Suppose you could write in your personal blog and have a summary of your post show up on popular social-media sites like Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and Facebook – and then have responses on those sites show up as comments in your blog? You can, and if some talented programmers have their way you’ll soon be able to do so easily. In fact, it’s what I’m doing right now with this post, which is also running at Slate Magazine.

Why would you or I want to do this? Simple: We’re in danger of losing what’s made the Internet the most important medium in history – a decentralized platform where the people at the edges of the networks – that would be you and me – don’t need permission to communicate, create and innovate.

This isn’t a knock on social networks’ legitimacy, or their considerable utility. But when we use centralized services like social media sites, however helpful and convenient they may be, we are handing over ultimate control to third parties that profit from our work, material that exists on their sites only as long as they allow.

Even if most people don’t recognize what’s at stake – yet – I’m happy to say that a small but growing group of technologists does. And they’ve created what they call the “Indie Web” movement to do something about it, in an extended online conversation and at periodic in-person meetings. The latter are IndieWebCamps, where they gather to hack together tools aimed at liberating us, to the extent possible, from centralized control – what the Web’s key inventor, Tim Berners-Lee, has called “re-decentralization” of the Net. In their early work they’re taking advantage of the good things the social network “silos,” as they call them, can offer, while ensuring that the data we create, and as much of the conversation it engenders, lives in our own home-base sites.

They’re creating what the call an alternative to the “corporate-owned” Internet. And do we ever need it. The principles, as they say on their website:

  • Your content is yours. When you post something on the web, it should belong to you, not a corporation. Too many companies have gone out of business and lost all of their users’ data. By joining the IndieWeb, your content stays yours and in your control.

  • You are better connected. Your articles and status messages can go to all services, not just one, allowing you to engage with everyone. Even replies and likes on other services can come back to your site so they’re all in one place.

  • You are in control. You can post anything you want, in any format you want, with no one monitoring you. In addition, you share simple readable links such as mywebsite.com/ideas. These links are permanent and will always work.

Amber Case, one of the Indie Web creators, was drawn to it because the Web had become “a claustrophobic space where all I could do was consume, with barriers to building and owning.” She saw a new generation of Internet users who’d never registered a domain name, and weren’t even aware of what was possible.

That happened, in part, because “Twitter and Facebook showed an easier path to creating online,” says Aaron Pareki, another Indie Web organizer. “The original vision was everyone has their own space and made things . Then the silos formed and attracted people because it was easier.”

I spent two days with them and others in the movement at their recent San Francisco camp (there’s another camp being held this weekend in New York City), and came away dazzled by the vision of what they intend. I learned more about a variety of technologies they’re creating to make it happen, including things called “webmention” and “microformats,” among the underpinnings of the move toward re-decentralization.

I also came away with the open-source tools, which are still rudimentary, that have enabled me to move in a more independent direction. In my case, because I use WordPress for my personal blogging, I’ve installed several software modules that extend the WordPress software’s basic functionality. One is “Jetpack,” which lets me create posts that show up on on social network sites; another is “IndieWeb” to get the replies back to my own site.

The outbound piece depends on Tantek Çelik‘s “POSSE,” which stands for “Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere. Getting the comments, likes, favorites and other responses back depends on Ryan Barrett‘s Bridgy. I won’t go into the technical details, but this stuff is close to magical even in its currently early-days form – and far advanced from when I first heard about it, in a post last fall at Wired News.

This is also classic Internet innovation: created and deployed at the edge, not the center; rough, and constantly being improved. And if we’re lucky, and help these folks by testing it out on our own devices, it’s a vital part of the future.

110 thoughts on “Why the Indie Web movement is so important

    • Not exactly syndicated — but they don’t support this stuff so I posted in both places, linking back to each.

  1. Yes to this idea. Comment systems such as Livefyre do a bit of the gathering for you if you follow all the rules, e.g. short link URLs, that don’t always work with services such as JetPack. Any system that can gather up the conversation that people have related to your piece would be absolutely invaluable. (I’m installing IndieWeb as I write this.)

    I love JetPack, but increasingly I’ve found myself submitting my own sites manually to Twitter, G+, and such because I want the summaries and headlines to be slightly different (or hashtagged in different ways) for each individual network.

