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.
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:
The state-of-the-art in feed readers was frozen in place sometime around 2010, if not before. By that time most of the format wars between RSS and Atom had long since died down and were all generally supported. The only new features to be added were simple functionalities like sharing out links from readers to social services like Facebook and Twitter. For fancier readers they also added the ability to share out to services like Evernote, OneNote, Pocket, Instapaper and other social silos or silo related services.