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.

19 Oct 2018

Reply: Emergent Connections Between You, the Readers of These Hypertext Piles

Pinboard and Indieweb.xyz as clustering tools.

Ok ok, one other thing that has dawned on me: it’s not just the emergent connections between writers that is salient when clustering. It’s the connections between readers as well! (This is one thing that Google cannot possibly capture.)

To akaKenSmith’s point:

Having found each other, kindred parties need a work space where they can develop shared understandings.

The old Delicious was this kind of workspace for readers - a similar effort can be found in Pinboard.

One interesting thing I like to do with Pinboard is to look up a link - say ‘The Zymoglyphic Musem’ (results here) and then look at the other bookmarks for those who found the link. For example, the user PistachioRoux.

All of those links are now related to ‘The Zymoglyphic Museum’ by virtue of being in the realm of interest of PistachioRoux. YouTube uses these sorts of algorithms to find related videos by matching your realms of interest with someone else’s. However, in the process, that person is removed. (Or ‘those people’, more appropriately.) PistachioRoux is removed.

But perhaps PistachioRoux is the most interesting part of the discovery.

Particularly in a world which is becoming dominated by writers rather than readers - maybe the discovery of valuable readers is part of this.

Say a post tagged with #how_to #mk #fix_stabs could be crawled and collected into a single mechanical keyboard maintenance page. All that really calls for is emergent keywords from communities and tagging posts which bloggers can do and automations can assists with.

This does sound a lot like Indieweb.xyz, as @jgmac1106 mentioned. The concept is simple:

  • Blogger ‘tags’ their post with a URL: https://indieweb.xyz/en/mk.
  • Their Webmention (pingback) software notifies that URL: “Hey, a post has been made on this tag.”
  • Indieweb.xyz checks the page for a valid link - sure enough.
  • The blog post is added to that URL on Indieweb.xyz.

So the emergence should come from blogs clustering around a given URL.

I’ve been wondering if they could do a similar thing with http://www.adfreeblog.org/ - a ‘general’ blog community could be established around a simple ideal like that.

Might look like this:

  • Blog links to adfreeblog.org on their home page.
  • Adfreeblog.org notices visitors coming from that page and checks that page for the link and the image.
  • If found, it adds the blog to a directory, using the meta description and keyword tags.

The adfreeblog.org home page then becomes a directory of the community. So, kind of like a webring, but actually organized. With Twitter cards and such floating in the metadata, it is probably much easier to extrapolate a good directory entry.

Spam is an issue with this approach - but it’s a start toward discovery. There aren’t a whole lot of ways for a blog to jump out from the aether and say, “I’m over here - blogging about keyboards too!” And, in a way, the efforts to squash abuse and harassment are making it more difficult.

This can become an important component in the new discovery system like how awesome-blahblah github repos are playing a key role in open source discovery.

I think it’s important to point out, though, that ‘awesome’ directories are intended to be human-curated, not generative. They feel like a modern incarnation of the old ‘expert’ pages.

  1. Ok ok, one other thing that has dawned on me: it’s not just the emergent connections between writers that is salient when clustering. It’s the connections between readers as well!

    In this way, I think blogs are a whole lot like essays:

    Of all forms of literature, however, the essay is the one which least calls for the use of long words. The principle which controls it is simply that it should give pleasure; the desire which impels us when we take it from the shelf is simply to receive pleasure. Everything in an essay must be subdued to that end. It should lay us under a spell with its first word, and we should only wake, refreshed, with its last.

    -- Virginia Woolf, The modern essay

  2. This is too good to be true. Yesterday I read Sebastiaan's write-up of how he graphically a link between two individuals who both liked the same thing on the internet, and how, by doing that, he could alert himself to things he might like.

    Today I finally see, in my reader, an earlier post from Kicks Condor, in which he talks about surfacing other readers who have linked to things he has linked, and how that might help him to discover interesting things to read. That could even be the basis of a self-organising discovery engine.

    Clearly, they ought to know about one another. Maybe this post of mine will trigger that.

  3. Reply: It’s a Link Thing (Re: Graph-Based Indie-reading)

    Jeremy Cherfas

    This is too good to be true. Yesterday I read Sebastiaan’s write-up of how he graphically [made] a link between two individuals who both liked the same thing on the internet, and how, by doing that, he could alert himself to things he might like.

    Today I finally see, in my reader, an earlier post from Kicks Condor, in which he talks about surfacing other readers who have linked to things he has linked and how that might help him to discover interesting things to read. That could even be the basis of a self-organising discovery engine.

    Clearly, they ought to know about one another. Maybe this post of mine will trigger that.

    Cool, yes, the alert worked! That alone is very worthwhile and goes a long way toward discovery. In a way, I think this is the most idealized form—you’ve just done the equivalent of “Hey, check this out” and I am very fortunate that I get to read your reasoning rather than to simply see a like in my box.

    I like that Sebastiaan’s end goal is to discover a person and not just CONTENT. To some extent the networks do this: mostly they promote trending squares of blurbs and images, but sometimes you see a note: “Follow these three people.” But you have no idea why and it’s not always based on similarity of our link neighborhoods, but based on geographical closeness or crossing some popularity threshold or your search terms and so on.

    I don’t want to be so allergic to social networks that I can’t see the positive tools—bubbling up blurbs and images can be good fun, liking things is effortless nudging—but I think the Indieweb has already improved on this because its protocols are so light that it forces the human connections. (The ‘homebrew website’ clubs are the opposite of viral marketing.) You could see these as counterproductive—but the problem with ‘productive’ protocols is that they become so saturated as to be useless. Google, for instance, is so good that it is useless.

    I still think algorithms are tremendously useful, particularly when the hypertexter controls the algo. And Sebastiaan is toying with this. I wonder to what degree his query language could simplified as to be more widely useful. Perhaps there is an Excel-type language that could become the dials for the ‘archivist’/‘librarian’/‘curator’ role.

  4. Reply: Refreshing Essays

    Eli Mellen

    In this way, I think blogs are a whole lot like essays:

    Of all forms of literature, however, the essay is the one which least calls for the use of long words. The principle which controls it is simply that it should give pleasure; the desire which impels us when we take it from the shelf is simply to receive pleasure. Everything in an essay must be subdued to that end. It should lay us under a spell with its first word, and we should only wake, refreshed, with its last.

    – Virginia Woolf, The modern essay

    Boy, yes yes, lots of good things in there. I wholeheartedly agree.

    Literal truth-telling and finding fault with a culprit for his good are out of place in an essay, where everything should be for our good and rather for eternity than for the March number of the Fortnightly Review.

    I will need to read back on this several times to know what she means. She’s not saying that criticism is out of place—she engages in it the very paragraph next. (Although I confess that I am tiring of the constant flow of cultural critique. There has to be more than just that to an essay.)

    I think writing for ‘eternity not just March’ could be an expression that stays with me.

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Reply: Robot Plus Human

Brad Enslen

I think there are some things we can automate better while still having human curation.

Mild automation alongside hypertexting in the Indieweb.

Oh yes—I quite agree! I didn’t when I started this blog—I was pretty burned out on algorithms. But I’ve calmed down and, yeah, I think your word of ‘automation’ is more friendly to me than ‘algorithm’.

I’m really getting a lot of good stuff out of Pinboard—it is better than Google, DDG, Million Short or any directory at finding interesting stuff. And it is due to its balance between machine and human: the humans find the link and tag it; the machine collates everything for the researcher. You can do pretty complex queries with it, which I am using every day now. (As an example: /u:krudd/t:links/t:web shows me all links tagged ‘web’ and ‘links’ under the user ‘krudd’.)

However, it is still totally underutilized. I would be surprised if there were five other people on the Earth mining it like I am. (This wasn’t true of the old Delicious—it was a golden age for this kind of mining of bookmarks.)

One great thing to automate would be Webmentions for Pinboard. Think of it: when you (Brad) mention me, I put a link to you at the bottom of that page. You are another writer, so if someone likes your comment, they can visit you to see more of your writings.

But if I had Webmentions from Pinboard, you could go to the bottom of my page and see what readers are mentioning my page. And those readers can be visited—not to see what they are writing, but to see what else they are reading. There is a temptation to remove the reader’s name and just inline their relevant links at the bottom of my post. But I think that removing the human possibly destroys the most valuable piece of information.

I’m beginning to think single author wiki’s are way under utilized. Blogs are cool but relentless about pushing down older posts.

I’m starting to categorize the ‘blogging’ and ‘wiki-ing’ actions under the superset called ‘hypertexting’. Both are about simply writing hypertexts, but blogs arrange those texts in a linear summary and wikis arrange them as a web which starts from a single entry point. (And a self-contained hypertext book or directory would be a tree.)

I think that if we could retreat to mere ‘hypertexting’ and then give people a choice of entry points, we could marry the ephemeral and the permanent and do exciting things with the entire body of the ‘hypertext’. This is where my blog is moving toward and it’s obviously inspired by h0p3’s system and the Indieweb as a whole.

  1. @kicks I like the term "hypertexting" as you define it! More and more I feel the need to try a wiki on something, The linear aspects of blogs are feeling constraining.

