Read Imagining the Version of WikiTribune by Greg McVerryGreg McVerry (quickthoughts.jgregorymcverry.com)
Like many I joined WikiTribune, the new social network for news. The service quickly overtook Aacademia.edu as the primary spam engine of my inbox. Got me thinking that  Nuzzel, an app that algorithimically surfaces stuff to read by what your followers share on Twitter, already ads a layer of trust...
Read Weekly Web Harvest for 2019-12-08 by Tom Woodward (bionicteaching.com)
“Link In Bio” is a slow knife For a closed system, those kinds of open connections are deeply dangerous. If anyone on Instagram can just link to any old store on the web, how can Instagram — meaning Facebook, Instagram’s increasingly-overbearing owner — tightly control commerce on its plat...
I’d read the Anil Dash piece, but everything else in here looks positively fascinating!

While I tend to post everything I read on my site as I’m reading it. I do quite like how Tom Woodward provides weekly little recaps of the best stuff he’s found.

I slept my way through most of IndieWebCamp Berlin2 this weekend (mostly due to the time zone differential), but in the spirit of the event, I did want to work on a few small hack projects.

I started some research and work into creating a plugin to effectuate making “vias” and “hat-tips” easier to create on my site since I often use them to credit some of my sources. I was a bit surprised not to see any prior art in the WordPress repository. Sadly, there’s nothing concrete to show off just yet. I think I’ve got a clear concept of how I want it to look and what will go into the first simple iteration. It will be my first “real” WordPress plugin, so there’s some interesting learning curve along the way. 

On a more concrete front, I made a handful of CSS tweaks and fixes to the site, and particularly to some of my annotation/highlighting related posts, that I’ve been meaning to take care of for a while.  Now on read posts where I’ve aggregated some annotations/highlights, the highlighted portions should appear in yellow to better differentiate them in portions of text and represent them as highlights. This prevents me from creating a read post for the content and one or dozens of related, but completely separate, follow-up annotation posts. Now they’re combined, and I think they provide a bit more contextualization for the original, but still include the timestamps for the annotations. I’m sure there’s some more I can do to tweak these, but I like the result a bit better than before. Today’s post about a research paper I read on food is a good example of to highlight (pun intended) some of the changes. Ideas for further improvements are most welcome.

I also slightly tweaked and then further experimented with some of the CSS for my reply contexts. I’ve been considering reformatting them a tad to try to highlight the fact that the content within them is context for my responses. In some sense I’m looking at making the context look more card-like or perhaps oEmbed-esque. I still haven’t gotten it the way I’d ultimately like it, but perhaps one day soon? I played around with changing the size of the context with respect to my content as well as adding some outlines and shadows to make the context look more like cards, but I haven’t gotten things just right. Perhaps some more research looking at others’ sites will help? Which sites do you think do reply contexts incredibly well?

I’m glad there’s a holiday coming up so I can spend a bit of time catching up on some of the sessionsand  notes and hopefully see some of the demos from the camp.

Hypothes.is doesn’t have a social media-like follow functionality baked into the system, but there are a few methods to follow interesting people. My favorite, and possibly the simplest, is to add https://hypothes.is/stream.atom?user=abcxyz as a feed into my feed reader where abcxyz is the username of the person I’d like to follow.

So to subscribe to my Hypothes.is feed you’d add https://hypothes.is/stream.atom?user=chrisaldrich to your reader.

Of course, the catch then is to find/discover interesting people to follow this way. Besides some of the usual interesting subjects like Jon Udell, Jeremy Dean, Remi Kalir, et al. Who else should I be following?

Ideally by following interesting readers, you’ll find not only good things to read for yourself, but you’ll also have a good idea which are the best parts as well as what your friends think of those parts. The fact that someone is bothering to highlight or annotate something is a very strong indicator that they’ve got some skin in the game and the article is likely worth reading.

Lurking, Twitter, The Commons, and Private Posts

Lurking

Yesterday I was catching up on chat logs and ran across a stub for lurking on the IndieWeb wiki. I cleaned up the formatting a bit and added some additional material. Later Ton Zijlstra dropped a link to his excellent article from 2004 on the topic: Lurking and Social Networks (though honestly, I first came by the link courtesy of our good friend Jeremy Cherfas who added it to the wiki page).

Lurking is the quiet watching/listening that what many people of the web do in chat rooms in order to begin gauging culture, learning jargon or lingo, and other community norms or unspoken principles before diving in to interact on a more direct level with other participants.

