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.

#indieweb

I use three main tags on this blog:

  • hypertext: linking, the Web, the future of it all.

  • garage: art and creation, tinkering, zines and books, kind of a junk drawer—sorry!

  • elementary: schooling for young kids.

14 Dec 2018

Reply: Don’s Zatoichi Sketch

His Wordpress blog gets Webmentions.

This is mostly a test comment. Mostly just saying hello!

But I also need to watch some of these films. I put off watching Beat Takeshi, instead going for the films of Katsuhito Ishii and stuff like Happiness of the Katakuris and Survive Style 5+. Need to at least watch this one, though.

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11 Dec 2018

Reply: Don’s Upgrade

Don MacDonald

I’m thinking to set up webmentions on my site (wordpress). Does anyone have know of some good documentation for doing so?

Looks like your theme is probably compatible—hard to say until you install and we try some posts back and forth. I don’t know Wordpress at all, but I can help fix the theme up. It honestly looks really close, so it should just be minor tweaks. The theme is definitely too good to lose.

  1. @kicks Thank you for saying so! OK, I have enabled webmentions, and they appear to be working appearing below the posts…how should we test?

  2. @bradenslen Thank you!! Yes, it appears to work, although I wonder how I can tweak the default text to be less confusing. It would be good if it just said “This article was mentioned on ramblinggit.com” without the “Don MacDonald says:” part. I'm guessing that's there as the webmention is being treated like a comment?

  3. @donmacdonald That was the title of my post. I should have changed it. If I had titled my post "Check out this great drawing" that's what would be there. Which would make sense. Sorry I was rushing. I think it will work well as is because most people will make up their own title. In any event you are in business and it looks good.

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09 Nov 2018

Wars of Conflicting Webs

Will your .pizza domain survive?

Beaker vs TiddlyWiki. ActivityPub against Webmentions. Plain HTML hates them all.

I step back and, man, all the burgeoning technology out there is at complete odds with the other! Let’s do a run down. I’m not just doing this to stir up your sensibilities. Part of it is that I am lost in all of this stuff and need to sort my socks.

(I realize I’m doing a lot of ‘versus’ stuff below—but I don’t mean to be critical or adversarial. The point is to examine the frictions.)

Beaker Browser vs TiddlyWiki

At face value, Beaker[1] is great for TiddlyWiki[2]: you can have this browser that can save to your computer directly—so you can read and write your wiki all day, kid! And it syncs, it syncs.

No, it doesn’t let you write from different places yet—so you can’t really use it—but hopefully I’ll have to come back and change these words soon enough—it’s almost there?

Beaker and TiddlyWiki.

Big problem, though: Beaker (Dat[3]) doesn’t store differences. And TiddlyWiki is one big file. So every time you save, it keeps the old one saved and the network starts to fill with these old copies. And you can easily have a 10 meg wiki—you get a hundred days of edits under your belt and you’ve created some trouble for yourself.

Beaker is great for your basic blog or smattering of pages. It remains to be seen how this would be solved: differencing? Breaking up TiddlyWiki? Storing in JSON? Or do I just regenerate a new hash, a new Dat every time I publish? And use the hostname rather than the hash. I don’t know if that messes with the whole thing too much.

Where I Lean: I think I side with Beaker here. TiddlyWiki is made for browsers that haven’t focused on writing. But if it could be tailored to Beaker—to save in individual files—a Dat website already acts like a giant file, like a ZIP file. And I think it makes more sense to keep these files together inside a Dat rather than using HTML as the filesystem.

Datasette vs Beaker Browser

While we’re here, I’ve been dabbling with Datasette[4] as a possible inductee into the tultywits and I could see more sites being done this way. A mutation of Datasette that appeals to me is: a static HTML site that stores all its data in a single file database—the incomparable SQLite.

I could see this blog done out like that: I access the database from Beaker and add posts. Then it gets synced to you and the site just loads everything straight from your synced database, stored in that single file.

But yeah: single file, gets bigger and bigger. (Interesting that TorrentNet is a network built on BitTorrent and SQLite.) I know Dat (Hypercore) deals in chunks. Are chunks updated individually or is the whole file replaced? I just can’t find it.

Where I Lean: I don’t know yet! Need to find a good database to use inside a ‘dat’ and which functions well with Beaker (today).

(Cont’d.) Beaker vs Indieweb, TiddlyWiki vs Indieweb

Ok, talk about hot friction—Beaker sites require no server, so the dream is to package your raw posts with your site and use JavaScript to display it all. This prevents you from having HTML copies of things everywhere—you update a post and your index.html gets updated, tag pages get updated, monthly archives, etc.

And TiddlyWiki is all JavaScript. Internal dynamism vs Indieweb’s external dynamism.

Webmention vs Dynamism.

But the Indieweb craves static HTML—full of microformats. There’s just no other way about it.

Where I Lean: This is tough! If I want to participate in the Indieweb, I need static HTML. So I think I will output minimal HTML for all the posts and the home page. The rest can be JavaScript. So—not too bad?

ActivityPub vs Static HTML

ActivityPub seems to want everything to be dynamic. I saw this comment by one of the main Mastodon developers:

I do not plan on supporting Atom feeds that don’t have Webfinger and Salmon (i.e. non-interactive, non-user feeds.)

This seems like a devotion to ‘social’, right?

I’ve been wrestling with trying to get this blog hooked up to Mastodon—just out of curiosity. But I gave up. What’s the point? Anyone can use a web browser to get here. Well, yeah, I would like to communicate with everyone using their chosen home base.

ActivityPub and Beaker are almost diametrically opposed it seems.

Where I Lean: Retreat from ActivityPub. I am hard-staked to Static: the Gathering. (‘Bridgy Fed’[5] is a possible answer—but subscribing to @kicks@kickscondor.com doesn’t seem to work quite yet.)

ActivityPub's message blasting.

It feels like ActivityPub is pushing itself further away with such an immense protocol. Maybe it’s like Andre Staltz recently told me about Secure Scuttlebutt:

[…] ideally we want SSB to be a decentralized invite-only networks, so that someone has to pull you into their social circles, or you pull in others into yours. It has upsides and downsides, but we think it more naturally corresponds to relationships outside tech.

Ok, so, perhaps building so-called ‘walled gardens’—Andre says, “isolated islands of SSB networks”—is just the modern order. (Secure Scuttlebutt is furthered obscured by simply not being accessible through any web browser I know of; there are mobile apps.)

ActivityPub vs Webmention

This feels more like a head-to-head, except that ‘Bridgy Fed’[5:1] is working to connect the two. These two both are:

  • Communicating between feeds.
  • Handling the ‘likes’, the ‘replies’, the ‘follows’ and such.
  • An inbox/outbox model.

I think the funny thing here goes back to ‘Fed Bridgy’: the Indieweb/Webmention crowd is really making an effort to bridge the protocols. This is very amusing to me because the Webmention can be entirely described in a few paragraphs—so why are we using anything else at this point?

But the Webmention crowd now seems to have enough time on its hands that it’s now connecting Twitter, Github, anonymous comments, Mastodon, micro.blog to its lingua franca. So what I don’t understand is—why not just speak French? ActivityPub falls back to OStatus. What gives?


  1. Beaker Browser. A decentralized Web browser. You share your website on the network and everyone can seed it. ↩︎

  2. TiddlyWiki. A wiki that is a single HTML page. It can be edited in Firefox and Google, then saved back to a single file. ↩︎

  3. Beaker uses the Dat protocol rather than the Web (HTTP). A ‘dat’ is simply a zip file of your website than can be shared and that keeps its file history around. ↩︎

  4. Datasette. If you have a database of data you want to share, Datasette will automatically generate a website for it. ↩︎

  5. fed.brid.gy. A site for replying to Mastodon from your Indieweb site. ↩︎ ↩︎

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31 Oct 2018

Reply: Directory Features

Brad Enslen

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.

I didn’t much care about search when you said this, but using h0p3’s search and your directory and Pinboard—there’s no doubt that it’s useful. It warps you to a place in the collection that’s workable.

I’ve worked out a search index that’s entirely done in JavaScript—it’s the same one I’m now using on my blog. Thanks to TiddlyWiki for helping me realize that this could be a great way forward!

When I publish, it updates the search index. (Right now my blog’s search index is 300k. Raw text of my blog is 1.2 megs. The index is loaded when a search is performed and cached for further searches.) I haven’t decided where to place it in the directory yet.

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.

Hah! I laughed when you wrote this and I might as well voice it now. See you in ten years, brother. 😎

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.

I think one of my primary questions these days is: will the future be blogcentric? I feel like things are going to change. Although they could get more hyperactive. Thought streaming? Let’s hope not.

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26 Oct 2018

Hypertexting

‘Constructing a body of hypertext over time—such as with blogs or wikis—with an emphasis on the strengths of linking (within and without the text) and rich formatting.’

‘Constructing a body of hypertext over time—such as with blogs or wikis—with an emphasis on the strengths of linking (within and without the text) and rich formatting.’

A superset of blogging and wiki creation, as well as movements like the Indieweb and, to some degree, federated networks.

Does it include social networks like Twitter and Mastodon? Sure, depends on what you’re doing. If that network is helping you build a body of hypertext, is keeping you sufficiently ‘linked’ and gives you enough of an ability to format the text, then ‘super’—you are hypertexting in your way.

I hope it goes without saying that Twitter is a limited form of hypertexting. It underutilizes the tech—that’s its whole point, right?

But the point of the term is not to disqualify a certain technology or to try to channel disgust or disdain into something new—that’s exactly why the term is envisioned as a superset. I am extracting this term from what I am seeing develop on the Web.

On Supersets

A superset is the inversion of a subset. So, rather than dividing a topic into further subtopics—we combine related topics into a new ‘super’ topic. By redrawing the lines of the topic, it is possible to discover new subsets within the superset or to work with folks across the topic as a whole.

In this case, the superset seems superuseful since the division lines between the hypertext niches are almost entirely structural. (This isn’t entirely true: some structures imply, for example, centralization. A feed of interleaved user ‘stuff’ is done most simply by a single network housing that data—at least at first.)

I’m not even sure the subsets actually exist. It is already all hypertext that conforms to a variety of possible structures:

Various tree and flat structures.

The blog (feed) and the wiki (ad-hoc) might not actually be different—despite that we think of wikis as being multi-writer (the original wikis anyone could edit, without respect to any record of permanent trolling demerits) and using a simplified markup that made linking fluid while writing—a blog can do what a wiki can do and vice versa.

By decoupling the hypertext from the implied structure of a wiki or blog, I can now look at these structures as mere arrangements of my hypertextual body.

Advanced Hypertexting

I think it’s worth repeating the criteria of ‘hypertexting’ so that it can be either corrected or remain crystal clear.

  1. A ‘body’ of hypertext is being created. Not just a single post or link.
  2. Linking is used both within and without the ‘body’. No comment on how this can be done ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. At the very least, though, this allows the body to be anything but merely linear.
  3. The formatting of the text is enhanced by inline imagery, charts, emoji, bullets, colors, aesthetics that allow the one hypertexting to communicate in addition to the letters themselves. (The standardization of HTML between us seems like a unique human collaboration that we should take advantage of. To some, this is all a distraction; to others, it is vital.)

There is nothing new at all here—in fact, it’s all becoming very old—but the superset distinction allow us to draw attention to the ‘body’ rather than the blog ‘post’ or the wiki ‘page’ and to ask: ‘what are we creating here?’ The body itself is a superset—and ‘hypertexting’ calls into focus what the work as a whole can be from a higher vantage point.

These three attributes imply an effort that goes beyond writing alone. The first creates a body whose length is practically infinite—no reader will likely consume it all. The second indicates that much research (both external and self-research) is required. And the third gives a sense of bottomless innovation to the publishing interface—in fact, as long as the body is able to remain intact, it can be published by anyone exactly as it is intended, as long as the browser remains compatible, which it has done remarkably well so far.

In addition, this gives us the impetus to preserve the browser’s life and compatibility, such that these bodies are kept alive.

Creating a body this large demands the ability to shape the structure. This is the problem: how do I begin to approach your giant monolith of hypertext beyond just reading your two or three latest posts?

What I would like to highlight is the ability of the author to use the ‘body’, its linking and formatting, to shape the structure. To infoshape.

Link directories are clearly a part of this superset. Delicious and Pinboard themselves act as hypertexting swarms that work to connect the bodies. Maybe these connections fill holes in the body—maybe they act as introductions between bodies. They are a way to shape the info and annotate it slightly.

h0p3: I’m actually annoyed when people call my wiki a blog, since it is obviously not that to me. Of course, the fool in me starts wondering what exactly on the web doesn’t count as hypertexting? What doesn’t have a single entry point?

The home page is definitely the curated entry point. But it’s not just that entry point that’s important—the points that go deeper from there are important. h0p3’s home page was initially the most important thing to me. But now it’s the ‘recent changes’ page and the bookmarks I have that indicate where I intend to next explore further. Sometimes he is a blog, sometimes he is a wiki. Sorry, man!

What you might think of as ‘advanced hypertexting’ simply allows the shaping of the hypertext.

  • What pieces are the hypertext broken up into?
  • How does one interchange or embed or inter-relate these texts?
  • Can these pieces be composed into—not just texts—but shapes for the text?

To me, this is a great advantage of the superset. If the platform could see itself less as being a blog or a wiki or a directory, but as a collection of hypertexts that can be shaped, perhaps by hypertexts themselves. (Wikis—and TiddlyWiki in particular—have long had this abililty to make a page that displays the other pages as a blog. And some wikis allow you to include pages in other pages.)

The advanced hypertexting doesn’t end with the wiki—it’s just one way. I think Tumblr was initially on to something—aesthetic and piece layout are important here. Now add the ‘advanced’ hypertexting and what do you have?

TODO

(This is an unfinished steno—it could use a survey of the hypertexting field here. And it will be interesting to see where things go over the next six months. I will have to revisit this after I learn more.)

(I think the other missing discussion is how ‘ephemeral’ fragments fit into this. See also: Blogging.)

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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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16 Oct 2018

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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05 Oct 2018

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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25 Sep 2018

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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Reply: Why I’m Leaving Micro.blog

Belle B. Cooper

First, Manton’s business model is for users to not own their content. You might be able to own your domain name, but if you have a hosted Micro.blog blog, the content itself is hosted on Micro.blog servers, not yours. You can export your data, or use an RSS feed to auto-post it to somewhere you control directly, but if you’re not hosting the content yourself, how does having a custom domain equal self-hosting your content and truly owning it?

Couple questions about ‘owning’ your content on the Indieweb.

A few follow-up questions to this:

  • In the old days, when an ISP (or your college or whatever) would give you a public_html folder to put your website in—did you own your content?

  • In modern times, when you rent a virtual server slice to run Apache and serve your website from a Wordpress database—do you own your content?

  • If you put up an essay on a pastebin site—do you own your content?

I don’t really see the difference between using FTP to pass your stuff ‘in’/‘out’ of a public_html folder and using Micro.blog’s API to pass your stuff ‘in’/‘out’. If you can get your stuff ‘in’ and ‘out’—isn’t that the key? The API is just a different kind of FTP.

The public_html folder isn’t owned. The virtual slice isn’t owned. The domain isn’t owned. The pastebin isn’t owned. The API isn’t owned. What does it mean to ‘own’ anyway?

This is one thing that is really cut and dry with Beaker Browser. You do own the content because it originates directly from the machine under your fingers that you own.

(Not trying to defend Micro.blog or weigh in on the other interesting matters of this post—perhaps I should just shut up—just thinking about this one thing.)

  1. 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.

  2. @kicks 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?

  3. 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.)

  4. @Ron @kicks @Manton I co-sign Kicks’ response: “I actually think you’ve figured out a great way to keep the Indieweb humming AND build a nice smaller network.” I also felt the original petition was too personally hostile given the relatively abstract nature of the complaint.

    OK, class, there's the bell. Remember, two paragraphs for tomorrow comparing Locke and Bastiat’s theories of property and notions of ownership, enjoy the rest of your day

  5. @donmacdonald Ohhh, no, not Bastiat again. Can I write mine on Henry and Edsel Ford?

  6. @kicks Yes, the ham and cheese is totally key! I can't speak for Belle, but I found myself unable to sleep for six hours after I read her going away message. It tore me up. She stated many times how much she liked the folks here, but was going to have to leave anyway over some very technical points of programming and the definition of some words. Fortunately I'm a tax accountant, so I can keep my blogging very simple and don't find myself having to deal with any moral or ethical crisis in the meantime. As for the cars in my examples, keep it simple and you know you still own the car in both of cases, even if you don't currently control it, or even know where it's located.

    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. And do you think the FB attorneys would come after me for stealing the content I put over there, which "they own?" Of course not, they couldn't care less.

    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.

  7. 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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23 Aug 2018

Weird Indieweb Idea of the Day: Guestbooks

I think if you feel nostalgic for something, then it has some seed of intrigue left in it. For guestbooks, I wonder how you might innovate them…

One thought I have is—sometimes I get Webmentions to the root page of my site. I might make a ‘guestbook’ page that list any comments or links sent by Webmention there. (I do think that the Facebook ‘wall’ was a modernization of the guestbook—wasn’t it? Although perhaps that functions more like a public e-mail message.)

  1. @kicks @vega For webmentions to the root page I made a "Mentions" page tucked under "About". I shamelessly stole the idea from Chris Aldrich aka @c I like the idea of a Guestbook better than Tag boards.

  2. @bradenslen Aha - you are always a step ahead! You have a real knack for how things should/could work.

  3. @kicks @vega I'm still gnawing on this guestbook idea. It reminds me that Victorians and Edwardians always had a table in the entrance hall where a visitor could leave their calling card. (Pre telephone, there were elaborate customs attached to this.)

    Also, in those times, great houses generally had a guest book (sometimes a seperate book for shooting parties).

  4. @bradenslen Interestingly, when I made that "Mentions" page, I considered adding the word guest book to it as well! I wasn't sure it would actually get used in that way, so left it off. The only place in modern times that I'm aware that people still seem to follow leaving a calling card tradition is in real eastate where a realtor will leave their business card to indicate to the listing agent/seller that they stopped by with clients to view a house/property. Even that may disappear soon as lockboxes with mobile access automatically log the user data of the unlocking party.

  5. @c There was a setting in one of the Indieweb plugins on WP but I didn't comprehend it's function at the time. Later I was on your site, saw the Mentions page and it all clicked. SO thank you for being a good example.

    I did find a good guestbook plugin for WP that does not use the comments system. I might try that.

  6. @bradenslen Nice to see your Guestbook page on your site, and that WP plug-in is a great find. What @c and @kicks are considering with Webmentions sound like a way of "reinventing" the guestbook for the contemporary Internet, particularly if can gain some traction as a norm in the Indieweb space.

  7. @vega Thanks for signing! Once I figured out what that Mentions Page was for with Webmentions, I thought it a grand idea. What I like about it is it captures a a passing Webmention reference. It's a bit like being in your favorite pub or coffeehouse and two tables over you hear your name being mentioned just loudly enough for you to hear. Like a ping.

    I do think the Mentions page could be expanded to also be a Guestbook with conventional comments but it has to be explained, it's not intutitive. Somehow a Guestbook lies between a Contact/Feedbook form and a Webmention. With the guestbook there is an invitation for one to leave a public record of their visit.

  8. I’ve sent invite/webmetion/RSVPs to root domains, for lack of anything better to do.

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21 Aug 2018

Reply: Visual Vocabulary

Don MacDonald

Thanks for the kind words! I didn’t mean to imply your site is retro or a nostalgia thing, just that it reminded me of a kind of site that you’d see in that era, when people were trying out all kinds of crazy stuff with web sites, before there was a set visual vocabulary and design grammar for the web.

“…Before there was a set visual vocabulary…”

Ok I like that! ‘Before there was a set visual vocabulary.’ I definitely feel like the web has become extremely rigid. Blogs have coalesced into a common format. And home pages have, too—with ‘hero images’, for instance. I do miss the old styles of the web, but even more, I miss the variety. (I even feel like CSS has played a role in this. With old tables and spacer gifs, one could really concoct strange layouts. To some extent, image maps and Shockwave helped there.)

I am feeling a fresh liberation of style after having lived through the recent era of staleness. It’s like something is brewing, about to begin.

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20 Aug 2018

Reply: Micro.blog Limitations

Manton Reese

I think the limitations you mention with Webmention on Micro.blog — or having accounts — are temporary. I plan to expand both of those.

Oh definitely! I apologize if I’m coming across as critical - I’m kind of working in the dark here as to how one should connect with micro.blog from the outside. (How to craft replies, where Webmentions show up.) But this isn’t unusual—every blog has its quirks, its templates and conventions. There are a jillion microformats and there are Salmentions and so on. Anyway, on the contrary, I’ve enjoyed sorting out how to participate here and hope I can perhaps provide some useful stuff to you.

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Reply: Diversity on Micro.Blog

Vega

From my point of view, M.B’s diversity challenge comes out of Indieweb’s own priorities and values. Decentralization, independence, tech-centrality, building your own bespoke blog/website with home-grown/open-source tools… to me, these values originate from a particular paradigm and method of engaging with the world. This paradigm is itself shaped by the wider culture. To put it in reductionist and stereotypical terms, the “self-made” webmaster who builds a self-contained website, independent of the centralized aggregate (and by extension, The Man), using home-grown tools, falls very much in line with the values of the American Dream.

“To put it in reductionist and stereotypical terms, the ‘self-made’ webmaster who builds a self-contained website […] falls very much in line with the values of the American Dream.”

This entire essay is very insightful—and your whole blog has a whimsical and determined air that has me punching my ‘subscribe’ button several times to make sure it does the job.

One question I wonder: while I think the self-made entrepreneur has got to be synonymous with imperialist America—couldn’t the independent autodidact, operating apart from corporate interests, be a modern type of vanguard for the dispossessed? I feel like the Instagram influencer is more a direct descendant of The American Dream; the bespoke blog a piece of the underground press—particularly in 2018, when they have become ancient machinery.

As Chris quotes:

I write it myself, edit it myself, censor it myself, publish it myself, distribute it myself, and spend jail time for it myself.

— Vladimir Konstantinovich Bukovsky, 1942

Perhaps the difference is that the Indieweb has had an “every person for themselves” kind of ethic. There are those who DIY and there are those who GTFO. Whereas underground presses functioned collaboratively. And maybe M.B could be an underground press if it had an editor and it sought out its sources. It feels more like a Lions Club, some casual martinis and a snapshot of the dwindling sun.

I hope that’s no condemnation. I think the underground presses had their coffee houses, which gave you a place to bump into co-conspirators.

But it’s the editor thing that I keep bumping up against on this Web—that we do need more editors, more librarians, more collaboration. We haven’t quite figured out how to organize in structures that benefit, well, all of us. That means starting with the lowest tier. If the library can make a way for books to land in the hands of prisoners, refugees, the poor—then those books can make it anywhere.

And I think this spiritual cause exists in the Indieweb when I see notes like those on Brid.gy’s FAQ entry “How much does it cost?”

Nothing! We have great day jobs, and Bridgy is small, so thanks to App Engine, it doesn’t cost much to run. We don’t need donations, promise.

I feel to inspire readers that might fall across this post—those who can fashion things and who can throw themselves into rebuilding the Web (as if it were Dresden)—to take up this same spiritual cause. To make a generous piece of this crucial public engine. (I realize that this sounds terrifically technopiliac and loathsome, maybe even in a shameful ‘tech bro’ way, but this technology is here, right here, fucking everywhere else too it turns out—so let’s try to find our way, shall we?)

I do think the Indieweb has the glimmer of real answers. But it’s a massive undertaking. But that’s okay—real answers are too.

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18 Aug 2018

Reply: Syndicating to Twitter, Micro.blog

Brad Enslen

Twitter: (changed) – this blog now posts to Twitter via WordPress Jetpack. I made the change because I can control what goes out to Twitter on each individual post.

I think the biggest problem with syndication is ensuring your stuff looks good on the other side.

This is a big problem with micro.blog for an outsider. I have no need to run my blog from there—and I don’t want to start storing some stuff on micro.blog and some stuff here. I want all my stuff on one master bookshelf. But I’ve had a hell of a time getting my Webmention replies to show up there.

For example, I have a reply that did appear on Eli’s post. But it doesn’t show up on the actual micro.blog thread.

I then signed up for an account and added my feed.json for syndication there. My reply to frankm showed up in my feed. But it wasn’t until I sent a Webmention that the post finally ended up on the thread.

I wish I didn’t have to have an account—I should be able to just Webmention a reply like any other Indieweb blog out there, right?

Indieweb.xyz – this is manual, on a post by post basis.

Sweet, this is the way to do it. I use Jekyll under the hood, so I added a field to my posts that looks like this:

syndicate: [xyz:/en/linking, twitter:kickscondor]

So I can selectively syndicate posts. Once I can get Twitter right, I’ll probably syndicate everything there, like you do.

I think one syndication service I’d like to see is one where I could syndicate to an e-mail digest that people could sign up to get weekly or monthly.

  1. >email digests

    I think I have this through WordPress. People can sign up for either instant email notifications or a digest. Nobody has signed up but it is a nice option to have.

  2. I really like the idea of a regular summary. One of my itches is to make an archive page that would provide a summary of all my activities for a selected month.

    I could build it with Google Sheets, I should probably start there.

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16 Aug 2018

Reply: Owning You

Frank McPherson

Does owning your own domain = owning your content? I am not so sure.

I personally don’t care about the domain thing. It’s nice to own a TLD, but I’d be happy with kicks.neocities.org. My thing is being able to reply and write on my own site so I can style it and have a place to call home.

  1. Reply: Syndicating to Twitter, Micro.blog

    Brad Enslen

    Twitter: (changed) – this blog now posts to Twitter via WordPress Jetpack. I made the change because I can control what goes out to Twitter on each individual post.

    I think the biggest problem with syndication is ensuring your stuff looks good on the other side.

    This is a big problem with micro.blog for an outsider. I have no need to run my blog from there—and I don’t want to start storing some stuff on micro.blog and some stuff here. I want all my stuff on one master bookshelf. But I’ve had a hell of a time getting my Webmention replies to show up there.

    For example, I have a reply that did appear on Eli’s post. But it doesn’t show up on the actual micro.blog thread.

    I then signed up for an account and added my feed.json for syndication there. My reply to frankm showed up in my feed. But it wasn’t until I sent a Webmention that the post finally ended up on the thread.

    I wish I didn’t have to have an account—I should be able to just Webmention a reply like any other Indieweb blog out there, right?

    Indieweb.xyz – this is manual, on a post by post basis.

    Sweet, this is the way to do it. I use Jekyll under the hood, so I added a field to my posts that looks like this:

    syndicate: [xyz:/en/linking, twitter:kickscondor]
    

    So I can selectively syndicate posts. Once I can get Twitter right, I’ll probably syndicate everything there, like you do.

