As I got to the sidewalk a black limo glided up and a couple of educator types got out, armed with rulers, grabbed me by the arms and hustled me to the back of the car.  “McVerry, wants to show you something,” said one, with a pencil stored over her ear while the other one shoved a hood over my head. “The hood is for your own protection so you can’t reveal our destination to any of them later.

All I can say, is we ended up at one of Greg McVerry‘s many super secret bases, heavily guarded by librarians and dusty library cats. I was in the Area 51 of Greg’s cyberworld getting a behind the scenes look at a secret Known install.

And you know, Known is really nice.  The script is really cool and easy to use.  Understandably, I only got to see it from a posters POV and not an admin’s but what I saw was slick and clean UI.  And it does Indieweb right out of the box – also cool.  I understand there are plugins to add more features to Known but I didn’t get a chance to see those.  I like the wizard sort of feature that prompts you to add all your social networks and other websites upon signup – that takes care of your h-card at the same time, I assume.

Some things Known is missing:

  1. Templates: I always like a sidebar and as far as I can tell Known does not have this.
  2. Import: I’m told there is no Import feature currently.  That makes it hard to migrate in from an existing WP blog.  There is an Export function, which is good.
  3. No automatic updates: I suspect this will come after Known hits 1.0 release but I’m just guessing.

But despite that, Known is a pretty polished script for a project that is not even at 1.0 release.  It’s simple to use and attractive.  I think if you are starting a new blog, Known is a good place to start if you can sort the installation and update hurdles.

 

Many thanks to Greg McVerry for the tour.

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Publish blog posts, photos and media to your own site, and syndicate it to your social networks. Keep everything on your own site.

Source: Known: social publishing for groups and individuals

I’m looking at Known this morning.  The website has that Silicon Valley – Apple vibe to it – lots of short sentences – completely lacking in key details. How many templates? Any screen shots of templates? Buried: yes they do have comments but no word on what kind of spam protection or what moderation looks like. Also buried: you can get a free Known site on a subdomain or managed hosting on a Pro plan – except no pricing anywhere for the Pro plan.  That tells me they are not serious about that service.

What I like about Known is the core support for Indieweb stuff.  The rest of the blogging features look a bit light weight, as far as I can tell from the scant details on the site.

But still we come back to the Indieweb stuff.

It begs the question, How important are the Indieweb features to me?  I think they are very important.  But I have to weigh that vs. blog script features that I have to directly use, hands on, all day long.  Indieweb sort of lurks in the background and you don’t notice it until another Indieweb user comments or mentions your post. Indieweb can get you discovered and engaged in conversations but it does not write the posts.  The actual features of the blog or CMS script outweigh having Indieweb goodness.  It would be nice to have both out of the box but I don’t think that is possible.

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I have several blogs: 1 x Micro.blog hosted blog plus 2 x WordPress blogs.  After the Holidays, I’ll probably migrate my main WP blog (you are here) to some other blogging platform.  No matter what I do I will lose my Indieweb features on that blog.  But that said, I forsee it becoming increasingly hard for the Indieweb moveement to continue to support WordPress in the coming months and years.

So here are some options I’m considering:

  1. Blot.im – this is kinda cool.  I like that you have a backup of each post on your harddrive plus on Dropbox plus on Blot’s servers.  I like that it is compatible with txt files and Markdown plus HTML. My problem is I currently have 2 laptops in rotation and my Blot post files would be scattered between the two harddrives.
  2. ClassicPress – I know I’m going to use this in the future that I wanted to build with WP.  They have a plugin that should convert most WP 5.0 sites to ClassicPress.
  3. TikiWiki  – the admin panel stretches beyond the horizon.  It’s a full blog, wiki, discussion forum, article poster, static html page creator, FAQ generator, web directory, newletter engine and more stuff I can’t remember.  You just turn the features you are going to use on as needed.  Not for beginners.
  4. Micro.blog – I already have one here.  I use it mainly for quick Tweet-like posts. Frankly it’s under utilized.  I think that will change if I move to any of the three platforms above.  The main problem, for me, with Micro.blog is that anyone that wants to comment must do so on Micro.blog which means that a friend from university following me on an RSS reader (it could happen) can’t really comment on a post or participate in a conversation.  MB might get those capabilities someday just not for now.  I’ve been wracking my brain trying to figure out how to overcome this but I’m not coming up with any answers.  I do know that if I move to TikiWiki or Blot I will use my existing Micro.blog hosted blog more.

Right now TikiWiki looks the best.  It’s got nearly everything and then some.  It updates to a new major release every 8 months so it is well supported and not a beta.  I can syndicate out to Twitter and Mastodon via my Micro.blog account.  I’ll have to give up Indieweb magic until I can figure out how to add bits of that to it. It has comments protected with Akismet.  Still thinking.

I’m just posting this to give people a snapshot of my current thinking.  This could all change tomorrow. But if you are stuck on WordPress you might want to explore these as options for yourself.

 

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To recap, Gutenberg Phase 2 will: Be outside of post_content. Focus on customization. Upgrading themes, widgets, & menus. Early version of phase 2 will be in the Gutenberg plugin. Be sure to reactivate it! Last updated: December 9th, 2018

Source: Gutenberg Phase 2 Plan Revealed – Gutenberg WordPress Editor

This is the other shoe dropping.  The next phase of Gutenberg for WordPress will need new themes.  Unfortunately this is going to effect the Indieweb in even more ways.  Will it make Indieweb themes obsolete?

Gutenberg: All your bases are belong to us!

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Thinking out loud:

  1. The more I learn about it the less it sounds like I would be able to live with Gutenberg.
  2. Sure I have 3 years before Classic Editor plugin is discontinued, but …
  3. I have 475 posts today on this blog in about 9 month posting.  The longer I wait to move the more I have to move, which can get problematic.
  4. If I move I’ll probably lose Indieweb capability. But are the Gutenberg changes going to allow Indieweb to continue to support WP?  Lose – Lose.
  5. My brain hurts.
  6. Automatic red line spell check has quit working on both WordPress sites.  WTF?

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I am scrolling through history (h/t to Kevin Marks for reminding of the ccurated posts by danah boyd) as we discuss how best to follow

Source: Following People or Feeds in the #IndieWeb #mb #DoOO #edtechchat #literacies

This reminds me: I still need to sort and tidy the feeds in my feed reader.  I’m using Chris Aldrich’s OPML feed file which is a firehose.

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In sort: there ain’t shit out there.

 

Like: Brad Enslen Micro Blog – If Gutenberg Breaks my Blog Where to Move?

I found a third option:  Known.  Known seems to have Indieweb webmention support built in.  Like Micro.blog and Tikiwiki there are some catches: it’s not listed in any hosting panel for auto install, it’s not even at version 1.0 so technically it’s a Beta, very limited eco system, development seemed stalled for awhile but I hear it has restarted.

Micro.blog. Moving my WordPress site from ramblinggit.com to MB would still give me partial Indieweb functions, excellent support, constant development and a great posting interface.  The downsides, strictly for me, no comments or incoming webmentions, no categories or tags, third party site search only.  On other things I I have plugins for on WP I could probably find a work around on MB using pages. I think all these things will be addressed in time but, right now it’s just not ready to take on the job of a web presence.

TikiWiki.  Frankly, if I was starting out now I would be really tempted to use TikiWiki.  It has everything, not as a plugin, the stuff is already there: Blog, wiki, forums, directory, articles, newsletter and more are all part of the core script.  The only downsides are: zero Indieweb elven goodness, I couldn’t find any cross posting capability.  Work arounds: Bridgy might provide some Indieweb goodness and I know can syndicate using Micro.blog.  No Indieweb is a big downside but surprisingly it’s not a deal killer for me.

I have a couple of years to make a decision.  I’m thinking some more blog scripts will start being developed in response to Gutenberg so it’s wait and see.  In the mean time I’ll keep a weather eye on these three.

 

 

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Twitter Defector Earlier this week, Glenn Reynolds, known online as Instapundit, published an op-ed in USA Today about why he recently quit Twitter. He didn’t …

Like: On Blogs in the Social Media Age – Study Hacks – Cal Newport

This fits in well with my earlier post.

H/T: John Philpin

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This is Part 3 of a series.  Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.

In Part 1, I mentioned RSS feed readers and linked to resources to help you find one.  In Part 2 I talked about blog platforms.  Now we put together a simple social network.

Feed Readers

RSS Feed Readers:  These are the backbone of  your new web social network.  Blogs create RSS feeds. WordPress creates RSS feeds for both Posts and Comments.  When you subscribe to a RSS feed with your feed reader you will start getting updates for new posts (or comments) on subscribed feeds.  You can read the original post and you can read comments if you want.  You can go to the original post on your own and comment.  In short you have a conversation going just like Facebook.

It may seem cumbersome at first but you will quickly figure out shortcuts like letting your browser remember your name and email address.

The RSS Feed Reader lets you customize your timeline in ways Facebook and Twitter would never let you do.  You have control of your timeline – and you set the priorities.

If you are leaving Facebook or Twitter, get your friends to sign up for or download a good feed reader and subscribe to your feed and the feeds of others in your group of friends who might also be establishing their own blogs.

Steps

  1. Get your own feed reader.
  2. Get your friends to get a feed reader.
  3. Subscribe to each others’ feeds.
  4. Read and comment freely.
  5. As you discover other blogs you like outside of your circle, subscribe, read and comment freely.

WordPress Reader:  WordPress.com has it’s own feed reader called, wait for it, WordPress Reader!  It’s a very attractive feed reader that automatically comes with every WordPress.com account whether you establish a blog or not.  This is a very user friendly feed reader and blog discovery/recommendation engine and worth exploring as a feed reader option.

Crossposting

Crossposting:  I also recommend you crosspost to at least Twitter.  Twitter can act as a feed reader for those friends that for whatever reason can’t make the transition to using a feed reader.  And they can comment there too.  Twitter also lets new people discover you and your writing.  Your original posts remain on your blog so you still control your archives.