While the word lurking can have a very negative connotation, online it often has a much more positive one, especially in regard to the health and civility of the commons. Rather than rehash what Ton has done an excellent job of doing, I won’t go into the heavy details and history of online lurking, but instead, let’s take a look at where it isn’t in today’s social media landscape.

Twitter

Since 2004, Twitter and a slew of other social media has popped up on the scene and changed many of our prior behaviors concerning lurking. In particular, Twitter’s interface has made it far easier to either like/favorite a post or retweet it.

In comparison the the preceding era of the blogosphere represented by Tons’ post, Twitter has allowed people to send simple notifications back and forth about each others’ posts indicating a lower bar of interaction than writing a thoughtful and measured comment. Now instead of not knowing about dozens, hundreds, or thousands of lurkers, a (micro)blogger would more quickly know who many more of their readers were because they were liking or resharing their content. Naturally there are still many more potential lurkers who don’t interact with one’s posts this way, but these interactions in some way are like adding fuel to the fire and prompt the writer to continue posting because they’re getting some feedback that indicates they’ve got an audience. Twitter has dramatically lowered the bar for lurkers and made it more socially acceptable for them to make themselves known.

A mid-century imagining of a Twitter company sign on the side of a commercial building, but aged to the point that the sign is rusted, broken, and decaying from neglect
Twitter image from the collection Social Decay by Andrei Lacatsu

Of course, not all is rosy and happy in Twitterland as a result of this lowering the social bar. Because it’s so easy to follow almost anyone and interact with them, naturally everyone does. This means that while before one may have lurked a blog for weeks or months before posting a response of any sort, people are now regularly replying to complete strangers without an resistance whatsoever. While this can be valuable and helpful in many instances, oftentimes it comes off as rudely as if one butted into the private conversation of strangers at a public gathering. At the farther end of the spectrum, it’s also much easier for trolls to tag and target unsuspecting victims. As a result, we have the dumpster fire that Twitter has become in the past several years for many of its users.

The problem for the continued health of the commons is how can we maintain a bar for online lurking, but still provide some feedback? How can we keep people from shouting and yelling at passer-by from their proverbial front porches or vice-versa? How might we encourage more positive lurking online before directly jumping into a conversation? 

Read Posts and Private Posts

For several years now, as a part of the IndieWeb movement, I’ve been more directly controlling my online identity and owning my content by using my own domain name and my own website (boffosocko.com). While I still use Twitter, I’m generally only reading content from it via a feed reader. When I post to or interact with it, I’m always publishing my content on my own website first and syndicating a copy to Twitter for those who don’t own their online identities or content and (sadly) rely on Twitter to do that for them. 

Within this setting, since roughly late 2016, I’ve been posting almost all of what I read online or in books, magazines, or newspapers on my own website. These read posts include some context and are often simply composed of the title of the article, the author, the outlet, a summary/synopsis/or first paragraph or two to remind me what the piece was about, and occasionally a comment or two or ten I had on the piece.

screencapture of a read post on my website
An example read post with context from my website at https://boffosocko.com/2019/06/02/lurking-and-social-networks-ton-zijlstra/

In tandem with these posts, I’m also sending webmentions to the websites of those pieces. These (experimental) read webmentions are simply notifications to the originating site that I’ve read their piece. In our prior framing of lurking or Twitter, I’m sending them the simplest notification I can think of to say, “I’m here lurking. I’m reading or looking at your work.”

I’m not saying that I liked it, favorited it, disliked it, bookmarked it, commented on it,  or anything else, but simply that I read it, I consumed it, I spent the time to interact with it. But in contrast with Ton’s older method of looking at server logs to see what kind of traffic his posts are getting, he can see exactly who I am and visit my website in return if he chooses. (Ton’s old method of sifting through those logs was certainly not a fun experience and the data was usually relatively anonymous and useless.) These newer read notifications could potentially give him a much richer idea of who his (lurking) audience actually is. Then when someone shows up with a comment or reply, it’s not completely from out of the dark: they’ve previously indicated that they’re at least somewhat aware of the context of a potentially broader conversation on his site.

These read notifications are semantically different from likes, favorites, or even bookmarks on other platforms. In fact many platforms like Twitter, which has moved from “stars” (with the semantic idea of a favorite) to “hearts” (with the semantic idea of a like), have so few indicators of reaction to a post that the actual meaning of them has been desperately blurred. Personally I’ll use Twitter’s like functionality variously to mean: “I’m bookmarking this (or the linked article within it) for reading later”, “I like this post”, “I’ve read this post”, or even “I’m acknowledging receipt of your reply to me”. That’s just too much meaning to pack into a silly little heart icon.

