👓 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:

Reply to The Indieweb privacy challenge (Webmentions, silo backfeeds, and the GDPR) by Sebastian Greger

Replied to The Indieweb privacy challenge (Webmentions, silo backfeeds, and the GDPR) by Sebastian GregerSebastian Greger (sebastiangreger.net)
Originally intended to showcase a privacy-centred implementation of emerging social web technologies – with the aim to present a solution not initially motivated by legal requirements, but as an example of privacy-aware interaction design – my “social backfeed” design process unveiled intricate challenges for Indieweb sites, both for privacy in general and legal compliance in particular.

Again Sebastian Greger has written up a well-thought-out and nuanced approach to design. Here he discusses privacy and GDPR with a wealth of research and direct personal experience in these areas. He’s definitely written something interesting which I hope sparks the beginning of a broader conversation and evaluation of our ethics.

There’s so much to think about and process here, that I’ll have to re-read and think more specifically about all the details. I hope to come back to this later to mark it up and annotate it further.

I’ve read relatively deeply about a variety of privacy issues as well as the weaponization of data and its improper use by governments and businesses to unduly influence people. For those who are unaware of this movement over the recent past, I would highly recommend Cathy O’Neil’s text Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy, which provides an excellent overview with a variety of examples about how the misuse of data can be devastating not just to individuals who are broadly unaware of it, but entire segments of society.

There is a lot of publicly available data we reveal via social media and much of it one might flippantly consider “data exhaust” which has little, if any inherent value by itself. Unfortunately when used in aggregate, it can reveal striking things about us which we may either not be aware of ourselves or which  we wouldn’t want to be openly known.

My brief thought here is that much like the transition from the use of smaller arms and handguns, which can kill people in relatively small numbers, to weapons like machine guns on up to nuclear weapons, which have the ability to quickly murder hundreds to millions at a time, we will have to modify some of our social norms the way we’ve modified our “war” norms over the past century. We’ll need to modify our personal social contracts so that people can still interact with each other on a direct basis without fear of larger corporations, governments, or institutions aggregating our data, processing it, and then using it against us in ways which unduly benefit them and tremendously disadvantage us as individuals, groups, or even at the level of entire societies.

In my mind, we need to protect the social glue that holds society together and improves our lives while not allowing the mass destruction of the fabric of society by large groups based on their ability to aggregate, process, and use our own data against us.

Thank you Sebastian for kicking off a broader conversation!

Disclaimer: I’m aware that in posting this to my own site that it will trigger a tacit webmention which will ping Sebastian Greger’s website. I give him permission to display any and all data he chooses from the originating web page in perpetuity, or until such time as I send a webmention either modifying or deleting the content of the originating page. I say this all with some jest, while I am really relying on the past twenty years of general social norms built up on the internet and in general society as well as the current practices of the IndieWeb movement to govern what he does with this content.

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:

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:

🔖 Indivisible.blue: WordPress hosting for the #resistance

Bookmarked Indivisible.blue: WordPress hosting for the #resistance (Indivisible Network)
The Quick Pitch ✓ You want to #resist the reckless, corrupt, and destructive agenda of the Trump Administration and the GOP Congress. ✓ You found or heard about the Indivisible Guide and the groundswell movement it’s igniting, and you’ve started to organize with like-minded citizens in you...

This is certainly an interesting use of WordPress

IndieWeb and Webmentions plugin for WordPress FTW!

I don’t think I’d used it before or really seen it happening in the wild, but Khurt Williams used his website to reply to one of my posts via Webmention. I was then able to write my reply directly within the comments section of my original post and automatically Webmention his original back in return! Gone are the days of manually cutting and pasting replies so that they appear to thread correctly within WordPress!

Without all the jargon, we’re actually using our own websites to carry on a back and forth threaded conversation in a way that completely makes sense.

In fact, other than that our conversation is way over the 280 character limit imposed by Twitter, the interaction was as easy and simple from a UI perspective as it it is on Twitter or even Facebook. Hallelujah!

This is how the internet was meant to work!

A hearty thanks to those who’ve made this possible! It portends a sea-change in how social media works.

Three cheers for the #IndieWeb!!!

Syndicated copies to:

🔖 The Story of Your Life: Using WordPress as Your Memory Warehouse

Bookmarked The Story of Your Life: Using WordPress as Your Memory Warehouse by Brianna Privett (WordCamp US 2017)
The Personal Web of the 1990s/early 2000s was the first wave of online diarists and bloggers who use the web as a platform to chronicle and share their our daily lives. WordPress came out of this movement, and is now in its second decade. 2017 marks 20 years that I’ve been using the web to create and archive memories, and 12 years that I’ve been doing it with WordPress. I’ve learned a few things about creating a real and permanent record of a lifetime on the ephemeral digital landscape, and together we’ll discuss how to use WordPress to create your own home on the web. We’ll cover topics such as how to maintain your (and your family’s) privacy, using WordPress to build a keepsake repository your friends and family can contribute to, and how to ensure that these digital spaces are available as a legacy for lifetimes to come.

I can’t wait until WordPress.TV (presumably) posts this up in a few weeks. This sounds a lot like Brianna’s talking about a web-enabled commonplace book, a topic which intrigues me greatly and the purpose for which I’m most often using my own site.

In looking briefly at her personal site, I don’t see lots of evidence of her use of the idea, so I’m guessing that she’s either keeping it privately on her back end, password protected, or on another site altogether like I do for some of my content. Her talk mentions this, so I’m excited to see how she executes on it.

I’m also curious, after having recently remotely attended the Dodging the Memory Hole 2017 conference, how she’s archiving and backing it up for future generations, particularly if she’s keeping large chunks privately.

