Indie Web Camping

It seems like just a fortnight ago that I was in the States for An Event Apart Atlanta. Wait a minute …it was just a fortnight ago! It would be utter madness, then, for me to willingly make another trip across the Atlantic so soon after that. And yet, that’s exactly what I did for Indie Web Camp.

Now, admittedly, the fact that the event was taking place in Portland may have swayed my decision; it’s a place I’m very fond of, filled as it is with good coffee, a giant bookshop, food carts and excellent geeks most dear to my heart. But the premise of Indie Web Camp also tugged heavily at my heartstrings: the desire to have control over my my own data—living at my own URL—syndicated out to third-party sites …the Pembertonisation of personal publishing. I knew that if I didn’t attend this event, I would just be miserable watching Twitter posts from a timezone eight hours away. So I made the trip from England to the Pacific Northwest to spend two days in the company of some very, very smart people.

I wasn’t sure whether it was going to be like a Barcamp or more like a hack day. In the end, it was the perfect mixture of both. The first day was spent brainstorming ideas. The second day was spent coding.

I feel bad that I didn’t contribute more to the coding side of things (especially after travelling so far to be there) but I did at least take some notes on the demos presented at the end of the event.

There were some fascinating themes throughout. Chris spoke about the possibilities of distributed web intents and the possibility of hijacking proprietary actions—such as Facebook’s “like” and Google’s “+1”—through a browser plug-in. On the subject of browser plug-ins, Glenn blew everyone’s minds with a demo of the latest Firefox extension he’s been working on. It more or less turns the browser into an artificially intelligent user agent. I hope there’ll be some documentation forthcoming soon.

Ward Cunningham—yes, that Ward Cunningham—spearheaded an initiative for creating a distributed wiki. Meanwhile, a whole bunch of us were concerned about how much pictorial data we are entrusting to Flickr, a service owned by Yahoo; a company with a dreadful track record for preserving personal publishing (Geocities—never forget, never forgive). There was much brainstorming and coding around backing up Flickr photos as well as figuring out ways to post to Flickr from your own website.

I should have been contributing to that but instead I was getting some valuable Github advice from Shane on how to contribute to No More Sharecropping. Check out the README file if you’d also like to contribute.

All in all, it was a great gathering, ably organised by Tantek, Amber, Aaron and Crystal …well worth the trip.