It does not hurt to crosspost to as many social networks as is appropriate.

Having Multiple Blogs?

You can have multiple blogs.  You may have a dormant specialized blog that you want to revive, plus start a generalist, personal, everything blog.  I would find having one single topic blog too limiting.

If you are new to this I strongly recommend starting with a generalist blog and write about whatever is on your mind.

Me? I have 3 blogs:

  1. Micro blog on Micro.blog.  I use this for short posts to both the Micro.blog and Twitter social networks because it’s so slick and fast.
  2. My Web Presence (you are here) on self hosted WordPress.
  3. A specialized self hosted WP blog.

Remember, networks and networking, are human creations for humans.  If you engage your readers and more importantly engage yourself, that is all that matters.  I think blogging is a less toxic environment to do that from.

 

 

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This is Part 2 in a series.  Part 1 is here.

In Part 1 I made the case that Facebook and Twitter had become toxic places and I suggest that blogging, micro blogging and long form blogging (either or both) on your own blog was a better choice

Here in Part 2 I’m going to recommend 3 blogging platforms as good places to get started.  I’m also going to make the case for going to the added expense of buying your own domain.  You can investigate each.

Three Best Blogging Platforms

  1. Micro.blog – $5 per month, charged monthly, gets you a micro + long form + photo blog. Bring your own domain and you can use it, although it is not required.  No ads. No tracking. No selling your private information to third parties. Micro.blog has it’s own social network.  You also have the option to cross post to Twitter, Medium, Linkedin, Tumblr, Mastodon. Inclusive.  Every time you start a new post to the social network a new blog entry is automatically made.  It’s very easy to move your content to or from Micro.blog to WordPress, especially if you have your own domain.  This means you are not locked in. Example: Manton.org is a blog on Micro.blog
  2. WordPress.com – Free with ads on a subdomain (ie. MYBLOGNAME.wordpress.com) $4 per month, charged annually, to use your own domain (ie. myblogname.com) and get rid of ads. WordPress.com gives you a lot for both free and paid versions.  You can set it up to cross post to Twitter, Linkdin, Tumblr, Facebook (post to FB Page only), G+ (being discontinued by Google).  WordPress was designed for long form blog posts.  You can micro blog and photo blog from it but posting updates is not quite as fast and easy as Micro.blog.
  3. Self Hosted WordPress – This requires more experience of an intermediate level.  You must have your own domain.  What I recommend is you get your own “C-Panel” type hosting account, which will give you a easy setup wizard to install your own instance of WordPress blogging script. Self hosting gives you the most control.  If you like to arrange things “just so” self hosting gives you thousands of plugins which can add capabilities to your blog.  Self hosting WordPress costs only a little more than Micro.blog or WordPress.com but it is a bit more to learn. Ramblinggit.com is a self hosted blog.

Why These 3?

There are dozens of blog platforms but the reason I chose these three is that you can move your content easily between the 3, especially if you use your own domain. One big reason to post from your own blog is keeping control of your own content.

Micro.blog

If you are coming from Twitter or Instagram Micro.blog will feel comfortable.  MB is very good with Tweet-sized posts and posting photos.  You can do long form posts too.  There are many iOS apps for MB.  Android, Windows 10 and Linux users will need to use the web browser to access and post which works quite well.  If you just want to write, short or long form, and hate being bothered with the blogging platform itself Micro.blog is a good choice.  MB only charges your credit card monthly so there is no lock-in.  If you don’t like it you can move to a WordPress option.

WordPress.com

If you are coming from Facebook and most often write longer posts then you should consider WordPress.com on your own domain as a place to start.  You have to pay a year in advance so there is lock-in, but you can use that year to blog, grow your readership and learn how to use basic WordPress. At the end of that year you can decide to stay or move to either Micro.blog or self hosted WordPress.

About 25% of websites are using some form of WordPress.

Self Hosted WordPress

Learning wise it’s not a huge transition to self hosted WP.  There are more steps but it is far more capable.  This is something to graduate to from WordPress.com or if you already have past experience with other self hosted blogging platforms. A lot of people had blogs 10 or 15 years ago and gave them up for Facebook and Twitter.

Using Your Own Domain

Two reasons to use your own domain:

  • You establish your own address or home if you will, on the Internet.  You own the domain it is like a permanent address that stays the same no matter what host you are on.
  • Your hyperlinks will not change. So if somebody has bookmarked one of your posts or linked to it on their own site the link will not be broken even if you move.

You register your own domain through a registrar like Godaddy or Hover.  Buying a domain is a good first step before shopping for a hosting platform.  I like to keep domain registration always separate from my hosting.

Don’t feel limited to getting a *.com domain.  In the old days individuals often used *.org to represent a personal blog because it was less commercial sounding.  *.info, *.blog, *.name, *.me and a host of others can also be used.

I may do followup posts giving more detail on each option but this will get you started investigating each one.  If you have questions feel free to post them in the comments below. I will answer.

Part 3: Creating the Blog Network continues the series.

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