Thoughts on hosting an IndieWebCamp Pop-up Session

Thoughts on hosting an IndieWebCamp Pop-up Session
A few weeks back, I hosted a stand alone IndieWebCamp pop-up session. I had promised to scribble down some thoughts about the process and how it might be improved based on my experience. If anyone else has thoughts on how it went or how future events like this could be improved, I’d love to read them.

With traditional in-person two day camps on hold for the foreseeable future as the result of the coronavirus, doing some smaller one day or even one session topics seemed like a good idea at the time. After having done it once, I now think they’re an even better idea. A variety of things came out of the experience that I wouldn’t have anticipated.

Process

I posted the notice for the event to my website and to events.indieweb.org about two weeks in advance. This helped give me enough time to invite about 15 people I expected to be interested in the particular topic. A few tweets as reminders helped in addition to the announcement being early enough to make it into two of the IndieWeb newsletters.

I held the session at 10am Pacific so that we might be able to draw people from the late evening time zones in Europe, mid-afternoon people on the East coast of the U.S. but still late enough in the morning so that people on the West coast of America wouldn’t have to be up too early. This seems to have worked out well though I feel bad that we did likely shortchange several people in India, Asia, and Australia who might have attended.

I expected that I would be starting out small and simple and honestly only expected about 3-6 people to show up. I was initially thinking a tiny, one-topic Homebrew Website Club, but on a weekend.

On the day of the event my guess was that we had about 25 attendees, but statistics after the fact showed that 35 people logged into the session. There were still people arriving into the room at the two hour mark! According to the numbers, there have already been 210+ views of the archived video since it was posted later on the day of the event.

I suppose that future sessions will give additional data to bear the hypothesis out, but one of the side-benefits of having a specific topic announced a few weeks in advance seemed to have brought in a large number of people interested in the particular topic and who were generally unaware of the IndieWeb as a group or a movement. I’ve seen several of these people at subsequent Homebrew Website Club meetups, so using these sessions to help spread the principles of IndieWeb does seem to have been generally useful. About half of the attendees hadn’t been to an IndieWeb event previously. I did try to start with a brief introduction to IndieWeb at the start of the session and offered some follow up at the end, but I probably could have planned for this better.

I wish I had collected people’s emails, but I’ll have to do this manually somehow if we do so now. The traditional signup and organization structure for full camps would have done this, but it would be nice to have a simple workflow for doing this on a lower key basis for pop-ups. Emails would also have helped to put together a post-event questionnaire to potentially create a follow up session.

Thanks certainly goes to all the people who have built pre-existing infrastructure and patterns for pulling off such an event so easily.

Wiki Infrastructure

Since the session, I’ve gone into the IndieWeb wiki and created a stub pseudo-IndieWebCamp listing to help make organizing future stand-alone pop-up sessions a bit easier (particularly for documenting the results after-the-fact.)

The key is to make doing these as easy as possible from an organization standpoint. Having pre-existing pages on the wiki seems to help a lot (or at least feels like it from a mental baggage perspective).

Here are the relevant pages:

Execution

One of the things that was generally missing from the program was some of the hallway chatter and getting-to-know-you preliminary conversation. I think if I were doing another session I’d schedule 15 minutes of preliminary chat and dedicate about 30 minutes of introduction time into the process and encourage people to have a cup of coffee or drink to help make the atmosphere a bit more casual and conversational.

On thing that surprised me was that despite scheduling about an hours’ worth of time to the session we still had a sizeable crowd talking about the topic nearly two hours later. I think having more than just the traditional hour of conversation at a camp was awesome. It helped us not only dig in a bit deeper into the topic, but also helped in managing things given the larger number of attendees over the usual camp setting where 5-15 session attendees has been the norm. Doing it again, I might outline a three hour mini-event to allow covering a bit more material but still keeping things small and relatively casual.

I certainly benefited by the presence of a few old hands in the IndieWeb community showing up and helping out on the day of, particularly in terms of helping to manage Zoom infrastructure and format. A single person could certainly plan and execute a pop-up session, but I would highly recommend that at least two people show up to co-host on the day of the event, especially if the attendance goes over 10 people. 

The IndieWeb Zoom set up prevents organizers from allowing users to share their screens during a session. (This issue has popped up in a few HWCs lately too.)  This was potentially helpful in the earlier days when it was easier for zoombombers to pop into rooms and disrupt a conversation. There have been enough changes to Zoom with precautions built in that this part of the lock down probably isn’t needed any longer, particularly given how useful screen sharing can be.

Despite having many places to indicate RSVP’s I had very little indication of how many would show up. Something to improve this would be nice in the future, though isn’t necessarily mission critical.

I’ve definitely experienced the organizer decompression time required after putting together something big. I feel like there was less of the traditional post-event stress for this one session which allowed me to focus more of my time and attention after-the-fact on the content of the session and getting some work relating to it done. For me at least, I consider this a big personal win.

