Webmentions haven't really been revisited in some time (and with the advent of people leaning to Webmention.io). This is a chance to see what's been really wanted, what hasn't worked and where we can go with it. Let's webmunch on the riddle of webmentions. How can we get more people hosting their own webmention sending, receiving, and validating? How can we prevent Webmention.io from being the beginning and end of IndieWeb participants' use of webmentions?
I was reminded today that one can subscribe to an RSS/ATOM feed of annotations on their site (or any site for that matter) using the feed format
https://hypothes.is/stream.rss?wildcard_uri=https://www.example.org/* and replacing the example.org URL with the desired one. Nota bene: the /* at the end makes the query a wildcard to find anything on your site. If you leave it off you’ll only get the annotations on your homepage.
If you’re using Hypothes.is in an off-label use case Tom Critchlow and CJ Eller trying this out in the past.on your website, this can be invaluable. I recall
To go a step further, one can also use this scheme to get a feed of @mentions of their Hypothes.is username too. If I’m not mistaken, based on some preliminary tests, this method should work for finding
username both with and without the
@ being included.
These are a few interesting tidbits for those who are using Hypothes.is not only for the social annotation functionality, but as a social media site or dovetailing it with their own websites and related workflows.
I’ve updated my footer so the copyright dates include 2021. I’ve also updated the Webmention button so that it now points at my standalone endpoint for those who may not see or want to use the input box on individual posts. Finally I modified the text that appears on both the standalone endpoint as well as the individual post boxes on each post so that the same text works to properly describe both cases.
I also spent some time trying to fix my fragmention/fragmentioner, but I’m not quite there yet.
In 1965 Ted Nelson imagined a system of interactive, extendable text where words would be freed from the constraints of paper documents. This hypertext would make documents linkable.
Twenty years later, Tim Berners Lee took inspiration from Nelson's vision, as well as other narratives like Vannevar Bush's Memex, to create the World Wide Web. Hypertext came to life.
There are a few missing pieces for the primacy of some of these ideas. The broader concept of the commonplace book predated Nelson and Bush by centuries and surely informed much (if not all) of their thinking about these ideas. It’s assuredly the case that people already had the ideas either in their heads or written down and the links between them existed only in their minds or to some extent in indices as can be found in the literature—John Locke had a particularly popular index method that was widely circulated.
The other piece I find missing is a more historical and anthropological one which Western culture has wholly discounted until recently. There’s a pattern around the world of indigenous peoples in primarily oral cultures using mnemonic techniques going back at least 40,000 years. Many of these techniques were built into daily life in ways heretofore unimagined in modern Western Culture, but which are a more deeply layered version of transclusion imagined here. In some sense they transcluded almost all of their most important knowledge into their daily lives. The primary difference is that all the information was stored visually and associatively in the minds of people rather than on paper (through literacy) or via computers. The best work I’ve seen on the subject is Lynne Kelly’s Knowledge and Power in Prehistoric Societies: Orality, Memory and the Transmission of Culture which has its own profound thesis and is underpinned by a great deal of archaeologic and anthropologic primary research. Given its density I recommend her short lecture Modern Memory, Ancient Methods which does a reasonable job of scratching the surface of these ideas.
Another fantastic historical precursor of these ideas can be found in ancient Jewish writings like the Mishnah which is often presented as an original, more ancient text surrounded by annotated interpretations which are surrounded by other re-interpretations on the same page. Remi Kalir and Antero Garcia have a good discussion of this in their book Annotation (MIT Press, 2019).
It would create a more layered and nuanced form of hypertext – something we’re exploring in the Digital Gardening movement. We could build accumulative, conversational exchanges with people on the level of the word, sentence, and paragraph, not the entire document. Authors could fix typos, write revisions, and push version updates that propogate across the web the same way we do with software. ❧
The Webmention spec allows for resending notifications and thus subsequent re-parsing and updating of content. This could be a signal sent to any links to the content that it had been updated and allow any translcuded pages to update if they wished.
Annotated on February 09, 2021 at 02:38PM
In this idealised utopia we obviously want to place value on sharing and curation as well as original creation, which means giving a small fraction of the payment to the re-publisher as well.We should note monetisation of all this content is optional. Some websites would allow their content to be transcluded for free, while others might charge hefty fees for a few sentences. If all goes well, we’d expect the majority of content on the web to be either free or priced at reasonable micro-amounts. ❧
While this is nice in theory, there’s a long road strewn with attempts at micropayments on the web. I see new ones every six months or so. (Here’s a recent one: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLqrvNoDE35lFDUv2enkaEKuo6ATBj9GmL)
This also dramatically misses the idea of how copyright and intellectual property work in many countries with regard to fair use doctrine. For short quotes and excerpts almost anyone anywhere can do this for free already. It’s definitely nice and proper to credit the original, but as a society we already have norms for how to do this.