  2. Dan Gillmor has written a really exciting article about the IndieWeb and IWCSF specifically, and the first example I know of of POSSE-to-Slate.com 🙂

  3. +Dan Gillmor, this is very good stuff… There are so many fronts to fight on that it can all get dizzy-making…  If ownership (or lack of it) doesn’t keep me awake at night, it’s mostly because there are other bills to pay…  Have you got any examples to hand of POSSE, IndyWeb and Bridgy where they work well?

  4. Good story, will definitely follow up on your links. Also am a big fan of standard HTML and CSS for navigation on websites. I keep JavaScript protection fully engaged unless absolutely necessary, e.g. for online banking: So I was surprised +Dan Gillmor, to see how many features on your blog require enabling JavaScript. Many other WordPress templates are available which provide full access with JS disabled.

  5. Left a comment on the G+ post about this article, and am looking forward to seeing that turn up here. Meanwhile am checking to see whether comments can be posted here with JavaScript protection engaged.

  6. I was actually able to submit a comment directly on your blog +Dan Gillmor, with NoScript engaged. Very impressive, as accepting comments is the sine qua non of a JavaScript-agnostic WordPress template: Initially it appeared that the POST COMMENT button required JS because, when hovering a mouse over that button, no link appears. So I’ll backtrack, apologize, and just mention the feature which does require JavaScript there: The three glyphs at the top center of the blog page. Since comments are already working, best solution would be to contact WordPress.com about their Ryu theme, to see if those glyphs can be converted to links. Or perhaps those glyphs were an extra feature which you added to the basic template?

  7. Interesting to see Tantek and POSSE (Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere.) mentioned. I’ve long suggested a similar approach of (POSE) publish once syndicate everywhere. Irritatingly though, G+ has no write API so it has to be the primary source. And it has no RSS-Atom out which makes it slightly harder to syndicate, but dlvr.it does a passable job of copy-posting to Twitter and Facebook and there’s a plugin or two for G+ > WordPress blogs as well.If everyone supported RSS-Atom out and a logical way of coping with RSS-Atom (and the attendant spam) in then all this would be a great deal easier.Linking, tracking and merging the comment streams on the related posts is a harder problem. I’m glad solutions are finally appearing.

  8. Today Forbes has an article about how BitTorrent Sync is taking off. I’ve been using it since the beta was opened up, and I’m very impressed.
    I run it on my phone. When I take a photo or record a movie, it sits in the DCIM folders (the name is part of the DCF standards for digital cameras). When the phone finds my home network, Sync automatically does a 1-way read-only sync of all the camera files to my Mac and my home server.
    I run it on my tablet. When I have a PDF or other file I want to read later, I throw it in a folder on any of my computers. When I power on the tablet, it pulls all the new files across the network and I can tap to open whichever one I want to read next.
    I run it on my laptops. When I find a cool new font while I’m working on web design, I toss it into the appropriate folder. When I go to my Mac after work, by the time I’ve logged in Sync will have transferred the data across.
    The thing is, because it runs across my home network whenever possible, BitTorrent Sync is fast. Sure, SpiderOak is supposed to use LAN connections when possible, but it never seemed to work that way.
    It also works over the public Internet. If I’m away from home and really need some file that didn’t have time to sync before I left, I can sync using free WiFi at a coffee shop, or tell BitTorrent Sync to use my wireless data plan to do the sync.
    It’s also painless to set up. No accounts, no logging in, no extra passwords, no firewall changes, no servers to configure. Each sync folder has a 40-character secret which enables access to it, analogous to a URL. Copy that to the destination system(s) by whatever method you like and you’re done.
    You can use these secrets to share files too. Set up a read-only sync folder, send the secret code to a friend via e-mail, they can paste it into their BitTorrent Sync and the folder will download via BitTorrent. Want to share 2GB video files with a collaborator? With BitTorrent Sync, you won’t pay to do so. Academics are using it to share terabytes of research data.
    And the big point Forbes makes: It’s secure. All data which goes across the Internet is encrypted. There’s no cloud provider the NSA can force to disclose your data or keys without telling you.
    Oh, and it’s free and works with NAS systems and headless servers. If you’re geeky enough you can run it on any random Linux VPS hosting plan and make your own DropBox alternative.
    Got a computer you leave running at home? Then why pay DropBox $100 a year for a measly 100GB of on-the-go file access, when you can stick a 2TB hard drive in your computer for that price?
    You might be worried about the battery implications of running a P2P client on your phone, right? Well, don’t be. At least on my phone, BitTorrent Sync uses less battery than “Cell standby”, i.e. remaining connected to the mobile network ready to receive a call.
    In short, BitTorrent Sync is the best thing since rsync. It’s easily the best thing Bram Cohen and team have ever done. It has replaced my use of Google Drive, Box, and AeroFS. I still use SpiderOak, but increasingly just to keep an offsite encrypted backup of medical and tax records.
    BitTorrent Sync is part of the bigger redecentralization movement, also known as the indie web movement, which seeks to break out of the walled gardens and move back towards the decentralized peer-to-peer system the Internet was designed to be. It’s also easier (on Windows, Mac and Android) and better than the centralized options, so give it a try if you value your freedom.
    Share:GoogleFacebookTwitter
    If you found that interesting, you may want to subscribe, or check out these other posts:Big Content vs DropBox
    BitTorrent Search Engine Dead Pool
    Rush judgement
    PC repair work