Create day/time

Traditional camps set aside day two for people to create something related to the session(s) they attended on day one. We didn’t do that for this session ahead of time, but I desperately wish we had created a better space for doing that somehow. Later on the afternoon of the session, I posted a note encouraging people to write, create, or do something tangible. I wish I had created a specific time for either the following day (or even a week later) for everyone to reconvene and do a short demo session as a follow up.

Simply having a blog section and demo page on the wiki did help encourage people to write, blog, and continue thinking and working on the session topic afterwards.

Concentration

One of the things I’ve appreciated since the session is the level of conversation in the general IndieWeb chat rooms, on people’s blogs, and peppered around Twitter and Mastodon. Often when couched into a larger IndieWebCamp there are so many sessions and conversations, the individual topics can seem to be lost in all the hubbub. Fifteen sessions concentrated on one weekend is incredibly invigorating, but because all of the concentration was on just a single topic, there was a lot more focus and energy spent on just that one thing. I sort of feel like this concentration has helped to carry over in the intervening time because I haven’t been as distracted by the thirty other competing things I’d like to work on with respect to my website since.

There has been a lot of specific article writing about this one session as some camps get in entirety.

Perhaps pop-up sessions on broader topics and problems that haven’t had as much work or which have only one or two small examples may benefit from this sort of concentrated work by several people.

I do wonder what may have happened if we had had a broad conversation about the top level topic for an hour and a half and then broken into smaller groups for 45 minutes to talk about sub-topics?

Conclusions

In the end, the session went far better than I ever expected for the amount of time I invested into it. I definitely encourage others to try to put together similar sessions. They’re simple and easy enough to be organized by one person and they can be carried out by one person, though I’d recommend two.

I encourage others to suggest topics and set up other sessions.

Even if you’re not interested in the organization portion, why not propose a topic? Perhaps someone else with a more organizational bent will come along and help you make it happen?

I’m happy, as always, to help people plan them out and deal with some of the logistics (Zoom, Etherpad, wiki, etc.) should anyone need it.

What session topic(s) will you propose for the next one?

This post was originally published on Chris Aldrich

A short post mortem, video and note links, and challenge from The Garden and the Stream IndieWebCamp Pop-up session

Thank you everyone!

For those who attended yesterday’s The Garden and the Stream IndieWebCamp session, thank you for participating! I honestly only expected 4 or 5 wiki fans to show up, so I was overwhelmed with the crowd that magically appeared from across multiple countries and timezones.

I’ve heard from many–both during the session and privately after–that it was a fantastic and wide-ranging conversation. (I never suspected memory palaces or my favorite 13th century Franciscan tertiary to be topics of discussion.) Several have suggested we host not only a continuation of the session, but that they’d be interested in other pop-up IndieWebCamp sessions. If you’re interested in future follow ups or sessions shoot me a quick email (you can find it on my home page) and I’ll be sure you get an invite. You can also follow future events via events.indieweb.org or find them in the IndieWeb’s weekly newsletter that is emailed out every Friday afternoon.

If you’re interested in hosting or suggesting other topics for future sessions, there’s a stub page on the IndieWeb wiki for doing so.

Our session went on far longer than I ever could have anticipated and I suspect we could have easily gone all day and still not touched on a fraction of all the topics we all outlined. Special thanks to the larger majority of those who were interested enough and had the free time to stay well past the hour mark and on to the end. I will say it’s nice to be able to cover so much ground and so many ideas without the threat of 5 more sessions following you.

Video and Notes

For those who missed it and are interested or those who have inquired, the video link and the notes from the session have been posted to the IndieWeb wiki. 

If you write up any notes or posts about the session, do add a link to them in the IndieWebCamp Pop-Ups page under blog posts/articles or photos. If you can’t log into the wiki (with your own website), feel free to ping me with the URL and I’ll add them for you.

I’ll  try to write up an organizer’s post-mortem with a few ideas about doing future sessions for others to consider. I hope to rewatch the session myself and add to the growing list of notes and thoughts about it.

Creators Challenge

Because this was just a single IndieWebCamp-style discussion session and we hadn’t specifically planned a traditional creator’s day or hack day, I did want to throw out a small challenge to those who either attended or who are interested in participating. 

For most, the IndieWeb is more about creating something than just talking about it. So in that spirit, I’ll challenge everyone to spend a few hours today/tomorrow or sometime this week and create something on your website or wiki related to the session. It can be a summary of ideas, a blog post about wikis (or anything you like really), a small change you’ve always wanted on your site (a CSS improvement, adding bi-directional links to your wiki, Webmention support, etc.), or anything else you might have found interesting from the conversation. The best part is that you can choose what you create on your own site! Make something you’ll use or appreciate. Have fun!

My personal plan for the challenge is to continue some work to my TiddlyWiki to support bi-directional links using TiddlyBlink. I might also take a crack at doing some design and building work to show some incoming webmentions on my TiddlyWiki. (If anyone is interested in test-driving Mike Caulfield’s implementation of Wikity on WordPress in conjunction with Webmention, I could be game for that too!)

Once you’ve made your creation, post a link to your article or notes or make a quick 2-3 minute demo video of the new feature or write up a post about it and add them to the IndieWeb wiki page for Pop-up Session Demos. Again if you can’t log into the wiki with your own website yet, drop me a note and I’ll add them for you or you can ask for help on how to do it in the IndieWeb chat.

