Kicks Condor

LEECHING AND LINKING IN THE HYPERTEXT KINGDOM

I FIRST DISCOVERED
THE 【TECHS-MECHS】WHO
ARE A CLAN OF SOUTH
OF THE BORDER GUNDAM
BREAKING DOWN
IMMIGRATION FENCES
WITH THEIR
IMPRESSIVE MANOS
MECANICAS

PLUNDER THE ARCHIVES

This page is also on dat.

MOVING ALONG LET'S SEE MY FAVORITE PLACES I NO LONGER LINK TO ANYTHING THATS VERY FAMOUS

philosopher.life, the 'wiki'/'avatar'/'life' of h0p3. serious rabbithole.

indieseek blog, bumped into brad somehow and we crosstalk a ton about the web.

linkport by joe jenett---blogs at i.webthings.

an eye on: ᛝ ᛝ ᛝ — lucid. whimsy.space, caesar naples.

indieweb: .xyz, eli, c.rwr, boffosocko.

nostalgia: geocities.institute, bad cmd.

true hackers: ccc.de, fffff.at, voja antonić, cnlohr, esoteric.codes.

chips: zeptobars, scargill, 41j.

dwm, julia, tridactyl these are things you'll want on linux.

neil c very famous but should be a world icon.

the world or cate le bon you pick.

sammyclassicsonicfan the original teen rage adventure.

innovation.isotropic.org probly the best carl chudyk game.

and opinionated gamers for non-chudyk game analysis.

my twitter. my github. minor things.

21 Sep 2018

Static: the Gathering

Thinking harder about the surprising return of static HTML.

Static website and blog generators continue to be a very solid and surprising undercurrent out there. What could be more kitschy on the Web than hand-rolled HTML? It must be the hipsters; must be the fusty graybeards. Oh, it is—but we’re also talking about the most ubiquitous file format in the world here.

Popular staticgens sit atop the millions of repositories on Github: Jekyll (#71 with 35.5k stars—above Bitcoin), Next.js (#98 with 29.3k stars, just above Rust), Hugo (#118 with 28.9k stars). This part of the software world has its own focused directories[1] and there is constant innovation—such as this week’s Vapid[2] beta and the recent Cabal[3].

And I keep seeing comments like this:

I recently completed a pretty fun little website for the U.S. freight rail industry using Hugo […] It will soon replace an aging version of the site that was built with Sitecore CMS, .NET, and SQL Server.[4]

Yes, it’s gotten to the point that some out there are creating read-only web APIs (kind of like websites used by machines to communicate between each other)—yes, you heard that right![5]

Clearly there are some obvious practical benefits to static websites, which are listed time and again:

Webmonkey logo

Fast.
Web servers can put up static HTML with lightning speed. Thus you can endure a sudden viral rash of readers, no problem.

Cheap.
While static HTML might require more disk space than an equivalent dynamic site—although this is arguable, since there is less software to install along with it—it requires fewer CPU and memory resources. You can put your site up on Amazon S3 for pennies. Or even Neocities or Github Pages for free.

Security.
With no server-side code running, this closes the attack vector for things like SQL injection attacks.

Of course, everything is a tradeoff—and I’m sure you are conjuring up an argument that one simply couldn’t write an Uber competitor in static HTML. But even THAT has become possible! The recent release of the Beaker Browser has seen the appearance of a Twitter clone (called Fritter[6]), which is written ENTIRELY IN DUN-DUN STATIC JS AND H.T.M.L!!

Many think the Beaker Browser is all about the ‘decentralized Web’. Yeah, uh, in part. Sure, there are many that want this ‘d-web’—I imagine there is some crossover with the groups that want grassroots, localized mesh networks—for political reasons, speech reasons, maybe Mozilla wants a new buzzword, maybe out of idealism or (justified!) paranoia. And maybe it’s for real.

Screenshot of Beaker's editor.

No, my friends, Beaker marks a return of the possibility of a read-write Web. (I believe this idea took a step back in 2004 when Netscape took Composer out of its browser—which at that time was a ‘suite’ you could use to write HTML as well as read it.) Pictured above, I am editing the source code of my site right from the browser—but this is miniscule compared to what Beaker can do[7]. (Including Beaker’s dead-simple “Make an editable copy”—a button that appears in the address bar of any ‘dat’ website you visit.)

(And, yes, Twitter has given you read-write 140 chars. Facebook gave a read-write width of 476 pixels across—along with a vague restriction to height. And Reddit gave you a read-write social pastebin in gray-on-white-with-a-little-blue[8]. Beaker looks to me like read-write full stop.)

Now look—I couldn’t care less how you choose to write your mobile amateur Karaoke platform[9], what languages or what spicy styles. But for personal people of the Web—the bloggers, the hobbyists, the newbs still out there, the NETIZENS BAAAHAHAHAHHAAA!—yeah, no srsly, let’s be srs, I think there are even more compelling reason for you.

The Web is the Machine

Broken software is a massive problem. Wordpress can go down—an upgrade can botch it, a plugin can get hacked, a plugin can run slow, it can get overloaded. Will your Ghost installation still run in ten years? Twenty years?

Google's 503 error.

Dynamic sites seem to need a ‘stack’ of software and stacks do fall over. And restacking—reinstalling software on a new server can be time-consuming. One day that software simply won’t work. And, while ‘staticgens’ can break as well, it’s not quite a ‘stack’.

And, really, it may not matter at that point: the ‘staticgens’ do leave you with the static HTML.

The more interesting question is: how long will the web platform live on for? How long will HTML and JavaScript stay on? They have shown remarkable resilience and backward compatibility. I spend a lot of time surfing the Old Web and it’s most often Flash that is broken—while even some of the oldest, most convuluted stuff is exactly as it was intended.

Static HTML is truly portable and can be perfectly preserved in the vault. Often we now think of it simply as a transitory snapshot between screen states. Stop to think of its value as a rich document format—perhaps you might begin to think of its broken links as a glaring weakness—but those are only the absolute ones, the many more relative links continue to function no matter where it goes!

And, if there were more static HTML sites out there, isn’t it possible that we would find less of the broken absolutes?

Furthermore, since static HTML is so perfectly amenable to the decentralized Web—isn’t it possible that those absolute links could become UNBREAKABLE out there??

Your Death

A friend recently discovered a Russian tortoise—it was initially taken to the Wildlife Service out of suspicion that it was an endangered Desert tortoise. But I think its four toes were the giveaway. (This turtle is surprisingly speedy and energetic might I add. I often couldn’t see it directly, but I observed the rustling of the ivy as it crawled a hundred yards over the space of—what seemed like—minutes.)

This friend remarked that the tortoise may outlive him. A common lifespan for the Russian is fifty years—but could go to even 100! (Yes, this is unlikely, but hyperbole is great fun in casual mode.)

This brought on a quote I recently read from Gabriel Blackwell:

In a story called “Web Mind #3,” computer scientist Rudy Rucker writes, “To some extent, an author’s collected works comprise an attempt to model his or her mind.” Those writings are like a “personal encyclopedia,” he says; they need structure as much as they need preservation. He thus invented the “lifebox,” a device that “uses hypertext links to hook together everything you tell it.” No writing required. “The lifebox is almost like a simulation of you,” Rucker says, in that “your eventual audience can interact with your stories, interrupting and asking questions.”

— p113, Madeleine E

An aside to regular readers: Hell—this sounds like philosopher.life! And this has very much been a theme in our conversations, with this line bubbling up from the recent Hyperconversations letter:

I do not consider myself my wiki, but I think it represents me strongly. Further, I think my wiki and I are highly integrated. I think it’s an evolving external representation of the internal (think Kantian epistemology) representations of myself to which I attend. It’s a model of a model, and it’s guaranteed to be flawed, imho (perhaps I cannot answer the question for you because I consider it equivalent to resolving the fundamental question of philosophy).

God, I’ve done a bang-up job here. I don’t think I can find a better argument for static HTML than: it might actually be serializing YOU! 😘

I am tempted to end there, except that I didn’t come here to write some passionate screed that ultimately comes off as HTML dogmatism. I don’t care to say that static HTML is the ultimate solution, that it’s where things are heading and that it is the very brick of Xanadu.

I think where I stand is this: I want my personal thoughts and writings to land in static HTML. And, if I’m using some variant (such as Markdown or TiddlyWiki), I still need to always keep a copy in said format. And I hope that tools will improve in working with static HTML.

And I think I also tilt more toward ‘static’ when a new thing comes along. Take ActivityPub: I am not likely to advocate it until it is useful to static HTML. If it seems to take personal users away from ‘static’ into some other infostorage—what for? I like that Webmention.io has brought dynamism to static—I use the service for receiving comments on static essays like these.

To me, it recalls the robustness principle:

Be conservative in what you do, be liberal in what you accept from others.

In turn, recalling the software talk Functional Core, Imperative Shell—its idea that the inner workings of a construct must be sound and impervious; the exterior can be interchangable armor, disposable and adapted over time. (To bring Magic: the Gathering fully into this—this is our ‘prison deck’.)

Static within; dynamic without. Yin and yang. (But I call Yin!)


  1. Certainly there is an ‘awesome’. But also custom directories, such as staticgen.com and ssg. Beyond that, there are loads of ‘10 best staticgens’ articles on the webdev blogs. ↩︎

  2. A tool that builds a dashboard from static HTML pages. (Think of it: HTML is the database schema??) Anyway: vapid.com. ↩︎

  3. A chat platform built on static files. I do consider this to be in the neighborhood—it can die and still exist as a static archive. See the repo. ↩︎

  4. Original comment here by slathrop, July 2018. ↩︎

  5. Build a JSON API with Hugo’s Custom Output Formats, April 2018. ↩︎

  6. If you’re in Beaker: dat://fritter.hashbase.io. ↩︎

  7. The DatArchive API, which any website can leverage if it runs inside of Beaker, allows you to edit any website that you own FROM that same website. A very rudimentary example would be dead-lite. ↩︎

  8. The “gray on white with a little blue” phenomenon is covered in further detail at Things We Left in the Old Web. ↩︎

  9. My apologies—I am pretty glued to this right now. Finally there is a whole radio station devoted to the musical stylings of off-key ten-year-olds and very earnest, nasally Sinatras. ↩︎

  1. @kicks I like seeing sites done in good ole static HTML and I hope it has a revival. My biggest problem with static pages was going through and updating the navigation manually when I added a page. Well MS Frontpage did that automatically if you had Frontpage extensions on your server. (Tripod did which was cool.)

    I'm not sure I'm buying into this newfangled CSS stuff yet though.

    Good article, I think you hit all the right points. I don't really have anything to argue for or against. There are so many websites that would be better served by just having a few static pages instead of a blog or CMS.

    You did lead me down a rabbit hole: I searched around and found that Seamonkey is still free and still has a working copy of Composer, the WYSIWYG HTML editor, so I downloaded it since I have a Windows computer now. Just in case. WYSIWYG is pretty much my speed in HTML.

    I'll research what Jekyll and Hugo are, I've seen them mentioned.

  2. Reply: Good Ole Static HTML

    Brad Enslen

    You did lead me down a rabbit hole: I searched around and found that Seamonkey is still free and still has a working copy of Composer, the WYSIWYG HTML editor, so I downloaded it since I have a Windows computer now. Just in case. WYSIWYG is pretty much my speed in HTML.

    Seamonkey is still alive?

    I saw that on Wikipedia, but thought it was probably old and didn’t pursue it. But, hey, sure enough! This isn’t bad at all—it loads my site (seemingly perfectly) and allows me to straight-up edit the whole thing. I wonder if it would be difficult to merge this into Beaker somehow… (This plainly uses contentEditable—which makes me realize that I’m quite wrong—there are some lingering read-write features latent in Chrome, Firefox and so on.)

    I’ll research what Jekyll and Hugo are, I’ve seen them mentioned.

    I wouldn’t go too far into either of these. I previously used Jekyll, but it got too slow for me to regenerate all my HTML. Hugo is faster, but configuration is just too difficult. There is nothing yet as simple as Wordpress. I’ve ended up writing my own because Indieweb features had to be mixed in pretty tightly.

    I think the most promising things right now are TiddlyWiki and Beaker. I think that, as Beaker continues to develop, we will see something as solid as Wordpress come out. But until then, I’d stay where you are comfortable writing.

  3. @bradenslen If by new fangled CSS you mean CSS Grid I hope you run to it fast. So much better then failing with floats.

  4. @jgmac1106 What is this Grid of which you speak?

    Um, I started with HTML 3.?? where the style sheet was right on the page with the rest of the code. Then somebody slipped in this CSS stuff and I started hiring web designers. :-)

    Seroiusly, I can edit bits of HTML but hand coding a page from scratch would be beyond me without a WYSIWYG editor or a page builder. Maybe, maybe I can edit CSS a little, I'm experimenting now, waiting for a cron job to update and see if I did it right.

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19 Sep 2018

Reply: Ideas for Websites in Addition to Blogs

While Tumblr is a type of blog, I think it is sufficiently different to categorize differently—microblogging, tumblelogging. Simply because it generally eschews writing. And that appeals to people.

So, question for you: are you satisfied with a blog for your approach? It seems that you post links, essays and announcements generally. However, these three things are not equal. And to see your essays roll off the front page while links take their place—well, I can see myself wanting a directory of those.

Yes, you have an ‘article’ post type that shows me those essays. But even that list is not comprised of equals. I wonder if a wiki might suit these.

I also wonder if there is a new way to structure all of these thoughts that might do justice to what you are doing and assist the reader in navigating what you are doing. A way of mixing and matching the ‘blog’, the ‘wiki’ and the ‘directory’.

To me, the great failing of blogs is that it is difficult to find the beginning and the end—and I don’t think they facilitate the ‘memory’ of a discussion. A blog post is a thought balloon floating alone. You and I can follow it pretty well, because we are juggling some memories to do it—but someone who stumbles across this post will not realize what is really going on.

Anyway, this is a great post—I’ve been pretty stumped about how to preserve the wee ‘web page’ and this is a thread we’ll need to continue over time.

  1. >are you satisfied with a blog

    No. I keep looking at plugins for wordpress that might help. I’ve looked at forums plugins, tried one and decided to hold off. I’ve been reading descriptions of wiki and knowledge base plugins and I’m not sure exactly how I would use either as a part of ramblinggit.com . I’d also like to find a journal/notebook type plugin that does not push down older posts like a blog timeline. Sigh.

    I have seen blogs that have micro posts, Likes, Bookmarks, Articles all separated and on their own timelines, but I don’t know how to do that.

    What I do like is the idea of a web presence – keeping as much of my digital thoughts under one domain as possible.

    “Blog” = CMS
    I was sloppy in that article, wherever I say blog I should really be saying CMS. But since that article was intended for beginners I stuck with blog since most people have an idea of what that is whereas, CMS sounds and is scary *cough* Drupal *cough*. A WordPress blog is also a way to promote a website and get engagement using those Indieweb plugins.

    >>thought balloon floating alone

    Poetic. I Like. I’m finding that, now that I have many posts on the same broken record subjects that people are following the “Related Posts” down at the bottom of each post. They didn’t do that when the blog was new, but I’m seeing it happen more in my stats. Also people are finding me in search engines via category or tag archives which tend to have many posts on similar topics. Maybe shear force of verbage ranks in Google? Hard to tell now that everything is encrypted. Anyway those two things seem to be helpful. I’m trying to remember to link to my older posts to give background context but I often forget.

    I did want to show people that there was more out there than just blogs and blogging. That is, we, as web creators, shouldn’t just stop at static sites or blogs if we don’t want to and that there are all these neat scripts out there to help us build our little realms on the web.

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Timeline of Things Phil’s Done

Hybrid ‘grid’/‘timeline’ as a directory

Ran across this interesting directory of a certain fellow’s life—seems like this kind of thing could be applied effectively to the personal wiki crowd (h0p3, sphygmus). Anyway, it’s a starting place for a discussion about the visuals that could go into a self-reflexive directory.

Also relevant here: this guy ran the Haddock Directory, which was a link directory by a London-based mailing list—‘a bunch of friends’. It ended up with 27,000 links.

This directory is probably the closest I’ve seen to what I aspire to do—not in its design, but in its effort to catalog the links and web explorations of a small informal group (as opposed to a corporate effort, software team effort.) Look past the design and the categories—the little sentence describing each link is done with care. It’s cool that they also shared book and music reviews on the site.

According to a blog post written about the shuttering of Haddock:

Back in 1997 no one on the list had a weblog — well, the term barely existed — but now plenty of us have them, and plenty of people post links to their own sites or del.icio.us so there’s still plenty of regular material from some of those on the list, should you feel the need for an idea of what people are thinking. Roughly.

The post is from 2007. I wonder where the list meets now. Or if they do.

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18 Sep 2018

Reply: Curated Stuff

Simon Woods

For example, I would love to see DuckDuckGo not only improve their search engine with whatever machine-lead efforts they might have but also find ways to work with the real communities of the web to reach the goal stated above.

Ok—understood. So, it seems our group here still has a lot to talk about wrt how to curate links in new ways. (The directories of old seemed really dry and pointless to me—until I started talking to Brad and seeing that directories are still everywhere, but in disguise.)

Alongside that though, continuing your line about DuckDuckGo working with the curators—I think it would also be useful to define how we would envision search participating. I’d rather have us giving them directions than have it go the other way (similar to how RSS was an initiative by bloggers, preferrable to the myriad of APIs that are doled out by the networks.)

I guess I wonder how everyone feels about microformats as part of directories. (I prefer microformats—microsub, for instance—to RSS because it doesn’t require upkeep of a separate document that ISN’T really HTML.) But I can’t ignore that microformats feel clunky and can be implemented 100x different ways…

I also wonder how human curation should play a role in search. (Like—is it possible for curators to hone algorithms—is this already done?)

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14 Sep 2018

Reply: Rebuilding the Web

Brad

The point is, everyone has some skill, idea, knowledge that is worth sharing and equally, there are other people looking for the information you have in your head and take for granted.

Yeah, hey, great discussion! Thanks for pointing it out—missed it somehow.

On your points:

  1. We, the little people, need to rebuild the web. […] This is the foundation of everything. Yes, cool—you see this at a football game when things get heated and two guys start fighting. Then another guy stands up and says, “I’ll fix this,” and he starts walking down. Oh boy. Sure.

    So, like: not only is another social media site going to solve this, but no one of us is going to have an ‘answer’. TiddlyWiki doesn’t work for me—but h0p3 and sphygmus are doing great things for themselves—and I think there are many people who will be served well by it (as compared to micro.blog).

  2. Someplace to go is actually many places built by us. Sweet! I get really excited at the prospect of more places to go.

  3. Link freely. This has the added benefit of creating a TON of noise for Google. 😘 If the tradeoff on something is “bad for bots, good for humans,” I’ll take that trade.

  4. Discovery, and search, will sort itself out, if we do #1,2, and 3. Trying to decide if I agree with this. I kind of agree with “it’ll all come out in the wash” but I also don’t think discovery gets better than Brad linking to Simon and me reading Simon.

    Once I start relying on a bot, what else is it giving me? And do I begin to get lazy with my discovery effort? And then am I isolated again?

  5. We may end up with 5, 6, 10 or more favorite places we go to search and that is good. More and more, I’m finding myself just using Stack Overflow, Pinboard and YouTube search directly. Google just does this anyway. I tend to use Google more as a glorified address bar: ‘indieweb.org author’ and click the first link. I know this will take me to Indieweb wiki’s page on authorship. (So there is a specific page I already know—basically a ‘feeling lucky’.)

Love being a part of this discussion. I am working hard on my directory to finish it—hopefully by end of October. (Again, it’s not a directory people can submit to: it’s my model for the modern Little Web Library. Just trying to get a good amount of links, categories, fun to use, all that.)

  1. > using Stack Overflow, Pinboard and
    YouTube search directly

    You got it. Pre-Google, I used to keep 5 or 6 directories and search engines in my bookmarks and those were my first line tools in searching for something.

    >but I also don’t think discovery gets better than Brad
    linking to Simon and me reading Simon
    .

    Yes, surfing. Especially after you find those voices you trust. I think we may need spiders for freshness. But I would hope there is room for curated directories too. Lovely link collections for people to explore.

    Kicks, remember my post about the 7 Directories? You already know this, but I’ll state it for anybody else reading: the thing they did wrong is they tried to index the same sites on the web that Google does. That was fine in pre-Google days, but today you can’t beat Google at it’s own game. You have to list the sites that are worthy but buried in Google. Those directories should have specialized in listing the stuff Google won’t rank or that Google does not understand.

    I’m so glad your directory work is proceeding. I’m really looking forward to it.

    I’m working on a directory too. Or rather I am stalled on support tickets with hosts and script companies but I’ll find my way through it. Once it launches I will allow submissions but they will have to “expand the web” or some such to get in.

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Reply: Being on the Web

Simon Woods

Merely building posts and posts covering the nuances of these issues across a multitude of blogs… now there is your impact. Too many times I search for something and there are scraps to be found, barely any blog posts let alone useful things. I think this can change and it’s only if we’re allowing to independently stand up and say the things we believe, whilst sharing the things other people say. Sure, at some point people will create collections of these things for reference thus making it easier to access from the mainstream POV but that’s not the most important thing; rather, we must focus on the creation of this… this weird thing we used to call being on the web. Let’s get back to that.

I don’t think I connect with you and Brad quite as much on search—it’s one thing to search for ‘rotate div 90 degrees’ compared to searching for ‘aesthetically pleasing blog with poetry’. This is why I’m much more bullish on directories (blogrolls, wikis, that ilk)—if we can link to each other and describe each other to each other—that is another way to get somewhere.

Anyway, I’m not trying to convince you of my perspective, just saying that it’s cool: while you are looking for ‘useful’ and I am looking for ‘fascinating’—and in some ways I’m sure we’re both looking for both—we both want the same type of web. A well-lived-in one.

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Reply: Shoutout on Rebuilding the Web

(Strange that this didn’t show up in my ‘mentions’—wonder what else I am not replying to—)

Even aside from any larger societal impact, I can’t say that anything I have done on social media has been nearly as worthwhile. The past year, since about March, I’ve committed to spending less time on social media, and my creative output is way up.

I think this is so encouraging—maybe the most encouraging thing one can say! Can you point to what is causing this? Is it the feeling of working for yourself, rather than—as you say—giving ‘free labor’ to the CorpASAs?

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10 Sep 2018

Reply: 7 Human Edited General Web-Directories 2018

Brad

Most of the top tier directories are gone, but I found 7 directories, still alive, that have been around a long time.

This is an impressive list! Not because these are very good directories—I struggled to find any new links that were of use—but a) because they are actually still there, b) the categorization systems that some of them use are different, c) some of the most interesting parts are not the actual directory (e.g. the editoral guidelines are useful—they’ve been in this game a lot longer.)

I wonder if any web portals still exist. It was such a fad and—while I never got into them—I wonder if the idea is still plunderable. I suppose the current Twitter/Facebook newsfeed is a progeny.

  1. There are still a few portals around. Kinda pale shadows of their former glory. http://www.lycos.com/ has search, email, news and they still have the Tripod and Angelfire free sites! http://excite.com/ is still there as a starting page. Of course there is still AOL, Yahoo and MSN.

    Plunder: A niche directory, blog etc combined with a forum can make a niche community (read social network.) I suppose you could substitute a Mastodon instance for the forum but, personally I think forums are supperiour for detailed discussion in a niche. You can make the social network ready made like with Invision Community. Or things like WSNLinks and WSNForums can all hook into each other to form a community.

  2. More on Niche Portals: A directory/blog/forum or a blog/knowledge base/forum can make a good niche portal.

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08 Sep 2018

Reply: Hash Tag Creative Coding

HammadB

If you’re eager to find more “creative coding” type works. Going on instagram and using hashtags like #creativecoding are a great way to find amazing work. Also twitter is a great source of absolutely mind-blowing artistic work that leverages technology. I’ve spent far too much time just browsing all the amazing stuff out there.

Ok, I did this - this is great, there are some ‘neat’/‘inspiring’ things there. A few other questions for you:

  • How do I find more hashtags? I would have never found #creativecoding - is it known to be a community or is it just an ad hoc hashtag like #lostinthehashtags (which I just made up - but which has posts!) I guess what I’m saying is - I don’t sense that these hashtags are a community - or are they?

  • As ‘neat’/‘inspiring’ as these are, they are mostly only (very small) images and (very short) clips. I ultimately can’t see myself using Instagram or Twitter much because you just kind of skim and can’t go deeper. They lack the ‘hypertext’. (This is similarly to the OP’s trouble with this post just being a simple ‘box algorithm’ - where do I go for more?

  • Most of these look like art I’ve seen on t-shirts or album covers. Dating back even to the seventies. It is still beautiful and remarkable - but I can’t help but wonder: Where is innovation happening in tech+art?

I will say that I do follow a lot of things happening in vaporwave - any idea what else is happening out there? Thank you for your time, HammadB. I am eager.

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Web Recorder

An incredibly sick tool for archiving—maybe this is already popular and beloved, but it doesn’t hurt to wave it around a bit here.

A modern WWW archiver service—just was overhauled and the bleeding-edge can save the archive to Dat. (Makes me want a ‘record’ ⏺ button in my URL bar that I can just leave on! Any ideas if this exists??)

(INCIDENTALLY discovered this on the Code for Society Agenda notes on Etherpad, which I hadn’t seen in many years—it’s fantastic that it’s still around! This is a tool surely in the vein of what our little internet surf club here has been discussing recently. (Video here, haven’t watched this, so this is also a TODO.)

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Blogging

A ‘steno’ format. A depleted word. A still personal word. A simulation. A read-write simulation. A truncated octahedron.

(This is the first of a new type of post on this blog—a “steno”. This format will house ‘thoughts’/‘discussions’/‘works’—much like an old-time c2-style or everything2-style wiki page that always ended up being an amazing catastrophe. The “steno” acts as hasty notes, links to other places around the blog, recurring nexus, link stations, breathers maybe, between the other articles and notes, revolving around a kind of ‘topic’/‘idea’.)

(In a way, I realize that starting off with an aside is a bad way to get anyone jazzed about some new ultimately pointless post styling—but I purposefully want these pieces to be less heavily edited and focused than all the other things. So, by throwing in a wankery introduction, it acts as a kind of gate you have to get through. So if this is too self-indulgent or tangential then you know to go away and I just continue and we’re all fine—although I think we’re deep into peak self-indulgence now that ‘people’ have evolved into ‘influencers’. Gah, that sounds condescending—and it is—and, worse, I think being condescending—especially in public like this—is probably much, much more destructive than influencing.)

(This isn’t just a gate, though, I want to mark this as the first steno, so that I can point to it later—and have it contain the reasoning behind this. Sure, I could make a separate steno that goes into those ideals, but it’s also kind of tied into the topic of ‘blogging’ anyway, so it’s like: why not just explain the thing and then flow right into it and then let it be for awhile and then come back and build on to it and—this is all just like what h0p3 does on his pages, this whole thing is a chance to have a part of that—and, again, what c2 had, what everything2 had/‘has’—it’s almost as if they were a fad. Like a sudden explosion of truncated octahedrons.)

Blogging simply made the static page seem alive. Then it turned into feeds and streams and the rate of speed was dramatically hiked up.

It’s possible that the word ‘blog’ is depleted. I think it was entirely stupid, but nostalgia has made it kind of neat. Like those little dixie cups dispensers that people used to have stuck on their bathroom walls. How great would it be to brush your teeth with such a companion again?

(This is unrelated, but if we are in a simulation, then we are probably deep into many, many simulations. It seems unlikely that we are only ever one-level removed from ‘reality’. It makes me feel like we’re probably either not in a simulation or that our inability to leave the simulation makes this absolute reality regardless.)

(This IS starting to feel strange. It does feel self-indulgent. It feels like it’s more for me than for you. Because I can’t rightfully expect anyone to read this—much like trying to read all of Wikipedia, there’s a threshold you have to set for yourself, that you’re not going to spend the time to read this kind of tripe. I don’t respect you for this, I don’t respect either of us. Maybe I never should have. And, for myself, it’s good to write carefully—to draw you in with great care and to not act this way. On the other hand, it’s hard for me to possibly know what to do with any of these pages! There are recipe and howto articles. There are anecdotes, punchline type things. You can easily add your two cents to a thought that’s propagating around. But I don’t know—I’ve never lived in a large city, and rarely even been to a really massive city, and I find myself looking at the buildings, just the sound of the air is so strange to me, the feeling of being on a street that is so worn and has fragments of millions of boots and beards and bits of sandwiches. I can see that it is an inverted rock tumbler, where the street is being tumbled by all of the things colliding against it. It is erosion of an industrial strength. But that wouldn’t be interesting to someone in a city, would it?)

(And then there is the experience of swimming—and often when we are swimming, we just wander around and work ourselves, talk and float. But if the pool is empty and you go to the bottom and hold your breath, it is the opposite of the city, it is insanely quiet, or an alien kind of subterranean quiet, and it feels like you have entered another level of the simulation, where you are a different person—you can do advanced yoga things down there that you normally wouldn’t be able to do and you sound differently, the bubbles that burst out in spurts produce loud, spontaneous waves and that’s what we sound like down there. And that, also, might not be interesting to anyone—or it might be interesting for everyone. Revealing that I also don’t know what’s interesting is a poor choice!)

Anyway, there’s about fifty reporters behind that door—real ones, not bloggers.

— Tony Stark, Spiderman: Homecoming, 2017

I like that ‘blog’ has remained a non-corporatized word in many respects. A ‘blogger’ is an ‘amateur’; the ‘blogosphere’ is the peanut gallery. It is a futile endeavor—and this is all good, because it important that some of these words stay personal.

