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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:

  1. We hunt for homegrown blogs, sites, wikis and such just as we are right now.

  2. We build directories, webrings and syndication services that map out this world.

  3. 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.

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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

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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.

Aside

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.

/Aside

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.

  1. The Reader is fast and attractive, well laid out and easy to use. It’s like a timeline.
  2. It is everywhere and has a huge user base.
  3. It can send you notifications if you want.
  4. You can “Like” a post from Reader.
  5. I think you can even comment on a post from Reader if the owner of the blog has comments turned on.
  6. Reader is a very powerful discovery tool.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

What if’s…

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?

 

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In reply to: The Awesome Directories.

Kicks,

I think I have an answer to your linkrot concern. Not for Awesome but a hypothetical directory – “someday”.

The idea really isn’t mine, I got it thinking about the Microcast.club directory, which is really a new Indie style webring that also has a List of Sites page aka a flat directory page.  When you join you get a webring code to place on your site, plus listing in the directory.  Cool.

Linkrot.

On some hypothetical future niche directory it’s that webring code that prevents the linkrot.  As long as the webring/directories robot keeps finding that validation code you stay in the directory, no code and eventually you will be dropped. Not perfect but it automates the process a bit.

It wouldn’t have to be a webring code, it could just be a validation code, I suppose.  I like the idea of indiestyle webring/directory combined.  My worry would be scale on the ring.  Old style webrings had a sweet spot of 50-200 sites.  Over 200 and they become difficult to manage and it was found that bigger destination sites in the ring siphoned off too much ring traffic and gave very little back.

Still adding that directory page was a good evolutionary move for indie-style rings.

Massaging this idea a bit:  one could let ring members self define subject categories when they join very much like you did on Indieweb.xyz (tags sorta) which would help when it gets larger.

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/en/linking.

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It just occurred to me that there is a common thread in both New Urbanism and the Indieweb.  Both find that they dislike much of what their environments have become.  Both seek to bring back the things that worked in the past, but update them to present realities.

New Urbanism, is dislikes much of the automobile scale commercial, residential sprawl development done since the end of World War II.  Neighborhoods, commercial districts should be on a human, walkable, scale.  They seek to encourage community, face-to-face human interaction and neighborliness by adapting the best of pre-automobile city design while still accommodating cars.

The Indieweb, feels the old Web was fun, entertaining, informative and educational. They dislike the over-commercialization of the Web wherein everything is simply a platform to sell you something.  They also don’t like the social network silos, controlled by corporate masters, that corral most of the conversation.  Therefore, they seek to go back to a time in the Web’s past when, “the Web was the social network” not the silos of Facebook and Twitter.  Again, they don’t want to completely turn back the clock, but they do want to selectively bring back the good aspects of the Web’s past but brought up to date with modern scripts, coding and techniques that make it all possible now.

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Wow, that was some rabbit hole I went down last night.

Background:  About a week or so ago I tried to join the Indie Web Ring.  But I just got error messages.  Nothing explaining why my site caused errors, just the error message.  This caused some frustration on my part since I had nearly the entire suite of Indieweb plugins installed, I was sending and receiving webmentions, was it WordPress, plugins, SemPress or something on the web ring’s end?  (Thanks here to Greg McVerry for offering to help diagnose problem.)

I decided to procrastinate.  In the meantime I found a validator and was getting mixed signals: my webmentions were good but maybe problems with identity but no solid diagnosis.

Then the IndieAuthor plugin updated several times and I suspected that maybe my identity problems might get better.  Worth a try.

Now: So last night I tried to join the Indie Web Ring again.  It worked!  I was informed I was in, given a code.  Plus I got cool emoji identifiers:  I had to squint but I was pretty sure it was a castle and a – something.  I finally figured out I could highlight emoji, rightclick, search and Duckduckgo told me what they were: a castle (yes!) and an 8 pointed asterisk (cool, not a snowflake).

Right. Now to paste said code into a widget.  WARNING: Either WordPress or SemPress theme, really, really, does not like emoji.  I locked up that widget tighter than a drum.  I couldn’t even delete the emoji laden ring code.  Bad Things were happening.  I deleted the widget.

Found alternative code using hexadecimal equivalents for WordPress.  Decided to stay away from widgets.  Found header/footer plugin. Install on WP.  Hex code, does not crash. Won’t validate on webring site because I have to customize it to identify my site.  Search for hexadecimal code for castle and 8 pointed asterisk (not snowflake). There are forty bazillion emoji. Can find Unicode but no Hex.  Find Unicode to Hex converter. No clue how to use it.  Help for the converter sends me to Github.  Sigh.  Not sure of syntax to put two emoji Hex codes together even if I had found them.

Now I have a choice: I’m in a footer NOT a goddamn widget, do I try the original emoji laden ring code, that crashed the widget, in the footer and risk locking up the entire WP install if WP does not like it or do something else?  Computer starts pinging: battery critical.  “Pull up! Pull up.”  That’s it, it A Sign.  There’s a time to attack and a time to retreat.  Beaten by WordPress it was time to retreat and rebuild.  The whole blog is not worth risking for a webring.

Affair over, torn apart by mutual incompatibility.  But I’ll always remember, last night, the neat castle and the eight pointed asterisk (not snowflake.)

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Bookmarked: Foundations of a Tiny Directory

Two things hit me straight off: 1. I love the analogy of comparing a tiny directory to a Tiny Library.  It works.  2. tiny little curated directories on blogs are a way, if done right, of taking back the Web. Search engines are an essential tool, but we must keep in mind that when using a search engine we are helicoptering in to links on a topic.  A tiny directory is more personal, like Word of Mouth recommendation.

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