    I also need to try Pinboard.

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Reply: Indieseek.xyz

Brad

How much is enough to start out with and how much further seeding just adds noise?

Brad’s directory is coming together!

Boy oh boy—this is great! So you have done a great job writing descriptions, trimming the list down to your essential set and coming up with a good category structure and all that. (And I mean: who am I to tell you this—you’re the directorymeister around here.)

I wish that /links was the home page. I like being right in the middle of things and that page has tons of useful information. However, I can see why you’d want to take the Google approach.

I also wonder about starring things. I like that it’s an invitation to participate. (As are ‘commenting’ and ‘reporting’.) I’ve left this kind of stuff out of my directory, in part because I’d rather that they create their own directories if they disagree. I think ‘reporting’ is a really cool idea—I can see the value there, possibly. With starring: how valuable has this kind of feature been to you in the past?

I really like that you’ve highlighted categories like ‘Fiction’ and ‘City Planning’—in a massive directory, these would be deeply buried, but they are key to your experience on the Web, so they are near the top. This is a really cool advantage to a smaller directory: finding niches that aren’t ever nearby—except here.

I think, at this point, you will learn what works and what doesn’t. I’m going to browse around and announce this on my site soon once I have a chance to take it in completely. Man—this is so fun!

  1. Hah, Kicks, besides Googlebot, you are the first to find me. 🙂 Well I had to leave a trail for testing and I do value your observations and opinions, so I’m glad you found it.

    Stars/rating: I’m not convinced either. My experience in the past was mixed. I can always turn that feature off, but it is a way to invite participation so I figure I’ll try it and see how it goes. In the past the trick with starring was giving webmasters a remote voting code for their website: “Vote for us on Scifimatter” those voting links brought in traffic. I don’t expect that to happen anymore.

    Comments: same thing. Worth seeing if people use it. Could be interesting.

    Reports: This is kind of important. Domains change hands, sites change, articles go 404 so reporting helps police the bad wood and dead wood. Also lets you know people are browsing.

    Categories: I have to thank you for reminding me to build shallow. Once the category structure is more settled I will go back through and cross link related categories more completely.

    Descriptions: the seed listings descriptions are not all crafted as well as I like. Generally I give the webmaster a chance with their meta description if they have one. If that isn’t sufficient I try to edit it to say what is there and work the keywords in. It’s not always as good as I would like, but I’d like to get this launched.

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17 Oct 2018

Reply: Finding Blogs in the Future

Don Park

I feel that discovery layer is missing or lacking. blogrolls didn’t scale. ring blogs just sucked. SEO is just survival-of-the-fittest money pit.

Discovery layer is critical. Without it, even recent push to reshape blogs into shops is meaningless. even small towns have a Main Street for discovery.

Blogrolls worked more like book recommendations. Hard to maintain too. Worked well with new technology. With other and over multiple topics, not so well. We need a more self-organizing and ad-hoc, emergent if you will.

It’s constant work—finding each other through the noise.

Hi, folks - just jumping in because this is my wheel house a bit. I have been having an extended discussion with Brad Enslen (so, on our blogs: ramblinggit.com and kickscondor.com) about discovery. We talk a lot about how this is more of a human problem than a technology problem - and that technology has played a negative role in this, perhaps.

(My part in this is: I have been spending time every day for the past six months searching for blogs - to see what the Web looks like outside of social networks. So I have a good perspective on where one can search nowadays - you can’t just type ‘blogs’ into Google. And I’m starting to get a good feel for where I would want to go to find blogs.)

blogrolls didn’t scale. ring blogs just sucked. SEO is just survival-of-the-fittest money pit.

Yes, so - for sure. (See Brad’s comment on Google here.)

In addition, self-promotion has become a dirtier word these days - you can’t just post your blog to Reddit and Instagram - it’s seen as being overly assertive. So there is almost nowhere for blogs to go.

The thing is: no, blogrolls didn’t scale - but I think they are pretty essential. We’ve traded a human-curated list of links for a ‘friends’ list that is really just a number on an individual’s feed. And the best blogrolls had nice descriptions of who was who (see: Chris Aldrich’s following page as a good example) which is a generous way of turning your readers on to other good work.

I guess I just think of it practically: how would we treat our friends and the other ‘writers’/‘artists’ we admire - by making them a number in our list? Or by spelling it out: “Annie writes about her processes as a sci-fi writer and how to improve online relationships. Basically - it’s uplifting to read her.”

Blog clusters are emergent. Fake or not, blogs with posts on similar topics will be mapped to same cluster which can be seen as a place in which a blog belongs to. Once we have that, a blog reader should be able to ‘pop out’ of that blog and see some visual representation of that cluster with neighboring blogs, not unlike a shopper leaving a store will see a street lined with other shops. That’s how discovery is done IRL and I envision that may be possible online.

Sweet - feels practical. One question I have here is: ok, so blogs have also become more topic-based. The most common blogs are recipe blogs, movie blogs, etc. But a great ‘lost’ element of blogs was just the original web journal or meta blog, where a person is just writing about whatever - I think of stuff like the old J-Walk blog or Bifurcated Rivets. Even Boing Boing used to be more this way. (So like an online ‘zine’.)

I think the orderliness of the Internet and the systems for discovery - these blogs were not found through Google, but only because there was more of an ethic of linking to each other among early blogs. A lot of discovery was just being done by bloggers back then - people simply passed links around.

Again, ‘likes’ have drained linking of a lot of its bite. We don’t write so much about why we like something - we like it and move on. And it’s so easy to ‘like’, it is done so vigorously that even we can’t keep up with our own likes - whereas we used to be limited by how much energy we would spend dressing up our links.

I’m with Don on this – whatever is going to have a chance to work has to be emergent, meaning it can’t require any investment on the part of writers.

I think ‘emergent’ can require work - in fact, it might demand work. Yes, too much work will dissuade anyone. But if it’s too easy, then it’s virtually worthless. I think the value of human curation is in its additional care.

An algorithm cannot simulate the care. Chris’ blogroll linked above is done with care - a human can plainly see that another human has taken the time to write about others. And the more time he spends designing it and improving it, the more it shows that care. People can visit my blog and see that it is built with care. (To me ‘care’ can be represented by thoughtful writing and splendid artistry or shaping of the information.)

Ok - sorry to go on so long, I hope you see this as my effort to generously engage in your discussion.

The effort Brad and I are now engaged in is an effort to bring back the link directory and to attempt to innovate it based on what we’ve learned. (Link directories have already evolved several times into: blogrolls, wikis, link blogs, even the App Store’s new ‘magazine’ approach, etc.) The idea is to jump right into discovery and link up with anyone else who wants to get in on it. Thus, my reply today!

Good to meet you all - take care.

  1. @kicks Interesting. Good discussion on Github.

    I think there are some things we can automate better while still having human curation. For example: on a blog, I'd love to have a spider that harvests tags and categories and how many posts for each tag so I can get a sense of what that blogger spenda a lot of time writing about. Because some blogs are so big you really can't poke through it all.

    I'm beginning to think single author wiki's are way under utilized. Blogs are cool but relentless about pushing down older posts.

  2. Reply: Robot Plus Human

    Brad Enslen

    I think there are some things we can automate better while still having human curation.

    Mild automation alongside hypertexting in the Indieweb.

    Oh yes—I quite agree! I didn’t when I started this blog—I was pretty burned out on algorithms. But I’ve calmed down and, yeah, I think your word of ‘automation’ is more friendly to me than ‘algorithm’.

    I’m really getting a lot of good stuff out of Pinboard—it is better than Google, DDG, Million Short or any directory at finding interesting stuff. And it is due to its balance between machine and human: the humans find the link and tag it; the machine collates everything for the researcher. You can do pretty complex queries with it, which I am using every day now. (As an example: /u:krudd/t:links/t:web shows me all links tagged ‘web’ and ‘links’ under the user ‘krudd’.)

    However, it is still totally underutilized. I would be surprised if there were five other people on the Earth mining it like I am. (This wasn’t true of the old Delicious—it was a golden age for this kind of mining of bookmarks.)

    One great thing to automate would be Webmentions for Pinboard. Think of it: when you (Brad) mention me, I put a link to you at the bottom of that page. You are another writer, so if someone likes your comment, they can visit you to see more of your writings.

    But if I had Webmentions from Pinboard, you could go to the bottom of my page and see what readers are mentioning my page. And those readers can be visited—not to see what they are writing, but to see what else they are reading. There is a temptation to remove the reader’s name and just inline their relevant links at the bottom of my post. But I think that removing the human possibly destroys the most valuable piece of information.

    I’m beginning to think single author wiki’s are way under utilized. Blogs are cool but relentless about pushing down older posts.

    I’m starting to categorize the ‘blogging’ and ‘wiki-ing’ actions under the superset called ‘hypertexting’. Both are about simply writing hypertexts, but blogs arrange those texts in a linear summary and wikis arrange them as a web which starts from a single entry point. (And a self-contained hypertext book or directory would be a tree.)

