Annotation posts >> Highlight posts

Because they’re so similar, I’ve decided to discontinue the custom highlight posts my site had in lieu of the more prevalent annotation post kind. The layout and format of both as highlighted text quoted from another site was almost exactly the same with the primary difference being my additional commentary added to the highlighted text to call it an annotation. Conceptually I considered “highlight + commentary/reply = annotation”. The difference is marginal at best–pun intended.

Since I only had 13 highlight posts versus 121 annotation posts (plus various additional annotations and highlights which I’ve rolled up into the body of some of my read posts) over the last year and a half, I felt it seemed redundant and bothersome to maintain two separate, but nearly identical post kinds. Semantically one may think of a highlight on some text as an annotation anyway, thus the idea of annotation subsumes that of a simple highlight.

As of this evening, I’ve changed all the custom highlight posts to be of the annotation kind. Other than the one word visual difference of the post kind text changing from “highlight” to “annotation” this change won’t affect much except for those who may have been subscribed to the highlight feed. Going forward you may consider subscribing to my annotation feed instead.

I had created highlight posts first, but in the end annotation posts have won the day. And for those that don’t have them, fear not, because honestly annotation posts are really just glorified bookmarks with custom text in the context. (The glorification only entails a highligher icon instead of a bookmark icon and a bit of CSS to color the text yellow.) I do find having them delineated for my personal research purposes useful though.

Read Reply to: Microcast #081 – Anarchy, Federation, and the IndieWeb by John JohnstonJohn Johnston (johnjohnston.info)
Thanks very much for taking the time to give your take on the IndieWeb. It was both interesting and valuable. There are a few rabbit holes to dive down. I’ve not read much Anarchism since Kropotkin and that a long time ago. After leaving this reply for a fair time and a couple of listens my response is still a disconnected series of ramblings. Not arguing against anything you said but bouncing off some corners.

I am testament to the fact that some of the [IndieWeb] technology can be used in a fairly careless fashion.

Compared to where things were just a few years ago, this is huge.
Annotated on January 12, 2020 at 12:00PM

Replied to Flow in WordPress for writers by Dave WinerDave Winer (Scripting News)
Flow is the writer's problem for blogging. I have been working on this since I started in 1994. I solved the problem for myself in 1997, and ever since I've been working on solving it for everyone else.
Dave has some solid points about the UI and process of writing here. Speed is key! WordPress is pretty deplorable in this way. Some of the more advanced user may simply write the word “new” in their browser and tab down once to the correct URL to begin creating. Others may have some browser bookmarklets set up to jump right to creation. Still, for the unwashed masses–and I include myself in this, things should be far easier and more direct. I’ve recently been experimenting with the Narwhal plugin that puts a writing interface right up top on my website (and only appears when I’m logged in) and provides a pretty solid experience the way Twitter, Facebook, and other social sites do.

I have played around with many of Dave’s tools over the years and appreciated his UI and particularly some of his outliner tools. Given that he’s built and tested some very strong tools and interfaces, I’d be really curious to see him implement a Micropub client back end on some of them so that they not only allow one to post to his sites, but so that one could use them to create, edit, and publish to almost any website out there. Some of his tools are already set up to post content to Twitter, why not set them up to post to WordPress and many others too?

Given that CMSs and static site services like WordPress, Drupal, Craft, WithKnown, Jekyll, Kirby, Hugo, and Blot all support Micropub either natively or with simple plugins, Dave could easily take his various publishing interfaces and make them broadly available to almost any website on the planet. How many times have I desperately wished I could use Radio3, Little Outliner, Little Card Editor, pngWriter and others to be able to post to other websites instead of just Twitter?!

He might even implement them as Micropub clients just so that he could use his own interfaces to publish directly to his WordPress sites instead of worrying about their interface. I suspect that in day or two’s worth of work he could not only have half a dozen or more micropub clients, but he might also figure out how to dovetail them all together to make something more interesting and useful than Gutenberg, which has taken hundreds of developers and a magnitude larger amount of time to create.

Perhaps some additional competition against Gutenberg would help speed WordPress (and everyone else for that matter) toward making a simpler and more direct publishing interface? Micropub seems like a designer’s dream for making better posting interfaces, especially since it’s got such broad endpoint support.