Because I’m using my own website over which I have complete control, I can make it do a better job of unpacking some of this semantic tom-foolery. I’ve written about it a bit in the past if you care to see some of the details: Thoughts on linkblogs, bookmarks, reads, likes, favorites, follows, and related links. See also: the read-posts tag on this site.

If they choose, some website owners display these read post notifications in one or more ways. Some sites like Aaron Parecki’s or Jeremy Keith’s will show my interactions as bookmarks. Others, primarily WordPress-based websites that support Webmention (via plugin), will actually show these interactions in their comment sections under the heading “Read” and display my photo/avatar as an indicator that I’ve interacted with that post. In the case of read posts on which I’ve written one or more comments, the receiving site also has the option of showing my interaction not as a read/bookmark intent, but could also show my comments as a reply to their post. I’ve written a bit about this and its potential for large news outlets before in Webmentions: Enabling Better Communication on the Internet for A List Apart. There are also some older legacy sites that might show my interactions as a trackback or pingback, but these seem few and far between these days, particularly as those systems are major targets for spam and the Webmention protocol has a richer interaction/display model.

screencaputure showing how Jeremy Keith displays my read post as a bookmark. The relevant section reads: "# Bookmarked by Chris Aldrich on Thursday, April 11th, 2019 at 1:31pm"
How Jeremy Keith displays shares, likes, and bookmarks (including my read post) in the comment section of his website.
Facepiled Likes, Reads, and Mentions in the comment section of the online newspaper with a heading "Reading" under which appears an avatar indicating one person has read the article.
The display of a read post on ColoradoBoulevard.net

A new itch

But as I think about these read posts, lurking, and being more civil on the internet, I have a new itch for some functionality I’d like to add to my website. I very frequently use my website as a digital commonplace book to collect links of things I’ve read, watched, and listened to. I’ll collect quotes, highlights, and even my own marginalia. As I mentioned above, my read posts sometimes have comments, and quite often those comments are really meant just for me and not for the author of the original post. In many cases, when my comments may be too egregious, sensitive, or perhaps even insulting to the original author, I’ll make these posts private so that only I can see them on my site.  Of course when they’re private, no notifications are sent to the site at the other end of the line.

Sometimes I would like to be able to send a read notification to the site, but also keep my commentary privately to myself. This allows me to have my notes on the piece and be highly critical without dragging down the original author or piece who I may not know well or the audience of that same piece which I haven’t properly lurked (in the positive community-based sense indicated above) to be as intelligently and sensitively commenting as I would otherwise like. Thus I’d like to build in some functionality so that I can publicly indicate I’ve read a piece (and send a notification), but also so that I can keep the commentary on my read private to either myself or a smaller audience.

I suspect that I can do this in a variety of meta-fields on my website which aren’t shown to the public, but which might be shown to either myself or logged in users. In some sense, this is a subset of functionality which many in the IndieWeb have been exploring recently around the ideas of private posts or by limiting the audience of a post. In my case, I’m actually looking at making a post public, but making smaller sub-portions of it private.

To begin with, I’ll most likely be looking at doing this at a small scale just for myself and my commonplace book, as I can definitely see second and third-order effects and a variety of context collapse issues when portions of posts are private, but others who may be privy to them are commenting on those pieces from the perspective of their public spheres which may not be as private or closed off as mine. i.e.: While I may have something marked as private, privy readers will always have the option of copy/pasting it and dragging it out into the public.

For those interested, I’ll briefly note that Sebastiaan Andeweg just wrote Private posts: the move of the checkins which has some useful and related background to private posts. (Of course I remember exactly when I read it.) I also highly suspect there will be a private posts related session(s) at the upcoming IndieWeb Summit in Portland in June (tickets are still available). I’m interested to see what others come up with on this front.

Brief thoughts on receiving read posts

I’ve been posting “read” posts/notes/links–reads, for simplicity– to my own website for a while to indicate articles and material which I’ve spent the time to read online (and oftentimes even offline). While I automatically send notifications (via webmentions or trackbacks/pingbacks) to notify the original articles, few sites know how to receive them and even less actively display them.

