Facebook and other social media giants face growing criticism for the effect they have on our lives and society. Many people push back on the silos and others declare the web dead.
Web is UnDead: Rise of the Past
To dismiss the users of the modern siloed web as zombies is wrong.
Humanity has always organized into more complex yet centralized structures. What is scary, now isn’t just the scope and speed to which a centralized emerged but more importantly when our society is siloed and our structures are for sale we face a data apocalypse. A machine, using secrets algorithms decides what friends and faily you will talk to. Stuff you once owned and created could be gone forever.
Luckily a Monster Squad fights back.
On June 265th-27th I joined a committed group of technologists, developers, community organizers, and all around web geeks to ensure the web stays decentralized in a way where users are empowered to own their content and shape their identity by publishing from their own domain.
The 8th annual #IndieWeb summit gathers every year in Portland, Oregon.
The IndieWeb has no formal structure. No foundation or Board of Directors. instead anyone who has organized two events in the past year is welcome to attend the Leaders Summit. I, as a first time attendee was encouraged to attend the half day leaders summit. Looking back a week or so later I can see how we were paving the wave for larger communities to join the movement.
We spent time first outlining our methods for reporting or discussing any issues with the Code of Conduct. The policies weren’t clear in terms of the chatroom. We also identified allies at the Summit folks could turn to resolve the issue.We then discussed how the GitHub repos should be organized to better support the community.
We then spent time examining the principles of IndieWeb community and thought about how they could be more welcoming to future folks who turn to their own domain.
All of these discussions in many ways are essential to what I consider our most important discussion around the topic of Diversity and Inclusion. We set a loft goal around this, “The Leaders Summit next year can not look like id dud this year.” White, male, and privileged. Furthermore many of our policies mean on the ground participants were usually North American based.
While we all celebrate the goals and web of the past we must remember much of this nostalgia isn’t equally felt by those faced oppression and harassment online. We can not ensure an open and equal web if the people building the infrastructure do not look like the rest of the world.
I left the Leader’s Summit inspired to how much thought went into thinking about not just the plumbing but on the people turning the faucet.
On Tuesday my highlight was William Hertling’s talk. He is my favorite techno-thriller writer and his latest book is full of #IndieWeb Easter Eggs. Hertling challenged the principles by suggesting we needed to focus on safety, monetization, and privacy.
I then attended the IndieWeb for Education session where we discussed the overlap between #IndieWeb #DoOO and all the connect learnign communities we belong. In many ways the little corner of the web teachers have carved out is so special.
I concluded my day attending a brainstorming session on webrings. Webrings were a great little tool people used on websites in the late nineties to connect to different affinity spaces. I dusted off an old WordPress plug in and was able to launch that day, but I left so excited to see what the team would create.
On the second day I began my room in the WordPress POutreach Club room. David Shanske lead a crash course on available plugins. We then went into support mode and helped local attendees build new sites or add features to their WordPress blogs.
I then attended a session on an IndieWeb Foundation or non-profit. The session quickly turned into a passionate call for a co-op model. I personally favor no organization. If someone has an itch and wants to start a nonprofit or a co-op they should scratch it. Not only will folks not stop you they would probably encourage it. Two only areas of concern was the Trademark of the IndieWeb logo and the collection of large donations.I worry about the first and want to avoid the second. Money is a helluva drug.
Next I sat with Grant and Tantek to discuss wiki clean up. We focused on different post types. Learned a ton about the process of how the microformats.org and the IndieWeb community interoperate.
The WordPress Outreach Club group is amazing. Hanging with David Shanske and Chris Aldrich to discuss where we need to go was so helpful. Made me want to double down on my efforts studying the UX for WordPress users and rewriting the getting started guide.
WebRings are back Marty McGuire demoed an awesome IndieWeb solution. I installed it on my blog and you can see many more linked together. It is still an MVP and there are some issues with signing on but its cool. I can not wait. It is a total resurrection of a dead technology.
All the pieces are coming together. First it was webrings. Then indiebookclub.biz got improvements to make it a GoodReads option, Then IndieWeb.xyz drops to replace long dead social bookmarking services. Then https://indiepaper.cleverdevil.io/ acts like pocket or instant paper. Most importantly all of these will be powered by a new class of social readers that allow us to read and write from the same place while keeping everything stored on our own websites.
I left the summit so pumped for the future. It seemed to be lit by the dreams of the past.
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