Spending some of the morning catching up on the Micro Monday podcast from micro.blog. Not sure how I’ve gotten so busy to have missed so many episodes.
Last week was the 8th annual IndieWeb Summit held in Portland, Oregon. While IndieWeb Camps and Summits have traditionally been held on weekends during people’s free time, this one held in the middle of the week was a roaring success. With well over 50 people in attendance, this was almost certainly the largest attendance I’ve seen to date. I suspect since people who flew in for the event had really committed, the attendance on the second day was much higher than usual as well. It was great to see so many people hacking on their personal websites and tools to make their personal online experiences richer.
The year of the Indie Reader
Last year I wrote the post Feed Reader Revolution in response to an increasingly growing need I’ve seen in the social space for a new sort of functionality in feed readers. While there have been a few interesting attempts like Woodwind which have shown a proof-of-concept, not much work had been done until some initial work by Aaron Parecki and a session at last year’s IndieWeb Summit entitled Putting it all Together.
Over the past year I’ve been closely watching Aaron Parecki; Grant Richmond and Jonathan LaCour; Eddie Hinkle; and Kristof De Jaeger’s collective progress on the microsub specification as well as their respective projects Aperture/Monocle; Together; Indigenous/Indigenous for iOS; and Indigenous for Android. As a result in early May I was overjoyed to suggest a keynote session on readers and was stupefied this week as many of them have officially launched and are open to general registration as relatively solid beta web services.
I spent a few minutes in a session at the end of Tuesday and managed to log into Aperture and create an account (#16, though I suspect I may be one of the first to use it besides the initial group of five developers). I also managed to quickly and easily add a microsub endpoint to my website as well. Sadly I’ve got some tweaks to make to my own installation to properly log into any of the reader app front ends. Based on several of the demos I’ve seen over the past months, the functionality involved is not only impressive, but it’s a properly large step ahead of some of the basic user interface provided by the now-shuttered Woodwind.xyz service (though the code is still available for self-hosting.)
Several people have committed to make attempts at creating a microsub server including Jack Jamieson who has announced an attempt at creating one for WordPress after having recently built the Yarns reader for WordPress from scratch this past year. I suspect within the coming year we’ll see one or two additional servers as well as some additional reading front ends. In fact, Ryan Barrett spent the day on Wednesday hacking away at leveraging the News Blur API and leveraging it to make News Blur a front end for Aperture’s server functionality. I’m hoping others may do the same for other popular readers like Feedly or Inoreader to expand on the plurality of offerings. Increased competition for new reader offerings can only improve the entire space.
Even more reading related support
Just before the Summit, gRegor Morrill unveiled the beta version of his micropub client Indiebookclub.biz which allows one to log in with their own website and use it to post reading updates to their own website. For those who don’t yet support micropub, the service saves the data for eventual export. His work on it continued through the summit to continue to improve an already impressive product. It’s the fist micropub client of its kind amidst a growing field of websites (including WordPress and WithKnown which both have plugins) that offer reading post support. Micro.blog has recently updated its code to allow users of the platform the ability to post reads with indiebookclub.biz as well. As a result of this spurt of reading related support there’s now a draft proposal to add
read-status support as new Microformats. Perhaps reads will be included in future updates of the post-type-discovery algorithm as well?
Given the growth of reading post support and a new micropub read client, I suspect it won’t take long before some of the new microsub-related readers begin supporting read post micropub functionality as well.
In addition to David Shanske’s recent valiant update to the IndieAuth plugin for WordPress, Manton Reece managed to finish up coding work to unveil another implementation of IndieAuth at the Summit. His version is for the micro.blog platform which is a significant addition to the community and will add several hundred additional users who will have broader access to a wide assortment of functionality as a result.
