IndieWeb Readlists: Tools and Brainstorming

Readlists revived

Apparently early last year Jim Nielsen (Twitter) cleverly rebuilt an IndieWeb friendly version of readlist functionality! He describes his motivation and provides some examples in his post (Re)Introducing Readlists. You can try it out at https://readlists.jim-nielsen.com/.

Missing ReadLists.com

I fondly remember the original ReadLists site, and I too have desperately missed my account and the ability to more easily create and share “mixtapes, but for reading” from my own site or in formats like .epub, .mobi, and .pdf. I still remember the now missing textbook I made with ReadLists because I foolishly relied on an embeddable widget to display content on my website.

Just a month ago I wanted to pull out all the archived articles of Manfred Keuhn’s excellent and now memory-holed blog Taking Notes and turn them into an e-book. The process was just too painful and tedious, in part because some of the individual articles weren’t individually archived though they were archived on monthly archive pages.

With Jim’s tool the process has now gotten a bit easier.

Brainstorming improvements and other options

It does make me wonder how we might make the the process of doing this sort of thing easier. What sorts of formats and building blocks could mitigate some of the work? Are there an potential standards that could be leveraged? How could one take linkblogs and convert them into a book for reading offline? Could one take an h-feed and pipe it into such a tool? Or RSS/Atom to e-book tools? Could I take collections from tools like Zotero and pipe them into such a service to bundle up journal articles? Could the idea be expanded into something along the lines of Huffduffer and provide similar sorts of native APIs? How could it be made more IndieWeb friendly? Micropub support, perhaps? Could Microsub readers take inputs and provide e-book outputs?

I know that there are a handful of browser extensions that will help one convert URLs into e-books. Some even take lists of open browser tabs and automatically convert them into an e-book, but these don’t allow one to easily share the lists so that users can pick and choose what to omit, or add other content to them.

How might we encourage community curated readlists?

How might this all tie into the rise of the prominence of the newsletter over the past several years? How could I more easily pipe subscriptions into such a tool to give me daily/weekly/monthly e-books of content?

What else are we missing?

This post was originally published on Chris Aldrich

The StoryGraph looks like yet-another-silo in the merry-go-round of social reading sites. I prefer IndieWeb solutions like Gregor Morrill‘s (@gRegorLove) https://indiebookclub.biz/, an app/platform that posts your book reading data and updates to your own website.

Tagging Tom Critchlow (@TomCritchlow) and Ton Zijlstra (@ton_zylstra) for their thoughts and maybe an update on any recent experimentation.

I do wonder if StoryGraph are planning on making the ownership of your own data on your own site easier? That might be a reason for some buy-in.

This post was originally published on Chris Aldrich

When will we have real print-on-demand?

I’ve been thinking it for a while, but have needed to write it down for ages—particularly from my experiences with older manuscripts.

In an age of print-on-demand and reflowing text, why in goodness’ name don’t we have the ability to print almost anything we buy and are going to read in any font size and format we like?

Why couldn’t I have a presentation copy sized version of The Paris Review?

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Why shouldn’t I be able to have everything printed on bible-thin pages of paper for savings in thickness?

Why couldn’t my textbooks be printed with massively large margins for writing notes into more easily? Why not interleaved with blank pages? Particularly near the homework problem sections?

Why couldn’t I buy my own hardcover, custom edition of Annotation with massive five inch margins to really make having a handwritten easier? (C’mon MIT Press, I know it’s part of a pre-existing series, but editorial considerations should have necessitated leaving at least an inch!)

Why can’t I have more choice in a range of fonts, book sizes, margin sizes, and covers?

When are publishing platforms going to give us this?!? 

This post was originally published on Chris Aldrich

Pen and paper publishing to your website? PaperWebsite is on to something.

Handwriting to Website #​​​FTW

While browsing today I ran across an awesome concept called PaperWebsite.com. It allows you to write on paper, take a photo, and then upload it to a website. Your handwritten words published to your website. A tactile writer’s dream.

My immediate thought—I need to have this now!

Articles written by hand in my journal to my website? Short notes that I write on index cards published as microblog updates.  How cool would that be? I was also talking to someone this morning about voice-to-text as a note taking concept. What about that too?

Of course, as you may know, I’ve already got a website. Do I need another one like this for $10/month? Probably not.

Value Proposition

But this has got me wondering “what the value proposition is for Paper Website as a company?” What are they really selling? Domain names? Hosting? Notebooks? They certainly seem to be selling all of the above, but the core product they’re really selling is an easy-to-use interface for transferring paper ideas to digital publishing. And this is exactly what I want!

The problem now is to buy this sub-service without all the other moving pieces like a domain name, hosting, etc., which I don’t need. Taking just the core service and abstracting it to the wider universe of websites could be a major technical hurdle (and nightmare).

IndieWeb and Micropub

Perhaps I could try find an OCR solution and wire it all together myself? I’d rather see the original developer run away with the idea though. So instead I’ll quietly suggest that they could take their current infrastructure and add a small piece.

Since PaperWebsite’s already got the front end up and running, why not add on Micropub support to the back end? Maybe Ben Stokes could take the OCR output and create a new Micropub client that could authenticate to any website with Micropub support? I have to imagine that he could probably program it in a couple of days (borrowing from any of the pre-existing open source clients or libraries out there) and suddenly it’s a product that could work with WordPress, Drupal, WithKnown, Craft, Jekyll, Kirby, Hugo, Blot, and a variety of other platforms that support the W3C spec recommendation or have plugins for it.

The service could publish in “draft” form and allow editing after-the-fact. There’s also infrastructure for cross-syndicating to other social services with Micropub clents, so note cards to my website and automatically syndicated to Twitter, Mastodon, or micro.blog? Yes, please.

And maybe it could be done as a service for a dollar a month or a few dollars a year?

I made a short mention of the idea in the IndieWeb chat, and it’s already a-buzz with implementation ideas… If you’re around Ben, I’m sure folks there would lend a hand if you’re interested.

The website, commonplace book, note taking, stationery, and fountain pen nerd in me is really excited about where this could go from a user interface perspective.

How Moleskine, Leuchtturm, LiveScribe or the other stationery giants haven’t done this already is beyond me. I could also see serious writing apps like  iA Writer or Ulysses doing something like this too.

This post was originally published on Chris Aldrich