Reply to Blog Engines and Indieweb Controlling Upstream by Brad Enslen

Replied to Blog Engines and Indieweb Controlling Upstream by Brad EnslenBrad Enslen (Brad Enslen)
All this WordPress 5.0 Gutenberg stuff got me thinking.  With WordPress it seems like the Indieweb starts making serious and cool progress and the WordPress people come along and knock the game board and pieces off the table.  And it sounds like the disruption from WordPress is going to continue f...

Brad, I like and agree with your general thoughts, but I think that looking at the long term broader picture, most of what you’re describing is covered under the umbrella principle of plurality. For things to grow and thrive, we all need plurality to flourish. As a result there are several hundred projects within the broader IndieWeb which are growing and thriving. It seems far slower because a large number of the projects are single-maintainer single-user ones which are being built for personal use.

It’s nice that there are mass-scale projects like WordPress, WithKnown, Get Perch, Grav, Drupal, and a few others which have one or more “IndieWeb-centric” developers working on them that allow those without the coding skills to jump in and enjoy the additional freedom and functionality. The occasional drawback is that those big-hearted developers also fit into the broader fabric of those massively distributed projects and sometimes their voices aren’t as well heard, if at all.

I’m aware of the disruption of the Gutenberg Editor within WordPress v5.0 and how it applies to those using IndieWeb technology on WordPress. I’m sure it will eventually get sorted out in a reasonable fashion. Sadly, throwing out the baby out with the bathwater as it comes to WordPress and IndieWeb may not be the best solution for many people and may actually be a painful detriment to several hundreds.

While it would be interesting to see a larger group of developers converge on building an open and broadly used IndieWeb system as you suggest, it takes a massive amount of work and community collaboration to get such a thing moving. I think this bears out if you look at the lay of the land as it already exists. Just think of the time effort and energy that the core IndieWeb community puts into the tremendous amount of resources that exist today.

Looking back on the past 4+ years of IndieWeb within the WordPress community, I’m really amazed to see exactly how far things have come and where things currently stand. There used to be a dozen or more pieces that required custom code, duct tape, and baling wire to get things working. Now it’s a handful of relatively stable and well set up pieces that—particularly for me—really makes WordPress deliver as an open source content management system and next generation social medial platform that aims to democratize publishing. In terms of building for the future, I suspect that helping to bring new people into the fold (users, developers, designers, etc.) will increase and improve the experience overall. To some degree, I feel like we’re just getting started on what is possible and recruiting new users and help will be the best thing for improving things moving forward. IndieWeb integration into large-scale projects like WordPress, Drupal, etc. are very likely to be the place that these ideas are likely to gain a foothold in the mainstream and change the tide of how the internet works.

While it may seem daunting at times, in addition to the heroic (part-time, it needs to be noted) developers like Mathias Pfefferle, David Shanske, Micah Cambre, Michael Bishop, Ashton McAllan, Jack Jamieson,  Ryan Barrett, Peter MolnarAmanda Rush; enthusiastic supporters like you, Greg McVerry, Aaron Davis, Manton Reece; and literally hundreds of others (apologies to those I’ve missed by name) who are using and living with these tools on a daily basis, there are also quieter allies like Brandon Kraft, Ryan Boren, Jeremy Herve and even Matt himself, even if he’s not directly aware of it, who are contributing in their own ways as well. Given the immense value of what IndieWeb brings to the web, I can’t imagine that they won’t ultimately win out.

If it helps, some of the current IndieWeb issues pale in comparison to some of the accessibility problems that Gutenberg has neglected within the WordPress community. Fortunately those a11ys are sticking with the greater fight to make things better not only for themselves, but for the broader community and the world. I suggest that, like them, we all suit up and continue the good fight.

Of course part of the genius of how IndieWeb is structured: anyone is free to start writing code, make better UI, and create something of their own. Even then they benefit from a huge amount of shared work, resources, and simple standards that are already out there.