While work continues apace on a broad variety of fronts, I was happy to see that my proposal for a session on IndieAlgorithms was accepted (despite my leading another topic earlier in the day). It was well attended and sparked some interesting discussion about how individuals might also be able to exert greater control over what they’re presented to consume. With the rise of Indie feed readers this year, the ability to better control and filter one’s incoming content is going to take on a greater importance in the very near future. With an increasing number of readers to choose from, more people will hopefully be able to free themselves from the vagaries of the blackbox algorithms that drive content distribution and presentation in products like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and others. Based on the architecture of servers like Aperture, perhaps we might be able to modify some of the microsub spec to allow more freedom and flexibility in what will assuredly be the next step in the evolution of the IndieWeb?
While there are miles and miles to go before we sleep, I was happy to have seen a session on diversity pop up at the Summit. I hope we can all take the general topic to heart to be more inclusive and actively invite friends into our fold. Thanks to Jean for suggesting and guiding the conversation and everyone else for continuing it throughout the rest of the summit and beyond.
Naturally, the above are just a few of the bigger highlights as I perceive them. I’m sure others will appear in the IndieNews feed or other blogposts about the summit. The IndieWeb is something subtly different to each person, so I hope everyone takes a moment to share (on your own sites naturally) what you got out of all the sessions and discussions. There was a tremendous amount of discussion, debate, and advancement of the state of the art of the continually growing IndieWeb. Fortunately almost all of it was captured in the IndieWeb chat, on Twitter, and on video available through either the IndieWeb wiki pages for the summit or directly from the IndieWeb YouTube channel.
I suspect David Shanske and I will have more to say in what is sure to be a recap episode in our next podcast.
Finally, below I’m including a bunch of photos I took over the course of my trip. I’m far from a professional photographer, but hopefully they’ll give a small representation of some of the fun we all had at camp.
While I’m thinking about it, I wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who came to the summit. You all really made it a fantastic event!
I’d particularly like to thank Aaron Parecki, Tantek Çelik, gRegor Morrill, Marty McGuire, and David Shanske who did a lot of the organizing and volunteer work to help make the summit happen as well as to capture it so well for others to participate remotely or even view major portions of it after-the-fact. I would be remiss if I didn’t thank Martijn van der Ven for some herculean efforts on IRC/Chat in documenting things in real time as well as for some serious wiki gardening along the way. As always, there are a huge crew of others whose contributions large and small help to make up the rich fabric of the community and we wouldn’t be who we are without your help. Thank you all! (Or as I might say in chat: community++).
And finally, a special personal thanks to Greg McVerry for kindly letting me join him at the Hotel deLuxe for some late night discussions on the intersection of IndieWeb and Domain of One’s Own philosophies as they dovetail with the education sector. With growing interest and a wealth of ideas in this area, I’m confident it’s going to be a rapidly growing one over the coming years.
I’d also like to take a moment to say thanks to all the sponsors who helped to make the event a success including Name.com, GoDaddy, Okta, Mozilla, DreamHost, and likely a few others who I’m missing at the moment.
I’d also like to thank the Eliot Center for letting us hosting the event at their fabulous facility.
Dan, There are a lot of moving pieces in your question and a variety of ways to implement them depending on your needs and particular website set up. Fortunately there are lots of educators playing around in these spaces already who are experimenting with various means and methods as well as some of their short and long term implications.
I suspect some of the most interesting parts may be more closed off to you (or possibly more difficult) because in your particular case it looks like you’re being hosted on WordPress.com rather than self-hosting your own site directly. For the richest experience you’d ideally like to be able to install some of the IndieWeb for WordPress plugins like Webmentions, Semantic Linkbacks, Post Kinds, and potentially others. This can be done on WordPress.com, but typically involves a higher level of paid account for the most flexibility.
For crossposting your content to micro.blog, that portion is fairly simple as you can decide on any variety of post formats (standard, aside, status, images, etc.), post kinds, categories, or even tags and translate those pieces into RSS feeds your WordPress installation is already creating (most often just by adding /feed/ to the end of common URLs for these items). Then you can plug those particular feeds into your micro.blog account and you’re good to go for feeding content out easily without any additional work. Personally I’m using the Post Kinds plugin to create a finer-grained set of content so that I can better pick and choose what gets syndicated out to other sites.