It’s only in the last few weeks that my site has actively begun receiving these read posts, and I have to say it’s a really lovely and heartwarming experience. While my site gets several hundreds of hits per day, and even comments, likes and other interactions, there’s just something additionally comforting in knowing that someone took the time to read some of my material and posted that fact to their own website as a reminder to themselves as well as a signal to others.

Mentally there’s a much larger value in receiving these than likes or tweets with links from Twitter, in part because there’s a larger indicator of “work” behind these signals. They’re not simply an indicator that “I saw the headline of this thing somewhere and shared it because the friction of doing so was ridiculously low”, but they represent a lot of additional time, effort, and energy and thus are a stronger and more valuable signal (both to me and hopefully to others.)

I suppose I’ll eventually need to preface that these are especially interesting to me now when I’m only getting small numbers of them from particular people who I know are deeply engaging with specific portions of my past work. I can also imagine a day when these too may become spam-like, and I (or others) are inundated with them. But for now I’ll just revel in their joyous, little warmth.

It’s interesting from my website’s administrative interface to see the path individuals are taking through my thoughts and which topics they may find interesting. I don’t think that many (any?) social media silos provide these types of views which may actually help to spark future conversations based on our shared interests.

Of course I must also admit that, as nice as these read notifications have been, they actually pale in comparison to the rest of the work that the particular sender has been doing in replicating large portions of the sorts of things I’m doing on and with my website.  I hope all of our work, experimenting, and writing is infectious and will help others out in the future.

👓 An error unexplained | Jeremy Cherfas

Read An error unexplained by Jeremy Cherfas (jeremycherfas.net)
Well, that was weird. Something had gone wrong with my little PHP script for adding items from my list at reading.am to my WithKnown-powered stream. It ran, reported no errors, and yet produced nothing at the other end. Gorgeous Saturday morning, blue skies and sunshine; what better way to spend it than indoors debugging?

I’ll agree: Passive Tracking > Active Tracking

It’s always nice if you can provide real-time active tracking and posting on your own website, but is it really necessary? Is it always worthwhile? What value does it provide to you? to others?

The other day I read Eddie Hinkle’s article Passive Tracking > Active Tracking in which he details how he either actively or passively tracks on his own website things he’s listening to or watching. I thought I’d take a moment to scribble out some of my thoughts and process for how and why I do what I’m doing on my own site.

I too track a lot of things relatively passively. Most of it I do for my own “diary” or commonplace book. Typically I’ll start out using silo services that have either RSS feeds or that work with services like IFTTT.com or Zapier. If those don’t exist, I’ll just use the ubiquitous “share” functionality of nearly all web pages and mobile platforms to share the content or page via email which I can use to post to my website as well. The primary minimal data points I’m looking for are the title of the specific thing I’m capturing (the movie, tv show/episode title, book title, article title, podcast title) and the date/time stamp at which the activity was done.

I’ll use these to take input data and transfer it to my own website, typically in draft form. In many cases, these methods collect all the data I want and put it into a format for immediate sharing. Other times I’ll clean up some bits of the data (almost always context related, so things like images, summaries, the source of the data, etc.) a bit before sharing. Then I optionally decide to post it either publicly or privately on my site.

Some of the sources I use for pulling in data (especially for context) to my website include:
 Watches: IMDb.com, Letterboxd, TheTVDB.com, themoviedb.org, direct websites for shows/movies themselves
 Listens: typically using share functionality via email from my podcatcher; Spotify, Last.fm,
 Reads: reading.am, Pocket, Hypothes.is, GoodReads, 
 Bookmarks: diigo, Hypothes.is, Twitter, Pocket

Often, going the route of least resistance for doing this sort of tracking is a useful thing to find out if doing so is ultimately useful or valuable to you. If it’s not, then building some massive edifice and code base for doing so may be additional sunk cost to find out that you don’t find it valuable or fulfilling somehow. This is primary value of the idea “manual until it hurts.”

I will note that though I do have the ability to do quick posting to my site using bookmarklets in conjunction with the Post Kinds Plugin for WordPress, more often than not, I find that interrupting my personal life and those around me to post this way seems a bit rude. For things like listen posts, logging them actively could a be a life threatening endeavor because I most often listen while driving. Thus I prefer to take a moment or two to more subtly mark what I want to post and then handle the rest at a more quiet and convenient time. I’ll use down time while passively watching television or listening to music to do this sort of clean up. Often, particularly for bookmarks and annotations, this also forces me to have a second bite at the proverbial apple to either follow up on the bookmarked idea or think about and reflect on the thing I’ve saved. In some sense this follow up is way more valuable to me than having actively posted it and then simply moving on. It also becomes a way for what might otherwise be considered “digital exhaust” to give me some additional value.

Eventually having better active ways to track and post these things in real time would be nice, but the marginal additional value just hasn’t seemed to be there for me. If it were, there are also larger hurdles of doing these posts quickly and in a way that pulls in the context portions I’d like to present. Adding context also generally means having solid pre-existing data bases of information from which to poll from, and often these can be difficult to come by or require API access to something. As a result services like Swarm and OwnYourSwarm are useful as they can not only speed up the process of logging data, but they are underpinned with relatively solid databases. As an example, I frequently can’t use IMDB.com to log in television shows like Meet the Press or Face the Nation because entries and data for those particular episodes often don’t exist even when I’m watching them several hours after they’ve aired. And even in these cases the websites for these shows often don’t yet have photos, synopses, video, or transcripts posted when I’m watching them. Thus posting for these in real-time the way I’d like becomes a much more difficult nightmare and requires a lot more manual effort.

Update:

As a follow up to Eddie’s post (which doesn’t yet show the Webmention), I’ll also point out that Jonathan has an excellent description and some code for what he’s doing on his site as well.

Some thoughts about Media Diets prompted by Paul Jacobson

Replied to Keeping track of my media diet by Paul JacobsonPaul Jacobson (Paul Jacobson)

This idea of tracking my media diet really appeals to me:

Just like last year, I kept track of almost everything I read, watched, listened to, and experienced in my media diet posts.

Jason Kottke

I follow a few people who do this too, sometimes pretty publicly. I’m not sure that I’d want to share everything I consume, but I do like the thought of capturing, and aggregating everything.

I’m just not too sure how to pull it all together, if I were to do this.

There are a few parts to having a media diet:
1. keeping track of it all quickly and easily;
2. going back to contemplate on it and deciding what may have been worthwhile or not; and
3. using the above to improve upon your future media diet instead of consuming the same junk food in the future.

I try to use my own website (cum digital commonplace book) to collect everything quickly using bookmarklets from the Post Kinds plugin or RSS feeds from popular media-related websites (GoodReads, Letterboxd, reading.am, etc.) in conjunction with IFTTT.com recipes to create private posts on my site’s back end. Naturally, not all of my posts are public since many are simply for my own reflection and edification. Usually logging the actions only takes a few seconds. Longer reviews and thoughts typically only take a few minutes if I choose to do so.

The hardest part may be going through it all on a weekly, monthly, or annual basis to do some analysis and make the appropriate adjustments for the future. (Isn’t it always sticking with the adjustments that make it a “diet”?) Fortunately having all the data in one centralized place does make some of this work a lot easier.

Having lists of what I read online has definitely helped me cut out all click-baity articles and listicles from my information diet. It’s also helped me cut down on using social media mindlessly when I think about the great things I could be reading or consuming instead. Bad national news has also spurred me to read more local news this year as well. Those interested in some of these ideas may appreciate Clay A. Johnson’s The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Comsumption, which I read several years back.

I experimented with eating and drinking posts early last year too, and the nature of posting them publicly was somewhat useful in losing about 10 pounds, but the work in doing it all did seem a bit much since I didn’t have as easily an automated system for doing it as I might have liked. Now I do most of these posts privately. Definitely having the ability to look back at the ton of crap I’ve eaten in the past week or month does help with trying to be a bit healthier in my choices. I look at posting photos of my food/drink to my own site somewhat akin to dietitians who tell people to use a clean plate for every meal they have–the extra work, process, and clean up makes it more apparent what you’re doing to yourself.

As I’ve written before about posting what I’m listening to, showing others that you’ve spent the time to actually listen to it and post about it on your own site (even with no commentary), is a great way to show that you’ve got “skin-in-the-game” when it comes to making recommendations. Kottke’s awesome recommendation about listening to the Seeing White Podcast has way more value if he could point to having spent the multiple hours listening to and contemplating it, the way I have. The situation is akin to that headline and link my friend just put on Twitter, but did she think the headline was cool or did she actually read the entire thing and wanted to recommend her followers also read it? Who can tell without some differentiation?

Lastly, I keep a “following page” of people and feeds I’m following on a regular basis. Put into broad categories, it makes an easy method for periodically pruning out that portion of my media diet using OPML subscriptions in my feed reader.

In the end, what you feed your body, as well as what you feed your brain, are important things to at least keep in the back of your mind.

