We launched this blog less than three months ago to explore the latest in Open Web technologies. Things like the IndieWeb movement, blockchain apps, API platforms, Open AI, and more. AltPlatform has always been an experiment, as I made clear in our introductory post. However, from a publishing point of view the experiment hasn’t worked out as we had hoped. To put it plainly, the page views haven’t eventuated – at least in a sustained way. So it’s time to try something new. We’re going to pivot into something a bit different…soon.
Author: Richard MacManus
The IndieWeb movement is all about having a place on the Web that you own and control. As Chris Aldrich put it in his excellent introduction to the IndieWeb, “wouldn’t it be better if you had a single website that represented you online?” From the point of view of content creation, there’s no question that posting on your own website is the best way to control your content. But what about consuming content? There are still unresolved issues with that, which I’ll explore in this post.
Blockchain is one of the most intriguing technologies out there in 2017, in no small part due to its open nature. Open in the sense that there’s a lot of open source work happening (in particular, its two largest projects: Bitcoin and Ethereum). But also ‘open’ in the sense that blockchain is the epitome of a decentralized platform. For this reason, many see blockchain as a potentially huge disrupting force on the Internet. Think about what a decentralized eBay, or a decentralized Uber, would mean for the economy. Essentially, a blockchain version of eBay or Uber cuts out the middleman – meaning the buyer/passenger gets to liaise directly with the seller/driver.
Your content is yours: this is a central tenet of IndieWeb. It’s a philosophy that promotes ownership of your online content and it’s been labelled POSSE, an acronym for “Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere.” Some in the IndieWeb community take this to the extreme and save literally everything they do on the Web, from tweets to check-ins and much more. AltPlatform contributor Chris Aldrich is in this camp – he’s even come up with an elaborate workaround to post onto Facebook, via his own website, but without getting the familiar “mom-autolike” (when your mother likes everything you post, because…well, she’s your mom).
So far in my ongoing project to IndieWebify my web presence, I’ve upgraded my WordPress site with IndieWeb plugins, installed a blogroll, and subscribed to a bunch of indie bloggers in a modern feed reader (I’m trialling Inoreader, but I’m also still using Feedly – both are great choices). Now I’m curious to see how social media fits into this Open Web picture. After all, my manifesto for AltPlatform was partly based on finding a way to route around the big Walled Garden social networks: Facebook, Twitter and all the rest.
In my continuing 2017 project to IndieWebify my website, so far I’ve upgraded my WordPress site with IndieWeb plugins and then installed a blogroll. I also began to explore what the indie blogosphere is like nowadays. Not that I ever really left the blogosphere, but – like most people – much of my attention had drifted to social media over the past several years. So I wanted to re-engage with blogs in 2017 and subscribe to a bunch of new people. For that I needed a capable, IndieWeb-friendly feed reader.
Last weekend I began transitioning my personal website into an IndieWeb friendly site. I still have a lot of work to do on design, but more importantly I’d like to start interacting with other indie bloggers. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, since there’s one crucial thing missing from this generation of indie bloggers: the humble blogroll.
Those of you who were around in the pre-Web 2.0 era (before 2005-ish) will remember that early bloggers used to have a list of other blogs they read in their sidebars. That list was known as the “blogroll” and it was a great way for newbies to get to know established bloggers. The other neat thing about the blogroll was that it was a token of respect to the bloggers you admired. When I started ReadWriteWeb in 2003, this was my blogroll in August of that year:
I’ve decided to re-design my personal website, richardmacmanus.com. My primary reason is to become a full-fledged member of the IndieWeb community. If I’m writing about Open Web technologies here on AltPlatform, then I ought to be eating my own dog food. Another reason is to discover – likely by trial and error – how to route around Walled Gardens like Facebook and Twitter, which host so much of our content these days. In other words, my goal is to make my personal website the hub for my Web presence. Finally, I want to re-discover blogging in 2017 – what it can do in this era, who’s doing interesting things and how, and what opportunities there might be for the Open Web to cross into the mainstream.
Let’s get this out of the way right at the start: Mastodon is not a Twitter killer. It’s more like Twitter crossed with Reddit, plus it’s open source. But while Mastodon is not going to take over the world, it does have promise as a community platform. Here’s why…
I first came across Mastodon in early April, via a Vice article. It was described as “a kinder, nicer, decentralized open source version of Twitter.” Curious to see what the fuss was about, I jumped over to Mastodon to check it out. I immediately came across its first quirk: Mastodon isn’t one single social network, like Twitter. Instead it’s made up of multiple “instances,” each one hosted on a different server. Indeed the most popular instance, Mastodon.social, wasn’t accepting new users when I arrived – due to its sudden ascension to Internet fame. So I had to sign up with another instance, in this case Mastodon.technology.
Welcome everyone to AltPlatform, a non-profit tech blog devoted to Open Web technologies.
What do we mean by “Open Web”? Firstly, we want to experiment with open source (like this WordPress.org blog) and open standards (like RSS). We’re also using the word open to signify a wider, boundary-less view of the Web. In other words, we want to look for opportunities beyond the Walled Gardens – proprietary platforms like Facebook and Twitter where you don’t own your own data, you have little control over your news feeds, and you have to live by certain rules.