Ok, so:

  • A blog is still the state-of-the-art as far as the personal ‘home’ online.
  • And, actually, all the credit goes to the browsers—HTML and CSS are pretty marvellous: they’ve gotten better and we have choices, it’s an impressive platform overall.
  • A static blog is fantastic. You can always back it up and move it anywhere.
  • No one seems to have figured out what to show on the first page yet. A list of recent things is almost the same as a list of random things—until a visitor knows where they are? But how do they know where they are? h0p3 has done a good thing with having an actual front door. (In a way, it feels like an old-school BBS.)
  • RSS is gone for me.
    • I don’t want to read unstyled content.
    • Yeah, don’t want to be fed posts everyday, I want to drop in.
    • I could see a use in a blogroll that colors the sites that have had activity. But no stats or anything.
    • It would trouble me if I was in your face everyday.
    • I still understand if you like RSS and it’s all about the raw text and links for you.
  • Indieweb-style replies and mentions are a huge leap forward. It is just so flexible—we can have threaded discussions, forums, e-mail and new-style hypertext wiki back-and-forth madness simply by adding Webmentions. (See These Indieweb Folks Just Might Be Onto Something.)
  • Beaker Browser means you don’t even need a server to host your blog. This is so straightforward that it’s mindblowing. The browser has hit a point where it has become fully read-write. (See A Web Without Servers.)
  • I think you have to pack it all up at some point. Perpetual blogging seems—arrogant?
  • I wonder if there would be a way to let other bloggers take the wheel from time to time. (This seems along the lines of how Sphygmus is writing into h0p3’s wiki through this ingenious tactic of simply sending him wiki-formatted text. Since h0p3 is bound by creed to publish in full anything that comes his way, Sphygmus can effectively communicate with his audience directly—though I start to worry that h0p3 is just going to become another silo. 😎)
  • It is important to repost stuff that has been overhauled. If we revisit writing, we move away from a strictly ‘chronos’ view of the blog and toward a focus on where thought is concentrated.
  • Yes, so salience. Perhaps this is what the algorithms are attempting and FAILING at. So give it to the nomad. How does a nomad sprinkle salience?

As for the software behind this particular blog, I call it Homeshade. I moved away from Jekyll the first week of September 2018. It was taking two minutes to generate my blog. That is down to three seconds now. (I’m sure Hugo could have done that, too. But I had other things I wanted to do as well—such as putting it into the Beaker Browser so I can just do everything from there.)

The technical part of this discussion is, fortunately, not that interesting really. The things that excite me out there right now are just being done with plain HYPERTEXT. (There’s another great corporatized word that never even got to be lame!) Homeshade is only a refinement, it is not a big deal. The point is only to utilize those things that we have that are under-utilized—like swimming on the bottom long enough to shut the sound out.

  1. Kicks, you provide some interesting thoughts and reflections on blogging, especially in regards to the technical, as well as the different parts. I must admit I am yet to get to the Beaker Browser. Sounds intriguing.

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07 Sep 2018

Reply: An Indieweb Web Directory

Brad

What would happen if you combined a standard web directory script with Indieweb.org features like webmentions and such? I think you could end up with a very powerful tool for a directory.

Ok, sorry to be delayed in replying to you, Brad. I’ve had a broken blog for about two weeks. Rest assured, I’ve been reading along—around the time it broke, you wrote that Thank God for The Indieweb post and I couldn’t help but feel similarly, given that I started my blog around the same time.

I think you’ve got a great idea here—basically that Webmentions could be used to negotiate between two websites, to legitimize each other.

Maybe ‘nofollow’ links materialize into bona fide links once they each Webmention each other. I like that it could be started up from either side too. Someone who includes my directory in their blogroll is probably a good candidate to be in the directory.

One thing that I love seriously love about Webmentions is that they can just be easily killfiled. On Webmention.io, I can just nuke a mention and it’ll never come back. This means I don’t need any moderation tools built into my static blog, I can just use WIO directly.

So I think WIO is a great tool for a directory like this, because you could just build it in static HTML. In fact, this is what I’ve been doing with my directory—I am generating static HTML from a list of link descriptions. This allows me to easily host the directory aaaaaand now that you’ve mentioned this idea, I can hook up WIO in a few simple lines and have a built-in submission system!

So, yes, be flattered—I am stealing this/have stole. 😘

  1. I’m glad you got your blog mended. Heck, I’m glad I actually had a useful idea. Use away.

    I am now actively planning a directory or two so some of these ideas are fallout from my ruminations, whether I can use them or not. The more directories of different kinds the better. There is no one single right way to build one. There are only opinions on the best way. The only way to fix the current broken state of the web is to (re)build it the way we want it. Anything less is surrender.

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29 Aug 2018

Reply: Linkfarmville

Brad Enslen

Rumors spread that large link pages (for surfing) might be considered “link farms” (and yes on SEO sites they were but these things eventually trickle down to little personal site webmasters too) so these started to be phased out. Then the worry was Blogrolls might be considered link farms so they slowly started to be phased out. Then the biggie: when Google deliberately filtered out all the free hosted sites from the SERP’s (they were not removed completely just sent back to page 10 or so of the Google SERP’s) and traffic to Tripod and Geocities plummeted. Why? Because they were taking up space in the first 20 organic returns knocking out corporate and commercial sites and the sites likely to become paying customers were complaining.

Holy smokes—didn’t realize this was actually how this played out. I now see more what you mean by ‘sucking the fun’ out of Web1. Thankyou for spelling that out. Haha, now I am angry!!

So, is getting rid of the ‘Gates of Marlborodor’ good? I think it’s similar to my feelings about Yahoo!—I don’t miss having to click down seven levels to get to the ‘smoothies’ topic. (Or not finding it in the hierarchy at all!)

The trouble is: only a human can say if the ‘Gates of Marlborodor’ was useful to them. Google may not be able to tell the difference between a link farm and a link boutique, but a human can—and humans are the ones we’re trying to connect here, not the Baidubots!

One interesting thing to me: as I have been digging and scraping around for sites, using all the search engines and feeds I can find, there is one that I am finding surprisingly useful. The search on Pinboard—which is a bookmarking site, the heir to Del.icio.us. If you type in ‘smoothies’ there, you are going to get much more interesting results.

And it strikes me: I think it’s the closest thing we have to a human-edited search engine! Think of that.

  1. How were those Geocities sites outranking the big shots? Geocities was built before Google was around. Those early web sites all linked to each other via link pages and other means because surfing was the norm and search the exception. This meant there was a preexisting, very strong linking custom back and forth across the free sites. Thousands of those free sites were considered authorities on their topic, the way a Wikipedia article is considered today. Want to know about Kipling’s poems there were at least 5 sites that covered the topic in scholarly detail.

    Google comes along and they are all about linking and link patterns for ranking. Those funky old Geocities sites ranked real well in Google’s algo. At first even Google was happy, those were the sites people wanted to find, but very quickly the Web started to become commercialized, banner ads were $50 for 1000 impressions, huge money back in the pre Internet Bubble days. Well that commercialization meant sooner or later somebody had to knife Geocities sites in the back.

    >>Yahoo!

    If you are going to build a directory today, only the old guys will drill down to the Smoothies category. You have to have a good search function and you have to make that search box the center of attention just like a search engine. Most current directory scripts have very rudimentary search functions. You need something better, at least as good as some of the improved blog site search plugins. Another thing, depending on the niche seriously consider having a backfill from a spidering search engine feed. This takes care of two things: 1. providing results when the directory has very little on the topic, 2. You get that freshness of spidered results. On a niche directory that backfill needs to have added the niche keywords to the feed. (ie. A Star Trek directory would automatically insert “star trek” into the backfill so a visitor search for “uniforms” in the directory would be “star trek uniforms” for the backfill.

    That’s what I like about your replies, they always make me think.

    >>Pinboard
    I’ve never been there. I shall have to explore. Thanks for that tip!

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28 Aug 2018

Sharing and Archiving with Dat

This is a technical overview of how to use/understand Dat. It covers how useful it is for ‘backing up’ websites—which is how I intend to use it.

So, this article (and the comments) cleared up a few things for me.

Dat can currently be configured to either track all changes (history) of files in a folder (at the cost of a full duplication of all files and all historical changes), or track only the most recent version of files with no duplication (at the cost of losing all history). There is not (yet?) any fancy dat mode which efficiently tracks only deltas (changes) to files with no other file overhead.

From my examination of the Beaker code yesterday, I noticed that the browser only downloads the specific version of a file that you need—I like this! (Rather than having to download the whole history of a file to put it back together.)

One advantage that Dat has over IPFS is that it doesn’t duplicate the data. When IPFS imports new data, it duplicates the files into ~/.ipfs. For collections of small files like the kernel, this is not a huge problem, but for larger files like videos or music, it’s a significant limitation. IPFS eventually implemented a solution to this problem in the form of the experimental filestore feature, but it’s not enabled by default. Even with that feature enabled, though, changes to data sets are not automatically tracked. In comparison, Dat operation on dynamic data feels much lighter. The downside is that each set needs its own dat share process.

I think this is a great benefit of Dat’s design. Because it basically just boils down to a distributed append-only log—a giant, progressively longer file that many people can share, and which you can build stuff like file folders or a database on top of—it’s incredibly flexible.

It certainly has advantages over IPFS in terms of usability and resource usage, but the lack of packages on most platforms is a big limit to adoption for most people. This means it will be difficult to share content with my friends and family with Dat anytime soon, which would probably be my primary use case for the project.

I totally disagree with this sentiment! Dat has the Beaker Browser—which is an incredible thing for a novice to use. Yes, it would (will?) be even better when it can be found on iOS and Android. But, for now, I’m happy to recommend it to friends and family: “Yeah, you can share your own websites—we can even have our own private Twitter-type-thing together—with this thing.”

I know the Beaker team has said that their goal is to get Dat accepted by the major browsers—but I think Beaker’s ability to customize itself to the decentralized web is an advantage. I could see it finding a lot of users.

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25 Aug 2018

Reply: Playing on the Wayback Machine

Brad Enslen

Playing on the Wayback Machine on Archive.org. I just found my first real directory/portal. This will generate some new posts.

Ooo goodie goodie. Looking forward!

I’m on the Wayback today too, reconstructing a lost site. Fellow packrats unite.

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14 Aug 2018

Indieweb.xyz: Difficult or Silo?

A rundown of improvements—and the general mood—one month since opening Indieweb.xyz.

Ok, Indieweb.xyz has been open for a month! The point of the site is to give you a place to syndicate your essays and conversations where they’ll actually be seen.