Syndicated copies to:

Reply to It’s time for a new branch of public media by Ben Werdmüller

Replied to It's time for a new branch of public media by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller (Ben Werdmüller)
President Lyndon B Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act in 1967, which established the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Previously, an independent public broadcaster had been established through grants by the Ford Foundation, but Ford began to withdraw its support. Here's what he said: "It...

I’ve been thinking very similarly along these lines for six months or more, but with a particular slant at journalistic enterprises. I’ve specifically been considering what would happen if small local newspapers and other journalistic outlets were running IndieWeb-esque platforms for their local communities. This would potentially help to moderate and encourage local conversations and consumption of local grown content and journalism and potentially improve the toxicity of general social media or massive issues like those that Facebook is facing with genocidal effects of their platform in Myanmar where they didn’t have any local presence or moderation much less people in-house who had language capabilities to even begin to deal with these issues. This type of mission could better empower entities to improve both local journalism by binding it to a different substrate as a financial model  and fix many of the issues we see with social media simultaneously.

This general idea also isn’t too dissimilar from Greg McVerry’s idea of having local libraries allow patrons to “check out” (aka set up) their own domains and social presences/identities using their library cards.

The difficulty I see is that as the world moves toward increased specialization, that looking for newspapers or even municipalities to oversee and maintain such infrastructure may be difficult. I already see issues with smaller outlets building and maintaining their own publishing platforms with simple out-of-the-box CMS solutions that are relatively easy-to-use and modify with simple plugins. (In a recent inventory of my local news sources, I’ll note here that nearly 100% of the local online news sources for my community are running on WordPress, but not all of them have a huge amount of technical knowledge about what and how they’re doing it in those spaces). The growth of content management systems like Ghost, which has a journalistic bent, also indicates that there isn’t a “perfect solution” to the CMS problem, much less the issues of running IndieWeb-like platforms/clusters based on simpler platforms like WordPress or even Known. There’s certainly a lot of space out there for third party companies to help grow and expand in both of these areas (community-based social platforms as well as journalism platforms and admixtures thereof.)

If local institutions or even governments did move in this direction, then their users are at the potential mercy of third-party businesses which may not necessarily be aligned with local values.  An example of something akin to this was covered recently in The Daily on their episode Taking Over Local News. I’m also reminded about of my poor experiences  with un-moderated third party platforms like Nextdoor.com can be.

Another microcosm to look at is how hundreds of thousands of public libraries are interfacing with the four or more media suppliers of e-books and what that financial model looks like as, if taken, I would suspect a similar trajectory for local social public media. Similarly looking at how municipalities interface with cable franchising can reveal some pitfalls to avoid moving forward with respect to monopolies and competition.

Certainly some additional thought about how to solve these issues at the smaller local and personal levels is welcome. Thanks for dipping into and expanding my surface area of thinking Ben.

Read Tending towards 1.0 | With Known by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller (groups.google.com)

Before we begin -

  1. Hi! I'm going to return to spending more time on Known. As you may know, I was Director of Investments at Matter Ventures for the last two years or so, which occupied a disproportionate amount of my time. This is no longer the case. While I'm working on another open source project - Unlock - during the day, I'll be able to devote more attention to Known.
  2. Known deserves a 1.0 release, and will get one. Marcus and I have spoken quite a bit about the route forward.
  3. Commercial enhancements to Known, like the hosted service and Convoy, will get their own update. Going forward, any commercial ambitions or support for Known will be secondary to the open source project, if they exist at all.

Okay. With all of that said, I'd like to put the following out for discussion. Replies, questions, and criticisms are welcome!

This may be some of the best news I’ve heard in months! Known is one of my favorite open source CMSes that’s easy to spin up and use. It also supports so many awesome IndieWeb specs like Webmention, Micropub, WebSub, etc. right out of the box.

The runner up awesome news is that Reclaim Hosting is very likely to revamp their installatron version of it.

Syndicated copies to:

Refback from IndieWeb Chat

It took me a moment to realize what it was exactly since I hadn’t yet added a field to indicate it, but since the IndieWeb chat doesn’t send webmentions by itself, I’m glad I support refbacks to be aware of comments on my posts. The avatar didn’t come through quite like it should, but it’s nice to be able to treat refbacks like any other type of mention.

