Sunday, June 18th, 2017
Saturday, May 6th, 2017
This really resonates with me. Tim Bray duly notes that people are writing on Medium, and being shunted towards native apps, and that content is getting centralised at Facebook and other hubs, and then he declares:
But I don’t care.
Anyhow, I’m not going away.
Thursday, February 2nd, 2017
It strikes me that Garrett’s site has become a valuable record of the human condition with its mix of two personal stories—one relating to his business and the other relating to his health—both of them communicated clearly through great writing.
Have a read back through the archive and I think you’ll share my admiration.
Wednesday, November 2nd, 2016
Andy is sticking with the indie web.
Here, I control my words. Nobody can shut this site down, run annoying ads on it, or sell it to a phone company. Nobody can tell me what I can or can’t say, and I have complete control over the way it’s displayed. Nobody except me can change the URL structure, breaking 14 years of links to content on the web.
I second that emotion.
Thursday, September 1st, 2016
Heartfelt congratulations to Remy on ten years of blogging.
More importantly, every single URL on my blog that’s ever been published still works, and even better than that (for me) is my archive showing off the decade of writing I’ve been producing over all this time 💪
Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016
It is a sad and beautiful world wide web:
The technology that let people make web sites never went away. You can still set up a site as if it were 1995. But culture changes, as do expectations. It takes a certain set of skills to create your own web site, populate it with cool stuff, set up a web server, and publish your own cool-stuff web pages. I would argue that those skills should be a basic part of living in a transparent and open culture where individuals are able to communicate on an equal field of play. Some fellow nerds would argue the same. But most everyone else, statistically, just uses Facebook and plays along.
Paul Ford shines a light on the solution:
Standing against this tide of centralization is the indie web movement. Perhaps “movement” is too strong—it’s more an aesthetic of independence and decentralization. The IndieWebCamp web page states: “When you post something on the web, it should belong to you, not a corporation.” You should own your information and profit from it. You should have your own servers. Your destiny, which you signed over to Facebook in order to avoid learning a few lines of code, would once again be your own.
Beautiful, beautiful writing:
We could still live in that decentralized world, if we wanted to. Despite the rise of the all-seeing database, the core of the internet remains profoundly open. I can host it from my apartment, on a machine that costs $35. You can link to me from your site. Just the two of us. This is an age of great enterprise, no time to think small. Yet whatever enormous explosion tears through our digital world next will come from exactly that: an individual recognizing the potential of the small, where others see only scale.
Sunday, June 5th, 2016
Why Get on the Indie Web?
In a word, autonomy.
- What is the Indie Web?
- How Can You Get on the Indie Web?,
- Where is the Indie Web? and
- Who is the Indie Web?
The Indie Web is made of people. It’s made by me. It can be made by you too. There’s no gatekeeper. You can join anytime without anyone’s permission. The Indie Web is made by everyone.
Friday, May 13th, 2016
Shane gave a talk recently where he outlined his reasons for publishing on the indie web:
Most people reading this will probably have an account at most or all of these sites: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, Tumblr, Wordpress. Many also had accounts at Friendster, Tribe, MySpace, Delicious, Magnolia, Gowalla, Geocities. But no one has an account at any of those (on the second list) anymore. And all of the content that we created on those sites is gone.
All of those super emo feeling you posted to MySpace, they’re all gone. Some of the great web designers of our generation got started on Geocities. That stuff is gone forever. And sure, it was sparkling animated GIFs and neon colors. But that’s important history. Yahoo bought it, left it alone for a while, and then decided one day to turn it off.
Thursday, August 20th, 2015
Will the Big Think piece you just posted to Medium be there in 2035? That may sound like it’s very far off in the future, and who could possibly care, but if there’s any value to your writing, you should care. Having good records is how knowledge builds.
Thursday, August 13th, 2015
Twenty-six letters of independent publishing building blocks.
Tuesday, July 21st, 2015
Tantek posts a belated round-up of indie web activity in 2014:
2014 was a year of incredible gains, and yet, a very sad loss for the community. In many ways I think a lot of us are still coping, reflecting. But we continue, day to day to grow and improve the indieweb, as I think Chloe would have wanted us to, as she herself did.
Friday, January 9th, 2015
There’s more than a whiff of Indie Web thinking in this sequel to the Cluetrain Manifesto from Doc Searls and Dave Weinberger.
The Net’s super-power is connection without permission. Its almighty power is that we can make of it whatever we want.
It’s quite lawn-off-getty …but I also happen to agree with pretty much all of it.
Although it’s kind of weird that it’s published on somebody else’s website.
Sunday, December 14th, 2014
I had the great honour of being invited to speak on the 200th edition of the Working Draft podcast (there are a few sentences in German at the start, and then it switches into English).
I had a lot of fun talking about indie web building blocks (rel=me, indieauth, webmention, h-entry, etc.). Best of all, while I was describing these building blocks, one of the hosts started implementing them!
Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014
Stuart has implemented webmentions on his site, which is great. It’s also fitting, as he is the inventor of pingback (of which webmention is a simpler reformulation).
Wednesday, November 19th, 2014
Aaron documents the process of adding webmention support to a static site. He came with an ingenious three-tiered approach:
It’s been a pretty fun mini-project. In the end, I created a useful bit of kit that provides three distinct experiences:
- Static webmentions collected when the site was generated form the baseline experience;
Monday, November 17th, 2014
Aaron raises a point that I’ve discussed before in regards to the indie web (and indeed, the web in general): we don’t buy domain names; we rent them.
It strikes me that all the good things about the web are decentralised (one-way linking, no central authority required to add a node), but all the sticking points are centralised: ICANN, DNS.
Aaron also points out that we are beholden to our hosting companies, although—having moved hosts a number of times myself—that’s an issue that DNS (and URLs in general) helps alleviate. And there’s now some interesting work going on in literally owning your own website: a web server in the home.
Friday, November 7th, 2014
Tuesday, October 21st, 2014
Indie web building blocks
I was back in Nürnberg last week for the second border:none. Joschi tried an interesting format for this year’s event. The first day was a small conference-like gathering with an interesting mix of speakers, but the second day was much more collaborative, with people working together in “creator units”—part workshop, part round-table discussion.
I teamed up with Aaron to lead the session on all things indie web. It turned out to be a lot of fun. Throughout the day, we introduced the little building blocks, one by one. By the end of the day, it was amazing to see how much progress people made by taking this layered approach of small pieces, loosely stacked.
The first step is: do you have a domain name?
Okay, next step: are you linking from that domain to other profiles of you on the web? Twitter, Instagram, Github, Dribbble, whatever. If so, here’s the first bit of hands-on work: add
rel="me" to those links.
<a rel="me" href="https://twitter.com/adactio">Twitter</a> <a rel="me" href="https://github.com/adactio">Github</a> <a rel="me" href="https://www.flickr.com/people/adactio">Flickr</a>
If you don’t have any profiles on other sites, you can still mark up your telephone number or email address with
rel="me". You might want to do this in a
link element in the
head of your HTML.
<link rel="me" href="mailto:email@example.com" /> <link rel="me" href="sms:+447792069292" />
As soon as you’ve done that, you can make use of IndieAuth. This is a technique that demonstrates a recurring theme in indie web building blocks: take advantage of the strengths of existing third-party sites. In this case, IndieAuth piggybacks on top of the fact that many third-party sites have some kind of authentication mechanism, usually through OAuth. The fact that you’re “claiming” a profile on a third-party site using
rel="me"—and the third-party profile in turn links back to your site—means that we can use all the smart work that went into their authentication flow.
You can see IndieAuth in action by logging into the Indie Web Camp wiki. It’s pretty nifty.
If you’ve used
rel="me" to link to a profile on something like Twitter, Github, or Flickr, you can authenticate with their OAuth flow. If you’ve used
rel="me" for your email address or phone number, you can authenticate by email or SMS.
Next question: are you publishing stuff on your site? If so, mark it up using h-entry. This involves adding a few classes to your existing markup.
<article class="h-entry"> <div class="e-content"> <p>Having fun with @aaronpk, helping @border_none attendees mark up their sites with rel="me" links, h-entry classes, and webmention endpoints.</p> </div> <time class="dt-published" datetime="2014-10-18 08:42:37">8:42am</time> </article>
Now, the reason for doing this isn’t for some theoretical benefit from search engines, or browsers, but simply to make the content you’re publishing machine-parsable (which will come in handy in the next steps).
Aaron published a note on his website, inviting everyone to leave a comment. The trick is though, to leave a comment on Aaron’s site, you need to publish it on your own site.
Webmention is basically a reimplementation of pingback, but without any of the XML silliness; it’s just a POST request with two values—the URL of the origin post, and the URL of the response.
My site doesn’t automatically send webmentions to any links I reference in my posts—I should really fix that—but that’s okay; Aaron—like me—has a form under each of his posts where you can paste in the URL of your response.
This is where those h-entry classes come in. If your post is marked up with h-entry, then it can be parsed to figure out which bit of your post is the body, which bit is the author, and so on. If your response isn’t marked up as h-entry, Aaron just displays a link back to your post. But if it is marked up in h-entry, Aaron can show the whole post on his site.
Okay. By this point, we’ve already come really far, and all people had to do was edit their HTML to add some
rel attributes and
For true site-to-site communication, you’ll need to have a webmention endpoint. That’s a bit trickier to add to your own site; it requires some programming. Here’s my minimum viable webmention that I wrote in PHP. But there are plenty of existing implentations you can use, like this webmention plug-in for WordPress.
Once you have a webmention endpoint, you can point to it from the
head of your HTML using a
<link rel="mention" href="https://adactio.com/webmention" />
Now you can receive responses to your posts.