 

👓 Chris Aldrich’s Year In Pocket

Read My Year in Pocket (Pocket App)
See how much I read in Pocket this year!
According to Pocket’s account I read 766,000 words or the equivalent of about 10 books. My most saved topics were current events, science, technology, health, and education.

The most popular things I apparently saved this year:

I’ll have to work at getting better to create my own end-of-year statistics since my own website has a better accounting of what I’ve actually read (it isn’t all public) and bookmarked. I do like that their service does some aggregate comparison of my data versus all the other user data (anonymized from my perspective).

Pocket also does a relatively good job of doing discovery of good things to read based on aggregate user data in terms of categories like “Best of” and “Popular”. They also give me weekly email updates of things I’ve bookmarked there as reminders to go back and read them, which I find a useful functionality which they haven’t over-gamified. Presently my own closest functionality to this is to be subscribed to the RSS feed of my own public bookmarks in a feed reader (which I find generally useful) as well as regularly checking on my private bookmarks on my websites’s back end (something as easy as clicking on a browser bookmark) and even looking at my “on this day” functionality to review over things from years past.

I’ll note that I currently rely more on Nuzzle for real-time discovery  on a daily basis however.

Greg McVerry might appreciate that they’re gamifying reading by presenting me with a badge.

As an aside while I’m thinking of it, it might be a cool thing if the IndieWeb wiki received webmentions, so that self-documentation I do on my own website automatically appeared on the appropriate linked pages either in a webmention section or perhaps the “See Also” section. If wikis did this generally, it would be a cool means of potentially building communities and fuelling discovery on the broader web. Imagine if adding to a wiki via Webmention were as easy as syndicating content to a site like IndieNews or IndieWeb.XYZ? It could also function as a useful method of archiving web content from original pages to places like the Internet Archive in a simple way, much like how I currently auto-archive my individual pages automatically on the day they’re published.

Home, 1837 N Harding Ave, Altadena, CA 91001, USA

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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.

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.

👓 Instapaper is going independent | Instapaper

Read Instapaper is going independent (blog.instapaper.com)
Today, we’re announcing that Pinterest has entered into an agreement to transfer ownership of Instapaper to Instant Paper, Inc., a new company owned and operated by the...

👓 “Did you even READ the piece?” This startup wants to make that question obsolete for commenters | Nieman Lab

Replied to “Did you even READ the piece?” This startup wants to make that question obsolete for commenters by Christine SchmidtChristine Schmidt (Nieman Lab)
The battle against the uncivil comments section is also a battle against high bounce rates for reallyread.it.
This is an intriguing little company. I could see this being some great opening infrastructure for creating read posts.

On my own website I’ve got a relative heirarchy of bookmarks, likes, reads, replies, follows, and favorites. (A read post indicates that I’ve actually read an entire piece–something I wish more websites and social platforms supported in lieu of allowing people to link or retweet content they haven’t personally vetted.) Because I’m posting this content on my personal site and it’s visible to others as part of my broader online identity I take it far more seriously than if I were tossing any old comment into an empty box on someone else’s website. To some extend this is the type of value that embedded comments sections for Facebook tries to enforce–because a commenter is posting using an identity that their friends, family, and community can see, there’s a higher likelihood that they’ll adhere to the social contract and be civil. I suspect that the Nieman Lab is using Disqus so that commenters are similarly tied to some sort of social identity, though in a world with easy-to-create-throw-away social accounts perhaps even this may not be enough.

While there’s a lot to be said about the technology and research that could be done with such a tool as outlined in the article, I think that it also ought to be bundled with people needing to use some part of their online social identities which they’re “stuck to” in some sense.

The best model I’ve seen for this in the web space is for journalism sites to support the W3C’s recommended Webmention specification. They post and host their content as always, but they farm out their comment sections to others by being able to receive webmentions. Readers will need to write their comments on their own websites or in other areas of the social web and then send webmentions back to the outlet which can then moderate and display them as part of the open discourse. While I have a traditional “old school” commenting block on my website, the replies and reactions I get to my content are so much richer when they’re sent via webmention from people posting on their own sites.

I’ve also recently been experimenting with some small outlets in allowing them to receive webmentions. They can display a wider range of reactions to their content including bookmarks, likes, favorites, reads, and even traditional comments. Because webmentions are two-way links they’re audit-able and provide a better monolithic means of “social proof” relating to an article than the dozens of social widgets with disjointed UI that most outlets are currently using.

Perhaps this is the model that journalism outlets should begin to support?