From within micro.blog, on your accounts tab you can enter any number of incoming feeds to your account. Here’s a list of some of the feeds (from two of my websites one using WordPress and the other using Known) that are going to my account there:
As a small example, if you were using the status post format on your site, you should be able to add
https://dancohen.org/type/status/feed/ to your feed list on micro.blog and then only those status updates would feed across to the micro.blog community.
I also bookmarked a useful meta-post a few weeks back that has a nice section on using micro.blog with WordPress. And there are also many nice resources on the IndieWeb wiki for micro.blog and how people are integrating it into their workflows.
For crossposting to Twitter there are a multitude of options depending on your need as well as your expertise and patience to set things up and the control you’d like to have over how your Tweets display.
Since micro.blog supports the Webmention protocol, if your site also has Webmentions set up, you can get responses to your crossposts to micro.blog to show up back on your site as native (moderate-able) comments. You can do much the same thing with Twitter and use your website as a Twitter “client” to post to Twitter as well as have the replies and responses from Twitter come back to your posts using webmention in conjunction with the brid.gy website.
I’ve been playing around in these areas for quite a while and am happy to help point you to particular resources depending on your level of ability/need. If you (or anyone else in the thread as well) would like, we can also arrange a conference call/Google hangout (I’m based in Los Angeles) and walk through the steps one at a time to get you set up if you like (gratis, naturally). Besides, it’s probably the least I could do to pay you back for a small fraction of your work on things like PressForward, Zotero, and DPLA that I’ve gotten so much value out of.
Because of the power of these methods and their applicability to education, there are an ever-growing number of us working on the issue/question of scaling this up to spread across larger classrooms and even institutions. I’m sure you saw Greg McVerry’s reply about some upcoming potential events (as well as how he’s receiving comments back from Twitter via webmention, if you scroll down that page). I hope you might join us all. The next big event is the IndieWeb Summit in Portland at the end of June. If you’re not able to make it in person, there should be some useful ways to attend big portions remotely via video as well as live chat, which is actually active 24/7/365.
As is sometimes said: I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter. At least I wasn’t hampered by Twitter’s character constraints by posting it on my own site first.
Earlier in the week I noticed how well reading.am dovetailed with Huffduffer. Now I’m noticing that my listen posts (aka my faux-cast) also now translate to micro.blog’s podcast discovery page. The secret to this seems to be having an .mp3 file in a post that feeds across. I do notice at least one post without an .mp3, but which includes the word “podcast.” Are there any other criterion for this @manton?
I wonder if there’s a way for more posts to display the inline audio player without being hosted directly by micro.blog?
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.
The originating articles that kicked off the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica issue:
- 3/16/18: Facebook’s Newsroom: Suspending Cambridge Analytica and SCL Group from Facebook by Paul Grewal
- “Protecting people’s information is at the heart of everything we do.”
- 3/17/18: The Guardian: Revealed: 50 million Facebook profiles harvested for Cambridge Analytica in major data breach
- 3/17/18: New York Times: How Trump Consultants Exploited the Facebook data of Millions
Related articles and pages
- 3/21/18 Anil Dash: The Missing Building Blocks of the Web, an article bringing the Facebook issue back around to regaining the good parts of the “old web”
- How To Change Your Facebook Settings To Opt Out of Platform API Sharing from the Electronic Frontier Foundation
- 3/24/18: Ars Technica: Facebook scraped call, text message data for years from Android phones
- 3/18/18: The Guardian: Facebook employs psychologist whose firm sold data to Cambridge Analytica
- Mastodon not supporting Webmention specification
- Weapons of Math Destruction: How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy by Cathy O’Neil
Recent Documented Facebook Quitters
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.
- Micro.blog for $5/month (or bring your own web site for free)
- WithKnown (Paid service or host your own)
- WordPress.org (self-hosted or managed)
- Mastodon (doesn’t necessarily provide ownership of domain name unless you’re self-hosting an instance)
- Other possible projects/options: https://indieweb.org/projects