  9. I should probably mention up front that this is going to sound like one of those “things were better in my day, young fella!” kind of discussions that old people like myself are fond of having, so if that isn’t your cup of tea, feel free to move on. The subject at hand is what us geezers used to call the “blogosphere” — which is now just known as the internet, or online media, or whatever you want to call it. On the one hand, it’s good that blogging has more or less become mainstream, but part of me still misses what the old blogosphere had to offer.
    I’ve been thinking about this for awhile, but especially at those times when Dave Winer, one of the original fathers of blogging, writes about the necessity of having your own home on the social web — instead of a parcel of land given to you by one of the big silos — or when someone like blogging veteran Anil Dash writes a post like “The Web We Lost,” which I highly recommend. But it was a post from another long-time blogger, Dan Gillmor, that got me thinking about it this time.
    Dan wrote about how some independent developers are working on tools that allow anyone to cross-post from their own blog to another site — such as Slate, where his post also appeared — and to pull comments from Twitter and other networks back to their site and display them along with local comments. These kinds of tools and their support for the “IndieWeb” is important, Dan argues, because:

    “We’re in danger of losing what’s made the Internet the most important medium in history – a decentralized platform where the people at the edges of the networks (that would be you and me) don’t need permission to communicate, create and innovate… when we use centralized services like social media sites, however helpful and convenient they may be, we are handing over ultimate control to third parties that profit from our work.”

    Blogging grew up — and changed
    It isn’t until I see a post like Dan’s that I remember just how much has changed. When I started writing online in the early 2000s, individual blogs were the norm — blogs by people like Justin Hall and Doc Searls and Meg Hourihan of Blogger, and people like my friend and Gigaom founder Om Malik and TechCrunch founder Mike Arrington. At the time, Gigaom was just Om’s thoughts about broadband, and TechCrunch was mostly about Mike meeting (and in some cases offering a couch to) struggling entrepreneurs at his house in Atherton.

    Part of what was so great about those early years of blogging was how chaotic it was — a flurry of posts linking to other bloggers (remember linking?), comment flame-wars, and endless discussion about the value of blog widgets like MyBlogLog or your Technorati ranking, or how to set up your RSS feed. Everyone was tinkering with their WordPress or Typepad to embed some new thing or try out a new theme, and there was a natural (if occasionally tense) camaraderie about it.
    So what changed? Blogging grew up, for one thing — Om turned his blog into a business, and quite a successful one at that, and Arrington did the same and sold it to AOL. VentureBeat and Mashable and Read/Write and all the others did something similar, and gradually the line between blogging and regular media started to blur, although there are still flare-ups of the old “bloggers vs. journalists” dynamic from time to time. Meanwhile, plenty of individual bloggers got sucked into Twitter or Facebook and stopped blogging altogether.
    Obviously, it’s good that more people have social tools with which to express themselves without having to set up their own blog and learn HTML, and there are still independent voices blogging on Medium and other sites. There’s also no question that the social element of Twitter and Facebook is powerful, and getting even more so. But I think we’ve given over much of the conversation to proprietary platforms that remove content at will, and control the data underlying the content we provide — and that is very much a Faustian bargain.
    The unedited voice of a single author
    Before I start sounding like a World War II veteran who has had a few too many, the other thing that I liked about the blogosphere was just how personal it was. Yes, that often meant someone was up in arms or foaming at the mouth about something — often topics that perhaps didn’t justify the level of outrage being displayed (yes, I’m looking at you, Mike) — but there was still that quintessential element of blogging as defined by Winer: namely, the unedited voice of a person, for better or worse.

