Stephen Downes

Knowledge, Learning, Community


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Replied to Beyond Facebook Logic: Help us map alternative social media!, Chris Aldrich, Nov 24, 2020

This is a contribution to an ongoing (and worthwhile) effort toward digital public infrastructure. "The primary purpose of the IndieWeb space is to directly increase the ownership and control users have over their web identities and data," writes Chris Aldrich. "Since each site or sub-platform on the network may offer completely different or competing slate of functionalities, the range of affordances are seemingly limitless." [Direct Link]

Using Chrome as a Local Web Server, Justin Mathews, Medium, Jan 17, 2020

I'm setting up a new machine in the office, which includes installing browsers (Firefox, Chrome, Edge, etc). Normally when I install Chrome, I get the browser and that's it. But this time, for whatever reason, I also got the 'Web Server for Chrome'. You can also get it on the Chrome web store. First of all, it just works. Click on the icon, select a starting directory, enter into your browser, and view your files. It can also act as a network web server... [Direct Link]

Some recent work in the feed reader and discovery space, Chris Aldrich, Nov 22, 2019

Chris Aldrich writes, "I’ve noticed a lot of quiet, but very interesting and heartening feed reader and discovery work going on in the IndieWeb and related communities lately, so I thought I’d highlight it briefly." In this post he lists a number of nascent resources, including Inoreader, which will make following social feeds a lot easier, the FraidyCat reader, and continuing work on Microsub readers, among other things. Image: Indieweb. [Direct Link]

Untangling the IndieWeb, David Yates, dy, Jul 01, 2019

This is what I would take to be a first effort to explain the IndieWeb in a way that is accessible to people who are not programmers (something it has sorely lacked to date). " IndieWeb is about using the World Wide Web itself as a social network, through a set of open standards for communication and identification of content and people. These things can be used instead of modern social networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc…) or in a way that incorporates these networks as a ... [Direct Link]

Bridging the Indieweb and the Fediverse with Bridgy Fed, Neil Mather, DoubleLoop, May 08, 2019

This is a two-part article (part 1, part 2). The 'indieweb' is a collection of individually-owned and independent web sites (as opposed to pages on centrally managed services such as Facebook). The fediverse is a collection of social networking sites like Mastodon that support multiple user accounts,  operate independently but are connected to each other (constituting a 'federation'). They are similar in origin and intent, but use different underlying protocols (... [Direct Link]

Nothing Fails Like Success, Jeffrey Zeldman, A List Apart, Apr 17, 2019

I think this article does a good job of laying out the problem even if it only hints at possible solutions. Here's a clip: " Buying something you can’t afford, and borrowing from organizations that don’t have your (or your customers’) best interest at heart, is the business plan of most internet startups. It’s why our digital services and social networks in 2019 are a garbage fire." Quite so. But if the VC model isn't working, what will? Self-payment?&... [Direct Link]

Micropub Rocks, Chris Aldrich, Google Slides, Apr 07, 2019

This is a slide presentation describing (and promoting) the micropub specification. Micropub "is an open API standard (W3C Recommendation) for creating, editing, and deleting posts on websites and is supported by numerous third-party clients and CMSs." The idea is that you pick one application and then post anywhere. It's a great idea that needs to become a bit more intuitive in order to work. But I definitely endorse the principle. Good slides (lobve the front page) with lots ... [Direct Link]

Can Education Keep Up with Technology?, Wayne Skipper, EDUCAUSE Review, EDUCAUSE Review, Sept 28, 2018

My first thought on reading the question was, "probably not," but of course in a certain sense everything both does and does not 'keep up' with technology. Anyhow, what we have here is a good article with a lot of links covering some of the more important recent trends in technology: machine-readable learning, common building blocks, machine teaching, self-driving organizations, and change. But even as I look at this list, in contrast to some of the forward-looking ... [Direct Link]

Aperture, Aaron Parecki, Sept 28, 2018

Think of it as like a reader for microcontent. " Aperture is a Microsub server. Microsub is a spec that provides a standardized way for reader apps to interact with feeds. By splitting feed parsing and displaying posts into separate parts, a reader app can focus on presenting posts to the user instead of also having to parse feeds. A Microsub server manages the list of people you're following and collects their posts, and a Micropub app shows the posts to the user by fetching them ... [Direct Link]

Quill, Aaron Parecki, Sept 28, 2018

Here's the gist: "Quill is a simple app for posting text notes to your website. To use Quill, sign in with your domain. Your website will need to support Micropub for creating new posts." Signing in with your domain requires IndieAuth. [Direct Link]

Where Will the Current State of Blogging and Social Media Take Us? , Jacky Alciné,, Sept 25, 2018