Thanks again everyone! I look forward to seeing what you come up with.


cc: Kailyn Nelson (t), Phil Jones (t), Brian Sholis, Jack Baty

This post was originally published on Chris Aldrich

Gardens and Streams: Wikis, Blogs, and UI—a pop up IndieWebCamp session

Gardens and Streams: Wikis, Blogs, and UI—a pop up IndieWebCamp session
There has been some sporadic conversation about doing impromptu IndieWebCamp sessions and thus far we’ve yet to organize one. Given our physical distancing and the dearth of bigger IndieWebCamps, I thought I would propose this single topic stand alone camp session to get something rolling. I’d invite others to propose and schedule others in the future.

April 25, 2020
Sat 10:00 – 11:00am (America/Los_Angeles)
Meeting ID: 950-1243-4695
Meeting Password: 021089
This is an online only event. We will provide a Zoom video conference link 30 minutes before the session here and in the IndieWeb chat.

Session Topic

We’ll be discussing and brainstorming ideas related to wikis and the IndieWeb, user interfaces, functionalities, examples of wikis and how they differ from blogs and other social media interfaces, and everyones’ ideas surrounding these. Bring your ideas and let’s discuss.

This is just a single one hour IndieWebCamp-like session (though we have the option to go over a bit since there isn’t a session following us) where we’ll brainstorm and discuss a particular topic. Hopefully the weekend time will be convenient for a wide range of people in Europe and North America who have previously shown interest in the topic. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Resources

To prepare for the session we’ll be using the following:

See also: https://indieweb.org/IndieWebCamps/Attending#Technology
This event is covered by the IndieWeb Code of Conduct. By participating, you’re acknowledging your acceptance of this code.

Questions? Concerns?

Feel free to ask in the IndieWeb chat: https://chat.indieweb.org/indieweb/

RSVP (optional)

If your website supports it, post an indie RSVP. Or, log in to indieweb.org and click “I’m Going”. (And if none of that means anything to you, don’t worry about it; just show up!)

This post was originally published on Chris Aldrich

FOURTEEN

There’s current research, coding work, and thinking going on within the IndieWeb community to extend ideas like private webmentions and limiting audience so that this sort of interaction can happen in more secluded online spaces. I’d welcome everyone who’s interested to join in the effort. Feel free to inquire at an upcoming IndieWebCamp, Homebrew Website Club, event, or in online chat right now.

Huge group of diverse attendees at IndieWebSummit 2019 waving

 

This post was originally published on Chris Aldrich

An IndieWeb Podcast: Episode 14 A loose collective of developers and techno-utopians

An IndieWeb Podcast: Episode 14 A loose collective of developers and techno-utopians


Running time: 1h 19m 57s | Download (37.5MB) | Subscribe by RSS | Huffduff

Summary: Our first episode since January. David Shanske and Chris Aldrich get caught up on some recent IndieWebCamps, an article about IndieWeb in The New Yorker, changes within WordPress, and upcoming events.

Recorded: May 19, 2019

Shownotes

6 camps later…
Austin
Online
New Haven
Berlin
Düsseldorf
Utrecht

National Duckpin Bowling Congress
Duck Tours
Streaming rigs for remote participation at IndieWeb Camps
Ad hoc sessions (🎧 00:11:28)

Can “Indie” Social Media Save Us? (The New Yorker) by Cal Newport (🎧 00:13:50)

Swarm Account deletions and posting limits
New Checkin icon within the Post Kinds Plugin: example https://david.shanske.com/kind/checkin/
Weather now has microformats mark up in WordPress
Fatwigoo problems with icons
IndieWeb Bingo

Webmention Project

Project of updating Matthias Pfefferle‘s Webmention and Semantic Linkbacks plugins (🎧 00:26:10)

Readers & Yarns

Readers & Yarns update (🎧 00:40:50)
X-Ray
Indigenous Replacement: Final Indigenous Log: The Future of the App

Post Kinds Plugin

Post Kinds and new exclude functionality (🎧 00:48:15)

  • widgets
  • titleless posts
  • On this day

David’s list of 24 IndieWebCamps he’s attended
Looking back at past IndieWebCamp sessions and wiki pages for interesting ideas and new itches
Date and time stamps on webmentions
Call for tickets in WordPress
Subscribing to h-cards with WebSub
Is Mastodon IndieWeb?
Fixing IndieAuth
Improving scoping, particularly for multi-user sites

Coming up within the community

IndieWeb Book Club

IndieWeb Book Club is coming up featuring Mike Monteiro’s book Ruined by Design(🎧 01:13:04)

IndieWeb Summit 2019

9th annual IndieWeb Summit (Portland) is coming up in June. RSVP now.

Questions?

Feel free to send us your questions or topic suggestions for upcoming episodes. (Use the comments below or your own site using Webmention). 
Perhaps a future episode on Micro.blog?

An IndieWeb Podcast: Episode 14 A loose collective of developers and techno-utopians was originally published on Chris Aldrich