Replied to a post by Dr. Jonathan FlowersDr. Jonathan Flowers (Mastodon (zirkus))
Next semester, I get to teach Philosophy of Technology, and I have only one objective: teach students that "social media" does not "cause" anything. Yes, you heard that right, I'm going to teach them that social media does not have agency, but is instead given agency through how users use the platform and interact with one another on the platforms. Hopefully, this will cut down on the "social media causes..." or "due to social media" takes.
Instead of agency, perhaps something along the lines of James Gibson’s definition of “affordance” in The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems (1966)?

I anxiously await this syllabus and reading list were it to be available. Kudos!

Replied to Finding a new home for the WordPress community by Mike McAlisterMike McAlister (Ollie)
The recent turmoil at Twitter has a lot of WordPress community members looking for alternatives. What if we used WordPress to power our community?
This is a brilliant idea and is broadly what underpins the mission of the IndieWeb space for the past decade. The difference is that it isn’t platform specific and a large portion of it is already built and working! Of course it’s in different stages and forms of usability for various platforms, but most of the building blocks already exist for a broad variety of platforms, including (and especially for) WordPress. 

Because of the base level design, I can post on my site and syndicate content almost anywhere while often times getting replies and responses back from a number of platforms. Because it’s all built on open specs it means that people on WordPress can communicate directly with those on Drupal, Craft, Hugo, Kirby, Django, a variety of static site generators, Twitter, Mastodon, and almost any platform that chooses to support the broad standards. (Matt Mullenweg has already started down the road to having Tumblr support these building blocks.)

WordPress already has support for all of the major building blocks and works with a variety of social readers which make reading content and replying to it pretty simple and straightforward. Of course this doesn’t mean that there still isn’t work left to perfect it, smooth the corners, and lower the technical bars, and the costs for a wider diversity of people. For those that don’t want to deal with the hassle and maintenance, there are also several services that support most of the specs out of the box. Micro.blog in particular has a great user interface and does all the heavy lifting for $5/month. Without any cost, you can create an account and join that community using your own WordPress site today. 

If you’re into the idea, stop by the IndieWeb chat, ask questions, and join the party. I’ve got a collection of posts with a variety of resources, descriptions, how-tos, and videos if you need them: https://boffosocko.com/research/indieweb/

Here’s a short preview of what some of it looks like in practice: 

Aside: David Shanske, perhaps we ought to run one of our WordPress IndieWeb install fests one one of these coming weekends to help onboard people? 

#FeedReaderFriday: A Suggestion for Changing our Social Media Patterns

In the recent Twitter Migration, in addition to trying out Mastodon, I’ve been seeing some people go back to blogs or platforms like Micro.blog, WordPress, Tumblr, WriteFreely (like Mastodon it’s a part of the Fediverse, but built for blogging instead of short posts) and variety of others. They’re looking for a place where they can truly own and share their content, often in healthier and more humane ways. Many are extolling the virtues of posting on their own website so that they own their content to protect against the sort of platform problems many are now seeing and experiencing on the rapidly dying birdsite. I’ve seen a growing number of people in/on several platforms reviving the early Twitter practice of to help people discover new and interesting people to follow.

As a result, while everyone is exploring new platforms and new online spaces for maintaining their identities and communicating, I’m going to suggest something else interesting to shift our online social patterns: Instead of spending time on Twitter, Mastodon, Instagram, or other major social platforms, start practicing by carving out some time to find and follow people’s websites directly with a feed reader or social reader. Then engage with them directly on their own websites. 

I already spend a reasonable amount of time in a variety of readers looking at both longform articles as well as social media posts (status updates, notes, bookmarks, and photos), but starting this Friday, I’m going to practice . Instead of opening up Twitter or Mastodon, I’ll actively and exclusively reach for one of my feed readers to read people’s content and respond to them directly.

As part of the effort, I’ll share people’s sites I follow and enjoy. I’ll also suggest some feed readers to try out along with other related resources. I’ll use the tag/hashtag to encourage the website to website conversation. If you’re interested in the experiment, do come and join me and help to spread the word. 

Currently I’m relying on readers like Inoreader, Micro.blog, and Monocle, but there are a huge variety of feed readers and a nice selection of even more fully featured social readers available.

