I'm an optimist and I often hope that we in some way will get the utopian world I dream up, be it in politics, society or technology. Therefore I often jump on the bandwagon when I see someone going in the direction I also like. Last year it was Tent which promised to get my data back. Sadly they took a wrong turn so I had to jump of and find something else which would get me in the direction I wanted, which is owning the data I post to the internet. I am trying to archive it not because it is easy, but because it is hard.
After I whined about the Tent fails on Twitter, Tantek favourited some of my tweets and invited me to join them in the IndieWeb movement. Fast forward a couple of months to today and here we are, my personal website is indiewebified!
What this means in short is that I can log in to other websites with Web Sign In, I can publish articles (added microformats to my blog HTML) and notes (my private surrogate Twitter) and can send and receive WebMentions, which are kind of like Pingback but much easier to implement.
I've been blogging since 2004 and have been using Pingback ever since, after I implemented it in my own blog software Jlog back then. I also had comments in my blogs but the last couple of years people stopped commenting on my websites and started to comment on Facebook and Twitter where I posted links to my blog posts too. At the same time spam started to overtake the whole comment section, which forced me to remove comments. I used a rails plugin for Pingback which got old and wasn't updated either to work with the rails version I am using for my website, so I had to remove that too.
Instead I now implemented WebMentions. When I write a blog post (or a note) which mentions another website with a link, my blog tells the other website that I mentioned it. This other website, if it also implements WebMentions, can then put a link under their content which shows their visitors that somebody mentioned it on another website.
The cool thing is that I use microformats h-entry to markup my blog posts, which makes it simple for the websites I mention to extract information about my as the author, a title and a summary for example, to show it under their content.
Notes are my private Twitter replacement, at least in the long run. Instead of posting short messages only to Twitter where I do not have any control over them, I post them to my own website. They are short plain text notes with auto linked URLs. From today on I even auto embed media content like pictures, music or video, which makes it look pretty slick if I might say :D.
I also implemented WebMentions for the notes and use h-entry to mark it up. The cool thing about that is that if I mention someone elses note, my whole content shows up under their note and it looks just like a normal comment, but it was created on my own site and I still have the power over it!
Check out this note the third and fourth comments are native WebMention comments, if you click on the date you get to the original website where they were posted. I get the name and the avatar from there because they too marked up their HTML with microformats h-entry.
I integrate with Twitter, too, it is called POSSEing: Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere. Every time I post a note, I automatically post it to Twitter, and if it is too long I add a back-link so my Twitter followers can read the rest too.
There is another interesting thing, syndication of mentions from twitter users back to my notes on my own website, but more on that later when I talk about bridgy.
Back in the day, you kids who came here from Twitter or Facebook perhaps don't remember that anymore, people used feed reader applications like NetNewsWire. If you found a blog which you liked and wanted to follow, you would subscribe to the blogs feed in your feed reader and it would check al those sites about once ever hour and show you the new content. It would also mark blog posts as read so you wouldn't need to remember which one you've read already.
Sadly after more then 15 years there still is no protocol to synchronize all the feed readers on all your devises, I wrote about it last year: (RSS) feed metadata syncing
The idea is to get rid of the special feed files, which mark up the content in a special way as XML, and to use the normal HTML of the website which is marked up with microformats. But there are no readers which would be able to consume that yet and it is not quite clear how the whole process would work yet. So that is something for future us to figure out ;-).
Bridgy and POSSE
So what is Bridgy?
Bridgy sends webmentions for comments, likes, and reshares on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram. Bridgy notices when you post links, watches for activity on those posts, and sends them back to your site as webmentions. It also serves them as microformats2 for webmention targets to read.
So we still want to reach all the people who haven't moved from silos like Facebook, Google+ and Twitter to the IndieWeb, which is not as easy as you would think, most of us are writing their own software just to be part of it. Like I mentioned with notes, I post every note automatically to Twitter. There people are answering me even though I wish they would do it on their own website and would just send a WebMention.
What bridgy does for me is that it checks my twitter stream and if someone mentions one of my posts which link to one of my notes, it sends a webmention to my website and offers the tweet content as a normal HTML website with marked up with microformats so I can use it like every other IndieWeb site with WebMentions and h-entry microformats. That way I can get the URL of the Tweet, the name of the user, their avatar and the content of the Tweet and add it as a comment to my own note so my readers can follow the discussion without the need to visit the Twitter website.
Check out this note, where a twitter user answered and his tweet shows up like a normal webmention/comment with his name and avatar.
My next step with this will be to integrate Facebook too.
How about you?
So how about you? Are you interested in that kind of stuff but a bit overwhelmed of everything? You don't need to do everything yourself, even if that is the biggest fun in my opinion, et least if you're a programmer, there is software out there like Idno or p3k, you only need your own domain and Idno even offers preinstalled servers.
But be prepared to work hard, learn a lot, play hard and to have lots of fun doing so.