    I think that if we could retreat to mere ‘hypertexting’ and then give people a choice of entry points, we could marry the ephemeral and the permanent and do exciting things with the entire body of the ‘hypertext’. This is where my blog is moving toward and it’s obviously inspired by h0p3’s system and the Indieweb as a whole.

  3. @kicks I like the term "hypertexting" as you define it! More and more I feel the need to try a wiki on something, The linear aspects of blogs are feeling constraining.

    I also need to try Pinboard.

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Reply to this

And not so they will become the new elite. But because I think we can benefit from each other’s attention. There is much to explore in this world.

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I feel a connection to the original Occupy ethos outside of the topic of class. I like to think that the work on my blog has a similar aim. 1% of the humans have the attention. I want to spend my time, though, looking at the work of the other ninety-nine.

  1. Reply to this

    And not so they will become the new elite. But because I think we can benefit from each other’s attention. There is much to explore in this world.

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Meaningness

A hypertext book underway for ten years.

No idea if this link has already made it around many times over. Seems relevant to the TiddlyWiki crowd. It’s a ‘book’/‘wiki’/‘whatever’.

Couple things;

  • Drafts are clearly marked with a nice pickaxe icon. And the whole article is flocked in gray. (See above.)

  • Cool hierarchy at the bottom of the page. Explains the book and gets you around. Kind of like this stuff being at the bottom so the article can take up the top.

  • Comments on each page are hidden.

Found this by way of the article on the death of subcultures. Don’t know about anyone else here but I’ve wondered about this for the past several years. I still consider myself a ‘mod’. And I mean there are still ‘hipsters’ and insane clown posses around—doesn’t feel the same.

See also: giant chart that explains everything. I’m really starting to collect these. Peace out there, my clan.

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16 Oct 2018

Reply: Simple Friendly Formats

Manton Reece

The Future of Blogging panel was good. Tantek Çelik asked a question about the complexity of Friend of a Friend (FOAF), and whether a more human-readable/writable format was needed. The question was not well received by the panel, which took the view that tools (like Movable Type) will be able to hide the sometimes messy details from the user.

What an astounding post—this feels like the situation today. (And sure enough—FOAF, XML-RPC and SOAP all went their way.) It is pretty surprising that Microformats have somewhat survived—the u- and p- prefixes, figuring out how to nest elements, complex rules like you see on the Indieweb authorship page.

I wonder what drives the complexity of something like ActivityPub. Is it a kind of premature future-proofing? Is it just a desire to load the thing with features? I especially wonder about something like FOAF, which should be conceptually simple.

Really appreciate the conversation, Manton.

  1. @kicks I think part of the complexity comes from a desire to solve all the problems. I drafted a related post last week after looking over Solid, but it's a little negative... Need to re-read and decide whether to post it.

  2. @manton this thought deserves to be expanded.

    Micro.blog is a great case study in standard adoption driven by solving one small problem at a time.

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Reply: Webmentions Agnostic

Eddie Hinkle

Well the good news is because Webmention is data agnostic, while I agree microformats can be tricky, if a better solution pops up in the real world, we can easily shift to adopt it. As you said, we shouldnt go out and “try to invent a new spec” but if something makes sense and people try it out and it works, then webmention can always adjust. The webmention spec would never need to change, websites would just have to replace mf2 parsers with whatever the new parsing strategy is.

In a way, Webmention doesn’t even seem like a spec—for crying out loud, it is just source ➡️ target ➡️ endpoint! So, really, microformats are the substance of Webmentions. I think it would be interesting to see a variation of Webmention which did JSON, perhaps using Activity Streams or something. I almost wonder if this is what Parecki is doing by offering three different forms of JSON on all of his posts.

It’ll be hard to beat Microformats, though, in that having a single definitive HTML source is amazing—compared to having all of these other source documents floating around: feeds, ActivityPub outboxes and such. So I’m content to stay put. I already get plenty of great stuff out of Webmentions. Like this ping from you, Eddie!

  1. Haha, yeah you’re right. Source and Target aren’t much of a spec. I think some of the stuff that makes it cross over the line as a spec is “how do you discover someone’s webmention endpoint?”, “how do you verify a webmention’s authenticity?”, etc.

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After looking at TBL’s ‘Solid’ for several hours—I don’t follow. It is a ‘personal data store’—but it seems awfully complex. I was playing with making a static, read-only data store: well, there are a lot of strange tags involved. And many of the apps seem to use WebId-TLS (which doesn’t work any more?) Don’t even know where to begin to get help.

  1. @kicks I'm skeptical of such complicated specs ever being widely adopted. It would take a very popular real-world app to push it forward (like Mastodon did for ActivityPub, which I also think could be much simpler).

  2. Reply: Simple Specs

    Manton Reece

    I’m skeptical of such complicated specs ever being widely adopted. It would take a very popular real-world app to push it forward (like Mastodon did for ActivityPub, which I also think could be much simpler).

    Well, we’ve been through this before: XML-RPC vs. REST+JSON. And no one remembers SOAP—which had tremendous backing, but was just so riddled with tags, you would just get lost in the stack.

    ActivityPub is just unbelievable—so many layers of JSON-LD, Webfinger, Salmon.

    Webmentions seem so much simpler—even though they’re not exactly comparable. However, Microformats are very difficult. They just are messy in practice—don’t you think? I kind of wish we could go with a combination of Webmentions and JSON Feed. But it’s too late to go inventing another spec. 😉

  3. Well the good news is because Webmention is data agnostic, while I agree microformats can be tricky, if a better solution pops up in the real world, we can easily shift to adopt it. As you said, we shouldnt go out and “try to invent a new spec” but if something makes sense and people try it out and it works, then webmention can always adjust. The webmention spec would never need to change, websites would just have to replace mf2 parsers with whatever the new parsing strategy is.
  4. @kicks Agreed, especially about the layers of JSON-LD that (I think) burden these new formats. Remembering SOAP, I searched my blog archives and found this post from 2003. I might have written it differently today, but pretty much still holds up 15 years later.

  5. Reply: Webmentions Agnostic

    Eddie Hinkle

    Well the good news is because Webmention is data agnostic, while I agree microformats can be tricky, if a better solution pops up in the real world, we can easily shift to adopt it. As you said, we shouldnt go out and “try to invent a new spec” but if something makes sense and people try it out and it works, then webmention can always adjust. The webmention spec would never need to change, websites would just have to replace mf2 parsers with whatever the new parsing strategy is.

    In a way, Webmention doesn’t even seem like a spec—for crying out loud, it is just source ➡️ target ➡️ endpoint! So, really, microformats are the substance of Webmentions. I think it would be interesting to see a variation of Webmention which did JSON, perhaps using Activity Streams or something. I almost wonder if this is what Parecki is doing by offering three different forms of JSON on all of his posts.

    It’ll be hard to beat Microformats, though, in that having a single definitive HTML source is amazing—compared to having all of these other source documents floating around: feeds, ActivityPub outboxes and such. So I’m content to stay put. I already get plenty of great stuff out of Webmentions. Like this ping from you, Eddie!

  6. Reply: Simple Friendly Formats

    Manton Reece

    The Future of Blogging panel was good. Tantek Çelik asked a question about the complexity of Friend of a Friend (FOAF), and whether a more human-readable/writable format was needed. The question was not well received by the panel, which took the view that tools (like Movable Type) will be able to hide the sometimes messy details from the user.

    What an astounding post—this feels like the situation today. (And sure enough—FOAF, XML-RPC and SOAP all went their way.) It is pretty surprising that Microformats have somewhat survived—the u- and p- prefixes, figuring out how to nest elements, complex rules like you see on the Indieweb authorship page.

    I wonder what drives the complexity of something like ActivityPub. Is it a kind of premature future-proofing? Is it just a desire to load the thing with features? I especially wonder about something like FOAF, which should be conceptually simple.

    Really appreciate the conversation, Manton.

  7. @kicks I think part of the complexity comes from a desire to solve all the problems. I drafted a related post last week after looking over Solid, but it's a little negative... Need to re-read and decide whether to post it.

  8. @manton this thought deserves to be expanded.

    Micro.blog is a great case study in standard adoption driven by solving one small problem at a time.

  9. Haha, yeah you’re right. Source and Target aren’t much of a spec. I think some of the stuff that makes it cross over the line as a spec is “how do you discover someone’s webmention endpoint?”, “how do you verify a webmention’s authenticity?”, etc.

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12 Oct 2018

Reply: Those Darn Phantoms

Sphygmus

[to h0p3] I appreciate the exchange of notes! I feel the Dunbar Number problem; I think we can geek out together with informality, while also engaging each other on a higher level with the more formal, thoughtful, or directed letters.

I’m not really responding to your draft here—just testing the ‘whostyle’ I’m working on for your quotes. Of course, this is your idea, S. It’s simplified compared to what the two of you can do cross-wiki. I’m trying to decide if I want to copy h0p3’s complete letters over. I think I am against it.

I think about the Dunbar Number now and then. I’ve always felt resigned to it. There’s a limit, so why reach out? Maybe the point is to have few friends and find ‘depth’.

But I’m feeling awfully pluralistic—I just want to embrace the reverse as well. Can’t let a scientific number say how it should all be. ‘Knowing people’ seems like ‘all’ that should be. To make it easy to know me—say a bit here and there, but no need to be popping up all the time; to make it easy to know others—read many and try to develop the skill of ‘feeling’ for who they are, acknowledging their tones and colors.

There are people I’ve known my whole life who are still a mystery, whose relationship still feels tentative—I question whether depth can be. Perhaps there is only commitment.

A person changing changes the ‘depth’. When a singer’s voice or style changes, we have to start liking them from the place where they last were. But a singer who sang me a great song once—well, I could be devoted forever in sheer gratitude.

h0p3:
I quietly write this existentially isolating autopoietic self-idiom to (and seek the approval of) both current and future [conscious and non-conscious computational processes] which comprise my identity, the family I love, Humanity, The Others, the philosophers, my causal and especially memetic [sublators, descendents, and inheritors], any possible posthuman or AI-related demigods interpreting this text beyond some inconceivable (for me personally) techno-epistemic-blackbox singularity, and every appropriately fitting metaphysical object which transcends the limits of my mind or world.

Just testing another ‘whostyle’ here.

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09 Oct 2018

1080plus is Back

Previously known as ‘1080.plus’, this tri-dimensional VJ chat portal is still real—it is real.

What was a very underground tri-dimensional environment for exploring YouTube videos and playing Blackjack(?) together—hell, who knows what you’re SUPPOSED to do here—is now even more underground and abandoned now that it reappeared without any fanfare. I ADORED this place and went looking for it many months ago. Well—it’s back and now seems to have an otherworldly sister site i1os.

Screenshot of i1os.com

Strangely enough, the site was profiled in New York Magazine where the Canadian author (Michael Leonard) says 1080plus is “a project to make a multiplayer theater experience where you could join friends in a virtual world / virtual theater staring at the same virtual silver screen together, and talking about it as it plays.”

Ok, finally, something has survived of the old world.

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Reply to paulg

Paul Graham

[On the topic of Hacker News’ creation] At first it was called Startup News, but it was so boring reading about nothing but startups that a few months later we broadened the focus.

XDXDXD—imagine if the startup-related news was excised.

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Reply: Not Technically Salmentions

Eddie Hinkle

I don’t think it technically follows Salmention but it achieves similar results. Salmention requires each post to send it’s children posts up the chain. Since Micro.blog owns the whole thing it simplifies things. But the key is that if I’m not the originator of the conversation and someone replies to me, I’ll still be the replies to my post.

Ok, got it. It’s interesting—we kind of have to do this on our personal sites anyway. Like if I get a reply from myself further down the conversation, it’s useful to just use the post I ‘own’ directly rather than go parsing myself. 😄

It’s kind of tough to get it all working by hand—but it’s also amazing, so I’ll take it!

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Makefrontendshitagain.party

The name is odd; the campiness is tuned in.

So this thing starts off as a kind of old-school banner ad but—scroll, scroll—it’s a link directory! Pretty sweet—I like that it’s just a bunch of tiles and you have to wonder what’s behind them. (And wondering about its creator.)

Like here’s a personal homepage that was crammed in there. The counter says only 40 people have been there. And you might say, “What is even there? Why would I even spend time here?” Is bouncy text not enough for you? Is being the 41ST PERSON not enough??

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Reply: Brad’s Directory Project

Brad

Despite my earlier protestations, I am working on a web directory project on a different domain.

Thread about building link directories—sounds dry, but I am all about this right now.

Cool, cool. 😎 Hearing this has made me ramp up my work on mine as well. Looking forward to linking to each other when we get there.

I am nearing 200 links in my directory—that I’ve snapshotted and summarized—and my attitude toward the directory has changed a bit. At first, I simply thought, “Oh, I’ll just put any link in there that I like.” Which basically turns it into a big list of my bookmarks. (Which is fine—if it’s useful to me and helps the sites I really enjoy, then that’s a good angle to start with.)

However, I’m starting to see that I’m actually attempting to paint a picture of the Web—making a map of it, right? And so I’ve started branching out and including stuff that I may not visit all the time and that I may not even like, because I’m trying to show how ‘wide’ the Web is. As a result, I’ve started including a lot of controversial links across the spectrum of humanity—in order to make the directory more about the Web than it is about Me. (I’m a very passive person, so I tend to rule out posting anything inflammatory or controversial, because I have no idea what the ‘right’ side of an issue is and I just would usually rather not deal with it.)

Ok, so, it’s interesting how your previous sci-fi and horror directories weren’t at all about your preferences, but about mapping out a community. This is a lot tougher with a general-purpose directory because the Web is so big.

So, yeah, I wonder what your criteria are for what you are including. And what your mindset is while you are collecting and editing. I think it would be useful for us to write our thoughts so we can give some advice and encouragements to others who want to build their own web directories.

  1. >200 links

    I know this isn’t a race, but you are ahead of me. And I’m impressed because I’ve seen the detail you put into your descriptions. That’s a lot of work. I’m right around 100 links.

    Yeah, a general directory is harder than a niche. Fortunately, because of our discussions about the web, plus all the Indieweb philosophy, plus my own hobby horses, I have some themes to guide me in this first part of link seeding.

    I am building a directory to help navigate the web. I like your Little Free Library analogy – it is like building a public library from scratch: what needs to be here, what do I want here, what will my patrons enjoy and make use of?

    Themes: Rebuilding the independent web, the web as our social network, alternatives to silos, security and privacy.

    These first 100 links have been kinda from memory: so software to help a beginner build a website, computer security, better browsers, privacy search. I tried to provide links to the resources for those things plus just other stuff I carry in my head (ie. LibreOffice). You and I take this stuff for granted, but what about the average internet user? So I try to think like I’m advising a bunch of my friends around a table, what links would I give them as a starter set? I don’t need to include links to Facebook, Microsoft, Google – they already know about them, what do they need to know about?

    On top of this, I have categories that I don’t want to leave blank, stuff I don’t have in my head anymore so I have to dig. Oh the rabbit holes! There are lots of things I need to dig up more on but it can wait till later.

    Categories: This was hard, coming up with a hierarchy. And as I worked, I’ve added subcats and scrapped many that I can’t be bothered to fill. I started off with a starter set of categories. I’m trying to let subcategories and sub-subcats grow organically as I get enough links for them. I don’t want to overdo the hierarchy, because frankly I expect most people to use the search function anyway.

    PSA: At this point I should clarify some procedures:

    1. I’m listing both websites and individual web pages (sometimes known as deep links) in the directory. Sometimes both. In essence I’m giving myself the flexibility to say, “I don’t know about the rest of the site, but this one post on blue widgets is brilliant.”
    2. A link may appear in more than one category if it is relevant.
    3. At some point I will go back and cross index categories that are relevant to each other.
    4. Link descriptions: Right now I’m just making sure the description has the keywords in it that are needed for people to find it. I’m not trying to write a review although sometimes I do editorialize.
    5. The directory will be open for submissions at launch. Frankly, I’m not optimistic I will get a lot.

    Okay back to seeding.

    Now I’m going through all my bookmarks, read laters and likes looking for stuff worth listing.

    Then I eyeball it and look for gaps and reexamine my category choices.

    I’ll probably add most blogs after I publicly launch. I’d really prefer that bloggers add their own blogs and write their own descriptions. For example how do I describe Kicks Condor’s blog or Chris Aldrich’s blog? Blogs like mine and yours and Chris’ are about a little bit of everything. Much better if I can somehow convince bloggers to add their own listings and describe their own sites. If nobody comes to the party, I’ll start doing it myself but it will be a slog. And yet, and yet, these are exactly the blogs I want in this directory AND need to be in this directory. It’s easy to DUckduck for cooking blogs and find them, but what about blogs that are about every topic under the sun? They are hard to find by keywords but they do need to be found.

    Finally, there are topics I’m just not interested in or want to avoid: Politics, sex, religion – better served by a search engine. Sports? I can’t be bothered. But this too is cool, because there is room for sports, political and other niche directories. Just as there is room for thousands of small general directories.

  2. Reply: General-Purpose Link Directories

    Brad

    I am building a directory to help navigate the web. I like your Little Free Library analogy – it is like building a public library from scratch: what needs to be here, what do I want here, what will my patrons enjoy and make use of?

    Interesting—the ‘make use of’ part really doesn’t apply to what I’m doing because I’m not evaluating links on ‘usefulness’—I want links that are more of an experience or perspective. But I like that you’re doing that in yours. I think it will allow us to compare what draws people in—if that’s even possible.

    Themes: Rebuilding the independent web, the web as our social network, alternatives to silos, security and privacy.

    With mine, I’m specifically avoiding software and business links—because these dominate Google and already have a lot of directories. I’m not linking to technical posts of any kind, though I do have a section on free sites to use to participate on the Web and Indieweb.

    My themes are more: unique sites, colorful sites, bizarre sites (to some extent) and thoughtful sites. I love those pages that I read and they were so profound or beautiful that my life changed just being there.