Just as many people are doing the sometimes difficult but always rewarding emotional labor of helping people migrate from the toxicity of Twitter and its algorithmic feeds, perhaps those of us who have websites and use social readers could help our friends and family either set up their own spaces or onboard them to social readers in this effort? Mastodon’s decentralized nature is an improvement and provides a reasonable replacement for Twitter, but eventually people will realize some of the subtle issues of relying on someone else’s platform just as they’ve seen issues with Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or the now defunct Google+. 

Feel like you’ll miss people’s content on traditional social media? There are definitely a variety of ways to follow them in a variety of feed and social readers. Not sure what RSS is? Feel free to ask. Know of some interesting tricks and tools you use to make discovering and subscribing to others’ blogs easier? Share them! Have fantastic resources for discovering or keeping up with others’ websites? Share those too. Not quite sure where to begin? Ask for some help to better own your online identity and presence. 

It may be a slow start, but I think with some care, help, and patience, we can help to shift both our own as well as others’ online social reading and correspondence habits to be kinder, smarter, and more intentional. 

What will you read on ? Who will you recommend following?


Featured photo by Dulcey Lima on Unsplash

Seeing privileged Westerners complaining about their miniscule issues relating to their reactions to an online dictator in , makes me extra mindful of war, climate, and other human refugees who need to physically relocate their homes from one country to another and don’t have any support systems at all.
A great thread. Though why not use the web as your platform? Micro.blog can do the work to help you own your identity & data, and as @EthanZ suggests it will also allow you to crosspost to both Twitter & Mastodon to stay in touch with the people you chose.

Reposted a tweet by Matthew KirschenbaumMatthew Kirschenbaum (Twitter)
This thread is one of the reasons the academics I’ve seen in the Domain of One’s Own Space have so much more freedom and flexibility in online spaces.

The Logos, Ethos, and Pathos of IndieWeb

Editor’s note: This is another in a continuing series of essays about the IndieWeb.


Where is the IndieWeb?

Logos

One might consider the IndieWeb’s indieweb.org wiki-based website and chat the “logos” of IndieWeb. There is a small group of about a hundred active to very active participants who hang out in these spaces on a regular basis, but there are also many who dip in and out over time as they tinker and build, ask advice, get some help, or just to show up and say hello. Because there are concrete places online as well as off (events) for them to congregate, meet, and interact, it’s the most obvious place to find these ideas and people.

Ethos

Beyond this there is an even larger group of people online who represent the “ethos” of IndieWeb. Some may have heard the word before, some have a passing knowledge of it, but an even larger number have not. They all act and operate in a way that either seemed natural to them because they grew up in the period of the open web, or because they never felt accepted by the thundering herds in the corporate social enclosures. Many are not necessarily easily found or discovered because they’re not surfaced or highlighted by the sinister algorithms of corporate social media, but through slow and steady work (much like the in person social space) they find each other and interact in various traditional web spaces. Many of them can be found in spaces like Micro.Blog, Tilde Club or NeoCities, or through movements like A Domain of One’s Own. Some can be found through a variety of webrings, via blogrolls, or just following someone’s website and slowly seeing the community of people who stop by and comment. Yes, these discovery methods may involve a little more work, but shouldn’t healthy human interactions require work and care?

Pathos

The final group of people, and likely the largest within the community, are those that represent the “pathos” of IndieWeb. The word IndieWeb has not registered with any of them and they suffer with grief in the long shadow of corporate social media wishing they had better user interfaces, better features, different interaction, more meaningful interaction, healthier and kinder interaction. Some may have even been so steeped in big social for so long that they don’t realize that there is another way of being or knowing.

These people may be found searching for the IndieWeb promised land on silo platforms like Tumblr, WordPress.com, Blogger, or Medium where they have the shadow on the wall of a home on the web where they can place their identities and thoughts. Here they’re a bit more safe from the acceleration of algorithmically fed content and ills of mainstream social. Others are trapped within massive content farms run by multi-billion dollar extractive companies who quietly but steadily exploit their interactions with friends and family.

The Conversation

All three of these parts of the IndieWeb, the logos, the ethos, and the pathos comprise the community of humanity. They are the sum of the real conversation online.

