Read Introducing aboutfeeds.com, a Getting Started guide for web feeds and RSS by Matt WebbMatt Webb (interconnected.org)

Introducing About Feeds

aboutfeeds.com is a single page website, for linking wherever you keep your web feed.

I’m still a fan of Julien Genestoux‘s SubToMe.com for related functionality and ease of use with RSS. If only more people used it or it was built into browsers.

I think it’d also be cool if this sort of simple UI were also easier to use with some of the newer IndieWeb social readers that are making it easier to follow websites and interact with them.

Read OMG! Twitter release an OFFICIAL conversations API! by Terence Eden (shkspr.mobi)
One of the most requested Twitter API features is now available – the ability to get replies to a Tweet as a thread.
Long time readers know that I’ve long been a fan of Visualising Twitter Conversations in 2D Space. But up until now you had to use horrible hacks to get the data. As trailed in th...
Read Badass: Making Users Awesome by Kathy Sierra by Joel Hooks (joelhooks.com)
What is a badass? I love the word itself, because there is practically no way to use it in a negative way. It's a good word. In Kathy Sierra's book, the word badass is used to describe an expert. Somebody that has learned a skill…
As I read this while thinking about the context of the IndieWeb and it’s wiki, I’m thinking two cognitively dissonant thoughts: 1. The current technical uses are creating content more for themselves and their research and use and 2. They’re not creating it to help out the users who may necessarily need a ladder or a bigger platform to get to where they are.
It’s going to take a layer of intermediate users, creators, or builders to help create a better path to bring the neophytes up to a higher level to get more out of the wealth of information that’s hiding in it. Or it’s going to take helpers and mentors to slowly build them up to that point.
How can we more consistently reach a hand down to pull up those coming after us? How can we encourage others to do some of the same?
Read On Digital Gardens, Blogs, Personal Spaces, and the Future by Justin Tadlock (WordPress Tavern)
I have been thinking a lot about digital gardens this week. A blog post by Tom McFarlin re-introduced me to the term, which led me down a rabbit hole of interesting ideas on creating a digital space…

My blog posts were merely random thoughts — bits and pieces of my life. 

Annotated on August 12, 2020 at 09:52AM

Despite having something that worked sort of like a blog, I maintained various resources and links of other neat ideas I found around the web. It was a digital garden that I tended, occasionally plucking weeds and planting new ideas that may someday blossom into something more. 

The idea of a thought space hiding in here….
Annotated on August 12, 2020 at 09:53AM

“The idea of a ‘blog’ needs to get over itself,” wrote Joel Hooks in a post titled Stop Giving af and Start Writing More. “Everybody is treating writing as a ‘content marketing strategy’ and using it to ‘build a personal brand’ which leads to the fundamental flawed idea that everything you post has to be polished to perfection and ready to be consumed.”
It is almost as if he had reached down into my soul and figured out why I no longer had the vigor I once had for sharing on my personal blog. For far too long, I was trying to brand myself. Posts became few and far between. I still shared a short note, aside, once in a while, but much of what I shared was for others rather than myself. 

For many, social media took over their “streams” of thoughts and ideas to the point that they forgot to sit, reflect, and write something longer (polished or not).

Personal websites used for yourself first is a powerful idea for collecting, thinking, and creating.

Getting away from “branding” is a great idea. Too many personal sites are used for this dreadful thing. I’d much rather see the edge ideas and what they flower into.
Annotated on August 12, 2020 at 09:56AM

Personal websites can be so much more than a progression of posts over time, newer posts showing up while everything from the past is neatly tucked on “page 2” and beyond. 

This is an interesting idea and too many CMSes are missing this sort of UI baked into them as a core idea. CMSes could do a better job of doing both: the garden AND the stream
Annotated on August 12, 2020 at 09:57AM

While I lament the loss of some of the artistry of the early web and lay much of the blame at the feet of blogging platforms like WordPress, such platforms also opened the web to far more people who would not have otherwise been able to create a website. Democratizing publishing is a far loftier goal than dropping animated GIFs across personal spaces. 

WordPress has done a lot to democratize publishing and make portions of it easier, but has it gone too far in crystalizing the form of things by not having more wiki-like or curation-based features?
Annotated on August 12, 2020 at 10:01AM

Throughout the platform’s history, end-users have remained at the mercy of their WordPress theme. Most themes are built around what WordPress allows out of the box. They follow a similar formula. Some may have a fancy homepage or other custom page templates. But, on the whole, themes have been primarily built around the idea of a blog. Such themes do not give the user true control over where to place things on their website. While some developers have attempted solutions to this, most have never met the towering goal of putting the power of HTML and CSS into the hands of users through a visual interface. This lack of tools has given rise to page builders and the block editor. 

an apropos criticsm
Annotated on August 12, 2020 at 10:02AM

I also want them to be able to easily build something like Tom Critchlow’s wikifolder, a digital collection of links, random thoughts, and other resources.
More than anything, I want personal websites to be more personal. 