I’m keeping my eyes open to see if she posts slides from her presentation.

Update December 10, 2017:

Here are links to the slides (Google Docs version).

The video has also been posted today on WordPress.tv:
Brianna Privett: The Story of Your Life: Using WordPress as Your Memory Warehouse

Syndicated copies to:

👓 Zen and the Art of Blog Maintenance | Aaron Davis

Read Zen and the Art of Blog Maintenance by Aaron Davis (Read Write Respond)
This is a reflection on my recent challenges associated with maintaining a blog and an explanation of why I persist in doing it.
Syndicated copies to:

IndieWeb on WordPress by Khürt Williams

Bookmarked IndieWeb on WordPress (Island in the Net)
I have had a web presence since about 2001. Initially, I set up a blog using Radio Userland but quickly abandoned that when Google launched Blogger. I then jumped to Tumblr then back to Blogger. But it wasn’t until 2005 that I finally registered a domain, islandinthenet.com, and started hosting my online presence, my “house”, on WordPress.

One of my favorite IndieWeb quotes thus far, and certainly a sentiment I’ve had many times:

I visited the IndieWeb wiki and went down a rabbit hole of information. As I read, I kept nodding my head, “Yes, we need this. I have to do this.”

Khürt also highlights another good reason for IndieWeb:

Each time Instagram changed their terms of service to something with which I disagreed, I would delete my account. I am on my third Instagram account. I have a lot of image posts with missing content.

Despite some of the problems people have in getting some IndieWeb technology to work the way it could, I’m very heartened by people like Khürt Williams who see the value of it to the extent that they’ll struggle through the UX/UI issues (which are ever improving through the herculean efforts of so many in the community) to make it work for them.


Since Khürt may not be following developments as closely, I’ll briefly mention that the overhead involved for owning your Instagram posts and FourSquare/Swarm posts is coming along with efforts like Aaron Parecki’s OwnYourGram and OwnYourSwarm. David Shanske has been working diligently on updating some of the workflow for the Post Kinds plugin to work better with checkins and locations for FourSquare/Swarm. For WordPress specific users who want an alternate Instagram option that uses a PESOS syndicaton/ crossposting model, I’ve also found some excellent results with the DsgnWrks Instagram Importer, which provides a bit more WordPress specific data and integrates wonderfully with David Shanske’s Simple Location plugin.

I’m hoping that Michael Bishop’s idea of doing weekly updates on WordPress specific IndieWeb updates will help those who are interested in keeping up with movement in the community without needing to read the chat logs or GitHub updates regularly.

As for the issue of Akismet spam and Webmentions, this is a known problem that Akismet is aware of and hopefully working on. In the meantime, there’s a documented work around that will fix the issue that has (in the practice of several hundred people using it) an exceedingly low rate of allowing spam through.​​​​​

Syndicated copies to:

👓 WordPress is a Typewriter by Jack Baty

Read WordPress is a Typewriter by Jack Baty (baty.net)
Using WordPress makes me feel like that boy at the Type-In. I feel like the words are going right onto the paper. Sure, the metaphor is a little thin, but the point is that when writing with WordPress (or any CMS, really), the distance between what I’m typing and what I’m publishing is very short. The only thing closer is editing HTML directly on a live page, but that’s something only crazy people do. On the other hand, publishing a static site is like sending a document to a printer. I have to make sure everything is connected, that there’s paper in the machine, and then wait for the job to finish before seeing the output. If something needs editing, and something always needs editing, the whole process starts over.

I’ve never thought of it in these terms, but there is a nice immediacy and satisfaction to WordPress for this reason. (Though naturally one shouldn’t compose in their CMS in any case.)

I might submit that his issue is a deeper one about on which platform and where to publish though given that he’s got almost as many personal websites as I do social silos. The tougher part for him is making a decision where to publish and why in addition to all the overhead of maintaining so many sites. However, I’m not one to point fingers here since I’ve got enough sites of my own, so I know his affliction.

Syndicated copies to:

In honor of Dodging the Memory Hole 2017 this week, for free (hosting and domain registration not included) I’ll offer to build one journalist or academic a basic IndieWeb-capable WordPress-based portfolio website to display and archive their personal work.

Preference will be given to those in attendance at the conference, but any who need an “author platform” for their work are welcome. Comment or reply below by 11/25/17 to enter.

 

Syndicated copies to:

OPML files for categories within WordPress’s Links Manager

Last week I wrote about creating my following page and a related OPML file which one could put into a feed reader to subscribe to the list itself instead of importing it. I haven’t heard anyone mention it (yet), but I suspect that like I, some may be disappointed that some feed readers that allow OPML subscriptions don’t always respect the categorizations within the file and instead lump all of the feeds into one massive list. Fortunately there’s a quick remedy!

WordPress in its wisdom used a somewhat self-documenting API that allows one to create standalone OPML files by category. Thus if you only want to subscribe to just the feeds categorized as IndieWeb related in my OPML file, you can append the category id to the end of the URL to filter the others out.

The main OPML file: http://boffosocko.com/wp-links-opml.php
The IndieWeb only file: http://boffosocko.com/wp-links-opml.php?link_cat=1521

So in general, for WordPress sites one can append ?link_cat=[category id] (with or with out the brackets) to the main URL for the OPML file typically found at http://www.example.com/wp-links-opml.php.

I was going to post about this later this week after running across it this weekend, but by odd serendipity, while I was subscribing to Henrik Carlsson’s site I noticed that he posted a note about this very same thing recently! Thanks for the unintended nudge Henrik!

For quick reference, below are links to the specific OPML files for the following categories within my larger OPML file for those who’d like to subscribe to subsections:

Syndicated copies to: