Selfish publishing

I was in Düsseldorf last week, alas just a little too late to catch any of the talks at Beyond Tellarrand …which is a shame, because it looks like Maciej’s talk was terrific. Fortunately, I did get to see a lot of people who were in town for the event, and myself and Maciej were both participating in Decentralize Camp the day after Beyond Tellerrand.

Decentralize Camp had a surprisingly broad scope. As Maciej pointed out during his presentation, there are many different kinds of decentralization.

For my part, I was focusing specifically on the ideas of the indie web. I made it very clear from the outset that was my own personal take. A lot of it was, unsurprisingly, rooted in my relentless obsession with digital preservation and personal publishing. I recapped some of what I talked about at last year’s Beyond Tellerrand before showing some specific examples of the indie web at work: IndieAuth, webmentions, etc.

I realised that my motivations were not only personal, but downright selfish. For me, it’s all about publishing to my own site. That attitude was quite different to many of the other technologies being discussed; technologies that explicitly set out to empower other people and make the world a better place.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I must admit that one of the reasons why I write and talk about the indie web is that in the back of my mind, I’m hoping others will be encouraged to publish on their own websites instead of (or as well as) giving their creative work to third-party sites. As I’ve said before:

…on today’s web of monolithic roach-motel silos like Facebook and Twitter, I can’t imagine a more disruptive act than choosing to publish on your own website.

That said, I’m under no illusions that my actions will have any far-reaching consequences. This isn’t going to change the world. This isn’t going to empower other people (except maybe people who already tech-savvy enough to empower themselves). I’m okay with that.

At Decentralize Camp, I helped Michiel B. de Jong to run a session on IndieMark, a kind of tongue-in-cheek gamification of indie web progress. It was fun. And that’s an important factor to remember in all this. In fact, it’s one of the indie web design principles:

Have fun. Remember that GeoCities page you built back in the mid-90s? The one with the Java applets, garish green background and seventeen animated GIFs? It may have been ugly, badly coded and sucky, but it was fun, damnit. Keep the web weird and interesting.

During the session, someone asked why they hadn’t heard of all this indie web stuff before. After all, if the first indie web camp happened in 2011, shouldn’t it be bigger by now?

That’s when I realised that I honestly didn’t care. I didn’t care how big (or small) this group is. For me, it’s just a bunch of like-minded people helping each other out. Even if nobody else ever turns up, it still has value.

I have to admit, I really don’t care that much about the specific technologies being discussed at indie web camps: formats, protocols, bits of code …they are less important than the ideas. And the ideas are less important than the actions. As long as I’m publishing to my website, I’m pretty happy. That said, I’m very grateful that the other indie web folks are there to help me out.

Mostly though, my motivations echo Mandy’s:

No one owns this domain but me, and no one but me can take it down. I will not wake up one morning to discover that my service has been “sunsetted” and I have some days or weeks to export my data (if I have that at all). These URLs will never break.

Have you published a response to this? :

Responses

Aaron Gustafson

My good friend Jeremy is incredibly excited about the Indie Web movement and I am right there with him. I love the idea of owning your content and then syndicating it out to social networks, photo sites, and the like. It makes complete sense… Web-based services have a habit of disappearing, so we shouldn’t rely on them. The only Web that is permanent is the one we control.

But going down this rabbit hole got me wondering how much do we really control? And beyond that, what do we own?

To borrow a quote from Mandy Brown (which also Jeremy referenced):

No one owns this domain but me, and no one but me can take it down. I will not wake up one morning to discover that my service has been “sunsetted” and I have some days or weeks to export my data (if I have that at all). These URLs will never break.

I don’t know if her statement is true. Idealistically, I want it to be true, but consider the following:

We rent domain names through registrars. We “purchase” domain names, but we must renew them from time to time to remain in control. Assuming you keep up the payments, they can still be seized for any number of reasons or they can be stolen. Or the registrar can go out of business and you have to scramble to move it to a new registrar. Most of us rent space on the Web. I can’t think of a single friend of mine who still personally hosts his or her website. As such, we are beholden to our hosts. Even if we keep on top of our payments, things can go wrong: They could crash or have another issue and lose all of our data. They could go under. Or they could simply lose your domain. Knowing all of this—and realizing that when I am dead and gone all of the content I created could be lost to the ether if my family doesn’t know how to keep things going or doesn’t care to keep making these payments—I am left wondering how do we achieve the permanence of print on the Web?