Venture capital backed corporate social media has cleverly inserted themselves between us and our interactions with each other. They privilege some voices not only over others, but often at the expense of others and only to their benefit. We have been developing a new vocabulary for these actions with phrases like “surveillance capitalism”, “data mining”, and analogizing human data as the new “oil” of the 21st century. The IndieWeb is attempting to remove these barriers, many of them complicated, but not insurmountable, technical ones, so that we can have a healthier set of direct interactions with one another that more closely mirrors our in person interactions. By having choice and the ability to move between a larger number of service providers there is an increasing pressure to provide service rather than the growing levels of continued abuse and monopoly we’ve become accustomed to.

None of these subdivisions—logos, ethos, or pathos—is better or worse than the others, they just are. There is no hierarchy between or among them just as there should be no hierarchy between fellow humans. But by existing, I think one could argue that through their humanity these people are all slowly, but surely making the web a healthier, happier, fun, and more humanized and humanizing place to be.

I’d appreciate others’ thoughts and perspectives on this regardless of where they choose to post them. 

Replied to a tweet by Kevin SmoklerKevin Smokler (Twitter)
The StoryGraph looks like yet-another-silo in the merry-go-round of social reading sites. I prefer IndieWeb solutions like Gregor Morrill‘s (@gRegorLove) https://indiebookclub.biz/, an app/platform that posts your book reading data and updates to your own website.

Tagging Tom Critchlow (@TomCritchlow) and Ton Zijlstra (@ton_zylstra) for their thoughts and maybe an update on any recent experimentation.

I do wonder if StoryGraph are planning on making the ownership of your own data on your own site easier? That might be a reason for some buy-in.

Social Media, Fast and Slow

I like the differentiation that Jared has made here on his homepage with categories for “fast” and “slow” posts.

It’s reminiscent of the system 1 (fast) and system2 (slow) ideas behind Kahneman and Tversky’s work in behavioral economics. (See Thinking, Fast and Slow)

It’s also interesting in light of this tweet which came up recently:

Because the Tweet was shared out of context several years later, someone (accidentally?) replied to it as if it were contemporaneous. When called out for not watching the date of the post, their reply was “you do slow web your way…”#

This gets one thinking. Perhaps it would help more people’s contextual thinking if more sites specifically labeled their posts as fast and slow (or gave a 1-10 rating)? Sometimes the length of a response is an indicator of the thought put into it, thought not always as there’s also the oft-quoted aphorism: “If I Had More Time, I Would Have Written a Shorter Letter”.

The ease of use of the UI on Twitter seems to broadly make it a platform for “fast” posting which can too often cause ruffled feathers, sour feelings, anger, and poor communication.

What if there were posting UIs (or micropub clients) that would hold onto your responses for a few hours, days, or even a week and then remind you about them after that time had past to see if they were still worth posting? This is a feature based on Abraham Lincoln’s idea of a “hot letter” or angry letter, which he advised people to write often, but never send.

Where is the social media service for hot posts that save all your vituperation, but don’t show them to anyone? Or which maybe posts them anonymously?

The opposite of some of this are the partially baked or even fully thought out posts that one hears about anecdotally, but which the authors say they felt weren’t finish and thus didn’t publish them. Wouldn’t it be better to hit publish on these than those nasty quick replies? How can we create better UI to solve for this?

I saw a sitcom a few years ago where a girl admonished her friend (an oblivious boy) for liking really old Instagram posts of a girl he was interested in. She said that deep-liking old photos was an obvious and overt sign of flirting.

If this is the case then there’s obviously a social standard of sorts for this, so why not hold your tongue in the meanwhile, and come up with something more thought out to send your digital love to someone instead of providing a (knee-)jerk reaction?

Of course now I can’t help but think of the annotations I’ve been making in my copy of Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things. Do you suppose that Lucretius knows I’m in love?

Bookmarked Tending the Digital Commons by Alan JacobsAlan Jacobs (The Hedgehog Review | Spring 2018: The Human and the Digital)
The complexities of social media ought to prompt deep reflection on what we all owe to the future, and how we might discharge this debt.
This fantastic essay touches on so many things related to IndieWeb and A Domain of One’s Own. We often talk about the “why” of these movements, but Alan Jacobs provides some underlying ethics as well.

For those who don’t have a subscription, Alan has kindly and pleasantly provided a samizdat version on his site in .pdf format.