Cleaning up feeds, easier social following, and feed readers

I’ve been doing a bit of clean up in my feed reader(s)–cleaning out dead feeds, fixing broken ones, etc. I thought I’d take a quick peek at some of the feeds I’m pushing out as well. I remember doing some serious updates on the feeds my site advertises three years ago this week, but it’s been a while since I’ve revisited it. While every post kind/type, category, and tag on my site has a feed (often found by simply adding /feed/ to the end of those URLs), I’ve made a few custom feeds for aggregated content.

However, knowing that some feeds are broadly available from my site isn’t always either obvious or the same as being able to use them easily–one might think of it as a(n) (technical) accessibility problem. I thought I’d make a few tweaks to smooth out that user interface and hopefully provide a better user experience–especially since I’m publishing everything from my website first rather than in 30 different places online (which is a whole other UI problem for those wishing to follow me and my content). Since most pages on my site have a “Follow Me” button (courtesy of SubToMe), I just needed to have a list of generally useful feeds to provide it. While SubToMe has some instructions for suggesting lists of feeds, I’ve never gotten it to work the way I expected (or feed readers didn’t respect it, I’m not sure which?) But since most feed readers have feed discovery built in as a feature, I thought I’d leverage that aspect. Thus I threw into the <head> of my website a dozen or so links from some of the most typical feeds people may be most interested in from my site. Now you can click on the follow button, choose your favorite feed reader, and then your reader should provide you with a large list of feeds which you might want to subscribe. These now broadly include the full feed, a comments feed, feeds for all the individual kinds (bookmarks, likes, favorites, replies, listens, etc.) but potentially more useful: a “microblog feed” of all my status-related updates and a “linkblog feed” for all my link-related updates (generally favorites, likes, reads, and bookmarks).

Some of these sub-feeds may be useful in some feed readers which don’t yet have the ability for you to choose within the reader what you’d like to see. I suspect that in the future social readers will allow you to subscribe to my primary firehose or comments feeds, which are putting out about 85 and 125 posts a week right now, and you’ll be able to subscribe to those, but then within their interface be able to choose individual types by means of filters to more quickly see what I’ve been bookmarking, reading, listening to or watching. Then if you want to curl up with some longer reads, filter by articles; or if you just want some quick hits, filter by notes. And of course naturally you’ll be able to do this sort of filtering across your network too. I also suspect some of them will build in velocity filters and friend-proximity filters so that you’ll be able to see material from people who don’t post as often highlighted or to see people’s content based on your personal rankings or categories (math friends, knitting circle, family, reading group, IndieWeb community, book club, etc.). I’ve recently been enjoying Kicks Condor’s FraidyCat reader which touches on some of this work though it’s not what most people would consider a full-featured feed reader but might think of as a filter/reader dashboard sort of product.

Perhaps sometime in the future I’ll write a bit of code so that each individual page on my site that you visit will provide feeds in the header for all the particular categories, tags, and post kinds that appear on that page?That might make a clever, and simple little plugin, though honestly that’s the sort of code I would expect CMSes like WordPress to provide out of the box. Of course, perhaps broader adoption of microformats and clever readers will obviate the need for all these bits?

 

Listened to Scripting News: Tuesday, December 3, 2019 by Dave Winer from Scripting News

An open podcast to Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter. It's way too long and rambles too much, but the idea is imho worth 16 minutes.

The primary take away here seems to be that Twitter needs to keep evolving for it to survive.

Originally bookmarked on December 11, 2019 at 10:35AM

Improving RSS Subscription Workflows with SubToMe

I love that WordPress has some built-in functionality within WordPress.com and many themes to allow one to easily build and display a social media menu on a website. Frequently these are displayed in headers, footers, or even sidebars of websites.  I have one in the footer of my website that looks like this:

Screencapture of my social links for email, RSS, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.

The RSS icon and links are automatically generated for me by simply putting in any RSS feed that has a /feed/ path in its URL. 

While this is great, clicking on the RSS icon link goes to a page with a hodgepodge of markup, content, and meta data and typically requires multiple additional steps and prior advanced knowledge of what those steps should be to do something useful with that link/page. In other words the UI around this (and far too many other RSS icons) is atrocious, unwelcoming, and generally incomprehensible to the general public. (Remember those long and elaborate pages newspapers and magazines had to define RSS and how to use it? It’s a HUGE amount of cognitive load compared to social media following UI in Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, et al. which just works™.) 

Fortunately Julien Genestoux and friends have created an elegant solution in SubToMe, described as a Universal Follow button, that is open, non-intrusive, protects privacy, and works with virtually any feed reader. It uses some JavaScript to create a pop-up that encourages users to use any of various popular feed readers (or the one of their choice). The UI flow for this is far superior and useful for the casual web-user and has the potential to help along the renaissance of feed readers and consumption of web content in a way that allows readers more control over their reading than social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram that mandate their own proprietary reading algorithms.