Those in the IndieWeb want this too!! I definitely do.
Annotated on August 12, 2020 at 10:03AM

Liked a tweet (Twitter)
 

 
Read Unroll Your Twitter Threads Into WordPress by Gary Gary (The WordPress.com Blog)
Turn your recent Twitter thread into your next blog post.
I’m curious if they were following the recent functionality added by ThreadReaderApp using Micropub? I’m guessing the fact that they used the verb “unroll” means they were at least aware of it as a functionality.
Liked a tweet by EJ Fox (Twitter)
Read 7 Things Roam Did Right by tre (Proses.ID)
Sections Seven things Roam did rightPotentialsIs Roam just a fad, a shiny new tool?All the small thingsAnecdotesThe trifecta: getting things into, out of, and across heads Roam Research is a phenomenon that took the tools for thought space by storm. Let’s appreciate the seven things it did right a...
Replied to Making RSS more visible again with a /feeds page by Marcus HerrmannMarcus Herrmann (marcus.io)
A few years ago you could easily tell if a page offered an RSS feed. Browsers (at least good ones) had a feed symbol close to their location bar, and if you were really lucky (or used a really good browser), that indicator was even a button, empowering you to subscribe to a website with only one cli...
The overall idea to make it easier to subscribe to a personal website is certainly a laudable one.

Sadly the general concept presented here, while it sounds potentially useful, is far too little and misdirected. Hopefully better potential solutions are still not too late.

First, let’s step back a moment. The bigger problem with feeds was that website designers and developers spent far too long in the format wars between RSS and Atom while the social media giants focused on cleaner and easier UI. This allowed the social silos to dramatically close the gap in functionality and usability. While website owners were spending time on formats and writing long articles about what RSS was, how it worked, and how to use it, the public lost interest. We need something really dramatic to regain this ground and /feeds just is not going to cut it.

The first problem I see with this is that on it’s face /feeds both looks and sounds like code. No user really wants to interact with code if they don’t have to. Why not simply have a page or button called something much more user friendly like “subscribe” or “follow”? Almost every major social silo has a common pattern like this and has a simple “follow” button on every user’s page. A quick click and one is done with the transaction!

Instead the solution offered here is to have not only yet-another-page but one that needs to be maintained. (As good as the /now idea may seem, the fact that it needs to be regularly and manually updated makes it a failure out of the gate. I’ll bet that less than half the /now pages out there have been updated in the last 6 months. I know mine hasn’t.) Worse, suppose I click over to a /feeds page, as an average person I’m still stuck with the additional burden of knowing or learning about what a feed reader is, why I’d need or want one, and then knowing what RSS is and how I might use that. I might see a one click option for Twitter or Mastodon, but then I’m a mile away from your website and unlikely to see you again in the noise of my Twitter feed which has many other lurking problems.

One of the best solutions I’ve seen in the past few years is that posited by SubToMe.com  which provides a single, customizable, and universal follow button. One click and it automatically finds the feeds hidden in the page’s code and presents me with one or more options for following it in a feed reader. Once I’ve chosen a reader, it remembers my choice and makes the following pattern easier in future transactions. This is a far superior option over /feeds because it takes away a huge amount of cognitive burden for the user. As a developer, I’ve got a browser bookmarklet that provides this functionality for sites that don’t provide it for me. How nice would it be if browsers went back and offered such a one button collection mechanism?

Want to give this a try? I’ve got a “Follow Me” button in the side bar of my website. And if that doesn’t float your boat, I’ve tinkered with other methods of subscribing to my content that you can find at my subscribe page. Some developers might not be too scared of what’s on my subscribe page (a /feed page by a slightly friendlier name), but less technically minded people are sure to have a dramatically different perspective.

The other piece here that I might take umbrage with is the offering to provide feeds to subscriptions to alternate services like Twitter and Mastodon. (This doesn’t take into any account that RSS feeds of social services are positively atrocious, not to mention that attempting to access Marcus’ Twitter feed in RSS Box returns the interminable error message: “There was a problem talking to Twitter. Please try again in a moment.”) 

Ideally I see a future in which every person has the ability to own both their own domain name and their content in a simple manner. If this happens and it’s easier to subscribe to the sites of my friends, then I don’t need corporate social media to intermediate the transactions on my behalf. I also don’t need them to intermediate what I’m actually seeing with their blackbox algorithmic feeds either.  Friends, family, and colleagues could simply come to my website and subscribe to all or portions of my content in which they’re interested. While I still presently syndicate some of my content to silos like Twitter and Mastodon for the ease of friends or family who don’t know about the technical side of potential solutions, I post everything on my website first where one can subscribe in a feed reader or by email. Subscriptions in Twitter or Mastodon, while nice to have, are just a poor simulacrum of the real things being served by my site in better ways with more context and a design that better reflects what I’d like to portray online. A /feed page is going to be a failure from the start if you’re going to cede all the subsequent power directly to Twitter, Mastodon, and others anyway.