In a way, it’s a silo—a central info container. Silos make it easy. You go there and dump stuff in. But, here in the Indieweb, we want No Central. We want Decentral. Which is more difficult because all these little sites and blogs out there have to work together—that’s tough!

Ok so, going to back to how this works: Brad Enslen and I have been posting our thoughts about how to innovate blog directories, search and webrings to the /en/linking sub on Indieweb.xyz. If you want to join the conversation, just send your posts there by including a link like this in your post:

<p><em>This was also posted to <a href="https://indieweb.xyz/en/linking"
  class="u-syndication">/en/linking</a>.</em></p>

If your blog supports Webmentions, then Indieweb.xyz should be notified of the post when you publish it. But even if your blog doesn’t support Webmentions, you can just submit your link by hand.

How Indie Do I Need to Be?

One of my big projects lately has been to make it very easy for you all out there to participate. You no longer need a ton of what they call ‘microformats’ everywhere on your blog.

You literally just need to:

  1. Include the link above in your blog post. (You don’t even need the class="u-syndication" part, but I would still recommend it. If you have multiple links to Indieweb.xyz in your post, the one marked u-syndication will be preferred.)
  2. Send the Webmention.

It helps if you have the microformats—this makes it easy to figure out who the author of the post is and so on. But Indieweb.xyz will now fallback to using HTML title tags (and RSS feed even) to figure out who is posting and what they are posting.

The Blog Directory

A feature I’m incredibly excited about is the blog directory, which lists all the blogs that post to Indieweb.xyz—and which also gives you a few hundred characters to describe your blog! (It uses the description meta tag from your blog’s home page.)

I think of Indieweb.xyz as an experiment in building a decentralized forum in which everyone contributes their bits. And Indieweb.xyz merges them together. It’s decentralized because you can easily switch all your Indieweb.xyz links to another site, send your Webmentions—and now THAT site will merge you into their community.

In a way, I’m starting to see it as a wiki where each person’s changes happen on their own blog. This blog directory is like a wiki page where everyone gets their little section to control. I’m going to expand this idea bit-by-bit over the next few months.

Just to clarify: the directory is updated whenever you send a Webmention, so if you change your blog description, resend one of your Webmentions to update it.

Bad Behavior and the Robot Police

We are a long way off from solving abuse on our websites. We desperately want technology to solve this. But it is a human problem. I am starting to believe that the more we solve a problem with technology, the more human problems we create. (This has been generally true of pollution, human rights, ecology, quality of life, almost every human problem. There are, of course, fortuitous exceptions to this.)

Decentralization is somewhat fortuitous. Smaller, isolated communities are less of a target. The World Trade Tower is a large, appealing target. But Sandy Hook still happens. A smaller community can survive longer, but it will still degenerate—small communities often become hostile to outsiders (a.k.a newcomers).

So while a given Mastodon instance’s code of conduct provides a human solution—sudden, effortless removal of a terrorist—there will be false positives. I have been kicked out, hellbanned, ignored in communities many times—this isn’t an appeal for self-pity, just a note that moderation powers are often misdirected. I moved on to other communities—but I earnestly wanted to participate in some of those communities that I couldn’t seem to penetrate.

So, yeah: rules will be coming together. It’s all we have. I’m impressed that the Hacker News community has held together for so long, but maybe it’s too much of a monoculture. HN’s guidelines seem to work.

Commenting

Last thing. A recent addition is a comment count on each submission. These comment counts are scraped from the blog post. It seems very “indieweb” to let the comments stay on the blog. The problem is that the microformats for comments are not widely supported and, well, they suck. It’s all just too complicated. You slightly change an HTML template and everything breaks.

Not to mention that I have no idea if the number is actually correct. Are these legit comments? Or is the number being spoofed?

I will also add that—if you submit a link to someone else’s blog, even if it’s an “indieweb” blog—the comment count will come from your blog. This is because the original entry might have been submitted by the author to a different sub. So your link contains the comments about that blog post for that sub.

Really tight microformat templates will need to become widespread for this to become really useful. In the meantime, it’s a curious little feature that I’m happy to spend a few characters on.

  1. In a way, it’s a silo—a central info container. Silos make it easy. You go there and dump stuff in. But, here in the Indieweb, we want No Central. We want Decentral. Which is more difficult because all these little sites and blogs out there have to work together—that’s tough!

  2. Reply: Indiewebwebwebindieindie

    Simon Woods

    Hopefully over time the feed will involve fewer articles about the IndieWeb. I mean, assuming we want more people to be interested, if not get involved; the harsh truth for us nerds is that most people don’t have the time or energy for mastubatory musings.

    @simonwoods I’m guilty of a ton of navel-gazey, unchecked wankery of that type, even though I initially found that part of Indieweb pretty off-putting. (And the “blogosphere” that came before it.)

    It’s an unfortunate thing that we have to do so much meta-discussion to make progress. But I guess when I look around at all the decrying of social media and silo-stuffing (you know, writing posts for Reddit) going on out there, I start to wonder if maybe that energy is best put into shameful blogging about blogging. I don’t know why such an act is so much more shameful than blogging about skiing, recipes or rash prevention—but it truly, truly is.

    (Oh and @eli—thank you for making an attempt to crosspost to Indieweb.xyz. Never seen one from a micro.blog and you should be good now.)

  3. Reply: Indiewebwebwebindieindie

    Simon Woods

    Hopefully over time the feed will involve fewer articles about the IndieWeb. I mean, assuming we want more people to be interested, if not get involved; the harsh truth for us nerds is that most people don’t have the time or energy for mastubatory musings.

    @simonwoods I’m guilty of a ton of navel-gazey, unchecked wankery of that type, even though I initially found that part of Indieweb pretty off-putting. (And the “blogosphere” that came before it.)

    It’s an unfortunate thing that we have to do so much meta-discussion to make progress. But I guess when I look around at all the decrying of social media and silo-stuffing (you know, writing posts for Reddit) going on out there, I start to wonder if maybe that energy is best put into shameful blogging about blogging. I don’t know why such an act is so much more shameful than blogging about skiing, recipes or rash prevention—but it truly, truly is.

    (Oh and @eli—thank you for making an attempt to crosspost to Indieweb.xyz. Never seen one from a micro.blog and you should be good now.)

  4. Thanks so much! I think my post to indieweb.xyz got muddled because it went from my website to telegraph.p3k.io while also being syndicated to micro.blog. Issues of hazy and lazy decentralization by silo-hopping. Whoops!

  5. Reply: Blogs in the Wild

    Brad Enslen

    There are blogs and bloggers out there, basically talking to themselves because nobody can find them. They don’t know if anybody is reading or appreciates what they post because nobody comments and they have no clue about Indieweb.

    I think evangelizing the raw Indieweb might be over at this point. The term is at least five years old.

    Webmentions have not had the uptake that even pingbacks had in their time. I still think it’s possible for platforms to find some hype—like Micro.blog has seen a lot of adoption, or Aperture might draw people in.

    But that’s okay. I think what you and I are doing will go like this:

    1. We hunt for homegrown blogs, sites, wikis and such just as we are right now.
    2. We build directories, webrings and syndication services that map out this world.
    3. The thing becomes a self-sustaining flotilla of: a) Talking, pitching in with each other’s projects. b) Experimenting with the format—I like to think that we’re developing an alternate timeline, as if blogs had replaced Friendster/Myspace rather than these other derivative networks. c) And customizing these directories and projects for subcommunities.

    This is all very unlikely. Somehow, I think saying it out loud
    makes it even more unlikely. But this is what I look forward to, personally.

    Difficulty: I think it is best if we have to do a little work to syndicate to xyz. I’ve thought about what if we could syndicate via RSS but that would spam xyz out. It does not need all my drivel, only my better (or longer) posts. And if you incorporated RSS then the real spammers would take over sooner or later.

    Maybe someone can talk me out of this viewpoint: I think needing to have your own domain name will be a big hit against spammers. Basically, I’d rather take the Gmail approach to spam prevention than the Facebook/Reddit approach to upvoting and algorithms. Clickbait is a hell of a lot scarier to me than spam.

    So spam prevention would involve:

    1. Limiting the number of webmentions that can come from a domain.
    2. The ability to blacklist at the domain or subdomain level. (And keeping a master list, perhaps overlapping with other blogspam lists out there.)
    3. Some subs will have moderation.
    4. Since we scan the source page for the Indieweb.xyz link, we can do other analysis at that time to detect spam.

    All that said, Indieweb.xyz doesn’t excite me nearly as much as the directories that we’re working on. Those are invulnerable to spam. They can also be laid out and edited to the nines. And I think you’d only need a handful of directories to make an impact.

    As always—really enjoy this ongoing discussion!

  6. 👍
  7. Reply: It Happened Again

    Okay. So I think I’ve sorted this out: in that long post that kept reposting, I had a link to several micro.blog posts (including one of yours). That one post was showing up as like three replies in the timeline.

    For my own reference (and others that I may point here), I did this to solve it:

    1. I don’t send Webmentions to any micro.blog links that are in the main text of my posts.
    2. I don’t include micro.blog replies in my blog’s feed. They will only show up as duplicates, since they are already sent as Webmentions.
    3. There is no need to attach an @-style username to the main text, since these are automatically added by the Webmention.
  8. Reply: It Happened Again

    Okay. So I think I’ve sorted this out: in that long post that kept reposting, I had a link to several micro.blog posts (including one of yours). That one post was showing up as like three replies in the timeline.

    For my own reference (and others that I may point here), I did this to solve it:

    1. I don’t send Webmentions to any micro.blog links that are in the main text of my posts.
    2. I don’t include micro.blog replies in my blog’s feed. They will only show up as duplicates, since they are already sent as Webmentions.
    3. There is no need to attach an @-style username to the main text, since these are automatically added by the Webmention.
  9. Reply: Micro.blog Mentions

    Josh Dick

    “There is no need to attach an @-style username to the main text…” Really? The doc says otherwise (bullet 4): Replies and @-mentions/.

    After playing with it quite a bit, it seems that—if you reply to a specific micro.blog post using a link (in this case: https://micro.blog/jd/820446), it’ll add the @-mention to the beginning if you send a Webmention. And you can also force the @-mention(s). So, if you’re mentioning several people, you’ll want to put those on—and, in that case, it’ll leave them however you have them.

    Great work on your site! I also use Jekyll and have been working on a fork of the ‘jekyll-webmention_io’ plugin that adds a bunch of features. I wish Jekyll was faster—my site takes over a minute to build now. Maybe I’ve done something. I have.

  10. Reply: Micro.blog Mentions

    Josh Dick

    “There is no need to attach an @-style username to the main text…” Really? The doc says otherwise (bullet 4): Replies and @-mentions/.

    After playing with it quite a bit, it seems that—if you reply to a specific micro.blog post using a link (in this case: https://micro.blog/jd/820446), it’ll add the @-mention to the beginning if you send a Webmention. And you can also force the @-mention(s). So, if you’re mentioning several people, you’ll want to put those on—and, in that case, it’ll leave them however you have them.

    Great work on your site! I also use Jekyll and have been working on a fork of the ‘jekyll-webmention_io’ plugin that adds a bunch of features. I wish Jekyll was faster—my site takes over a minute to build now. Maybe I’ve done something. I have.

  11. My question Kicks is what do I share there? All my long form posts? Posts associated with a particular topic?

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13 Aug 2018

Reply: Webrings are Dead

Brad Enslen

If replicated how does one make such a ring topical? How would that auto signup feature check to make sure all the applicants are about one topic? (ie. blue widgets, Star Trek, catching lobsters. etc.) Just having the right code in place to join is not enough for most visitors. They want to surf a ring that matches their interests. Code is not content. Code is not entertainment.

This reminds me of these “useless web” sites—this being the primary one—that have managed to stay very popular. (A lot of YouTubers make videos of themselves clicking through this site and I often see kids at school using the site.) And it’s basically a webring. But it’s not a code-based one, it’s the opposite—it’s totally curated.

(Oh, also, the fellow who does this also works on a directory of “inspiring” projects that looks great. So, this is a person who is having some success playing with curated discovery projects.)

I think computers have completely blown it with discovery. The smartest minds have all been working on this for decades now and it has been a disaster. The question to me now is just: how do we equip our librarians? And I tend to think that we don’t need anything more—our technology is totally under-utilized.

Microcast.club screenshot.

However, there is one promising development that I see from the Microcast.club directory: the self-designed cards that show big images on each entry. The directory is using the itunes:image entry in the podcast RSS feed. This is fantastic because the curator can select/filter the directory entries—but the authors can customize their cards.

I wish RSS stylesheets would have caught on so I could offer this kind of thing for the Indieweb.xyz blog directory.

  1. I think computers have completely blown it with discovery. The smartest minds have all been working on this for decades now and it has been a disaster. The question to me now is just: how do we equip our librarians? And I tend to think that we don’t need anything more—our technology is totally under-utilized.

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03 Aug 2018

My Href Hunt for August 2018

Ok, a new list of personal home pages, blogs and such. My point in doing this exercise is to explore sites that aren’t linked to, that failed to launch, that Google won’t take me to. It’s very easy to attempt to advertise your site and have it disappear into the stream. Each time I do this, I discover new, unknown links that are amazing. Keep in mind that this is a raw dump, which I offer up to practice my directory-building skills and to give you a chance to peek as well.

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02 Aug 2018

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Brad’s Blog Directory

Consider submitting your blog to this, if you are out there reading and have let me link to you before. I like that it’s focused on blogs—the directory I’m building is more general than that. His guidelines are very similar to mine: a few-hundred links with longer descriptions than you’d see on other directories.

Oh, and if you look at this and think: “I want to make my own directory!” Please keep me posted. I’m tracking the rise of these new directories closely.

  1. Kicks, I await the roll out of the directory you are working on with eager anticipation!

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31 Jul 2018

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30 Jul 2018

You can now customize your blog’s description on Indieweb.xyz. If you include a meta tag named xyz-blurb, its content will be used instead of the meta description tag. Escaped HTML can go in there. More to come.

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Reply: The Indieweb and Academia

First off, re: open sourcing Indieweb.xyz—I’m driving toward that. I’m in a private repo on Github right now. But, man. It’s unnerving to open that kind of code when… it’s running live on my server. So I am trying to find the security holes before releasing it.

I don’t have big plans for Indieweb.xyz, but one thing I’m planning on adding is a way to create a whitelisted sub. You basically can make a list of URLs and those are the only URLs that can submit to the sub. Who knows, I might use Vouch for this. I just want to use something that makes it effortless.

I wonder if this might be useful for quick collaboration. Name the sub, link a bunch of websites together and then go to town, sharing stuff.

I also am creating a few themes for people who want to run their own Indieweb.xyz as well, since the one I’ve got is designed for the web at large—clearly not the arXiv crowd.

Cool ideas!

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29 Jul 2018

Reply: Why Decentralized Search is Good, Especially for Blogs

Brad Enslen

The more advanced the solution, the greater the technology bar to entry. Just about anyone can start a human edited directory, but creating an RSS search engine requires more programming skill.

A more advanced solution also scales. Which I would argue is a bad thing! 😃

A large super-crawler ends up taking on the Whole Web. Which leads to a massive directory. Which leads to the big players having the resources to game that directory. Drowning out the individuals again.

If there are 100,000 bloggers, then we need 100,000 blogrolls.

This is the magic of it: Google can’t compete with 100,000 blogrolls. Yes, they can aggregate them. Destroying them in the process.

So, yes, we agree on how decentralized can really give us progress. And I agree that our problems are mostly not technological, but are human problems.

(This is similar to the discussion on decentralization out there that seems to think the answer can simply be solved by new technologies. Dat and IPFS are fantastic, but we can decentralize in vastly more meaningful ways today—but we don’t. We could learn to be better human discovery engines.)

If people began to link again, to read again, to explore again. Less statistics, fewer algorithms. More curation, more editors.

Great stuff today, Brad!

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Reply: How Do You Find New/Interesting Blogs?

Brad Enslen

In the past there were blog specific places to search for blogs and new blog posts: blog directories, blog search engines, RSS feeds directories, RSS search engines. In addition there were blogrolls, mentions by fellow bloggers, regular web search engines,etc. Not a lot of that infrastructure remains today.

Mostly, similar to what coldbrain has said, I find blogs when they are casually mentioned on a blog or comment somewhere. Stuff like blogrolls and directories and such just don’t seem to exist. I know, because I’m constantly looking for them!

Now, these things do exist in the small enclave of the Indieweb. There is the Indieweb wiki, which has links all over it. And IndieNews, Indiemap, Blog Snoop and so on. But if I’m looking for blogs and websites that are out there—it’s impossible.

If I’m looking for a specific topic, I’ll Google “quilting blog” or I’ll look on Pinboard under the tag “chess”—and see what blogs come up.

But more often than not, I really want to read someone interesting. Someone’s stories and thoughts. To find all the great writers of our time that are out there. (Most writers I know that write in the literary tradition are lost as to where they should find readers now. It’s terribly ironic when you consider all the reading that is done on the Web in this age.)

This all excites me, though! It seems that there is still a frontier on the web. There is still a chasm to cross between all of us. We have a long way to go.

And I think that’s what drew me to the Indieweb. The answer will start here, in this group, because we’re thinking about it. I think about when Ward Cunningham came out with the wiki—it seemed like such a small, pointless invention. But what a masterstroke! What will be next?


Oh and one more thought about directories: I have a theory that exploring a directory is possibly not directly the best way to discover new things. They can be big and dry and tough to get through. I think they more directly benefit the builder of the directory and, also, those listed in the directory.

The builder of the directory explores and unearths other folks. They then leak into this person’s life in a myriad of ways. (For example, I began by simply linking to you once, in pursuit of new things, but now I follow you very closely.) The initial link begets more. Knotty, twisty—here I think of Sam Ruby’s word intertwingly—vines of links around each other.

And the recipient of the link is possibly motivated to build their own directory, so as to establish (or at least to not forget) their new network. So it can be viral. Blogrolls very much experienced this.

  1. I think I agree with most of your points. A directory is not the best discovery experience. It does however have the advantage of being available now and at very low cost. Because, as you say, there really is nothing out there currently and better solutions like a real search engine are years off. It’s a stopgap measure to be sure to be superseded eventually by better technology.

    There is a hard part to a hierarchical directory: sometimes blogs just don’t fit, neatly, into one category. For instance: my blog, your blog, Chris Aldrich’s blog, how does one categorize the entire blog by subject other than “Personal Blog” which tells us nothing? This is where the directory search function comes in, but frankly most directory searches are very rudimentary.

    There are a couple of blog directories left. I’m suspicious of all of them. If you are charging $85 for a listing red flags start flying in my head. Worse, some say they have tens of thousands of listings – that’s too big to browse and they need to have a really good site search to be any use. I don’t see that as a good discovery experience.

    >intertwingly

    Never heard that before, but I love it. In this context it fits in so well with “Hyperlinks subvert hierarchy.” I think what you say is true – it forms another informal network.

  2. I have always found the traditional ‘list’ blogroll as limited and cumbersome. That is why I developed my own template. When I find a new author I add it to my spreadsheet.

    I like this in part, but also find the workflow a little annoying. I wish it were more integrated with my site. That is what interests me about Chris Aldrich’s work.

  3. https://islandinthenet.com/41457-2/
    Reading one blog article that mentions another blog article that then mentions another blog article is the way that I have found interesting content over the years. I have a few hundred feeds in my RSS reader and that helps too. But I am sure that I am missing out on a lot more interesting content.

    Right now discovery is one of the weakest areas of the IndieWeb. I think that many people POSSE their content for this reason. I get more readers via Facebook and Twitter than I do via organic Google searches or links from other bloggers. I recently stopped POSSE my posts and … the traffic has fallen off significantly.

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27 Jul 2018

Reply: The Future of Blog Snoop

Brad Enslen

I’m hitting a fork in the road with this site and the experiment of using a blog as a directory of blogs. […] I don’t think using a blog for this is as good as using a real web directory script, but if a blog is all you have it can be pressed into this use.

I think the idea behind Blog Snoop is solid—I mean you’re just talking about trying to define the edges of a certain community. I’m sufficiently convinced now (between Reddit wikis and ‘awesome lists’) that directories still serve this purpose. Find The Others.

I guess part of the problem is—what is the community? Bloggers? The Indieweb? The subset of the Indieweb that wants to talk about discovery? (Search, directories, blogrolls, etc.) I think you are shooting for larger than the Indieweb—bloggers, in general, right? That operate independently? So, do Medium blogs count?

Ok, so, the usability of the directory is central. This makes sense: a directory is a practical instrument. It needs to be elegant and tight. Using a blog as a directory is very novel and very convenient—and it can work! But I think the directory itself needs to be incredibly sweet to use: full of great stuff, well-organized and fun to use, if possible. I think you have to really want to visit the directory regularly.

Google won by distilling everything down to one box. It was actually fun to use Google because you could start typing and it would try to finish your sentence for you. Which I actually think more people enjoyed for its novelty than its usefulness. And it was useful, too!

So a few starter suggestions:

  • The whole tag cloud is off to the side, as if it’s not important.
  • I can’t see some of the words in the tag cloud, they are too small.
  • The biggest words in the tag cloud are words like “General” and “Internet” which are almost non-categories because they apply to all blogs.
  • It’s not clear how to submit my own blog unless I dig. People should really be encouraged to participate.
  • The text is large, so lots of scrolling is involved. I think this is what the ‘awesome lists’ are doing right. It’s also what Chris Aldrich is doing so well with his blogroll.
  • A dense list, like the one Chris has, also feels more active, for some reason.
  • The thing you are doing perfectly, though, is the care in the descriptions. This is actually the most important thing once the directory is usable—and you have that already.

I am working on a personal directory right now, so my attention is there. But maybe if we keep talking about this, we can figure it out. Don’t give up—just keep talking and refining.

You’ve actually given me a great idea (I think it might be ‘great’, who knows) for Indieweb.xyz. I think I’m going to make a directory of the sites that submit to it. And it will also show the sub (‘tag’) that they most commonly submit to. It would be a simple change and might help me gradually collect links to blogs that I can go through over time.

Good luck, Brad! These tiny efforts may seem small in the face of massive social empires out there, but I think there are many people who are (or will) participate if they can just be found.

  1. Kicks, great suggestions, although I’m limited by my template on some of those. I’ll see what I can do about the tag cloud. Descriptions: well I’ve written thousands of those when seeding directories over the years. I did get one idea that will make seeding Blog Snoop easier: find single subject blogs. (ie. blog with original poetry, blog full of funny pictures of a dog in superhero costumes, etc.) Because trying to read back into a general blog that writes about everything and then describe it is work. 🙂

  2. Replied to Memo: Announcement: The Future of Blog Snoop Blog Directory by Brad EnslenBrad Enslen (Brad Enslen)
    I’m hitting a fork in the road with this site and the experiment of using a blog as a directory of blogs.  The problem here is me: I’m running out of time.  I’m duplicating a lot … Source: Announcement: The Future of Blog Snoop – Blog Snoop Weblog Directory We’ll see what happens.  It...

    Brad, much like Kicks Condor, I think you’re making a laudable effort, and one of the ways our work grows is to both keep up with it and experiment around.

    If I recall, programming wasn’t necessarily your strong suit, but like many in the IndieWeb will say: “Manual until it hurts!” By doing things manually, you’ll more easily figure out what might work and what might not, and then when you’ve found the thing that does, then you spend some time programming it to automate the whole thing to make it easier. It’s quite similar to designing a college campus: let the students walk around naturally for a bit then pave the natural walkways that they’ve created. This means you won’t have both the nicely grided and unused sidewalks in addition to the ugly grass-less beaten paths. It’s also the broader generalization of paving the cow paths.

    In addition to my Following page I’ve also been doing some experimenting with following posts using the Post Kinds Plugin. It is definitely a lot more manual than I’d like it to be. It does help to have made a bookmarklet to more quickly create follow posts, but until I’ve got it to a place that I really want it, it’s not (yet) worth automating taking the data from those follow posts to dump them into my Follow page for output there as well. Of course the fact that my follow posts have h-entry and h-feed mark up means that someone might also decide to build a parser that will extract my posts into a feed which could then be plugged into something else like a microsub-based reader so that I could make a follow post on my own site and the source is automatically added to my subscription list in my reader automatically.

    In addition to Kicks Condor, I’me seeing others start to kick the tires of these things as well. David Shanske recently wrote Brainstorming on Implementing Vouch, Following, and Blogrolls, but I think he’s got a lot more going on in his thinking than he’s indicated in his post which barely scratches the surface.

    I also still often think back to a post from Dave Winer in 2016: Are you ready to share your OPML? This too has some experimental discovery features that only scratch the surface of the adjacent possible.

    And of course just yesterday, Kevin Marks (previously of Technorati) reminded us about rel=”directory” which could have some interesting implications for discovery and following. Think for a bit of how one might build a decentralized Technorati or something along the lines of Ryan Barrett’s indie map.

    As things continue to grow, I’m seeing some of all of our decisions and experiments begin to effect others as these are all functionality and discovery mechanisms that we’ll all need in the very near future. I hope you’ll continue to experiment and make cow paths that can eventually be paved.

    Featured Image: Cows on the path flickr photo by Reading Tom shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

    Syndicated copies to:

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25 Jul 2018

Reply: Brad’s Comment on ‘The Awesome Directories’

Brad Enslen

On some hypothetical future niche directory it’s that webring code that prevents the linkrot. As long as the webring/directories robot keeps finding that validation code you stay in the directory, no code and eventually you will be dropped. Not perfect but it automates the process a bit.

Ok, yeah—this will be essential. I wonder if I can use the page’s title tag for this? Like: save the title tag the first time I check the site. Because it’s much less rare for the title tag to change than the body text.

I like the idea of the webring code. I just don’t have any influence on some of the sites that I am linking to. But yeah: mixing webrings and Indieweb.xyz is interesting.

As for the size of a directory (or webring), that is such a big problem on the Web. They need to have upper limits, for sure. If it gets too big, it feels (and does become) unusable. If it’s too large, then nothing in it is special. Like with these “awesome lists”—you are led to believe that the list is a severe abridgement, because the links in it are truly impressive.

With webrings, someone is special by virtue of discovering the ring first. So I can see closing admittance. I’m not that into webrings because it’s a pretty fragile link between all parties.

I’d like linking to take some effort, which also limits the amount of links you can have and makes them more potent.

Thanks for the ideas! Great stuff.

  1. I’m not yet convinced webrings will work in 2018 for traffic. But even just a validation code would help indicate the site has lost it’s ability to be listed. OTOH a ring code gives traffic options to members 2 ways either from another member in the ring, or from the directory itself.

    The trick with a directory is the directory needs to attract visitors itself so it can disperse them out to those listed. If the directory provides no traffic there is little reason to be listed.

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24 Jul 2018

The Awesome Directories

Continuing my discussion from Foundations of a Tiny Directory, I discuss the recent trend in ‘awesome’ directories.

All this recent discussion about link directories and one of the biggest innovations was sitting under my nose! The awesome-style directory, which I was reminded of by the Dat Project’s Awesome list.

An “awesome” list is—well, it isn’t described very well on the about page, which simply says: only awesome is awesome. I think the description here is a bit better:

Curated lists of awesome links around a specific topic.

The “awesome” part to me: these independently-managed directories are then brought together into a single, larger directory. Both at the master repo and at stylized versions of the master repo, such as AwesomeSearch.


In a way, there’s nothing more to say. You create a list of links. Make sure they are all awesome. Organize them under subtopics. And, for extra credit, write a sentence about each one.

Dat Project's Awesome

Generally, awesome lists are hosted on Github. They are plain Markdown READMEs. They use h2 and h3 headers for topics; ul tags for the link lists. They are unstyled, reminiscent of a wiki.

This plain presentation is possibly to its benefit—you don’t stare at the directory, you move through it. It’s a conduit, designed to take you to the awesome things.

Hierarchical But Flat in Display

Awesome lists do not use tags; they are hierarchical. But they never nest too deeply. (Take the Testing Frameworks section under the JavaScript awesome list—it has a second level with topics like Frameworks annd Coverage.)

Sometimes the actual ul list of links will go down three or four levels.

But they’ve solved one of the major problems with hierarchical directories: needing to click too much to get down through the levels. The entire list is displayed on a single page. This is great.

Curation Not Collection

The emphasis on “awesome” implies that this is not just a complete directory of the world’s links—just a list of those the editor finds value in. It also means that, in defense of each link, there’s usually a bit of explanatory text for that link. I think this is great too!!

Wiki-Style But Moderated

The reason why most awesome lists use Github is because it allows people to submit links to the directory without having direct access to modify it. To submit, you make a copy of the directory, make your changes, then send back a pull request. The JavaScript awesome list has received 477 pull requests, with 224 approved for inclusion.

So this is starting to seem like a rebirth of the old “expert” pages (on sites like About.com). Except that there is no photo or bio of the expert.

About.com screenshot.

As I’ve been browsing these lists, I’m starting to see that there is a wide variety of quality. In fact, one of the worst lists is the master list!! (It’s also the most difficult list to curate.)

I also think the lack of styling can be a detriment to these lists. Compare the Static Web Site awesome list with staticgen.com. The awesome list is definitely easier to scan. But the rich metadata gathered by the StaticGen site can be very helpful! Not the Twitter follower count—that is pointless. But it is interesting to see the popularity, because that can be very helpful sign of the community’s robustness around that software.

Anyway, I’m interested to see how these sites survive linkrot. I have a feeling we’re going to be left with a whole lot of broken awesome lists. But they’ve been very successful in bringing back small, niche directories. So perhaps we can expect some further innovations.

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12 Jul 2018

Foundations of a Tiny Directory

Can the failing, impotent web directory be transformed? Be innovated??

Can we still innovate on the humble web directory? I don’t think you can view large human-edited directories (like Yahoo! or DMOZ) as anything but a failure when compared to Google. Sure, they contained millions of links and, ultimately, that may be all that matters. But a human editor cannot keep up with a Googlebot! So Google’s efficiency, speed and exhaustiveness won out.