Thanks David Shanske for the Refbacks plugin. Thanks Tantek for what I think is my first incoming “mention” from chat.

The chat has some reasonable microformats markup, so I suppose the parser could do a more solid job, but this is a pretty great start. Sadly, Refback isn’t as real-time as Webmention, but it’s better than nothing.

My first mention (aka refback) from the IndieWeb chat. Click on the photo to see the UI display on my site.

I suppose we could all be posting chats on our own sites and syndicating into places like IRC to own our two directional conversations, but until I get around to the other half… (or at least for WordPress, I recall having gotten syndication to IRC for WithKnown working a while back via plugin.)

Reply to Marcus Povey about #Indiewebcamp Oxford

Replied to #Indiewebcamp Oxford by Marcus PoveyMarcus Povey (Marcus Povey)
This weekend I attended the first Oxford Indieweb camp, kindly organised by Garrett. Day 1 Due to an early start, and not enough coffee, I had left my phone at home, and so couldn’t log into anything. Two factor auth on things ...

Don’t keep us in suspense… What was the new plugin?!

👓 After 5 years and $3M, here’s everything we’ve learned from building Ghost | Ghost

Read After 5 years and $3M, here's everything we've learned from building Ghost by John O'Nolan, Hannah Wolfe (Ghost)
It's always fun to use these milestones to take a step back and reflect on the journey so far. On previous birthdays I've talked about revenue milestones and product updates, but this year I'm going to focus more on all the things we've learned since we started.

In reading this, I took a look at downloading and self-hosting a copy of Ghost for myself, but the barrier and work involved was beyond my patience to bother with. For an open source project that prides itself on user experience, this seemed at odds. Perhaps this is playing itself out better for the paid monthly customers? But in this case, it doesn’t support many of the pieces of infrastructure I find de rigueur now: Webmention support and microformats which I understand they have no plans to support anytime soon.

Looking at their project pages and site though it does seem like they’ve got a reasonable layout and sales pitch for a CMS project, though it’s probably a bit too much overkill on selling when it could be simpler. Perhaps it might be a model for creating a stronger community facing page for the WithKnown open source project, presuming the education-focused corporate side continues as a status quo?

They did seem to be relatively straightforward in selling themselves against WordPress and what they were able to do and not do. I’m curious what specifically they’re doing to attract journalists? I couldn’t find anything specifically better than anything else on the market that would set it apart other than their promise on ease-of-use.

There were some interesting insights for those working within the IndieWeb community as well as businesses which might build themselves upon it.

Highlights:

Decentralised platforms fundamentally cannot compete on ease of setup. Nothing beats the UX of signing up for a centralised application.

We spent a very long time trying to compete on convenience and simplicity. This was our biggest mistake and the hardest lesson to learn.

Syndicated copies to:

Reply to iamjeffperry tweet about community infrastructure

Replied to a Twitter thread by Jeff PerryJeff Perry (Twitter)

Perhaps in the vein of what you might be looking for, I’ve got a multi-user site built on WithKnown. It functions much like a stand-alone-Facebook-like service where users have their own accounts and can interact with each other on the service. It also has an OAuth server which allows users to use their own websites to log in and be able to post or syndicate content from their own websites into it, that way they have a choice of owning all of the content they post to it or not.

Note: this particular test site is meant more for folks to do quick test drives of the Known platform rather than serving as a platform in the way you’re describing. As an example of what you may be looking for though, here’s an original post on my own website (note the “also on” link at the bottom) and here’s the copy that was syndicated into the separate “community service” on an entirely different domain.

I suspect you could use other sites/services like WordPress to do something like this as well.

Alternately, you could have folks post on their own site and aggregate things in a “planet-like” fashion via RSS (by keyword perhaps) or other means on a central hub as suggested by Aaron Parecki.

