to iterate upon and improve their work. Many of the developers are frequently in the IndieWeb chat and I’m sure would be happy to help with ideas and pitfalls they came across along the way.
Like others, I’m posting my reply first on my own website, and manually cross-posting it to yours (manually until you support Webmention–perhaps via the Vinculum plugin?) as well as automatically to Twitter and others.
Post Kinds Bookmarklets
Since you have the Post Kinds plugin set up, you might consider using that for a lot of the distance it can give you instead. I’ve written up some basic usage instructions for the plugin along with screenshots, but you’ll probably be most interested in the section on Bookmarklet Configuration. I’ve created a dozen or so browser bookmarklets, with handy visual emoji, for creating specific bookmark types for my site.
As for mobile posting, I’ll mention that I’ve heard “rumors” that David Shanske has a strong itch for improving the use of Post Kinds with a better mobile flow, so I would expect it to improve in the coming months. Until that time however, you can find some great tips on the wiki page for mobile posting. I recommend reading the entire page (including the section on Known which includes tools like URL Forwarder for Android that will also work with WordPress in conjunction with Post Kinds and the URL scheme described in the Bookmarklet Configuration section noted above.)
Using these details you should be able to make bookmarklets for your desktop browser and an Android phone in under an hour. If for some reason the documentation at these locations isn’t clear enough for you to puzzle out, let me know and I can do a more complete write up with screenshots and full code. (It’s still a piece of the book I need to expand out, or I’d include it here.)
WordPress has the option of setting up an email address by which to post to your site. You can configure this pretty quickly, especially for mobile use to send URLs to your website that way. I typically use this method for quickly bookmarking things to my site for private use at a later date.
There are also services that do bookmarking and include RSS feeds to your content which you could also potentially use to trigger IFTTT.com actions to post to your website. I have something similar to this set up for Reading.am which I’ve described in the past. You could certainly use this in combination with Diigo, which I see you use. Again, here more often than not I use these methods when I post things to my site as drafts or private posts.
As you say, much of the data one posts may have little value and feel ephemeral, but certainly not all of it, and certainly not in aggregate. At least the individual should get to decide and have agency over the decision. As it stands, I can delete individual posts from Facebook, but I have no guarantee that the data is physically removed from their servers and still available for either their internal use or for possible future governmental use.
Another way to frame it all is to think of your web presence as a commonplace book.
If you recall the early days of social media, you may appreciate this alternate viewpoint of social media that I wrote about a few months ago: http://boffosocko.com/2017/04/11/a-new-way-to-know-and-master-your-social-media-flow/
Interestingly, I came across your post almost immediately after fleshing out some detail on the wikipage for cross-posting which may be a worthwhile overview from the perspective of a traditional social media user. To help conglomerate all of the various pieces for you and others in the future, I’ve created a category page under the heading “syndication” with links to all of the various pieces which may together make a more coherent whole.
As for your question (excuse my rough translation):
Then I think again, if I put my tweets first on my own site, what about the possible conversations that result from it? If someone answers and I reply again, do I do that on my own site? The IndieWeb wiki is not very clear here…
There isn’t a direct answer within some of the pages you mention, but ideally, yes, all of the conversation takes place in a back and forth manner on your own website (as well as that of those with whom you’re communicating). Sadly, not all of the moving pieces have been solved completely with respect to user interface which could be done in multiple ways. One standard in particular that isn’t supported by many is that of salmention. Until then, some of us are managing to do this manually to maintain the threaded comments so that the entire context of a conversation is still available on our own sites. Even without it, some semblance of threading is possible by providing permalink URLs for all the parts of the conversations on individual pages until such time as it’s more feasible. If you care to experiment, try commenting on this on my site and see what happens.
Incidentally, especially if you haven’t come across it yet, I hope that as you continue to explore and write that you’ll syndicate your content to https://news.indieweb.org/nl for the benefit of others.
One of the interesting parts was that it featured a comment about Twitter pulling the rug out from underneath developers–an event that foreshadowed even more of the same in the coming years as well as a conversation about the gamification of follower accounts, something which has gotten us into a sad state of affairs today nearly a decade later. Apparently while they tried to cap follower accounts, their early efforts just didn’t go far enough to help the civility of the platform.
This presentation was given by Jim Walker, The Hack Repair Guy, on "Using IFTTT for WordPress Social Media Automation", at the Advanced WordPress Meetup, San Diego, California, July 2017.
Below are the slides from the presentation, which includes this gruesome looking diagram:
Further to the points I made in "Self-hosted microblogging - where does it fit?" I've been having more thoughts on how best to use Micro.blog and fit it into my own online ecosystem.
Update: I’ve automated this. Here’s my 2015 IndieWeb launch commitment: I’d like to be able to post indie checkins easily, both here and on Facebook. I’d like to use Faceboo…
I suspect that a lot of the value of the IndieWeb philosophy is that it encompasses how many people inherently wish the internet worked. As a result I’ve seen a growing number of people discovering the concept de novo either on their own or by borrowing bits and pieces from their friends and colleagues who are practicing parts of it as well. This harkens back to the early days of the web when bloggers incrementally improved their websites based on what they saw others doing and sharing ideas more directly and immediately with their audiences.
An(other) unwitting example in the wild
Recently I came across the personal website of journalist Marina Gerner which is one of the few, but growing number, I’ve come across that is unknowingly practicing some of the primary tenets of the IndieWeb movement that I suspect more journalists will eventually come to embrace to better reach and engage with their audiences.
Another brief example I’ll mention having seen recently that almost explicitly rewrote the IndieWeb philosophy verbatim was on the the website redesign launch of PressThink, the blog of Jay Rosen, a journalism professor at NYU. It’s a great read individually as is the majority of what Mr. Rosen writes.
Though I read many of the publications for which Ms. Gerner is writing and might see most of what she’s writing organically, having all of her work in one primary location is a spectacular convenience! I can quickly and easily subscribe to all her work by email or RSS. For a working journalist, this is a boon, because like musicians in the evolving music business a lot of the value that they bring to the table (and to the venues in which they play) is a result of their individual fan bases.
While her personal website probably doesn’t drive even a tiny fraction of exposure for her work as when it appears in The Economist or the Financial Times, for example, it does allow her fans to easily keep up with what she’s writing and thinking about. Ideally in the future, outlets will make links to writer’s bylines direct to the writer’s own website rather than to archive pages within their own publications (or perhaps both if necessary).
Journalistic Brand & the Sad Case of Leon Wieseltier: The Counter-example
Here I’m reminded of the seemingly sad case of Leon Wieseltier, the long time literary editor of The New Republic, who was ousted by its editor-in-chief and publisher Chris Hughes, a former Facebook executive. Wieseltier’s brand was almost all-too-wrapped up in The New Republic, where he had worked for decades, and when he was pushed out (ostensibly for the puerile desire to get more clicks and eyeballs), his output and influence seemingly disappeared overnight. Suddenly there just wasn’t as much of him to read. While he still has some output, as a fan who enjoyed reading his work, the problematic hurdles of finding his new work were the equivalent of using a cheese grater to file down one’s knee cap. I suspect that if he had his own website or even a semblance of a Twitter presence, he could easily have taken a huge portion of his fans and readership built up over decades along with him almost anywhere.
While there are some major brand names in journalism (examples like James Fallows, Walt Mossberg, or Steven Levy spring to mind), who are either so wrapped up in their outlet’s identities or who can leave major outlets and take massive readerships with them, this isn’t the case for the majority of writers in the game. Slowly building one’s own personal journalistic brand isn’t easy, but having a central repository that also doubles as additional distribution can certainly be beneficial. It can also be an even bigger help when one decides to move from one outlet to another, bridge the gap between outlets, or even strike out entirely on one’s own.
From a work/business perspective, Ms. Gerner’s site naturally acts as a portfolio of her work for perspective editors or outlets who may want to see samples of what she’s written.
Sadly, however, she doesn’t seem to be utilizing the WordPress category or tag functions which she could use to help delineate her work by broad categories or tags to help find specific types of her writing. She appears to have a “featured” category/tag for some of her bigger pieces to appear at the top of her front page, but I can see the benefit of having a “portfolio” or similar tag to give to prospective outlets to encourage them to read her “best of” work. This would also be helpful to new readers and future fans of her work.
Categories/tags could also be beneficial to readers who may want to follow only her book reviews and not her economics related work, or vice-versa. With a bit of massaging, she could easily have an economics-only RSS feed for those who wanted such a thing. I spent a bit of time in December writing about how I customized my own RSS feeds and helping to make them more discoverable.
An IndieWeb mini-case study of Ms. Gerner’s website
Because it might take some a bit of time to delve into and uncover a lot of the spectacular and inherent value in the the massive and growing wiki behind IndieWeb.org, I thought I’d take a minute or two to point out some of the subtle IndieWeb-esque things that Ms. Gerner’s site does well and point out a few places she (or others) could quickly and easily add a lot of additional value.
IndieWeb-forward things that she is doing
She has her own domain name.
If you’re looking for all things Marina Gerner on the web, where better to start than http://www.marinagerner.com?
She owns her own data.
Technically, it looks like her site is hosted on WordPress.com, so they own, backup, and maintain it for her, but there is a very robust export path, so she can easily export it, back it up, or move it if she chooses.
She’s posting her own content on her own site.
I’m not sure if she’s posting on her site first using the concept of Post on your Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere (POSSE), but even if she’s posting it secondarily (known as PESOS), she’s still managing to capture it on her site and thereby own a full copy of her output. If any of the publications for which she’s published should go out of business or disappear from the internet, she will still own a copy of her work. (See and compare also the commentary at Anywhere but Medium.)
She’s even got a syndication link (or attribution) at the bottom of each article to indicate alternate locations where the content lives on the internet. Since she’s not using Webmentions to back-port the resulting commentary (see below for more), this is highly useful for finding/reading the potential ensuing commentary on her posts or interacting with it in the communities in which it was originally intended.
Missing IndieWeb pieces that could provide additional value
Syndication Links to Social Media
There are no syndication links to where her content may be living on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or other social media spaces to give an idea of the conversations that are taking place around her work. In addition to the value that these conversations add to her work, they also give an idea of the breadth of the reach of her work, which could be useful not only to her, but to future outlets/employers.
Webmention and back-feed from Brid.gy
She’s clearly not using Webmention (now a W3C Recommendation) or services like Brid.gy which would allow her to have the comments and conversation about her articles from other sites or social media silos come back to live with the original articles on her own site. Given the quality of what she’s writing, I’m sure there are some interesting threads of thought stemming from her work which she’s not capturing back on her own site, but certainly could. As it stands, it’s highly unlikely (and perhaps nearly impossible) that I would go trolling around the thousands or hundreds of thousands of links to try to uncover even a fraction of it myself, but it wouldn’t take much for her to be able to capture all that data and make it easy to consume.
Webmention is a simple protocol that allows one website to indicate to another that it has been mentioned elsewhere on the web–it’s akin to Twitter @mentions, but is something that works internet-wide and not just within Twitter. Brid.gy is a service that bootstraps services like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, and Flickr via API to make them support webmention until they choose to implement it directly themselves.
Given the schedules of many journalists, they may not always have time to pay attention to the commentary on past articles, but if she were aggregating them back to her own site, she could occasionally check back in on them and interact as necessary or appropriate. Even better she could do this herself without necessarily needing to spend the additional time and energy to go to multiple other social websites to do so. I suspect that a lot of the value that journalists get out of Twitter could be better had by aggregating some of it within their own websites instead.
As an example, the reader will note that I also have syndication links (by means of icons) at the bottom of this post, but I’ve enabled Webmentions and have most of the replies and commentary from these social silos coming back to this original post to aggregate as much of the conversation back to this original post. In the event that any of these social media sites are acquired or go out of business for any reason, all of this commentary will be archived here on the site. As an experiment, if you’d like, click on the Twitter icon at the bottom of this post and reply to that post on Twitter, your reply will be sent to me via webmention through Brid.gy and I can choose to display it as a comment under this post.
Owning her replies to others
Naturally if she does interact with her pieces via other social channels (Twitter, for example), she could post those replies on her own site and automatically syndicate them to Twitter. This would also allow her to own all of that subsidiary content and conversation as well.
Search and SEO
Once she owns all of her own writing and subsidiary data, her platform of choice (WordPress along with many others) also provides her with some good internal search tools (for both public-facing and private posts), so that her online hub becomes an online commonplace book of sorts for not only searching her past work, but potentially for creating future work. Naturally this search also extends to the broader web as her online presence gives her some reasonable search engine optimization for making it more discoverable to future fans/followers.
And much more…
Naturally the IndieWeb encompasses far more than what I’ve written above, but for journalists, some of these highlighted pieces are likely the most immediately valuable.
I’ll refer those interested in learning more to browse the wiki available at IndieWeb or join the incredibly helpful community of developers who are almost always in the online chatroom which is accessible via multiple methods (online chat, Slack, IRC, etc.) Major portions of the IndieWeb have become easily attainable to the average person, particularly on ubiquitous platforms like WordPress which have simple configurable plugins to add a lot of this simple functionality quickly and easily.
Another IndieWeb Journalism Example
While I was writing this piece, I heard Mathew Ingram, who currently writes for Fortune, say on This Week in Google that he’s been posting his work to his own website for several years and “syndicating” copies to his employers’ sites. This means he’s got a great archive of all of his own work, though I suspect, based on his website, that much of is posted privately, which is also an option, though it doesn’t help me much as a fan.
I’d love to hear thoughts, comments, or questions journalists have about any of the above. Are there other online tools or features journalists would like to see on their own websites for improved workflow?
Please post them below, on your own website along with a permalink back to the original article (see “Ping Me” below), via webmention, or even by responding/replying on/to one of the social media silos listed just below in the syndication links, or natively on the social platform on which you’re currently reading.