TBL is fighting back against the silos. w00t! Good article. This is pretty neat.
It’s time to reset the balance of power on the web and reignite its true potential.
When Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the web, it was intended for everyone. The excitement and creativity of its early days were driven from the notion that we can all participate – and the impact was world-changing.
But the web has shifted from its original promise – and it’s time to make a change.
This could be one of the most significant startups – ever.
This week, Berners-Lee will launch, Inrupt, a startup that he has been building, in stealth mode, for the past nine months. Backed by Glasswing Ventures, its mission is to turbocharge a broader movement afoot, among developers around the world, to decentralize the web and take back power from the forces that have profited from centralizing it. In other words, it’s game on for Facebook, Google, Amazon.
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My random thought for the day. These can be dangerous. Hold my beer.
What would happen if you combined a standard web directory script with Indieweb.org features like webmentions and such? I think you could end up with a very powerful tool for a directory. I have not the slightest idea how one would actually do it.
Presuming that both parties have webmentions here is how I see it working:
- Editor adds a website to the directory. The directory (equipped like an Indieweb blog, send out a Mention to the page and/or root URL that was added.
- The owner of the URL that was added to the directory, may keep or discard that Mention but at least they now know that they are listed. They might want to go to the directory and “claim” that listing and edit it or not.
- For the directory there is a chance that the directory gains a link. It may well be a nofollow link in a facepile somewhere but as long as it is a clickable link back there is a gain for the directory.
Potential for Abuse
There are two kinds of directories 1. rare legitimate directories that are trying to be a navigation aid on the web, and 2. link popularity directories that are basically there to sell a link to websites for SEO purposes. A mention from the former should be welcome to any webmaster. And a directory that is trying to be a legit web navigation aid needs to attract searchers to use it. Win-win. On the later, I could see spam directories trying to abuse this. The moderating factor is unlike a decade ago, very few new directories of any type are being started these days.
The web has changed in 20 years. Webmasters no longer run out and submit their sites to directories, they are used to social media and the search engines just find them eventually. So a very high percentage of listings in a new directory are going to have to be added by an Editor rather than by a submission to the Add URL form. Because of this it is even more important for the directory to let webmasters that have not submitted to the directory know they have been listed. It’s a point of contact.
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My response to Nick Montfort’s recent article asserting that the era of the open web as the main platform for digital writing has forever passed.
The cool part of the web is that you can carve out your own little chunk of it. We can build whatever web we want.
This blog is just a couple of months old and same for the domain. I was looking at my Comments admin panel and I have just over 200 approved “comments” this includes both written comments and mentions which appear on site as “facepiles”. I’m thinking only about 3 or 4 of those comments were from the traditional comment forms at the bottom of each post. The rest come from Indieweb style webmentions from other Indieweb blogs, Micro.blog, Twitter and G+.
I’m not telling you this to brag. This is still just a insignificant, dumpy, tiny, newish blog. But I have blogged before, and while I have had participation, I have never had this level of good, thoughtful, helpful engagement. It just does not happen on a new blog by a nobody. Ever.
200. On. a. new. blog. Unbelievable.
Part of this is I stumbled upon the Indieweb which we bloggers never had before and they responded. Part is due to the great Micro.blog community.
I can also tell you this much: people do click on those links I left commenting on other peoples blogs and equally people are clicking on the links other people leave on this blog.
Yup, these Indieweb folks are definitely on to something.Also on:
#search engines #social networks #silos #indieweb
I hear a lot of people wanting the social network silos (mainly Facebook and Twitter) to go away. I too want them to go. Eventually. But before they do, I want to examine some things in this little essay.
Some Good Things that the Silos Did
Search: Facebook and Twitter punched a hole in the Google search monopoly. Before these social networks, Google and Google alone dictated what you would find on the Web. And you did the finding through Google. With, first Twitter and later Facebook, suddenly you didn’t need Google to find stuff on the Web. Suddenly a little obscure website could become famous without or in spite of Google. If you really sit down and think about it, that is no small thing.