While one can embed SubToMe directly into a website (I do this with a Follow button in my site’s top right sidebar, for example) or using Julien and MatthiasWordPress plugin, I suspect it would be far easier if some of this functionality were built directly into WordPress core in some way. Or alternately, is there an easy way to put data into one of the common fields (or wrap it) in these social links menus, so that when a user clicks on the relatively ubiquitous RSS icon in those social links menus, that it triggers a SubToMe-like subscription workflow? 

I would suspect that WordPress.com might try something like this and naturally recommend their own beautiful reader, which was relatively recently redesigned by Jan Cavan Boulas et al., using a bit of functionality which SubToMe kindly provides.

I think that the simplification of this RSS reader subscription workflow would go a LONG way toward making it more successful and usable. It could also provide massive influence on increasing the use of feed readers in general and the WordPress Reader in particular.

I do note that there is a form of follow functionality built into WordPress.com-based websites, but that’s locked into the .com platform or needs a plugin for self-hosted sites. It also only benefits the WordPress.com reader rather than other readers in the space. Some of the issue here is to fix the NASCAR problem of needing dozens of plugin solutions and widgets to have what amounts to the same functionality on each platform in existence. I think it’s far more important for the open web to be able to do these sorts of simple functionalities in a more standardized way to give users more freedom, flexibility and choice. The standardization makes it easier for competition in a market economy to gradually improve this sort of user interface over time.

If someone did undertake some development in this area, I’d give bonus development points on this for:

  • Is there a way to do this without JavaScript to get around the js;dr potentiality?
  • Is there a way for this to find not only the common main and comments feeds for posts, but also for the affiliated /category/feed/ and /tag/feed/ taxonomy feeds on posts to allow for subscriptions to niche areas of websites that cover multiple broad topics? I know David Shanske has done some work on feed discovery in WordPress recently for the Yarns Microsub Server that may be useful here.
  • Is there a way to talk major browsers into adding this into their products?

I wonder if Jeffrey Paul, Jeremy Felt, Matthias Pfefferle, Jeffrey Zeldman or others may have some ideas about broader implementation and execution of something like this for improved UI in these areas? 

Home
Listened to @ Future of Web Apps: Google's Kevin Marks on social networking trends by Jemima KissJemima Kiss from the Guardian

Kevin Marks, Google's developer advocate for Open Social, talked today about the unpredictable, organic growth of social networks

Jemima Kiss interviews Kevin about Open Social at FOWA. Thu 9 Oct 2008 15.50 EDT

Kevin Marks, Google's developer advocate for Open Social, talked today about the unpredictable, organic growth of social networks. Even the biggest networks have seen their audience bases grow exponentially in unexpected communities; this is partly because of the dynamics of relationships between people, who mostly want to connect - or feel most comfortable connecting to people like themselves.

Despite some derogatory write-ups of Google's Orkut social network in the US press - "it's not a proper social network and is full of Brazilian prostitutes" - it's a perfect example of a social networking site with a strong community in one language. A community tends to mould the site to its own culture, which makes it less appealing for other languages and cultures. Clearly those with a strong English-language audience have a big advantage, despite the cultural differences of the Anglo-speaking world.

I asked Marks to explain a bit more about trends in social networking and how Open Social is trying to both facilitate growth, and respond to change. Open Social doesn't have a three-year road map, but is constantly adjusting its templates around the mapping of social information.

Some interesting philosophy of social networks from 2008 that’s still broadly applicable today. This sort of design thinking is something that IndieWeb as a service platforms like Micro.blog, WithKnown, WordPress, and others will want to keep in mind as they build.

People tend to be members of more than one network for a reason.

Originally bookmarked on December 06, 2019 at 09:00PM

Read a Twitter thread by  Mx. Aria Stewart Mx. Aria Stewart (Twitter)
It just crystallized for me what I think has been mistaken about thinking of unwanted interaction on social networks as a "privacy" problem. It's not.