Syndicated copies to:

🔖 Notes on the future of the WithKnown Commercial Product

Bookmarked Notes on the future of the WithKnown Commercial Product

Syndicated copies to:

An Indieweb Podcast: Episode 3 “Syndication”

Episode 3: Syndication


Running time: 52m 56s | Download (24.9 MB) | Subscribe by RSS

Summary: Facebook has recently announced it will be shutting off its API access on August 1st for automating posts into its ecosystem. For a large number of users this means it will be much more difficult to crosspost or syndicate their content into the platform. As a result, this week David Shanske and I discuss the good and the bad of this move as well as some general thoughts around the ideas of syndicating content from one site to another.

David also discusses plans he’s got for changes to both the Bridgy Publish Plugin and the Syndication Links Plugin.

 
Huffduff this Episode


Show Notes

Related Articles and Posts

Resources and mentions within the episode

# Indicates a direct link to the appropriate part of the audio within the episode for the mentioned portion.

Syndicated copies to:

An IndieWeb Podcast: Episode 1 “Leaving Facebook”

Episode 1 Leaving Facebook

This first half of the episode was originally recorded in March, abruptly ended, and then was not completed until April due to scheduling.

It’s been reported that Cambridge Analytica has improperly taken and used data from Facebook users in an improper manner, an event which has called into question the way that Facebook handles data. David Shanske and I discuss some of the implications from an IndieWeb perspective and where you might go if you decide to leave Facebook.

Show Notes

Articles

The originating articles that kicked off the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica issue:

Related articles and pages

Recent Documented Facebook Quitters

Jonathan LaCourEddie Hinkle, Natalie Wolchover, Cher, Tea Leoni, Adam McKay, Leo Laporte,and Jim Carrey

New York Times Profile of multiple quitters: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/21/technology/users-abandon-facebook.html

IndieWeb Wiki related pages of interest

Potential places to move to when leaving Facebook

You’ve made the decision to leave Facebook? Your next question is likely to be: to move where? Along with the links above, we’ve compiled a short list of IndieWeb-related places that might make solid options.

Syndicated copies to:

👓 Untangling @WithKnown plugin conflicts on the #IndieWeb (Reactions vs Bookmarks)

Read Untangling WithKnown plugin conflicts on the #IndieWeb (Reactions vs Bookmarks) by Peter Vágner (pvagner's Known)
Regarding various Known post types there is a story I would say I think so because at least for me it took so long to sort it out on my instance. After I've installed Known on my domain some time in july 2016 I have realized the Repost and Like post types don't appear to be available right on the ma...

Reply to What Was Known by Jim Groom

Replied to What Was Known by Jim Groom (bavatuesdays)
...the issue for me was Known was contextless for social media. I often post across various sites in response to things and share my photos as part of a conversation, so doing it through Known seemed a bit like working in a vacuum. I use Twitter less and less for discussion, so I wonder if I would feel different about this now, but what I wanted from Known was a way to also view and respond to Tweets, Facebooks statuses, photos on Flickr, Instagram, etc. A kind of reader for my content that would collapse those various conversations for me, and I could respond through my Known as if I was within those apps. I increasingly thought Known would make an awesome read//write feed reader if it had such a feature. The main reason Known fell by the wayside for me was I was not using it to publish in all these spaces, rather doing it post-facto if at all. Does that make sense?

Interestingly, Known had a lot of these features hidden in code under the hood. Sadly they weren’t all built out. It in fact, did have much of a reader (something which Ben indicated they were going to take out of the v1.0 release to slim down the code since it wasn’t being used). It also had a follow/following block of code (and even a bookmarklet at /account/settings/following) so you could follow specific sites and easily add them to your reader. Also unbeknownst to most was a built-in notifications UI which could have been found at /account/notifications.

It’s a shame that they put many of these half-built features on hold in their pivot to focus on the education market and creating a viable cash flow based company as this is the half that most CMSs lack. (If you think about what makes Twitter and Facebook both popular and really simple, I think it is that they’re 95% excellent feed readers with 5% built-in posting interfaces.)

