Dynamic range in social media and shovels versus excavators

Dynamic range in social media and shovels versus excavators
A developer at today’s Homebrew Website Club mentioned that they didn’t want to have a website built on a particular language because they weren’t familiar with the language and felt uncomfortable trusting their data to it. What if something goes wrong? What if it breaks? How easy will it be to export and move their data over?

Compare this with the average social media user who doesn’t know any code. In their world, they’re making a choice, likely predicated upon social pressures, to post their data, content, and identity on one or more corporately controlled silos. Because of the ease-of-use, the platform is abstracted away from them even further than from the developer’s perspective thus making it even less apparent the level of trust they’re putting into the platform. What is the platform doing with their data? How is what they’re seeing in their feed being manipulated and controlled?

The problems both people are facing are relatively equivalent, just different in their dynamic range. The non-programmer is at an even greater disadvantage however as the silos are moving faster and can do more to take advantage of and manipulate them more seamlessly than the programmer who at least has more potential to learn the unfamiliar language to dig themselves out. This difference is also one of dynamic range as the developer may only need a simple shovel to dig themselves out whereas the non-coder will need a massive excavator, which may be unavailable and still need an operator with knowledge of how to use it.

Featured image: excavator flickr photo by mbecher shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC-ND) license

This post was originally published on Chris Aldrich

🔖 Ethical alternatives to popular sites and apps | switching.social

This looks interesting… Sadly a lot of their options seem to be very ActivityPub-centric, despite the fact that the site itself is run on WordPress (and they neglect to list it as an option as far as I can tell). Admittedly they do seem to be directed toward the non-technical user, but there are lots of options they’re also not listing here too. They’re also not mentioning the potential for abuse that some of these software present, particularly when they’re run by other people, or collectives of other people. While switching from Twitter to Mastodon may be a short term solution, your choice of particular instance could end you right back where you came from if you’re not careful or not running your own personal instance.

Missing from many of these lists are things like micro.blog and a plethora of IndieWeb-related projects.

With that said, it’s at least a start on overcoming some of the hurdles that exist for finding alternatives.

hat tip: Ryan Barrett

🔖 Ethical alternatives to popular sites and apps | switching.social was originally published on Chris Aldrich

🔖 Google+ Exporter

I haven’t tried it yet, but this is one of the first Google+ exporters I’ve seen.

hat tip:


🔖 Google+ Exporter was originally published on Chris Aldrich

Today is My Third Indieweb Anniversary

I suppose I’ve had a few dozen domains and sites at earlier points, but three years ago today was when I began conglomerating it all here at boffosocko.com. It’s amazing to see the changes (big and small) I’ve been able to effect since I celebrated last year. It’s had a profound effect at how I interact on the internet and consume content.

For those who aren’t aware of the broader concept of Indieweb, here is a great introduction with some history by Tantek Çelik entitled The Once and Future IndieWeb

IndieWeb Summit

This is also a good time to remind those who are interested, that the annual IndieWebSummit is coming up soon and RSVP’s are now open:

June 24-25, 2017
Portland, Oregon
The seventh annual gathering for independent web creators of all kinds, from graphic artists, to designers, UX engineers, coders, hackers, to share ideas, actively work on creating for their own personal websites, and build upon each others creations.

I hope to see people there in person, though I’ll note that remote attendance is possible as well.

A Brief Look Back

This post started out initially as a brief status update and I extended it with the video and notice about the upcoming Summit.

Now that I’m past what I would consider “note” length, and since it’s a milestone of sorts, I thought it would be interesting to take a nostalgic look back at my last year of Indieweb. I didn’t think it would be quite so much, but it’s really amazing what you can do if you take things in small steps over time. So here’s a quick review of some of the things I’ve done in the last year on my site. (Thank goodness for documentation!)

Other Indieweb activities, which don’t necessarily appear on my site:

As a separate statistic I made approximately 1,071 posts to my (main) site in the last year compared to 136 in the same time frame the year prior. There are over 2,400 posts on my social stream site this past year. It’s great owning it all here now instead of having it spread out all over hundreds of other sites and thousands of URLs over which I have no control.

To my recollection I’ve only joined 6 new silos in the past year (to which I really only syndicate into). In that same time frame at least 15 services of which I was a member or used at one time or another have shut down and disappeared. Entertainingly (and perhaps miraculously) one which had previously disappeared came back to life: Upcoming.org!

Today is My Third Indieweb Anniversary was originally published on Chris Aldrich | Boffo Socko

Reply to Scott Kingery about Wallabag and Reading

Scott, as someone who’s studied evolutionary biology, I know that specialists in particular areas are almost always exponentially better at what they do than non-specialists.  This doesn’t mean that we don’t need alternate projects or new ideas which may result in new “Cambrian explosions,” and even better products.

I also feel that one needs the right tool for the right job. While I like WordPress for many things, it’s not always the best thing to solve the problem. In some cases Drupal or even lowly Wix may be the best solution. The key is to find the right balance of time, knowledge, capability and other variables to find the optimal solution for the moment, while maintaining the ability to change in the future if necessary. By a similar analogy there are hundreds of programming languages and all have their pros and cons.  Often the one you know is better than nothing, but if you heard about one that did everything better and faster, it would be a shame not to check it out.

This said, I often prefer to go with specialist software, though I do usually have a few requirements which overlap or align with Indieweb principles, including, but not limited to:

  • It should be open, so I can modify/change/share it with others
  • I should be able to own all the related/resultant data
  • I should be able to self-host it (if I want)
  • It should fit into my workflow and solve a problem I have while not creating too many new problems

In this case, I suspect that Wallabag is far better than anything I might have time to build and maintain myself. If there are bits of functionality that are missing, I can potentially request them or build/add them myself and contribute back to the larger good.

Naturally I do also worry about usability and maintenance as well, so if the general workflow and overhead doesn’t dovetail in with my other use cases, all bets may be off. If large pieces of my data, functionality, and workflow are housed in WordPress, for example, and something like this isn’t easily integrateable or very difficult to keep updated and maintain, then I’ll pass and look for (or build) a different solution. (Not every tool is right for just any job.) On larger projects like this, there’s also the happy serendipity that they’re big enough that WordPress (Drupal, Jekyll, other) developers can better shoehorn the functionality in to a bigger project or create a simple API thereby making the whole more valuable than the sum of the parts.

In this particular situation, it appears to be a 1-1 replacement for a closed silo version of something I’ve been using regularly, but which provides more of the benefits above than the silo does, so it seems like a no-brainer to switch.

To reply to this comment preferably do so on the original at: A New Reading Post-type for Bookmarking and Reading Workflow

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Reply to Scott Kingery about Wallabag and Reading was originally published on Chris Aldrich | Boffo Socko