While I like the volume of the reactions to the post (indicating that there’s not only a readership, but a desire for this sort of functionality), I’m disheartened that so many designers and developers think that the idea of /feeds is “enough” to stem the tide.

For those who might be truly interested in designing our way out of this problem, I’d recommend looking at some of the design and development work of the IndieWeb community which is trying (slowly, but surely) to improve these sorts of technical hurdles. Their wiki has large number of examples of things that do and don’t work, discussion of where problems lie, and a community conversing about how to potentially make them better through actual examples of things that are currently working on peoples’ websites.

A good example of this is the increasing improvement of social readers that allow one to subscribe to a variety of sources in a reader which also allows one to respond to posts in-line and then own that content on one’s website. If I can subscribe to almost anything out there in one interface and sort and filter it in any way I’d like, that’s far better than having twenty different feed readers named Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Soundcloud, etc. which I have to separately and independent manage and check. Now I’ve yet to see an IndieWeb reader with a one click SubToMe-type of solution for adding feeds to it, but I don’t think it will be very long before that’s a reality. The slowly improving Microsub spec that splits some of the heavy lifting needed to build and design a stand alone feed reader is certainly helping to make some massive headway on these issues.

Maybe we’ll soon have an easy way for people to post who they’re following on their own websites, and their readers will be able to read or parse those pages and aggregate those followed posts directly into a nice reading interface? Maybe someone will figure out a way to redesign or re-imagine the old blogroll? Maybe we’ll leverage the idea of OPML subscriptions so that a personal blogroll (maybe we rename this something friendlier like a following page or personal recommendations, subscriptions, etc.) can feed a person’s subscriptions into their social reader? There are certainly a lot of solid ideas being experimented on and in actual use out there. 

We obviously still have a long way to go to make things better and more usable, not only for ourselves as designers and developers, but for the coding averse. I feel like there’s already a flourishing space out there doing this that’s miles ahead of solutions like /feeds. Why don’t we start at that point and then move forward?

Read How to style RSS feed by Hsiaoming YangHsiaoming Yang (Just lepture)
Let's create a beautiful RSS feed UI for human before its dead in next year again.
This seems like quite a clever way of adding some human readable styling to RSS feeds. While it seems like yet another side-file, it could be a useful one. I think if I were implementing it I’d also want to include a SubToMe universal follow button on it as well
Replied to a tweet by Thread Reader AppThread Reader App (Twitter)
I’m happy to see the response so far. I hope it rises above the threshold for wanting to build it into ThreadReaderApp as a feature.

I’ll note, hopefully for ease of implementation, that a Micropub solution will already allow you to post to WordPress, Drupal, WithKnown, Craft, Jekyll, Kirby, Hugo, Blot, Micro.blog and others.

There is also an open source project called Silo.pub that provides a micropub endpoint for services like Tumblr, WordPress.com, Blogger, and Twitter (among others). Aaron Parecki has a public version I’m sure he wouldn’t mind if you tried.

Other platforms could quickly allow the functionality and so much more by building their own micropub servers, which would be a major boon to the social media space and the open web. 

If you have questions about implementation while building, feel free to pop into the IndieWeb chat (where prior implementers and others) are available for help. (Alternate chat modalities including Slack and IRC are available if you prefer.)

 

Replied to fixing reposts by Malcolm BlaneyMalcolm Blaney (mblaney.xyz)
I received some feedback during the week that creating a full content re-post wasn't ok. I accept that this is a pretty common view, probably the view of the majority of people. But what to do if you like the idea of full content re-posts? I am more than happy for people to share my writing, but I ...

I totally get where both sides are coming from. It’s definitely a presentation problem.

I’ve even had incoming emails in the past like this. Once a site owner actually asked me to add a rel=”canonical” tag to point back to their site, which I was quite impressed with. Ultimately I just fixed my display and provided only an excerpt. My intention was only to ever provide the reposted site the ultimate credit.

These days I don’t do too much reposting at all, and if I do, I’ll highlight a snippet and then ping the Internet Archive to save a copy on my behalf so that it’s still there in the future if I want to refer back to an original.

In rare cases for things that I find highly important, I’ll also repost, but keep it as a private post on my site that only I can see as an archived copy. Other times I’ll post and also add a rel-canonical back to the original site. I’m certainly never reposting as a means of creating traffic for my own site.

It’s interesting to me how frequently these same sorts of behaviors on personal websites will freak people out when they’re daily occurrences within the social sphere where they may not have better presentation. I had an online magazine send me a take down request a few weeks back for using a photo version of one of their generic mastheads in a spot that was obviously a reply context (and incidentally met all the requirements of fair use). Sometimes you can’t win despite your best intentions–just keep trying and we’ll get there.

Read A fresh look for your Microblogs, Twitter and Facebook Feeds by Inoreader (Inoreader blog)
If you’ve browsed your Twitter or Facebook page feeds in the last week, you have probably noticed that we changed the presentation of the posts, so they are more coherent with how a microblog post should look like. Initially, Inoreader started as a pure RSS reader and titles are an essential part ...
titleless posts!