I’ve managed to replace some of that missing functionality with Woodwind, a reader at http://woodwind.xyz, which one could connect with Known to do the reading and then integrate the posting, commenting, and replies to complete the loop. I do have a few very serious developer friends who are endeavoring to make this specific feed reader portion of the equation much easier to implement (and even self-host) to make the hurdle of this problem far lower, but I suspect it’ll be another 3-6 months before a usable product comes out of the process. For those looking to get more social into their feed readers, I often recommend Ryan Barrett’s appspot tools including https://twitter-atom.appspot.com/ which has instructions for extracting content from Twitter via Atom/RSS. It includes links at the bottom of the page for doing similar things with Facebook, Instagram and Google+ as well.

Interestingly there are now enough moving pieces (plugins) in the WordPress community to recreate all of the functionality Known has, one just needs to install them all separately and there are even a few different options for various portions depending on one’s needs. This includes adding reply contexts for social media as well as  both the ability to syndicate posts to multiple social sites for interaction as well as getting the comments, etc. backfeed from those social sites back into the comments section of your post the way Known did. Sadly, the feed reader problem still exists, but it may soon be greatly improved.

Syndicated copies to:

📺 Domains2017 Conference: Tuesday June 6, 3:00pm with the OU Crew | YouTube

Watched Tuesday June 6, 3:00pm with the OU Crew from YouTube
For more information see the blog post for the event at http://virtuallyconnecting.org/blog/2017/05/31/domains17/

Indieweb for Education: Some thoughts after the Domains 17 Conference

There’s some interesting discussion of Indieweb-related principles in this live-streamed (and recorded) conversation (below) from the Domains 2017 conference for educators and technologists which covers a lot of what I’d consider to be Indieweb for Education applications.

In particular, some asked about alternate projects for basing education projects around which aren’t WordPress. Some suggested using WithKnown which is spectacular for its interaction model and flexibility. I suspect that many in the conversation haven’t heard of or added webmentions (for cross-site/cross-platform conversations or notifications) or micropub to their WordPress (or other) sites to add those pieces of functionality that Known comes with out of the box.

Another section of the conversation mentioned looking for ways to take disparate comments from students on their web presences and aggregating them in a more unified manner for easier consumption by the teacher and other students (as opposed to subscribing to each and every student’s RSS feed, a task which can be onerous in classrooms larger than 20 people). To me this sounded like the general concept of a planet, and there are a few simple ways of accomplishing this already, specifically using RSS.

I was also thrilled to hear the ideas of POSSE and PESOS mentioned in such a setting!

An Invitation to Attendees

I’d invite those in attendance at the Domains 17 conference to visit not only the Indieweb wiki, but to feel free to actively participate in the on-going daily discussions (via IRC/Slack/Matrix/Web). I suspect that if there’s enough need/desire that the community would create a dedicated #education channel to help spur the effort to continue to push the idea of owning one’s own domain and using it for educational purposes out into the mainstream. The wiki pages and the always-on chat could be useful tools to help keep many of the educators and technologists who attended Domains17 not only connected after the event, but allow them to continue to push the envelope and document their progress for the benefit of others.

I’ll admit that one of my favorite parts of the Indieweb wiki is that it aggregates the work of hundreds of others in an intuitive way so that if I’m interested in a particular subject I can usually see the attempts that others have made (or at least links to them), determine what worked and didn’t for them, and potentially find the best solution for my particular use case. (I suspect that this is some of what’s missing in the “Domains” community at the moment based on several conversations I heard over the past several days.)

If you’d like, please add yourself to the growing list of Indieweb related educators and technologists. If you need help connecting to any of the community resources and/or chat/IRC/Slack, etc. I’m more than happy to help. Just call, email, or contact me via your favorite channel.

Syndicated copies to:

This has to be the most awesome Indieweb pull request I’ve seen this year.

This has to be the most awesome Indieweb pull request I've seen this year.

WithKnown is a fantastic, free, and opensource content management service that supports some of the most bleeding edge technology on the internet. I’ve been playing with it for over two years and love it!

And today, there’s another reason to love it even more…

This is also a great reminder that developers can have a lasting and useful impact on the world around them–even in the political arena.

Syndicated copies to: