Replied to a tweet by Katherine Moss (Twitter)
There’s a proposed session (IndieWeb GoodReads) to discuss just this at IndieWebCamp West 2020. If you have other ideas for sessions, feel free to brainstorm something or propose it in the etherpad.
Read Read feeder by Neil MatherNeil Mather (doubleloop)
Ton made a post recently about federated bookshelves, sparked by a post from Tom. It’s an idea that Gregor has done a good bit of thinking about from an IndieWeb perspective. Book recommendations is something I’m always interested in. At base, all it needs is a feed you can follow just of what p...
I love that more people are publishing their reading to the open web! It’s great to see more example of how people are doing it and how things could be better.
NINE

Example assignment: https://archive.jgregorymcverry.com/5570-2/

Notice the replies underneath which came from other sites including my response which is mirrored on my site at https://boffosocko.com/2018/08/04/highlighting-some-of-my-favorite-edtech-tools/

Example podcast post for a class: https://archive.jgregorymcverry.com/2toponder-episode-one/

Notice the listen webmention in the comments which links to my listen response at: https://boffosocko.com/2018/08/06/2toponder-episode-one-intertextrevolution/ where I own a copy of the context and my own response. As a student, even if the originals disappear, I’ve got the majority of the important content from the course.

Replied to a post by Brett KosinskiBrett Kosinski (The “B” Ark)
Taking back control of my content, I’m pulling my (modest) book reviews from Goodreads back to my blog. An underrated favourite of mine is Last Chance to See by the astounding Douglas Adams. #ownyourdata

Congrats! I love the increasing number of people I’ve seen even in the last few days working on this! Are you using IndieBookClub.biz to post to your website?

I’m waiting for people to start documenting examples of owning their knitting on their websites and syndicating to/from Ravelry. #​IndieWebKnittingChallenge 

Replied to Feature request: reading progress · Issue #14 · gRegorLove/indiebookclub by gRegorLovegRegorLove (GitHub)

Similar to Goodreads, allow entering a percentage or page number to track your progress.

I need to think about this some more, but I suspect IBC would generate text like "Progress: 25%" and include it in the e-content of the Micropub request.

Perhaps this example could be a useful model: https://boffosocko.com/2020/02/13/55767168/

The progress portion is coded roughly in HTML with a label as follows:

<ul>
    <li class="bookprogress"><progress value="177" max="465">38%</progress> <label for="">38.0% done; loc 4290-4847 of 12932</label></li>
</ul>

You could always use <p> or <span> instead of ul/li tags (with some app specific classes to allow the receiving site to create its own custom CSS for display. Otherwise browsers should be able to display a reasonable visual default.

I’d recommend support for pages, percentages finished, and potentially even Amazon’s default location numbers, with the ability to translate back and forth potentially when given at least two of the parameters as a minimum which should allow the calculation of the others. I find in practice that it’s generally pretty rare to have both page numbers and location numbers, but it could happen.

I’ve also got an extended version available at https://boffosocko.com/2012/06/17/big-history/#READING%20PROGRESS

Replied to Introducing Indigenous for Android by swentelswentel (realize.be)
You can now download the app from Google Play. If you want to install it manually, you can also go over to the release section on GitHub. Use GitHub to post issues, ideas, documentation, nicer icons, design mockups ... everyone can help out!
Congratulations on the fantastic updates on Indigenous! The recent changes are making me wonder how I’ve lived all this time without it. 

My first use of the read post functionality was a tad confusing because I wasn’t aware that either the WordPress Micropub client or Post Kinds supported the read-status set up that IndieBookClub.biz had pioneered.

The vast majority of my read posts are for online articles which are relatively short in nature and so don’t use the read-status features and are simply marked up with read-of. When I originally suggested that Indigenous support read posts, I only expected the read-of support and didn’t imagine the additional read-status support for “to-read”, “reading”, or “finished” to be included. These are highly experimental and have thus far only been supported by IndieBookClub which focuses on much longer book-length content that can take better advantage of the ideas of the idea of a bookmark to read, ongoing reading, and finished reading markers. Even with this support gRegor still thinks that it may be better to use the addition of p-category or u-category microformats instead of the read-status tags. The WordPress Micropub server is the only other software that supports these additional read-statuses besides gRegor’s own website.

Given that:

  • an exceedingly small number of sites have support for read-status;
  • the read-of microformat has somewhat better support (though it is still an experimental microformat itself);
  • the majority of posts that Indigenous users are likely to use for creating read posts will be articles (as opposed to either smaller posts like notes, likes, favorites, checkins, RSVPs, etc. or book length material),

I would recommend that you have a default setting in Indigenous for just read-of  without a specific read-status (the UI could either indicate “none” or “read” without a read-status value). However for the occasional longer form usages leaving the other options in would be useful. I can easily imagine myself using the option for “to-read” over the simpler bookmark functionality now that it exists!

Thanks again for all your work! 

I’ve just noticed that in addition to my relatively obvious user RSS feed on Goodreads, there’s a separate hidden feed of just my reading status updates. It’s of the form https://www.goodreads.com/user_status/list/#######-user-name?format=rss where #######-user-name is the typical user number and name combination at one’s profile page.
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.