Read Social Attention: a modest prototype in shared presence by Matt Webb (Interconnected, a blog by Matt Webb)
My take is that the web could feel warmer and more lively than it is. Visiting a webpage could feel a little more like visiting a park and watching the world go by. Visiting my homepage could feel just a tiny bit like stopping by my home. And so to celebrate my blogging streak reaching one year, this week, I’m adding a proof of concept to my blog, something I’m provisionally calling Social Attention.
You had me at “select text”…

If somebody else selects some text, it’ll be highlighted for you. 

Suddenly social annotation has taken an interesting twist. @Hypothes_is better watch out! 😉
Annotated on March 28, 2021 at 10:03AM

How often have you been on the phone with a friend, trying to describe how to get somewhere online? Okay go to Amazon. Okay type in “whatever”. Okay, it’s the third one down for me…
This is ridiculous!
What if, instead, you both went to the website and then you could just say: follow me. 

There are definitely some great use cases for this.
Annotated on March 28, 2021 at 10:05AM

A status emoji will appear in the top right corner of your browser. If it’s smiling, there are other people on the site right now too. 

This is pretty cool looking. I’ll have to add it as an example to my list: Social Reading User Interface for Discovery.

We definitely need more things like this on the web.

It makes me wish the Reading.am indicator were there without needing to click on it.

I wonder how this sort of activity might be built into social readers as well?
Annotated on March 28, 2021 at 10:13AM

If I’m in a meeting, I should be able to share a link in the chat to a particular post on my blog, then select the paragraph I’m talking about and have it highlighted for everyone. Well, now I can. 

And you could go a few feet farther if you added [fragment](https://indieweb.org/fragmention) support to the site, then the browser would also autoscroll to that part. Then you could add a confetti cannon to the system and have the page rain down confetti when more than three people have highlighted the same section!
Annotated on March 28, 2021 at 10:18AM

I want the patina of fingerprints, the quiet and comfortable background hum of a library. 

A great thing to want on a website! A tiny hint of phatic interaction amongst internet denizens.
Annotated on March 28, 2021 at 10:20AM

What I’d like more of is a social web that sits between these two extremes, something with a small town feel. So you can see people are around, and you can give directions and a friendly nod, but there’s no need to stop and chat, and it’s not in your face. It’s what I’ve talked about before as social peripheral vision (that post is about why it should be build into the OS). 

I love the idea of social peripheral vision online.
Annotated on March 28, 2021 at 10:22AM

streak: New posts for 52 consecutive weeks. 

It’s kind of cool that he’s got a streak counter for his posts.
Annotated on March 28, 2021 at 10:24AM

Annotated Social networks are finally competitive again by Casey Newton (The Verge)
Dispo is an invite-only social photo app with a twist: you can’t see any photos you take with the app until 24 hours after you take them. (The app sends you a push notification to open them every day at 9AM local time: among other things, a nice hack to boost daily usage.) Founded by David Dobrik, one of the world’s most popular YouTubers, Dispo has been around as a basic utility for a year. 
This is the first reference to Dispo I’ve come across.
Read Hypothes.is Social (and Private) Annotation by Dan AllossoDan Allosso (danallosso.substack.com)

How I use Hypothesis myself and with my students

Private groups are also my solution to the potential “saturation” problem that many people have asked me about. I DO think that there’s a potential disincentive to students who I’ve asked to annotate a document, if they open it and find hundreds of comments already there. I already face a situation when I post questions for discussion that people answer in a visible way, where some students say their peers have already made the point they were going to make. It’s easier to address this objection, I think, when EVERY LINE of a document isn’t already yellow! 

I’ve run into this issue myself in a few public instances. I look at my annotations as my own “conversation” with a document. Given this, I usually flip the switch to hide all the annotations on the page and annotate for myself. Afterwards I’ll then turn the annotation view back on and see and potentially interact with others if I choose.
Annotated on February 23, 2021 at 10:28PM

Small world of annotation enthusiasts, but hopefully getting bigger! 

I’ve always wished that Hypothes.is had some additional social features built in for discovering and following others, but they do have just enough for those who are diligent.

I’ve written a bit about [how to follow folks and tags using a feed reader](https://boffosocko.com/2019/11/07/following-people-on-hypothesis/).

And if you want some quick links or even an OPML feed of people and material I’m following on Hypothesis: [https://boffosocko.com/about/following/#Hypothesis%20Feeds](https://boffosocko.com/about/following/#Hypothesis%20Feeds)
Annotated on February 23, 2021 at 11:33PM

👋

Annotated on February 23, 2021 at 11:35PM