    I think one syndication service I’d like to see is one where I could syndicate to an e-mail digest that people could sign up to get weekly or monthly.

  2. >email digests

    I think I have this through WordPress. People can sign up for either instant email notifications or a digest. Nobody has signed up but it is a nice option to have.

  3. I really like the idea of a regular summary. One of my itches is to make an archive page that would provide a summary of all my activities for a selected month.

    I could build it with Google Sheets, I should probably start there.

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Reply: Some Quick Thoughts

Kimberly Hirsh

I’m not adding any other post types just yet. For me, the inconvenience of creating replies on my own site and syndicating them outweighs the benefit of owning my replies, as my replies are rarely substantive.

I totally agree with this. Replies are the hardest thing to get right on the Indieweb. My replies still don’t work the way I want them to. They’re also the most rewarding part of adopting Webmentions—and I’m not sure how they can be easier. I just think we need to get to the point were blog software does it all for you.

Anyway, welcome, Kimberly! Great to see your dad’s blog. (Kimberly has a following page with nice descriptions of who is who.)

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15 Aug 2018

Reply: The Public Square

Brent Simmons

For a long time there’s been just one thing I’d like to convince Twitter users of: that centralized social networking is harmful to society and to individuals.

I can make that point on Twitter — but it’s hollow there, since the medium really is the message.

(The actual post is here.) Just wanted to offer some encouragement—there are a lot of folks out there blogging again. We just need to stay linked. The great thing about micro.blog is that I can leave you comments from my blog. Would be nice to have that on ‘inessential’—but I’ll be sure to follow what you’re doing there regardless.

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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!

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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.)

  1. 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!

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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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02 Aug 2018

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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30 Jul 2018

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: 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

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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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26 Jul 2018

I admit that the Indieweb (and the blogosphere before it) seemed repellent at first - I thought it was navel-gazing. Blogging about blogging. I think I discounted the beauty of innovating a medium by simply using the medium.

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25 Jul 2018

Reply: Feeds and Gardens

Kathleen Fitzpatrick

One of the things about the early community of academic bloggers that I’m so nostalgic for (nostalgic enough that I should know to be a little self-critical here) is that it was pretty small, and so could be pretty intentional. And even so, problems arose. Maintaining the care exercised in a known community while remaining open to other voices and inputs is an issue that the next wave of distributed but interconnected communication platforms are going to need to face head-on.

Well, I think this is why I really like Webmentions as an expression of intention. In order to send one, you need to have your own blog. And you need to link back to the post. (AND, technically, you need your post laid out with microformats!)

This acts as a kind of wall around the garden. It acts like a gate. If you’ve got the code, you can get in. But likely you’re going to move on. There are just so many other places to harass and cause mischief on the web today. (Contrast with the massive silo gardens—if you are a member, you have all access to everyone there.)

I think a great benefit of social media could be that it provides an outlet for the masses so that careful enclaves can still be formed on the open web. I mean, look, there will always be bad actors in a group—groups seem to have a half-life where they grow too big and destabilize, the birth of a whole new era of drama and rage.

As for discovery, I think every blog needs a list of links to other blogs in their community. It’s like your friend list, but can be so much better than that. I want to read what you’re thinking, but I also want to know where else the discussion is happening.

Webrings are opaque; I can’t see where I’m headed. But a link list (blogroll, whatever) is like a gift.

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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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15 Jul 2018
  1. I see that you also added dt-published to the date. That makes it complete for the readers. Thanks!

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10 Jul 2018

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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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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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30 Jun 2018

The Rundown on Mentioning

It seems that Indieweb is made of these loosely connected pieces that follow as much of the protocol as they individually want to. While this is supposed to make it approachable—I mean you don’t need to adopt any of it to participate—it can be tough to know how much of it you’re obeying. (The whole thing actually reminds me a lot of HTML itself: elaborate, idealistic, but hellbent on leaving all that behind in order to be practical.)

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12 Jun 2018

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