Here’s the really cool bit: if you sign up for Bridgy, you can start receiving responses from third-party sites like Twitter, Facebook, etc. Bridgy just needs to know who you are on those networks, looks at your website, and figures everything out from there. And it automatically turns the responses from those networks into h-entry. It feels like magic!
Here are responses from Twitter to my posts, as captured by Bridgy.
That was mostly what Aaron and I covered in our one-day introduction to the indie web. I think that’s pretty good going.
The next step would be implementing the idea of POSSE: Publish on your Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere.
You could do this using something as simple as If This, Then That e.g. everytime something crops up in your RSS feed, post it to Twitter, or Facebook, or both. If you don’t have an RSS feed, don’t worry: because you’re already marking your HTML up in h-entry, it can be converted to RSS easily.
I’m doing my own POSSEing to Twitter, which I’ve written about already. Since then, I’ve also started publishing photos here, which I sometimes POSSE to Twitter, and always POSSE to Flickr. Here’s my code for posting to Flickr.
I’d really like to POSSE my photos to Instagram, but that’s impossible. Instagram is a data roach-motel. The API provides no method for posting photos. The only way to post a picture to Instagram is with the Instagram app.
My only option is to do the opposite of POSSEing, which is PESOS: Publish Elsewhere, and Syndicate to your Own Site. To do that, I need to have an endpoint on my own site that can receive posts.
Working side by side with Aaron at border:none inspired me to finally implement one more indie web building block I needed: micropub.
Having a micropub endpoint here on my own site means that I can publish from third-party sites …or even from native apps. The reason why I didn’t have one already was that I thought it would be really complicated to implement. But it turns out that, once again, the trick is to let other services do all the hard work.
First of all, I need to have something to manage authentication. Well, I already have that with IndieAuth. I got that for free just by adding
rel="me" to my links to other profiles. So now I can declare indieauth.com as my authorization endpoint in the
head of my HTML:
<link rel="authorization_endpoint" href="https://indieauth.com/auth" />
Now I need some way of creating and issuing authentation tokens. See what I mean about it sounding like hard work? Creating a token endpoint seems complicated.
But once again, someone else has done the hard work so I don’t have to. Tokens-as-a-service:
<link rel="token_endpoint" href="https://tokens.indieauth.com/token" />
The last piece of the puzzle is to point to my own micropub endpoint:
<link rel="micropub" href="https://adactio.com/micropub" />
That URL is where I will receive posts from third-party sites and apps (sent through a POST request with an access token in the header). It’s up to me to verify that the post is authenticated properly with a valid access token. Here’s the PHP code I’m using.
It wasn’t nearly as complicated as I thought it would be. By the time a post and a token hits the micropub endpoint, most of the hard work has already been done (authenticating, issuing a token, etc.). But there are still a few steps that I have to do:
- Make a GET request (I’m using cURL) back to the token endpoint I specified—sending the access token I’ve been sent in a header—verifying the token.
- Check that the “me” value that I get back corresponds to my identity, which is https://adactio.com
- Take the h-entry values that have been sent as POST variables and create a new post on my site.
Finally, there’s OwnYourGram, a service that monitors your Instagram account and posts to your micropub endpoint whenever there’s a new photo.
Indie Web Camp
Each one of these building blocks unlocks greater and greater power:
Each one of those building blocks you implement unlocks more and more powerful tools:
But its worth remembering that these are just implementation details. What really matters is that you’re publishing your stuff on your website. If you want to use different formats and protocols to do that, that’s absolutely fine. The whole point is that this is the independent web—you can do whatever you please on your own website.
Still, if you decide to start using these tools and technologies, you’ll get the benefit of all the other people who are working on this stuff. If you have the chance to attend an Indie Web Camp, you should definitely take it: I’m always amazed by how much is accomplished in one weekend.
Some people have started referring to the indie web movement. I understand where they’re coming from; it certainly looks like a “movement” from the outside, and if you attend an Indie Web Camp, there’s a great spirit of sharing. But my underlying motivations are entirely selfish. In the same way that I don’t really care about particular formats or protocols, I don’t really care about being part of any kind of “movement.” I care about my website.
As it happens, my selfish motivations align perfectly with the principles of an indie web.
Tuesday, October 7th, 2014
I hope that many of you will watch me on this journey, and follow in my wagon tracks as I leave the walled cities and strike out for the wilderness ahead.
Thursday, September 25th, 2014
I really like this comparison:
As a zinester and zine librarian, I see the Indie Web as a pretty direct correlation to 1980’s and 1990’s zine culture. The method of production may be completely different (photocopiers and direct mail vs web posts and servers) but the goals are almost identical – controlling the way in which your message and identity are displayed, crafted, and stored while avoiding censorship that corporate media might impose. The end goal of both zine and indieweb technologies is ownership of your own identity without a filter.
But there also challenges:
The key issue right now for diverse populations utilizing the Indie Web is accessibility. As long as the tools for creating & controlling your own identity online are still relatively obtuse & technical to implement, we won’t have great diversity within the Indie Web.