Moreover, that hole in Google (plus Google’s bad record on privacy) gave smaller search engines just enough breathing room to try and become established (ie. Duckduckgo, Qwant, Mojeek.)
Web Advertising: Again, before Facebook and Twitter, Google had a lock on both search advertising and display advertising. Facebook in particular opened that up. Suddenly, sellers had an alternative place for ad campaigns besides something owned by Google. If you are not selling stuff this means nothing to you, but if you are in business, large or small, it means a lot.
Traffic: Posting on Facebook and Twitter can drive a lot of traffic to your website or blog. Syndication (crossposting) is just another way of posting. I’m convinced that a whole new generation has grown up that really does not remember the times before Facebook, Twitter and the other social network silos. I can see it by their actions and inactions. They don’t know how to get traffic besides syndicating to Facebook and Twitter. What happens if those two cut off syndication? What happens if everybody leaves FB and Twitter so nobody reads your posts?
See, right now as a blogger, I don’t really need Google traffic. I have Indieweb webmentions, Twitter and other social networks for traffic. But if Twitter goes down or walls itself off, it is going to be lean pickings for visitors.
My biggest fear, is that if Facebook and Twitter suddenly crumble, we will go right back to having Google control everything. By that I mean Google will control both traffic and discovery on the Web.
Yes it won’t be quite as all pervasive as it was before, at least as long as Bing sticks around and does not jump the shark. Indieweb stuff is good but still a tiny niche (heck blogs are a small niche). Smart things are being worked on, experimented with, new kinds of automated directories, new innovative webrings, – all discovery tools but they are not ready yet, that and nobody among the public know how to use them. Things like RSS, which is a good source of repeat traffic, are experiencing a revival, but again this is just a small segment. Given time I think RSS will be big but it ain’t there yet.
Google is a silo too. And I can tell you Google is part of what sucked all the fun out of Web 1.0. Facebook and Twitter were not even around. It was Google. And living under Google dominance is no fun. Right now the Facebooks and the Twitters are still around so word can spread without Google. It’s a rare opportunity but you better hurry.
Seriously, if FB and Twitter unravel quickly, how do we counter the Google silo? Ideas?
Indiepaper is a read-later service built for the open web. Save your articles, and …
This is a great how to guide. I use Indiepaper myself and highly recommend it. I’m replacing Pocket with it.
In reply to: Blogs in the Wild
I think the Indieweb is aware of the search problem but they have been focused on getting the essentials for individual blogs and stuff you can do with it up and running first. I’m excited about their outreach to students and educators because I see students and academics seeing the utility for them straight off.
I don’t see mass adoption happening until WordPress builds it into WordPress.com, then lookout world!
But that’s okay. I think what you and I are doing will go like this:
We hunt for homegrown blogs, sites, wikis and such just as we are right now.
We build directories, webrings and syndication services that map out this world.
The thing becomes a self-sustaining flotilla of: a) Talking, pitching in with each other’s projects. b) Experimenting with the format—I like to think that we’re developing an alternate timeline, as if blogs had replaced Friendster/Myspace rather than these other derivative networks. c) And customizing these directories and projects for subcommunities.
Those social network silos did a couple of good things even if they are going sour now. 1. They broke Google’s stranglehold on the web and getting found, 2. They offered an alternative advertising choice besides Adsense and Adwords. This is something even Microsoft/Bing and Yahoo before it could not do. They proved to the rest of Silicon Valley it could be done and Google was not invincible. So I’m not anxious for the social silos to crumble too fast, I also get a fair amount of traffic from them.
(And that maybe part of the lack of wider uptake of our directory, webring, blogroll strategy, everyone is getting some traffic now by syndicating to the silos so they don’t see a problem.)
Anyway, I’m not willing to go back to Google being the sole Gate Keeper of the Web. I’ll fight that, no matter how puny my efforts might be. There is a story behind this: you have never been carpet bombed until Google has carpet bombed you. I’ve been collateral damage in that. It was things like webrings, directory listings, and a huge network of hyperlinks from little websites that kept my directory on life support until I could rebuild elsewhere. That’s kinda why I started reminiscing about them when the topic came up. No I’ll never go back to Google controlling the web. I’ll never take traffic for granted again. Part of the reason I’ve been posting so much is to try and build a reader base before syndication gets shut off.
So yeah, you and I are experimenting with versions of these guerrilla search tools. We will see if there is any life left in them.
I can roll out a directory ready for submissions in a few weeks if I have to. All the old directory scripts are a little long in the tooth but I already know the one I would use and how I would use it. I can roll out webring hosting too since I found that Ringlink perl script. Or you can or we both can. Again, if need be.
Public uptake is the key, uptake by bloggers and webmasters. If they are not willing to list themselves, if the public is not willing to to use these to browse, then we have little chance.
Marketing plays in here. I just put up a little advertising banner for the blog directory. Early signs are it has more visitors checking it out. We’ll see if that’s a temporary blip or a trend.
Anyway it’s fun.
I just installed the new Aperture WordPress plugin. I’m not real clear on what it does but it gives me access to Aperture and Microsub and, maybe, Monocle so it’s going in the direction towards an Internet home, which is good.
I’ve been kinda waiting for this, but also stalling a little to see how thing go. This brings me closer and makes the process easier which is great.
See also: Indieweb.org
Is WordPress.com quietly building a blog based social network with Reader?
I have no inside information, but the answer is, They are half way or more there.
If I were a good (slick) blogger I would fill this post up with neat screenshots of Reader pages that illustrate each of my key points. You could then squint at these unreadable pics to your hearts content. Instead, just go to WordPress.com and register. You can see Reader for yourself.
WP Reader is an aggregater of all the blogs hosted on WordPress.com PLUS remotely hosted installs of WordPress that use Jetpack. Everytime you login to WordPress.com the first thing you see is the Reader. The Reader is also on all the WP mobile apps. You can search for posts and blogs by keywords and subscribe to (follow) any blog in the index. The Reader can also serve up the newest posts on the system whether you have subscribed or not.
- The Reader is fast and attractive, well laid out and easy to use. It’s like a timeline.
- It is everywhere and has a huge user base.
- It can send you notifications if you want.
- You can “Like” a post from Reader.
- I think you can even comment on a post from Reader if the owner of the blog has comments turned on.
- Reader is a very powerful discovery tool.
- Reader is a powerful traffic tool. Not just one time traffic but repeat traffic. It is so easy to subscribe to a blog you will find yourself with followers soon after making a few posts.
- You can see who follows you in Reader. They have a profile page.
Is all of this starting to sound like the foundations of a social network? Admittedly it is a closed one, a silo open only to WP users.
But what happens if they give you the ability to add RSS feeds from any blog hosted anywhere?
What would happen if they adopt Indieweb webmentions from the Reader and all WP blogs? So you could comment on another blog from your blog but all in Reader. And get replies. These types of Indieweb feed reader (see webmention link above) are already available, so it would be just a matter of WP coding these capabilities into Reader. Don’t ask me how, I’m not a coder.
With just a few more features a de facto social network would emerge. I don’t know if it would succeed. I don’t know if it would be a good fun community or be filled with trolls.
If I were WP, I would be at least thinking about it in my off time.
Micro.blog is also a blog based social network and seeing how well it’s features work tells me you can have a successful community built around blogs.
All this is just speculation. A social network may be the furthest thing on WP’s mind. All I am pointing out is that the foundations are there at least by accident.
The inspiration for this post came from Greg McVerry. He very astutely asked the same question in Indieweb chat room a week or so ago. But, other pressing matters were being discussed so no more was said. But Greg’s observation got me thinking so I thought I would start a discussion.
Could it be done? Do you think they are doing it?