This post wanders a bit and never really gets around to making its main point, but the core message is that it's better to own your own online presence (and, therefore, your own stuff) than it is to be forced to rely on content silos like Twitter and Instagram. I'm less about centralizing all your stuff in one single place (except, of course, in your offline backup storage, which you absolutely must have) and more about having your own node in a web of interconnected services. For ... [Direct Link]

Bridgy Fed, Bridgy, Sept 11, 2018

I haven't been able to work with this product but it has opened up some new doors to look into. "Bridgy Fed lets you interact with federated social networks like Mastodon and Hubzilla from your IndieWeb site. It translates replies, likes, and reposts from webmentions to federated social networking protocols like ActivityPub and OStatus, and vice versa." I hadn't considered integration with ActivityPub and OStatus, but it makes sense. More when I learn more. [Direct Link]

Post Kinds, in depth, Paul Jacobson, Sept 11, 2018

This post is mostly a test of the WebMention functionality I've just built into gRSShopper. WebMention is a W3 standard whereby if you mention someone's link in your post, that that person's site supports WebMention, then you can ping them and let them know they've been cited. If you cite this post and your application supports WebMention, then I'll receive the ping and automatically place a link to your post on this post (it's wide open for now, but eventually I'... [Direct Link]

Building an IndieWeb Reader, Aaron Parecki, Aug 14, 2018

There's a lot to like in this description (I haven't tried out the actual product) of a reader that in many ways resembles what I'm trying to do with gRSShopper. This is a hard project: "there are a whole bunch of different parts to building a reader, many of which have no overlap in skillset: managing the subscription list, polling and fetching feeds, parsing feeds, data storage, rendering posts in a UI, providing inline action buttons to be able to reply and favorite posts... [Direct Link]

Weekend Reading – Rediscovering Blogging Edition, Lee Skallerup Bessette, Chronicle of Higher Education, Aug 10, 2018

This short article summarizes four posts from other writers describing how social media (and Facebook in particular) has failed to replicate the idea of the feed as "sustenance" that "nourished critical minds." Here they are: Dan Cohen on going Back to The Blog and Going Indie on Social Media Mark Sample with Facebook Killed the Feed Kathleen Fitzpatrick with Connections along with Feeds and Gardens Chris Aldrich responding to Kathleen And Mike Caulfield's 2015 ... [Direct Link]

An IndieWeb Magazine on Flipboard, Chris Aldrich, Jul 24, 2018

I don't think much of FlipBoard because, as Chris Aldrich  says, it's just another silo. I nonetheless think it's a good idea to make indieweb more accessible to people, which this initiative does. I was also interested in the discussion of how to contribute to the IndieWeb Magazine on Flipboard, which you can do with its Social Networks Auto Poster (SNAP) system. It's not trivial, as it involves setting up a FlipBoard app in your WorkPress or Twitter or LinkedIn (or ... [Direct Link]

Webmention, IndieWebCamp, Jul 22, 2018

I've noticed an uptick in the buzz on webmentions recently. According to the W3C page, a Webmention is "a simple way to notify any URL when you mention it on your site. From the receiver's perspective, it's a way to request notifications when other sites mention it." But from the Indieweb perspective, it "is a web standard for mentions and conversations across the web, a powerful building block that is used for a growing federated network of comments, likes, reposts... [Direct Link]

Defining the IndieWeb, Aaron Davis, Read Write Collect, Jun 16, 2018

I consider myself very firmly in the camp of the indieweb. But I wouldn't exactly say that I'm part of the indieweb community. And definitely not a citizen. So I don't define indieweb as a community. It see it more as an attitude and a loose set of values a number of people have in common (I won't say 'shared values' because that implies some sort of order). I see digital literacties as important. And some of these other things as important - owning your own data... [Direct Link]

Drafting #IndieWeb Principles for the Rest of Us, Greg McVerry, IntertextRevolution, Jun 01, 2018

The author of this post correctly points out that the original indieweb principles were too technical for most people. He thus drafts a second set of indieweb principles that are also too technical for most people. But this page gives us a nice set of starting principles (quoted): When you post something on the web, it should belong to you, not a corporation. Your articles and status messages can go to all services, not just one, allowing you to engage with everyone. You can post ... [Direct Link]

Why media companies should support a decentralised Web, Ben Werdmuller, International News Media Association, Jun 29, 2017

Ben Werdmuller expresses a key element of what (we hope) will be the future web. "Media is core to democracy, which means a more decentralised Web — one where publishing, sharing, and being found are all free and open — is in all of our interests. By making social functionality part of an independent Web, we remove the single points of failure — and points of control — that make the Internet so brittle for media businesses." The IndieWeb is not ... [Direct Link]

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Stephen Downes Stephen Downes, Casselman, Canada

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Last Updated: Jan 06, 2021 7:30 p.m.