    These first 100 links have been kinda from memory: so software to help a beginner build a website, computer security, better browsers, privacy search.

    That’s sweet. I’ve been loving the links you’ve been finding (like millionshort and findx—to which I would add wiby perhaps) and so I will definitely use the directory. Vivaldi has been great—I’m following along, Brad.

    On top of this, I have categories that I don’t want to leave blank, stuff I don’t have in my head anymore so I have to dig. Oh the rabbit holes! There are lots of things I need to dig up more on but it can wait till later.

    Yeah, so, this is a good topic. I started a few categories that I’ve decided to hold off on. I have an ‘Animal’ category, for instance, but I don’t think I’ve got enough quality material to make it happen yet. I’m close, but I might hold off.

    Like you, I found it useful to build my categories first, though. I’m only going two tiers deep. So I have a main category and then the actual category. I don’t put any links right under the top-level yet.

    Incidentally, here are the classification systems that I springboard from:

    • BISAC Headings List.
    • SeekOn—I feel like the categories here are similar to the old Yahoo!'s—not that that’s what I want at all, but it helped to think in terms of why I think this organization doesn’t work.
    • Cutter.
    • To some extent, Colon—though I could never seem to find a detailed category list here.

    I don’t want to overdo the hierarchy, because frankly I expect most people to use the search function anyway.

    Huh—I am skipping the search. I guess I’ll have to rethink this. I also have so few links that a lot of searches will draw blanks.

    I’m listing both websites and individual web pages (sometimes known as deep links) in the directory. Sometimes both. In essence I’m giving myself the flexibility to say, “I don’t know about the rest of the site, but this one post on blue widgets is brilliant.”

    Same. In fact, sometimes I link to just an image or a video and those are marked as such.

    A link may appear in more than one category if it is relevant.

    I don’t do this—I tend to link to the second category in the entry’s description instead. I do have some meta categories like ‘Blogs’ and ‘Wikis’ that will list all websites of those types from all categories.

    I do have some ‘secret’ categories that aren’t reachable from the hierarchy. For instance, I have a ‘Charlie McAlister’ secret section that goes into depth on his life—and which is only reachable from his link in the ‘Visuals/Zines’ category.

    At some point I will go back and cross index categories that are relevant to each other.

    Cool—not sure I have enough categories to do that. (Probably 30-40 categories.)

    Link descriptions: Right now I’m just making sure the description has the keywords in it that are needed for people to find it. I’m not trying to write a review although sometimes I do editorialize.

    This is where I go to town. I sometimes include five more links in the description. I am spending a lot of time making these juicy, giving history, including images. I may need to expand some of these into full-page articles.

    The directory will be open for submissions at launch. Frankly, I’m not optimistic I will get a lot.

    I think we need to look at this as long game. It might be good to give yourself a timeline to work with. Like I am giving Indieweb.xyz a year to see how it goes. I might go for two years. It requires a lot more maintenance and work because people interact with it—it’s not just static HTML.

    With this directory, I am committing to 20 years. I am definitely going to keep it up for the long run. It is designed to be a portal to the somewhat permanent Web and it needs to be there longterm in order to work. This means I can play a long game and just build it gradually. Maintaining links is the hard part—but if I keep it small, it’s fine.

    I’d really prefer that bloggers add their own blogs and write their own descriptions. For example how do I describe Kicks Condor’s blog or Chris Aldrich’s blog? Blogs like mine and yours and Chris’ are about a little bit of everything.

    Well, here’s my entry for your blog so far:

    Brad Enslen
    https://ramblinggit.com/
    Web/Meta Blog 10m
    I bounce ideas back-and-forth with this fellow. He blogs about web
    directories and web search---but in an effort to understand how else
    we could be doing this. Our conversations led me to make this directory.
    

    You might take umbrage with my description—it’s pretty low-key. I try not to pitch a site with too much fervor—if I say that every blog is ‘the best blog ever’ then it’s meaningless. But I also don’t want to judiciously decide that one is the best. I’d rather just say matter-of-factly why I visit a site. (I could see myself saying, “This is THE guy I go to when I want to read about organizing links and enhancing the Web these days.”)

    But I think if the description is written by me, it’s more likely to be interesting because self-promotion will always come off as marketing—this entry just comes across as an informal recommendation, like you’d hear in a conversation.

    You could also start with the description meta tag on your links.

    It’s easy to Duckduck for cooking blogs and find them, but what about blogs that are about every topic under the sun? They are hard to find by keywords but they do need to be found.

    Well, this is the advantage we have over Google. We can link to anything and it will be found because it’s never too lost in the directory—since we’re both only in the small hundreds of links.

    Finally, there are topics I’m just not interested in or want to avoid: Politics, sex, religion – better served by a search engine. Sports? I can’t be bothered. But this too is cool, because there is room for sports, political and other niche directories. Just as there is room for thousands of small general directories.

    Let’s hope! 😄

  3. >wiby.me

    Hey, thanks for that! Nice find. That’s just a different approach to what we are doing. Nicely done and good find.

    My themes are more: unique sites, colorful sites, bizarre sites (to some extent) and thoughtful sites. I love those pages that I read and they were so profound or beautiful that my life changed just being there.

    This is good. It has been evident that this is what you do well. This is a real strength for your directory, it will help you make a splash upon launch and will keep people coming back. I can see spending a winter afternoon just surfing through this directory.

    >search
    >20 years

    I don’t know how your directory is coded but the bigger it gets the more site search is needed. I suspect you want to encourage surfing, and that is cool, but my advice is plan to add search feature at some point if you can. There are ways to de-emphasize search on a directory: placement of the searchbox on page or even hiding it on a separate page, but it is handy to have when needed from a user perspective.

    In 20 years I’ll either be dead or so old I won’t care. My time horizon is a good 10 years, which is forever in Internet time and is part of why I’m doing this now rather than dithering. You are right this is a long term game.

    >description

    No umbrage. Low key works. Everyone is bombarded with marketing speak so it’s nice to have someone be dispassionate and neutral. I’m doing it a bit different: if a webmaster included a meta description I try to let it stand. If it is too market speak oriented I edit it and sometimes I add to it to make sure the searcher knows what’s all on the site.

    >categories

    I think I’m too hidebound in the past. You are going to bring a fresh approach to taxonomy which is needed and good.

    This is all good. The Indieweb folks are taking care of the social aspect, which is blogcentric sorta by definition. We can aid in discovery for the blogs and the non-blog sites. If there is to be an Independent Web X.0 somebody has to help map it.

  4. I’ve read this through again.

    My themes are more: unique sites, colorful sites, bizarre sites (to some extent) and thoughtful sites. I love those pages that I read and they were so profound or beautiful that my life changed just being there.

    I think this will be very popular. It’s the difference between walking into an art gallery (you) or listing where to buy paint and brushes (me). Thumbshots would work well for your approach. Anyway, your directory sounds like a winner.

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Reply: Verify and T42T

h0p3

I care about {Verify}. That doesn’t mean I’ve built it well or correctly. But it’s important to me that I can sign my wiki. This wiki is epicly portable, and I think signing makes good sense. Your tool makes signatures a bit more complicated, and I ask for your advice.

I realize you’re writing a draft 😉 but I’m going to say make a few squeaks and then go back to work.

So, {Verify} should actually be pretty trivial to add. Since the diffs are generated by this script, there would just need to be a step added to generate the .sig file (or add the hash to the .json file—the hash could be used by the loader to do the check there.) I will work on adding that soon—because my curiosity is peaked enough.

I fear I fail to T42T both you and kickscondor by failing to reciprocally build a useful tool for you. I’m trying to think of how I can contribute to your lives and art as much as you have for me. I apologize for not knowing how to do that. I feel inept like someone who doesn’t know how to buy a good Christmas present for their friend (and that makes me a bad friend). I don’t know you well enough to figure out how to create a gift that you’ll love and use. I’m sorry! I’m thinking about it.

So I think this is one of the possible misprojections of T42T—it leaves someone in ‘debt’. It is a very rational approach to relationships, because it reduces the interaction to numerical totals. But those numbers are very hard to derive—how much is the script I wrote worth? 2T? 3T? 16T? And how much are the thorough, immensely thoughtful replies that you write? Is that 2T? 53T?

Oh and: does 2T literally mean double? Or is it just a bit step beyond single T?

And–what is T? Does T represent “your last set of actions” in our relationship? So, if you just pulled off a 2T (doubled my T)—T is now 2T, expanding 2T into 4T from now on.

My take is that T is simply a ‘neutral’ action. It is a token of cooperation—it is not measured. I realize that 2T and perhaps even plain T imply a measurement, but I think that (might be wrong) measurement requires too much maintenance and is too difficult to sync (how do we keep our measurement identical?) so I see T as ‘neutral’ and 2T as simply ‘positive’—it will be hard enough for us (humans) to agree on the polarity of a T. So maybe let’s start there.

This way a simple ‘thank you’ for a massive gift can still be T42T. (If I were to remove the numerals: I might look at T4T as neutral-for-neutral and T42T as neutral-or-positive-for-positive. The question then becomes how to derive a polarity for an action—which brings us back to ‘the moral imperative’ and ‘the golden rule’ and the rest of THAT discussion that you are having.)

I’ve also read Grim Trigger, but I’m not talking about a recovery strategy in case T42T becomes malignant—this about how to do it in a realistic but generous way. To live it sustainably in a relationship like ours (it’s a tentative, nascent arrangement; but I think we both just want to make it work long-term.)

At any rate, I hope that riffing on your thoughts counts as a plus; your thankyous are sufficient and your generous replies are 2T always!

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Reply: Webmention Improvements on Micro.blog

Manton Reese

Improved replying on Micro.blog to send Webmentions to any external site in the reply chain, not just the root post. This more consistently allows replies to be copied to multiple external blogs that are participating in the conversation.

Sweet! So this works identically to Salmentions?

Ok, let me see if I’ve got this right—if I reply to a reply that’s later in the chain, I try to track down the original post like this:

  1. Load the URL I’m replying to.

  2. If it has an u-in-reply-to link, load that page (repeat step 1 & 2, ad finitum).

  3. Once I hit the end of the chain, I am left with an array of the reply history.

This should work on micro.blog because the only actual h-entry on a reply’s permalink is the ACTUAL reply—the other entries shown on the page are just posts that won’t be picked up by the microformats parser? Pretty interesting approach.

  1. I don’t think it technically follows Salmention but it achieves similar results. Salmention requires each post to send it’s children posts up the chain. Since Micro.blog owns the whole thing it simplifies things. But the key is that if I’m not the originator of the conversation and someone replies to me, I’ll still be the replies to my post.
  2. Reply: Not Technically Salmentions

    Eddie Hinkle

    I don’t think it technically follows Salmention but it achieves similar results. Salmention requires each post to send it’s children posts up the chain. Since Micro.blog owns the whole thing it simplifies things. But the key is that if I’m not the originator of the conversation and someone replies to me, I’ll still be the replies to my post.

    Ok, got it. It’s interesting—we kind of have to do this on our personal sites anyway. Like if I get a reply from myself further down the conversation, it’s useful to just use the post I ‘own’ directly rather than go parsing myself. 😄

    It’s kind of tough to get it all working by hand—but it’s also amazing, so I’ll take it!

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05 Oct 2018

Reply: Discombobulated Blogroll

Cool—found your blogroll. This is great! I especially like the links to your diary-x blog. Really wanted to check out your links page from back then, but there appears to be none archived. (I also really appreciate your links to Blot things—was unaware of Blot.)

  1. @kicks thank you! They are a funny old relic from an earlier time. :)) I really do need to update the blogroll too—it doesn’t feel finished, but I guess they are meant to be evolving! :)

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Lobste.rs Sends Webmentions Now

But doesn’t receive them? Still—neat!

Sending Webmentions to other sites seems like an insane thing to turn down. Your blog software sends a simple message and now that blog can know to link back to you. (And go ahead and send pingbacks, too—way too easy.) But a site like this one, Lobste.rs, where there is a lot of discussion about a given link—seems even better, more advantageous, generally, usually, to bring the author in.

Now imagine if this continued:

  • Send a Webmention (u-syndication style) to https://lobste.rs to submit a link.
  • Send a Webmention (u-like-of style) to a lobste.rs page to upvote.
  • Send a Webmention (u-in-reply-to style) to a lobste.rs page to comment.

And you could verify these Webmentions (and attach them to a user) by verifying that the Webmention source is listed in the user’s ‘about’ section.

Just a quick mention that this is how Indieweb.xyz works and I am very anxious to see if it’s possible to really have a community work this way! (I’m not sure I know of any other community that is entirely built ENTIRELY from blog and wiki crosstalk—maybe the deceased ‘bloglines’ was one?—‘is’/‘was’ there one?)

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The GeoCities Research Institute

A gateway to the Old Web and its sparkling, angelic imagery.

I try not to get too wrapped up in mere nostalgia here—I’m more interested in where the Web is going next than where it’s been. But, hell, then I fumble into a site like this one and I just get sucked up into the halcyon GIFs.

This site simply explores the full Geocities torrent, reviewing and screenshotting and digging up history. The archive gets tackled by the writers in thematic bites, such as sites that were last updated right after 9/11, tracking down construction cones, or denizens of the ‘Pentagon’ neighborhood.

Their restoration of the Papercat is really cool. Click on it. Yeah, check that out. Now here’s something. Get your pics scanned and I’ll mail you back? Oh, krikey, Dave (HBboy). What a time to be alive.

But, beyond that, there is a network of other blogs and sites connected to this one:

Pixel art of woman onswing.

I was also happy to discover that the majority (all?) of the posts are done by Olia Lialina, who is one of the original net.artists—I admire her other work greatly! Ok, cool.

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02 Oct 2018

Taming Outlandish TiddlyWikis

A prototype for the time being.

I’m sorry to be very ‘projecty’ today—I will get back to linking and surfing straightway. But, first, I need to share a prototype that I’ve been working on.

Our friend h0p3[1] has now filled his personal, public TiddlyWiki to the brim—a whopping 21 MEGAbyte file full of, oh, words. Phrases. Dark-triadic memetic, for instance. And I’m not eager for him to abandon this wiki to another system—and I’m not sure he can.

So, I’ve fashioned a doorway.

This is not a permanent mirror yet. Please don’t link to it.

Screenshot of the h0p3 archive page.

Yes, there is also an archive page. I took these from his Github repo, which appears to go all the way back to the beginning.

Ok, yes, so it does have one other feature: it works with the browser cache. This means that if you load snapshot #623 and then load #624, it will not reload the entire wiki all over again—just the changes. This is because they are both based on the same snapshot (which is #618, to be precise.) So—if you are reading over the course of a month, you should only load the snapshot once.

Snapshots are taken once the changes go beyond 2 MB—though this can be tuned, of course.

  • Total size of the raw archive: 6.2 gigs.
  • Size of my kicksnap’d archive: 736 megs.

Shrunk to 11% of its original size. This is done through the use of judicious diffs (or deltas). The code is in my TiddlyWiki-loader repository.

A Few Lessons I Picked Up

I picked up this project last week and kind of got sucked into it. I tried a number of approaches—both in snapshotting the thing and in loading the HTML.

I ended up with an IFRAME in the end. It was just so much faster to push a 21 MB string through IFRAME’s srcdoc property than to use stuff like innerHTML or parseHTML or all the other strategies.

Also: document.write (and document.open and document.close) seems immensely slow and unreliable. Perhaps I was doing it wrong? (You can look through the commit log on Github to find my old work.)

On the Snapshot Technique

I originally thought I’d settled on splitting the wiki up into ~200 pieces that would be updated with changes each time the wiki gets synchronized. I got a fair bit into the algorithm here (and, again, this can be seen in the commit log—the kicksplit.py script.)

But two-hundred chunks of 21 MB is still 10k per chunk. And usually a single day of edits would result in twenty chunks being updated. This meant a single snapshot would be two megs. In a few days, we’re up to eight megs.

Once I went back to diffs and saw that a single day usually only comprised 20-50k of changes (and that this stayed consistent over the entire life of h0p3’s wiki,) I was convinced. The use of diffs also made it very simple to add an archives page.

In addition, this will help with TiddlyWikis that are shared on the Dat network[2]. Right now, if you have a Dat with a TiddlyWiki in it, it will grow in size just like the 6 gig folder I talked about in the last box. If you use this script, you can be down to a reasonable size. (I also believe I can get this to work directly from TiddlyWiki from inside of Beaker.)

And, so, yeah, here is a dat link you can enjoy: dat://38c211…a3/

I think that’s all that I’ll discuss here, for further technical details (and how to actually use it), see the README. I just want to offer help to my friends out there that are doing this kind of work and encourage anyone else who might be worried that hosting a public TiddlyWiki might drain too much bandwidth.


  1. philosopher.life, dontchakno? I’m not going to type it in for ya. ↩︎

  2. The network used by the Beaker Browser, which is one of my tultywits. ↩︎

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Nikita’s Collected Knowledge

Along with a discussion of personal encyclopedias.

There has been a small, barely discernable flurry of activity lately[1] around the idea of personal knowledge bases—in the same vicinity as personal wikis that I like to read. (I’ve been a fan of personal encyclopedias since discovering Samuel Johnson and, particularly, Thomas Browne, as a child—and am always on a search for the homes of these types of individuals in modernity.)

Nikita’s wiki is the most established of those I’ve seen so far, enhanced by the proximity of Nikita’s Learn Anything, which appears to be a kind of ‘awesome directory’[2] laid out in a hierarchical map.

Screenshot of learn-anything.xyz

Another project that came up was Ceasar Bautista’s Encyclopedia, which I installed to get a feel for. You add text files to this thing and it generates nice pages for them. However, it requires a bunch of supporting software, so most people are probably better served by TiddlyWiki. This encyclopedia’s main page is a simple search box—which would be a novel way of configuring a TiddlyWiki.

I view these kinds of personal directories as the connecting tissue of the Web. They are pure linkage, connecting the valuable parts. And they, in the sense that they curate and edit this material, are valuable and generous works. To be an industrious librarian, journalist or archivist is to enrich the species—to credit one’s sources and to simply pay attention to others.

I will also point you to the Meta Knowledge repo, which lists a number of similar sites out there. I am left wondering: where does this crowd congregate? Who can introduce me to them?


  1. Mostly centering around these two discussion threads:

    ↩︎
  2. Discussed at The Awesome Directories. ↩︎

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Reply: Strategy: Minimize

Tim Swast

Neat idea. My strategy has been to minimize the amount of shared headers and footers. Your method seems much more flexible.

Took a look at your blog—it’s sweet! I will be sure to include it in my next href hunt. I enjoyed the article about Dat and am interested in finding others who write about practical uses of the ‘dweb’—unfortunately, many of the links on Tara Vancil’s directory are ‘broken’ (perhaps ‘vanished’ is more correct?) and I’m not sure how to discover more.

At any rate, good to meet you!

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Reply: Owning Your Content

This is a great article! It follows all of the same things I put in my reply—which makes me nod my head, for sure—but it also goes into much more detail and thought, which I very much appreciate.

The war against the word ‘content’ is also rad. Yeah, keep that up.

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Fake HTML Includes (for Beaker)

My personal strategy for handling HTML on the distributed Web.

So, HTML is a bit different on the distributed Web (the Dat network which the Beaker Browser uses, IPFS and so on) because your file history sticks around there. Normally on the Web, you upload your new website and it replaces the old one. With all of these other ‘webs’, it’s not that way—you add your new changes on top of the old site.

Things tend to pile up. You’re filing these networks with files. So, with a blog, for instance, there are these concerns:

  • I want common things like headers and footers to be in separate files—because they bloat every one of my pages.
  • I also want them in separate files so that when I change something in my header it doesn’t change EVERY PAGE in my site—pushing lots of changes onto the network.
  • The trend with Dat seems to be that websites are delivered more as applications—where you could potentially access the underlying posts in a format like JSON, rather than just having a raw HTML dump.

Ultimately, I might end up delivering a pure JavaScript site on the Dat network. It seems very efficient to do that actually—this site weighs in at 19 MB normally, but a pure JavaScript version should be around 7 MB (with 5 MB of that being images.)

My interim solution is to mimick HTML includes. My tags look like this:

<link rel="include" href="/includes/header.html">

The code to load these is this:

document.addEventListener('DOMContentLoaded', function() {
  let eles = document.querySelectorAll("link[rel='include']");
  for (let i = 0; i < eles.length; i++) {
    let ele = eles[i];
    let xhr = new XMLHttpRequest()
    xhr.onload = function() {
      let frag = document.createRange().
        createContextualFragment(this.responseText)
      let seq = function () {
        while (frag.children.length > 0) {
          let c = frag.children[0]
          if (c.tagName == "SCRIPT" && c.src) {
            c.onload = seq
            c.onerror = seq
          }
          ele.parentNode.insertBefore(c, ele);
          if (c.onload == seq) {
            break
          }
        }
      }
      seq()
    }
    xhr.open('GET', ele.href);
    xhr.send();
  }
})

You can put this anywhere on the page you want—in the <head> tags, in a script that gets loaded. It will also load any scripts inside the HTML fragment that gets loaded.

This change saved me 4 MB immediately. But, in the long run, the savings are much greater because my whole site doesn’t rebuild when I add a single tag (which shows up in the ‘archives’ box on the left-hand side of this site.)

I would have used ‘HTML imports’—but they aren’t supported by Firefox and are a bit weird for this (because they don’t actally put the HTML inside into the page.)

I am happy to anyone for improvements that can be made to this.

  1. Reply: Strategy: Minimize

    Tim Swast

    Neat idea. My strategy has been to minimize the amount of shared headers and footers. Your method seems much more flexible.

    Took a look at your blog—it’s sweet! I will be sure to include it in my next href hunt. I enjoyed the article about Dat and am interested in finding others who write about practical uses of the ‘dweb’—unfortunately, many of the links on Tara Vancil’s directory are ‘broken’ (perhaps ‘vanished’ is more correct?) and I’m not sure how to discover more.

    At any rate, good to meet you!

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New technologies always seem to, at least initially, create more problems than they solve.

  1. @kicks We have no problems. What we have are "unresolved situations." Heh.

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29 Sep 2018

Reply: The Narrows

h0p3

Very cool! My Recent pushes edited tiddlers to the top; I am not yet convinced your tool has the same behavior.

If it doesn’t, it’s a bug. I use the mtime of the post’s file to arrange these, so I cannot sneak around it. If you can give me an example of the difference, I would really like to know!

Thank you for the Robustness principle. It’s beautiful.

I’m glad you see it! I find it very profound—however, it is also somewhat cliché you could say, because it is only another sighting of ‘yin’ and ‘yang’ in the system. (I say ‘cliché’ not to belittle it, but to underscore how commonplace this strain of epiphany seems to be in the ‘eastern’ ways of thinking. I often think of the expression ‘if you meet the Buddha, kill him’—how do you both attempt to follow an archetype and to avoid archetyping that ideal too closely? But it does seem wise.)

I wonder if you can also help me find some philosophical discussion about dichotomies and tradeoffs. For example, I find both socialism and capitalism very appealing—I truly can’t say which I prefer. I like that the library exists; and I like shopping for boots. I know there is a lot of negativity around this dualism (“this isn’t free-market capitalism”/“socialism hasn’t really been tried”) except that there seems to be respect for Denmark which has both free markets and high taxes, which certainly looks dualist (pluralist?—not sure the proper term) to me.

So I wonder where in literature I might look for more about living/thinking pluralistically. My friends seem to see it as being hedonist, non-committal, ‘lukewarm’ and impossible. Well, yes—but it’s much more than that. It’s pluralism after all.

I want to apologize for my constant ninja-edits. I have a thousand evolving things to say to you, and my drafts are just never done (as you have probably noticed).

Change anything you want! You have my full trust. We are in a process of mental and lingual refinement. The tradeoff here is that I won’t be responding too closely to your words. I am going to not pick them apart—unless I want to tease out more understand or to encourage further ninja-edits.

Had to look that song and lyrics up. I keep an almost full size oil canvas reproduction of The Starry Night about four feet to the left of my desk.

Yeah I guess now that I think about it, my thoughts were more on the painting than the song. But both are very intertwined for me. I had an uncle die of AIDS in his twenties. I was in third grade at the time. He was the rare uncle who is a friend—and he was a sensitive and stylish person. He was a painter and this was his favorite painting. My first experience crying emotively was when this painting and the song came on to the screen during a school assembly in fifth grade.

I felt that he was ‘trapped’ in the painting—I looked into it and saw him. And also did not see him—just the dark, brilliant world without him. So he was also ‘free’ in the painting. I knew of Van Gogh’s troubled end and this added to the swirling spectre. It was as if the appearance on the screen of this image was an appearance of them—an impressive outward display of their presence in my soul. (Of course this was just a random slide that was thrown in there—I knew that even at the time, but it was as striking as if their photographs had been displayed.)

I am not asking the same from you, since I consider it unreasonable to ask it of you (but not of myself here). I hope to ‘go with the flow’ of your conversational style.

This, along with the coincidence of the painting by your desk, is immense common ground for us! The principle of “my rules don’t apply to you, but you are free to look through them” (is this accurate?) seems woven throughout your wiki and I try to adhere to this perspective, too.

I’m considering adding compression internal to TW, but it violates my goal of keeping the source maximally readable. Unless I go for some alternative non-TW oriented loader, I’m like 99% sure I’m just going to stick to gzip and make people patiently wait (probably good for bouncing impatient trolls as well).

So you don’t want to separate the wiki into separate pages? Or can’t? I thought there was a way of splitting tiddlers up. Or exporting or something.

The monolithic file is the central issue I’d think—it contains an opaque filesystem. This is convenient for a lot of reasons: editing, transporting, searching.

I have started a prototype for an idea I have—I will report back to you next week with some results. If I can somehow get access to some snapshots (say the last month’s worth)—that would be very useful.

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I’m starting to arrange my tags into a Sierpinski triangle—there are now three primary ones: hypertext, garage and elementary. These act as sub-blogs—other tags may be looked at as sub-sub-blogs to these, cross-sections to these three and assistive search until I find a ‘better’ way to index everything.

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26 Sep 2018

Reply: Ham and Cheese is Key

Ron Chester

Even with Facebook, the hated silo, I have posted some brilliant things over there about Bob Dylan over the years. As far as I’m concerned, I own all that content, regardless of what their TOS says. I would have no backoff at all on posting those same comments here. […] I think the emphasis around here should be to write, write, write. Don’t worry too much about the technical nuances or the careful splitting of hairs in the definition of terms. Just write blog articles and post them. Repeat. Repeat.

Mmmnhmm—ok, good, good.

See, now I just really want to read your Bob Dylan stuff. I watch Don’t Look Back like once a month. Wish I could have experienced those days.

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Reply: H0p3styl1n6

h0p3

The CSS fragment idea is very interesting; it celebrates and signifies our participation in each others’ identities and work. It is a gift to try to represent someone’s aesthetic point of view or voicestyle in quotation. It’s like reading a letter in someone’s handwriting that you’ve seen many times before, conjuring memories like the smell of cinnamon rolls.

Ok, great start to our discussion about styling citations from each other in matching CSS.

I am sending this reply with a musky pork pie smell. See the attached WIFF file.

Yet again to my ignorance: I clearly do not appreciate Art as well as others. I’m an uncouth pig here. I love consuming it as a drug, and I’ve (very poorly) made plenty of it before. Trying to emotionally communicate the cognitively ineffable is something I do take seriously (enough to be very particular about it). Forgive me for being the joyless buzzkill rhetoric-hawk.

Ha-ha! Well, you are becoming very endeared to me, hawk. And you are right to keep us all in check. The buzz that you do kill—and it’s certainly not a buzzard-sized buzz—is not any buzz that was killed just 'cause.

I’m especially interested in form as it relates to function; I want something productive (pleasant workspaces help me work, of course). I don’t think I’m obsessed with minimalism (though I appreciate it), but rather plainness irwartfrr. If it works and it looks good enough: cool, I like that. I’m the kind of dude that will buy 5 identical shirts if I know they are cheap and comfortable. I want the majority of expressive work in my wiki to be in my words. Ideally, I want my words to carry as much of their meaning as possible without relying upon appearance (which I think can be nearly all of it), and only then do I want to work on appearance beyond as function as the delicious bonus.

Oh, I see this in you and I applaud it—loudly, standing—an ovation which goes in a great arc, knocking over the drinks of everyone else standing around me. (Part of this ovation is a simple appreciation of your last epic missive, which is due.)

I only side more toward art because I get so much out of it. I can’t think of a reasoned argument that has transfixed me as much as “Starry, Starry Night” has. And I don’t reach for a reasoned argument when life has fallen apart, but for Neil Young. (I am not arguing with you here—I know you have these things, too, and that you love cartoons and songs and shows and all that. And, come on—you are nuts for ASCII art, amirite? Alas, I also do fall into the trap you’re talking about of form over function.)

Alright, so with all those caveats in mind, we may end up doing this all by hand and passing tiddlers around—I’m also going to play with some styled RSS tonight and see what happens. And we’ll toss some ideas around.

One thing I know for sure: I don’t want to go too crazy on fonts, because I don’t want readers to have to load ten Web Fonts to make this work. That would be EXACTLY fonts over functions. But the basic colors and stuff—worth a try, yeah?

(One time you asked if you should read Vigoleis—no, don’t. He’s mine. And it’s like Infinite Jest, it will take you way too long to read and you’ll never want to read it again. Infinite Jest also wasn’t for me.)


Oh, also, from the footnote:

In a blind, stripped-down test, I’d prefer to make it so even a paraphrase of something I’ve said would evoke: ‘that sounds like h0p3’ or ‘h0p3 would like that’ or ‘you know who probably wouldn’t stop blathering on about this if he were reading this with me right now?..h0p3’ or ‘omg, this sounds like that asshole h0p3, lol.’

I feel this way about the words, too, for sure—but also the appearance. It’s like remembering The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch for both the chitinous foreheads inside and the orange-red cover of the bug-eyed man with the robotic hands. It all comes flooding back like that.

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25 Sep 2018

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Sphygmus

Another promising introspective TiddlyWiki appears on the horizon of the network.

What excites me about sphygmus is: first, that she’s confronting this fear and we get to see what happens. (We out on the Old Web all have to confront this: that we might not find anyone here without the self-advertising infrastructure that the big networks have.) It’s uncertain why we are reading each other, why we are writing, who we are—there is a lot of uncertainty that I’m feeling, too, and I have this strange belief that someone else might have the answer. (In a way, OF COURSE SOMEONE ELSE HAS THE ANSWER—you out there are the ones who choose to ‘ignore’ or ‘respect’ or ‘dismiss’. Or to ‘jump right in’.)

But I am running a blog with comments—it’s easier to get feedback. A TiddlyWiki is genuinely on someone else’s turf. It is AT ODDS with the Indieweb. The ‘Indieweb’ is attempting to solve personal interaction with additional technology. But a TiddlyWiki like this is attempting to solve personal interaction by—well, it’s not trying to solve personal interaction. It expects you to learn its system and, in a way, the technology works against you, because it has a learning curve.

In other words, it’s all on us to understand and read each other. (The entire Twitter network is built on the idea that you can take someone’s 140 characters on its own, out of any context, as an independent statement—there is no need to read back on the history there. But with a TiddlyWiki, the system requires you to dig—it is possibly the literal opposite.)

We must bear in mind that, fundamentally, there’s no such thing as color; in fact, there’s no such thing as a face, because until the light hits it, it is nonexistent. After all, one of the first things I learned in the School of Art was that there is no such thing as a line; there’s only the light and the shade.

— Alfred Hitchcock

On the Web, we are the light to each other’s faces.

Aesthetics In The Info

Second, sphygmus’ entrance adds to our midst another person really thinking about how visual style is a non-verbal form of personality. That it can augment our discussion—maybe even be necessary!

I don’t think of it as part of my artistic practice but I think you are right to see a connection. My relationship with my digital spaces is deeply connected to what suits my visual eye - I’m on an absurdly out-dated version of Chrome simply because I hate the way the new Material Design Chrome looks […]

She has already made the innovation of posting all of her material in her own dark-gray-and-cornflower-blue CSS styling. When she posts h0p3’s replies, however, they are in his dark black style and narrow monospace font. (See the screenshot above.) This conjures him in that moment when we read!! (I address this in Things We Left in the Old Web, where one of my criticisms of RSS is that it cruelly strips our words of their coloring. Cruel!)

So: I am interested in how we can cement this. I want to style my h0p3 quotes and my sphygmus quotes similarly—can we come to an accord on how to do this so that I can give YOU control over how these things look? Perhaps we could share CSS fragments on our respective sites?

Documents Are Us

I covered this a bit in Static: the Gathering, that this HTML might actually be us, might be a model of our soul. But, let’s tilt on the topic a bit.

We are all more or less public figures, it’s only the number of spectators that varies.

— Jose Saramago, The Double

So, yeah, thirdly—what h0p3 and sphygmus are tackling is an approach for being a fully exposed, well, let’s just say: a human. A wikified human. There have been attempts to do this in video or blog form—to keep the camera on a person. In this case, though, the camera feels to be focused on the mind, the internal dialogue. (In h0p3’s case: the family meetings, the link histories, the organizational workings—all the behind-the-scenes discussion—maybe it’s ALL behind-the-scenes discussion. I confess that I’ve also started a personal TiddlyWiki to store all these same kinds of materials.)

So, what is ‘oversharing’ and what is just ‘sharing’? Oh, GENEROUS ‘SHARING’—what would that be? What is ‘public’ and what is designated ‘private’? Are these pointless distinctions?

Might it be time to pause all the needless labelling of information and to just read?

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Reply: The Kid With My Car

Ron

Food for thought. Suppose you bought a shiny new car, then flew to Seattle for a business meeting, leaving it at the airport. Do you still own the car while on the plane at 24,000 feet? What if you give the keys to a kid for valet parking out in the Avenues and he parks it somewhere in the neighborhood while you eat, so you don’t have any idea where the car is and don’t even have the keys. Do you still own the car while you’re eating your ham and cheese?

Haha—ok, well, I definitely own the ham and cheese! Am I close??

With my car, it depends on the legal jurisdiction, the name on the title for the vehicle, the ability of the government to enforce my ownership—and maybe ‘owning’ a car isn’t nearly as important as ‘controlling’ it.

I wonder if that might be the issue here with Micro.blog—perhaps Belle feels like she can’t ‘control’ her stuff enough. I guess I’m trying to draw a parallel between the public_html directory and Micro.blog. If a platform ultimately just feels like a folder that I can sync ‘in’ to and ‘out’ of—then I think it reaches the ideals of ‘ownership’ and ‘control’ on the Web. But that’s me—am I missing something?

(This is also clearing up why I’m seeing TiddlyWikis spring up—that’s a platform where EVERYTHING is local and is likeliest to have longevity because it doesn’t rely on ‘anyone’/‘anybiz’ else.)

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Reply: Worried About the Title

Manton Reese

I was worried when I saw this title until I realized it was a reply to another post.

Oh boy—man, I am sorry! FWIW I think you are doing great with micro.blog. I already have my own setup and I’m just glad I can still participate in the network from the outside. What a gift! I actually think you’ve figured out a great way to keep the Indieweb humming AND build a nice smaller network. You deserve a lot of encouragement—and Belle could use it, too, I’m sure. It’s difficult to build these things.

I think the larger problem right now is that there are so few good choices. This puts a lot of pressure on you and your team. But I think that your work could encourage more small networks like this—just as you said in your recent post. This all takes a lot of patience to wait out. Let’s hope you, Belle and the rest of us can see this through. Peace, brother.

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