Annotated on February 09, 2021 at 02:46PM
Transclusion would make this whole scenario quite different. Let’s imagine this again… ❧
Many in the IndieWeb have already prototyped this using some open web standards. It’s embodied in the idea of media fragments and fragmentions, a portmanteau of the words fragment and Webmention.
A great example can be found at https://www.kartikprabhu.com/articles/marginalia
This reminds me that I need to kick my own server to fix the functionality on my main site and potentially add it to a few others.
Annotated on February 09, 2021 at 02:59PM
We can easily imagine transclusions going the way of the public comments section. ❧
There are definitely ways around this, particularly if it is done by the site owner instead of enabled by a third party system like News Genius or Hypothes.is.
Examples of this in the wild can be found at https://indieweb.org/annotation#Annotation_Sites_Enable_Abuse.
Annotated on February 09, 2021 at 03:04PM
If the original quoted page changes, it could potentially send a webmention (technically a salmention in function) to all the pages that had previously mentioned it to create updates.
Automatic transclusion can also be more problematic in terms of original useful data being used as a vector of spam, graffiti, or other abuses.
As an example, I can “transclude” a portion of your page onto my own website as a reply context for my comment and syndicate a copy to Hypothes.is. If you’ve got Webmentions on your site, you’ll get a notification.
For several years now I’ve been considering why digital gardens/zettelkasten/commonplace books don’t implement webmention as a means of creating backlinks between wikis as a means of sites having conversations?
Note: I’ve also gone in and annotated a copy of Maggie Appleton’s article with some additional thoughts that Aquiles Carattino and others may appreciate.
(Hint: this also works for other common social platforms which Bridgy supports. As examples, I’ve got two-way communication set up between my site and Github and Mastodon just to name a few, so I don’t need to actively visit those sites on a regular basis. I pipe most of the content into a social reader like Monocle or Indigenous and reply directly from there.)
Webmention can be used as some of the community glue for things you’ve mentioned in your thread as well. As an example, I can post on my website and syndicate that content to IndieWeb.xyz (using Webmention) where others can discover it (perhaps by category) and interact with it using their own websites. If they have Webmention support as well we can have a site to site conversation that could potentially all be mirrored on IndieWeb.xyz which acts as a conversation and discovery hub.
This ecosystem is slowly growing and flourishing, but we still need work on making it all easier and more accessible as well as helping to guard against potential abuses and bad actors to make things safer for bigger public communities at scale. (I notice you’ve got a great site, that touches on and covers some of these topics like security and identity.)
An analytics dashboard for webmention.io data. Contribute to maxboeck/webmention-analytics development by creating an account on GitHub.
I built a tool to analyze incoming webmentions. This new side project generates monthly reports to see how and where content is mentioned.
It also serves to help visually indicate that your site supports the protocol if you don’t have a button/badge for it that points to something like https://mike.rockwell.mx/wp-json/webmention/1.0/endpoint. For those that care or are in-the-know there are manual services like https://telegraph.p3k.io/send-a-webmention or http://mention-tech.appspot.com/ which could be used as well.
On some sites I follow, I use those boxes about once or twice a month. I use it a bit more frequently on my own site to manually send myself webmentions from other sites that don’t send them, but which I come across either randomly or via refbacks.
Installed the Webmentions plugin for WordPress. Really digging it, even with just a little bit of experience with it so far. Micro.blog’s support for it is okay
It warms my heart to see another person in the education/library space using Webmention on their site. Even more so when I think that Jez Cope is doing so while starting to build an online community. Being able to communicate from website-to-website this way while also being able to reach out to people who choose to use Twitter or Mastodon is a very powerful thing to see and is an incredible example within the Education, Domain of One’s Own, and Library Carpentry spaces.
So much of the tone of this piece has not only an IndieWeb feel, but also sounds like it could benefit from some of the organizational structure that I’ve seen the IndieWeb employ, particularly small scale events and collaborations I’ve seen at Homebrew Website Clubs. This may help to
“Organise less-formal learning and sharing events to complement the more formal training already available within organisations and the wider sector, including “show and tell” sessions, panel discussions, code cafés, masterclasses, guest speakers, reading/study groups, co-working sessions, …”
Mine does. I also keep a list of people who have IndieWeb sites and most (though not all) will support Webmentions: https://boffosocko.com/about/following/
Most under the IndieWeb and some under the IndieWeb for Education and Blogger headings will support webmentions.
You can find others by browsing through Brid.gy users, the vast majority of whom will support it as will users of Micro.blog. Another good source of discovery is the IndieWeb webring: https://🕸💍.ws.
If you’d like, you can add a Webmention button to your site to visually indicate that you support it.
: Also, if you want to meet some “in person”, I’d welcome you to join one of our virtual meetups coming up: https://events.indieweb.org/