I don’t have any answers, so I pose it as an open question to the Indie Web community. If you have some thoughts, I encourage you to post them on your own site and use webmentions to add them to this page. Or you can default to the comments.

Aaron Gustafson

My good friend Jeremy is incredibly excited about the Indie Web movement and I am right there with him. I love the idea of owning your content and then syndicating it out to social networks, photo sites, and the like. It makes complete sense… Web-based services have a habit of disappearing, so we shouldn’t rely on them. The only Web that is permanent is the one we control.

But going down this rabbit hole got me wondering how much do we really control? And beyond that, what do we own?

To borrow a quote from Mandy Brown (which also Jeremy referenced):

No one owns this domain but me, and no one but me can take it down. I will not wake up one morning to discover that my service has been “sunsetted” and I have some days or weeks to export my data (if I have that at all). These URLs will never break.

I don’t know if her statement is true. Idealistically, I want it to be true, but consider the following:

We rent domain names through registrars. We “purchase” domain names, but we must renew them from time to time to remain in control. Assuming you keep up the payments, they can still be seized for any number of reasons or they can be stolen. Or the registrar can go out of business and you have to scramble to move it to a new registrar. Most of us rent space on the Web. I can’t think of a single friend of mine who still personally hosts his or her website. As such, we are beholden to our hosts. Even if we keep on top of our payments, things can go wrong: They could crash or have another issue and lose all of our data. They could go under. Or they could simply lose your domain. Knowing all of this—and realizing that when I am dead and gone all of the content I created could be lost to the ether if my family doesn’t know how to keep things going or doesn’t care to keep making these payments—I am left wondering how do we achieve the permanence of print on the Web?

I don’t have any answers, so I pose it as an open question to the Indie Web community. If you have some thoughts, I encourage you to post them on your own site and use webmentions to add them to this page. Or you can default to the comments.

Aaron Gustafson

My good friend Jeremy is incredibly excited about the Indie Web movement and I am right there with him. I love the idea of owning your content and then syndicating it out to social networks, photo sites, and the like. It makes complete sense… Web-based services have a habit of disappearing, so we shouldn’t rely on them. The only Web that is permanent is the one we control.

But going down this rabbit hole got me wondering how much do we really control? And beyond that, what do we own?

To borrow a quote from Mandy Brown (which also Jeremy referenced):

No one owns this domain but me, and no one but me can take it down. I will not wake up one morning to discover that my service has been “sunsetted” and I have some days or weeks to export my data (if I have that at all). These URLs will never break.

I don’t know if her statement is true. Idealistically, I want it to be true, but consider the following:

We rent domain names through registrars. We “purchase” domain names, but we must renew them from time to time to remain in control. Assuming you keep up the payments, they can still be seized for any number of reasons or they can be stolen. Or the registrar can go out of business and you have to scramble to move it to a new registrar. Most of us rent space on the Web. I can’t think of a single friend of mine who still personally hosts his or her website. As such, we are beholden to our hosts. Even if we keep on top of our payments, things can go wrong: They could crash or have another issue and lose all of our data. They could go under. Or they could simply lose your domain. Knowing all of this—and realizing that when I am dead and gone all of the content I created could be lost to the ether if my family doesn’t know how to keep things going or doesn’t care to keep making these payments—I am left wondering how do we achieve the permanence of print on the Web?

I don’t have any answers, so I pose it as an open question to the Indie Web community. If you have some thoughts, I encourage you to post them on your own site and use webmentions to add them to this page. Or you can default to the comments.

Aaron Gustafson

My good friend Jeremy is incredibly excited about the Indie Web movement and I am right there with him. I love the idea of owning your content and then syndicating it out to social networks, photo sites, and the like. It makes complete sense… Web-based services have a habit of disappearing, so we shouldn’t rely on them. The only Web that is permanent is the one we control.

But going down this rabbit hole got me wondering how much do we really control? And beyond that, what do we own?

To borrow a quote from Mandy Brown (which also Jeremy referenced):

No one owns this domain but me, and no one but me can take it down. I will not wake up one morning to discover that my service has been “sunsetted” and I have some days or weeks to export my data (if I have that at all). These URLs will never break.

I don’t know if her statement is true. Idealistically, I want it to be true, but consider the following:

  1. We rent domain names through registrars. We “purchase” domain names, but we must renew them from time to time to remain in control. Assuming you keep up the payments, they can still be seized for any number of reasons or they can be stolen. Or the registrar can go out of business and you have to scramble to move it to a new registrar.
  2. Most of us rent space on the Web. I can’t think of a single friend of mine who still personally hosts his or her website. As such, we are beholden to our hosts. Even if we keep on top of our payments, things can go wrong: They could crash or have another issue and lose all of our data. They could go under. Or they could simply lose your domain.

Knowing all of this—and realizing that when I am dead and gone all of the content I created could be lost to the ether if my family doesn’t know how to keep things going or doesn’t care to keep making these payments—I am left wondering how do we achieve the permanence of print on the Web?

I don’t have any answers, so I pose it as an open question to the Indie Web community. If you have some thoughts, I encourage you to post them on your own site and use webmentions to add them to this page. Or you can default to the comments.

www.ohhelloana.blog

In 2018 I began to participate a lot in the IndieWeb community and that gave me a lot of confidence to work on my blog. I told myself sometime last December: “I’m going to make sure that over this Christmas break I do x, y and z so that my blog has more IndieWeb stuff.”.

Well, that didn’t go to plan. I did write a bit and made some small changes but I didn’t make major developments like I would like. I was catching up on Netflix instead. In the past few days I began to feel this bizarre sense of disappointment in myself and a weird feeling of not feeling that I acomplished much. I was falling back into old habits of expecting too much of myself.

The other day I was reviewing my bookmarks so that I could clean them and I thought: “Oh! I should use this as an oppportunity to finally have bookmarks on my blog… like everyone does.”. I embarked in this task and decided to experiment using a micropub client to automatically publish into my blog so that I could save time by not adding the markup manually. I decided to experiment with Quill and out of the box, it worked fine. I styled it and it lives on my new “bookmarks” page. But I was not satisfied. I began to check what other people were doing and I got dragged into this feeling that I’ve made it all wrong.

The micropub endpoint that I am using works great but it publishes straight to my “posts” folder in my Jekyll project. This meant that I couldn’t have fancy urls. I thought: “hummm I think it would be prettier if when opening an individual bookmark entry it would have /link/ before the bookmark slug.”. This meant that my current implementation wasn’t doing the job.

I realised that if I wanted that, apparently, I should have used the collections feature from Jekyll. But my micropub endpoint isn’t specifically creating bookmarks and publishing them into a specific directory. This lead me to come to terms with the fact that I would have to create my own micropub endpoint if I want to have fancy things built for my specific needs.

TIL: that is called selfdogfood.

“Fair enough” I thought. I looked up “how to build micropub endpoint” and after all the articles about how to create a mini bar, the technical ones weren’t matching the level of my knowledge so I felt hopeless. I was sad cooking my dinner and thinking how I am so disappointed at myself that I want fancy things for my blog and feeling technically inadquate and way behind my IndieWeb peers.

I carried on my search (still looking for anything micropub related) and I stumbled upon this journal entry from Jeremy Keith.

I have to admit, I really don’t care that much about the specific technologies being discussed at indie web camps: formats, protocols, bits of code …they are less important than the ideas. And the ideas are less important than the actions. As long as I’m publishing to my website, I’m pretty happy. That said, I’m very grateful that the other IndieWeb folks are there to help me out.

And there it was. I had lost track of my purpose and I was too focused on building it correctly and catching up with everyone. I need to listen to myself too: it doesn’t matter if I only dump HTML in here. It is my blog and I should build it as I can and as I want.

But what is the source of this unsatisfaction? Is it because I made my github repository public? Maybe.

I am being harsh on myself. I am learning lots here already. When a job ago I was only doing javascript this blog was one of the very few places where I was doing HTML and CSS for example and I’ve learned loads from it. I’m still behind on all the IndieWeb principles but I will get there. Could 2019 be the year I finally have webmentions? Let’s hope so but I will probably need help.

# Friday, January 4th, 2019 at 8:29am