A privacy problem is things becoming known more widely than they should, subject to surveillance and contextless scrutiny. 
The onslaught of sexual harassment on platforms like early Twitter (and later twitter for people of notability), @KeybaseIO, every naive social network is an attack on the right to exist in public. It is the inverse of a privacy problem. 
But the conceiving of this as a privacy problem brings the wrong solutions. It means we are offered tools to remove ourselves from public view, to restrict our public personas, to retreat from public life. It means women are again confined to private sphere, denied civic life. 
 It's so endemic, so entrenched, and so normal that women should have to retreat to protect ourselves that we think of this as part of femininity. A strong civic life is seen as unfeminine, forward. It poisons us politically, socially, and personally. 
It is, at its core, an attack on democracy as well. 
The only way to undo this is to reconceive of this, not as a privacy problem but as an attack on public life. There will be new problems with this but at least they will be new. 
There has been work done on this, but I've never seen it connected to civic life, and this connects with my thoughts and work on community. The unit that social networks must focus on cannot be the individual. We do not exist as individuals first but as members of our communities 
When a new user joins a social network, their connection must be to their peers, their existing social relationships. A new user can only be onboarded in the context of relationships already on the network. 
Early adopters form such a community, but extrapolating from the joining of those initial members to how to scale the network misses the critical transition: from no community to the first, not from the first users to the next. 
New communities can only be onboarded by connections from individuals that span communities. New communities must be onboarded collectively, or the network falls to the army of randos. 
The irony is that surveillance capitalism has the information to do this but not the will, because as objects of marketing, we are individuals, statistics and demographics, not communities. The reality lies in plain sight. 
There have been attempts at social networks, sadly none dense enough to succeed, but that treat people as part of a web, and that their peers can shield and protect them. The idea is solid. 
The other alternative is to stop trying to give people a solitary identity, a profile and onboarding to a flat network, but instead only provide them with community connections. Dreamwidth is this to a large degree, if too sparse for most people to connect. 
Our social networks must connect us, not to our "friends" but to our communities. The ones that succeed do this by intent or by accident.

Facebook has a narrow view of community, but for those it matches, it works. With major flaws, but it does. 
Twitter, its community of early adopters, its creepy onboarding by uploading your contacts and mining data to connect you works. If I were to join and follow a few people I know, it would rapidly suggest many more people in my queer and trans community. It works. 
And this is why Ello failed. This is why Diaspora failed. This is why Mastodon succeeded, if only by scraping by the bare minimum. This is why gnu social failed. This is why a random vbulletin forum can succeed. The ones that succeed connect a dense community. 
Note that gnu social and mastodon are the same protocol! But they are different social networks. The difference in their affordances and the community structures they encourage are vastly different, despite interoperating. 
I'd say I don't know how apparent this problem is to white men — the ones largely designing these networks — but I do know. I know because of the predictable failures we see.

Part of this, I think boils down to how invisible community is when you are the default user. 
At no time am I unaware that I am trans, that I am a woman, that the people I follow and who follow me are distinct from the background. I can spot my people in a crowd on the internet with precision, just like a KNN clustering can. 
Trans culture in particular is Extremely Online. We are exceptionally easy to onboard to a new platform. But the solution can scale if we focus on solving it. And by knowing who is in the community (likely) and who is not, we can understand what is and is not harassment. 
We don't need to even know what the communities are — Twitter does not — and yet it knows how we cluster, and that suffices.

If we stop thinking of this as a privacy problem — letting us hide from the connections that are our solution — we can enlarge public life. 
That exceptional article — — about how bots sow division shows us another facet of this problem and way of thinking. Conceiving of this as a privacy problem fundamentally reacts with division when solidarity is needed. 
We can only fight this with a new, loose solidarity and an awareness of community boundaries. We can build technology that makes space for us to be safe online by being present with those that support us, and react together, rather than as individuals and separating us for safety 
This thread has meandered a bit, but I'm dancing around something important. We fundamentally need to stop organizing online activity the way we do. Follow and be followed is not where it's at.

It's join, manage attention, build connection. 
Stop sorting things topically and trying to find connections in content.

Start looking for clusters of relationships between people.

The question should not be "what is this about?" but "who is this for?"
Some interesting ideas on social hiding in here.
Bookmarked Civic Signals (Civic Signals)

Civic Signals started when we asked ourselves what healthy societies need from digital spaces — not just in terms of harms, but in terms of the public goods they provide. Over the last year, we have been engaging experts across a wide variety of disciplines and doing research to understand what makes “public-friendly” spaces, well, public-friendly — what common characteristics (civic signals) are shared by the spaces that valorize the collective, and that are designed for the greater public good.

We think this matters both because these ideas could inform the design of existing digital platforms, but also perhaps more importantly because they could help inspire and shape the new platforms that will rise up in the years to come.