But perhaps there is just no comparison. Perhaps the human-edited directory still has its strengths, its charms. After all, it has a human, not a GoogleBot. Could a human be a good thing to have?

An Age of Link Fatigue

We now have an abundance of blogs, news, podcasts, wikis—we have way too much really. Links constantly materialize before your very eyes. Who would even begin, in 2018, to click on Yahoo!'s “Social Science” header and plumb its depths?

Yahoo! '95

Strangely enough, even Wikipedia has a full directory of itself, tucked in a corner. (Even better, there’s a human-edited one hidden in there!) These massive directories are totally overwhelming and, thus, become more of an oddity for taking a stroll. (But even that—one usually begins a stroll through Wikipedia with a Google search, don’t they?)

The all-encompassing directory found another way: through link-sharing sites like Del.icio.us and Pinboard. If I visit Pinboard’s botany tag, I can see the latest links—plant of the week the “Night Blooming Cereus” and photos of Mount Ka’ala in Hawaii. Was that what I was looking for? Well at least I didn’t have to find my way through a giant hierarchy.

Where directories have truly found their places is in small topic-based communities. Creepypasta and fan site wikis have kept the directory alive. Although, hold up—much like Reddit’s sub-based wikis—these mostly store their own content. The Boushh page mostly links back to the wiki itself, not to the myriad of essay, fan arts and video cosplays that must exist for this squeaky bounty hunter.

Besides—what if a directory wasn’t topic-based? What if, like Yahoo!, the directory attempted to tackle the Whole Web, but from a specific viewpoint?

Craft Librarians on the Web

You see this in bookstores: staff recommendations. This is the store’s window into an infinite catalog of books. And it works. The system is: here are our favorites. Then, venturing further into the store: this is what we happen to have.

Staff recommendations shelf

“But I want what I want,” you mutter to yourself as you disgustedly flip through a chapbook reeking of hipster.

Well, of course. You’re not familiar with this store. But when I visit Green Apple in San Francisco, I know the store. I trust the store. I want to look through its directory.

This has manifested itself in simple ways like the blogroll. Two good examples would be the Linkage page on Fogus.me, which gives short summaries, reminiscent of the brief index cards with frantic marker all over them. This is the staff recommendation style blogroll.

Another variation would be Colin Walker’s Directory, which collects all blogs that have sent a Webmention[1]. This serves a type of “neighborhood” directory.[2]

What I want to explore now is the possibility of expanding the blogroll into a new kind of directory.

Social Linking

Likes, upvotes, replies, friending. What if it’s all just linking? In fact, what if linking is actually more meaningful!

When I friend you and you disappear into the number twenty-three—my small collection of twenty-three friends—you are but a generic human, a friendly one, maybe with a tiny picture of you holding a fishing rod. With any luck, the little avatar is big enough that I can discern the fishing rod, because otherwise, you’re just a friendly human. And I’m not going to even attempt to assign a pronoun with a pic that small.

Href Hunt

It’s time for me to repeat this phrase: Social Linking. Yes, I think it could be a movement! Just a small one between you and I.

It began with an ‘href hunt’: simply asking anyone out there for links and compiling an initial flat directory of these new friends. (Compare in your mind this kind of treatment of ‘friends’ to the raw name dumps we see on Facebook, et al.) How would you want to be linked to?

Now let’s turn to categories. A small directory doesn’t need a full-blown hierachy—the hierarchy shouldn’t dwarf the collection. But I want more than tags.

---
Link Title
url://something/something
*topic/subtopic format time-depth
Markdown-formatted *description* goes here.

Ok, consider the above categorization structure. I’m trying to be practical but multi-faceted.

  • topic/subtopic is a two-level ad-hoc categorization similar to a tag. A blog may cover multiple categories, but I’m not sure if I’ll tackle that. I’m actually thinking this answers the question, “Why do I visit this site? What is it giving me?” So a category might be supernatural/ghosts if I go there to get my fix of ghosts; or, it could be writing/essays for a blog I visit to get a variety of longform. An asterisk would indicate that the blog is a current feature among this topic (and this designation will change periodically.)
  • format could be: ‘blog’, ‘podcast’, ‘homepage’, a single ‘pdf’ or ‘image’, etc.
  • time-depth indicates the length one can expect to spend at this link. It could be an image that only requires a single second. It could be a decade worth of blog entries that is practically limitless.

The other items: author, url and description—these are simply metadata that would be collected.

The directory would then allow discovery by any of these angles. You could go down by topic or you could view by ‘time depth’. I may even nest these structures so that you could find links that were of short time depth under supernatural/ghosts.

The key distinct between this directory and any other would be: this is not a collection of the “best” links on the Web—or anywhere near an exhaustive set of links. But simply my links that I have discovered and that I want to link to.

I don’t know why, but I think there is great promise here. Not in a return to the old ways. Just: if anyone is here on the Web, let’s discover them.


  1. Hat tip to my new friend, Brad for pointing this out. ↩︎

  2. I should also mention that many of the realizations in this post are very similar to Brad’s own Human Edited vs. Google post, which I cite here as an indication that this topic is currently parallelized. ↩︎

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10 Jul 2018

My Href Hunt for July 2018

Ok, a few folks out there let me link to them! Oh, I’m so excited! It’s strange how hard it is to ask a question out on the open Web and to get a reply. If you have any idea how I can find new, unusual personal home pages and blogs—please clue me in.

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Reply: Cataloging Horror Fiction

Brad Enslen

The thing is with a static hierarchical directory you get stuck with the hierachy you built. Tags, even reddit semi permanent tags, are more dynamic and finer grained. By letting a site like Reddit create the categories you help stay on top of what topics are new and fresh. It’s like suggestions coming from the grass roots rather than top-down.

So, perhaps tags (or subreddit-style categories) are good for initial categorization and then a more detailed hierarchy is good for a competent editor. I also wonder: how did you track expired links? Changed links? Would you indicate that a story got an update?

Reddit has done a similar thing with wikis. By giving each subreddit a wiki, many are able to arrange a heirarchical directory of links. I guess I’m wondering if a wiki is a suitable replacement for a directory. Or if the only difference is having a crawler attached. (Which is a formidable difference.)

An idea I’ve had with Indieweb.xyz is to have users submit a finer-grained category using the u-category class. So they could submit:

<a href="https://indieweb.xyz/en/startrek" class="u-syndication u-category">
  xyz/startrek: Photos: DS9: Nog</a>

And it would place it in the permanent hierarchical directory (which crawls links to keep them fresh.) It feels like some moderation would be needed. But I am trying to stay away from that.

I appreciate your thoughtful replies. I am starting to both see how directories are present in our modern incarnation of the Web and desire some innovation for them.

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08 Jul 2018
06 Jul 2018

How the Blog Broke the Web

tl;dr The demand for recency (Chronos!) obliterated the Web’s static directory—and the lowly home page. Strangely, the home page is still out there in plain view. But it has died as an art form.

In a way, portfolio/brochure-style home pages also killed home pages by stagnating the form. On the other hand, home pages are also very alive in the form of wikis (such as Creepypasta) and static directories like Know Your Meme.

I think the underlying appeal is a return to the Old Web. I don’t think this appeal is possible—we’ve moved on—but I think a more cohesive #DeleteFacebook and IndieWeb movement (hang on a sec, the IndieWeb is cohesive! get in here!) could help steer us. Related: Here’s my post discussing what we should take with us.

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05 Jul 2018

Reply: The IndieWeb, Discovery and Web Search

Brad Enslen

It seems to me, at some point, the problem of commercial silos of web search engines must be addressed since 1. a near monopoly is held by Google, 2. both spidering engines (Google and Bing) are oriented towards brands, data mining user profiles, advertising and the commercial. […]

Niche directories can still work when tied to an interest community (just ask almost any local Chamber of Commerce). Filter blogs might work too.

Fantastic. Yes! This is exactly the problem. It’s very difficult for a new participant to make headway because they simply get lost in the pile.

I think all of these approaches need to be reconsidered just like you’re doing, but I want to focus on directories—which are still very much in vogue, but are unrecognizable when compared to the old Yahoo. The big directories these days are Reddit and Pinterest. (And Wikipedia, like you say.) Delicious was one of these too. They are directories because they are topic-based catalogs of thought.

Niche directories exist in the form of stuff like Pinboard, Hacker News, Lobste.rs and so on. So, Hacker News acts basically like a directory of thought for its community. And the users there spend their time pruning and curating this directory.

All of these directories struggle with a sort of memory failure—no one really plumbs the archives of these sites—but that makes perfect sense given that the focus is on absolute recency. Part of the spectacular failure of Yahoo-style directories was due to no sense of recency (a heartbeat) on all those links.

The nice thing about Yahoo was that you could categorize yourself. Reddit, Pinterest, Pinboard—you have to wait for someone else to find you.

To your point about filter blogs: I think there used to be an answer here. It used to be that for topic-based technology blogs, much of their grassroots content came from mailing lists. Mailing lists used to be the primary announcement system for software. (If you look at technology blogs, they are much more commercial now.) So the mailing lists acted like a completely open submission system where you could safely self-promote. And then blogs skimmed their favorite stuff out of these. (IRC and web forums also acted as support systems here.)

So here’s what I’d like to see in a directory:

  1. Allows self-promotion. No one wants to leave a software (or fan art, essays, open question) announcement to their lonely blog. You want to push it out to the relevant community yourself.
  2. Sorting isn’t driven by upvotes or algorithms. You shouldn’t need to have to figure out how to game the system. Yes, these algorithms help prevent spam. But they enable clickbait!
  3. Drives users to the blogs themselves. Reddit isn’t just a directory—writers post their thoughts directly on Reddit. But those writers aren’t given all the tools. First off, the posts are limited in their layout. But also, they aren’t given syndication and identity tools like blogs have.
  4. Personal views of the directory. Right now it seems that we have this idea that our moderators should have the power to decide who’s in and who’s out. But this was never true of mailing lists. I still like the idea of killfiles. You block the specific users and blogs that drive you nuts.

I am trying to accomplish some of this with my directory Indieweb.xyz, but I’m also not sure it will all work due to self-promotion having problems of its own—in addition to being a dirty word on its own.

At any rate, wonderful post. Thankyou!

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