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.
There’s a better way to own and control your online identity
Whether you’re starting a blog, building your personal brand, posting a resume, promoting a hobby, writing a personal journal, creating an online commonplace book, sharing photos or content with friends, family, or colleagues, writing reviews, sharing recipes, podcasting, or any one of the thousand other things people do online it all starts with having a presence and an identity online.
The seemingly difficult task these days is deciding where that should be. There’s Twitter for sharing short updates and bookmarks to articles; Instagram, Snapchat, Flickr, and YouTube for photos and videos; Facebook for communicating with family and friends; LinkedIn for work and career related posts; Swarm for sharing your location; and literally thousands of others for nearly every micro-slice of content one could think of.
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).
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.
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.