Blog Engines and Indieweb Controlling Upstream

All this WordPress 5.0 Gutenberg stuff got me thinking.  With WordPress it seems like the Indieweb starts making serious and cool progress and the WordPress people come along and knock the game board and pieces off the table.  And it sounds like the disruption from WordPress is going to continue for a couple of years.

Why not take a page out of Apple’s playbook and take control higher up in the food chain? Why not come out with an Indieweb compatible blog engine of our own?  Either fork an existing open source project or build new?  This does not mean you have to make it exclusive but make it the way the Indieweb wants the Indieweb elven magic to function.  Also put in the standard blogging features most people expect.  Why keep trying to adapt the Indieweb stuff to blog or CMS platforms that are at best indifferent, never designed for or just that don’t want to play ball?

This isn’t a slam on the coders who are working so hard to make everything work on WordPress, I’m just asking if maybe it’s not time to find better terrain to fight from.

If the Indieweb really wants widespread adoption they need to come out with a turnkey solution.  It would act as a solution for many and a proof of concept for others to emulate. Something that can be put in hosting C-panels for one touch install. Something that just works, is easy to move to and move away from. Something supported, active, growing with enough polish that it inspires confidence in the user.

I’d really like to hear serious discussion on this.

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35 responses on “Blog Engines and Indieweb Controlling Upstream”

  1. Replied to Blog Engines and Indieweb Controlling Upstream by Brad Enslen (Brad Enslen)

    All this WordPress 5.0 Gutenberg stuff got me thinking. With WordPress it seems like the Indieweb starts making serious and cool progress and the WordPress people come along and knock the game board and pieces off the table. And it sounds like the disruption from WordPress is going to continue f…

    Brad, I like and agree with your general thoughts, but I think that looking at the long term broader picture, most of what you’re describing is covered under the umbrella principle of plurality. For things to grow and thrive, we all need plurality to flourish. As a result there are several hundred projects within the broader IndieWeb which are growing and thriving. It seems far slower because a large number of the projects are single-maintainer single-user ones which are being built for personal use.
    It’s nice that there are mass-scale projects like WordPress, WithKnown, Get Perch, Grav, Drupal, and a few others which have one or more “IndieWeb-centric” developers working on them that allow those without the coding skills to jump in and enjoy the additional freedom and functionality. The occasional drawback is that those big-hearted developers also fit into the broader fabric of those massively distributed projects and sometimes their voices aren’t as well heard, if at all.
    I’m aware of the disruption of the Gutenberg Editor within WordPress v5.0 and how it applies to those using IndieWeb technology on WordPress. I’m sure it will eventually get sorted out in a reasonable fashion. Sadly, throwing out the baby out with the bathwater as it comes to WordPress and IndieWeb may not be the best solution for many people and may actually be a painful detriment to several hundreds.
    While it would be interesting to see a larger group of developers converge on building an open and broadly used IndieWeb system as you suggest, it takes a massive amount of work and community collaboration to get such a thing moving. I think this bears out if you look at the lay of the land as it already exists. Just think of the time effort and energy that the core IndieWeb community puts into the tremendous amount of resources that exist today.
    Looking back on the past 4+ years of IndieWeb within the WordPress community, I’m really amazed to see exactly how far things have come and where things currently stand. There used to be a dozen or more pieces that required custom code, duct tape, and baling wire to get things working. Now it’s a handful of relatively stable and well set up pieces that—particularly for me—really makes WordPress deliver as an open source content management system and next generation social medial platform that aims to democratize publishing. In terms of building for the future, I suspect that helping to bring new people into the fold (users, developers, designers, etc.) will increase and improve the experience overall. To some degree, I feel like we’re just getting started on what is possible and recruiting new users and help will be the best thing for improving things moving forward. IndieWeb integration into large-scale projects like WordPress, Drupal, etc. are very likely to be the place that these ideas are likely to gain a foothold in the mainstream and change the tide of how the internet works.
    While it may seem daunting at times, in addition to the heroic (part-time, it needs to be noted) developers like Mathias Pfefferle, David Shanske, Micah Cambre, Michael Bishop, Ashton McAllan, Jack Jamieson, Ryan Barrett, Peter Molnar, Amanda Rush; enthusiastic supporters like you, Greg McVerry, Aaron Davis, Manton Reece; and literally hundreds of others (apologies to those I’ve missed by name) who are using and living with these tools on a daily basis, there are also quieter allies like Brandon Kraft, Ryan Boren, Jeremy Herve and even Matt himself, even if he’s not directly aware of it, who are contributing in their own ways as well. Given the immense value of what IndieWeb brings to the web, I can’t imagine that they won’t ultimately win out.
    If it helps, some of the current IndieWeb issues pale in comparison to some of the accessibility problems that Gutenberg has neglected within the WordPress community. Fortunately those a11ys are sticking with the greater fight to make things better not only for themselves, but for the broader community and the world. I suggest that, like them, we all suit up and continue the good fight.
    Of course part of the genius of how IndieWeb is structured: anyone is free to start writing code, make better UI, and create something of their own. Even then they benefit from a huge amount of shared work, resources, and simple standards that are already out there.
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    1. Chris, your argument that the “Indieweb should stay with WordPress because that is where the users are,” is valid. I’d not really considered that but it makes sense. Also, I’m more confident that Known offers something close to what I suggested. That was not true when I wrote the orginal post. I ended up finding more detailed information on Known on the Indieweb wiki Known page, than I did on the Withknown site, which is odd if you think about it.

      I think we will just have to wait and see if WordPress 5.0 and later can remain a viable Indieweb platform. As you pointed out the team of volunteers dealing with the WordPress side are doing an impressive job despite the adversities so if anyone can pull it off they can. So with that, and some better knowledge about what’s going on with Known, *Pause* 🙂 I am somewhat reassured.

      1. Known started as a business focusing on the education market (following some of the founders’ and developers’ background in creating Elgg), so its primary website tends to swing heavily in that direction and less on the opensource part of what WithKnown is. While there are several participating in its opensource project side, the overall project seems to have slowed a bit since the education company side has essentially shut down this past year. Perhaps the community will pick up pace on development and also reconfigure the business’ old website to better reflect what the opensource project’s future goals and directions are? Like many, I love what the project represents, its simplicity, and the functionality it provides out of the box. Ben recently wrote an update on the project at https://groups.google.com/forum/?hl=en#!topic/known-dev/XCpVUkkp8m0 and there’s some good background and history in that Google Group that is sure to help you out.

  2. You make some interesting points. I think one of the things that has gotten us where we are is because often time when a community has a specific primary project as it’s focus, its creates a monoculture around that. (Read on [Principle: Plurality(https://indieweb.org/plurality) for more on that).
    That said, I think we have reached the point in growth with various projects including a commercial product in Micro.blog that it is time to develop 1 (or 2, for plurality sake) turn-key IndieWeb CMS solutions. I think by building and producing such projects now, it is unlikely that it will overtake the current plurality of options. This is also true because even the most simple one click install will never be as easy as Micro.blog, which means we will always have many options for the IndieWeb.

  3. @bradenslen In your important role as Blog Platform Explorer, it might be a good idea for you to look over the interesting work of a new user on Micro.blog called @ka. This stuff is over my head, but it won’t be for you. You probably know about this already, but just in case. . .

  4. @manton I think the original choice was valid when the Indieweb started out as a movement. But now I think the landscape has changed and different and a greater number of approaches are needed with Micro.blog in that mix and something self hosted, that just works, in that mix.

  5. It’s increasingly clear that WordPress (steered by Automattic) isn’t particularly interested in blogging anymore. I agree that a solid, open source, turnkey solution for IndieWeb compatible personal websites is important. I also think Eddie is right that having several would be even better.
    We have a great start in Known, which is what I use on my website, but we badly need more contributors. If you’re looking for a place to dive in and help solve this problem, I would highly encourage you to take a look at Known!

    1. I think we are in general agreement. I’m not quite ready for Known, I wouldn’t have a clue how to install or update the script. But I think you are right, Known seems to be the best candidate to eventually become the turnkey script. I wish them well.

  6. @bradenslen Hey, coding not required, by thee or me. We’ve got LOTS of people around here who can do that stuff. As a talented explorer, you have a clear idea of where you’d like to get and when you get there, maybe you’ll be able to help boost me up that last rocky path to the summit. And along the way, maybe we’re gonna have a fun ride, whether we reach the very top or not.

  7. @ka I scanned over your posts on github, which were much more interesting than anything you posted here. They included having an eye on interactions btwn the WP guy and FB, as well as an interest in documentation, which I believe is the biggest need here, if Micro.blog is to get much bigger.

    1. I think some people will like Gutenberg, others will just accept their fate and put up with it, but I’m not sold on it. I did not sign up for Wix. ClassicPress has their Invasion of the Body Snatchers migration plugin which will turn a WordPress instance into ClassicPress so that might be worth looking at.

    1. I agree, there is value in having a few proof of concept indiweb blog platforms. Trying to describe how webmentions, semantic thingies etc work is hard. We need something, or several somethings, they can just use and see for themselves how all the Indieweb magic works right out of the box.

  8. @bradenslen I recently added webmentions to my simply.micro blog which does use WordPress and it was easy. After researching how to implement webmentions for 2 other non-Wordpress blogs, I simply have to agree with you. Unless you’re using WordPress, the idea of implementing webmentions seems too challenging for most bloggers. (including static-site blogs). Just like anything else in tech, a little inter-operability needs to be present in webmentions. Of course, I’m using an old legacy version of Moveabletype on those other blogs so I’m not surprised that it’s not included on the list of plugins available at indieweb.org/Webmentio…

  9. @jenett What is easy for somebody with coding knowledge may well be incomprehencible to others. I think we often forget that. That and most bloggers just want to write and find a way to interact with others more. They don’t want to nursemaid their blog script, they want to write.

  10. @bradenslen Absolutely 100% important to remember!! I’ve been here since the Kickstarter and have seen tons of new features added. Manton kindly added the Archive feature to my blog. None of the other features have been implemented, because I have not taken the time to try to wrap my wits around all the suggestions. Yet I have actively participated in the community with my writing. I’d rather spend my time writing, rather than trying to figure out how to get the fancy stuff working. But if the platform is ever to expand beyond its very narrow focus of the technically agile folks in the Apple world, it will need to be very easy to use for the average person on the web . . . much easier than it is now.

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