    That point came back to me when I was speaking with Ben Thompson, a tech analyst who recently launched his own membership-funded blog called Stratechery — written and edited and built solely by him, a kind of throwback to early bloggers like John Gruber of Daring Fireball and Jason Kottke, or Andy Baio of Waxpancake. Ben talked about how “there’s something really powerful about single-author sites that you don’t get anywhere else.”
    This is also what appeals to me most about the approach that I think First Look Media is trying to take with its “magazines,” each powered by strong voices with expertise and opinions. But will they be diluted in the same way that Ben argues Nate Silver’s voice has been at the new FiveThirtyEight? Will Glenn Greenwald be as effective or compelling when he is managing a team of other writers? I don’t know. But that’s what I feel like we have lost from the old blogosphere days — that personal connection between a blogger and their readers.
    I think (as I argued in a post yesterday) that this kind of connection is the most powerful thing, and potentially also the most valuable thing that digital media provides — I think it’s why we gravitate towards people like Greenwald, or Ezra Klein, or dozens of other brand names, and it’s why using social tools to connect with a community of readers is so important.
    We’ve definitely gained a lot as blogs and other forms of digital media have become more commonplace: there are a lot more voices, and that’s good — and they are being listened to by more people. I don’t want to downplay that fact at all. But it feels as though we have lost the personal element, as everyone tries to build businesses, and we’ve allowed proprietary platforms to take over a huge amount of our interaction. So forgive me if I get a little wistful.
    Post and thumbnail images courtesy of Shutterstock / Alex Kopje as well as Shutterstock / Marek Uliasz and Thinkstock / Alexskopje


  10. I should probably mention up front that this is going to sound like one of those “things were better in my day, young fella!” kind of discussions that old people like myself are fond of having, so if that isn’t your cup of tea, feel free to move on. The subject at hand is what us geezers used to call the “blogosphere” — which is now just known as the internet, or online media, or whatever you want to call it. On the one hand, it’s good that blogging has more or less become mainstream, but part of me still misses what the old blogosphere had to offer.
    I’ve been thinking about this for awhile, but especially at those times when Dave Winer, one of the original fathers of blogging, writes about the necessity of having your own home on the social web — instead of a parcel of land given to you by one of the big silos — or when someone like blogging veteran Anil Dash writes a post like “The Web We Lost,” which I highly recommend. But it was a post from another long-time blogger, Dan Gillmor, that got me thinking about it this time.
    Dan wrote about how some independent developers are working on tools that allow anyone to cross-post from their own blog to another site — such as Slate, where his post also appeared — and to pull comments from Twitter and other networks back to their site and display them along with local comments. These kinds of tools and their support for the “IndieWeb” is important, Dan argues, because:

    “We’re in danger of losing what’s made the Internet the most important medium in history – a decentralized platform where the people at the edges of the networks (that would be you and me) don’t need permission to communicate, create and innovate… when we use centralized services like social media sites, however helpful and convenient they may be, we are handing over ultimate control to third parties that profit from our work.”

    Blogging grew up — and changed
    It isn’t until I see a post like Dan’s that I remember just how much has changed. When I started writing online in the early 2000s, individual blogs were the norm — blogs by people like Justin Hall and Doc Searls and Meg Hourihan of Blogger, and people like my friend and Gigaom founder Om Malik and TechCrunch founder Mike Arrington. At the time, Gigaom was just Om’s thoughts about broadband, and TechCrunch was mostly about Mike meeting (and in some cases offering a couch to) struggling entrepreneurs at his house in Atherton.

    Part of what was so great about those early years of blogging was how chaotic it was — a flurry of posts linking to other bloggers (remember linking?), comment flame-wars, and endless discussion about the value of blog widgets like MyBlogLog or your Technorati ranking, or how to set up your RSS feed. Everyone was tinkering with their WordPress or Typepad to embed some new thing or try out a new theme, and there was a natural (if occasionally tense) camaraderie about it.
    So what changed? Blogging grew up, for one thing — Om turned his blog into a business, and quite a successful one at that, and Arrington did the same and sold it to AOL. VentureBeat and Mashable and Read/Write and all the others did something similar, and gradually the line between blogging and regular media started to blur, although there are still flare-ups of the old “bloggers vs. journalists” dynamic from time to time. Meanwhile, plenty of individual bloggers got sucked into Twitter or Facebook and stopped blogging altogether.
    Obviously, it’s good that more people have social tools with which to express themselves without having to set up their own blog and learn HTML, and there are still independent voices blogging on Medium and other sites. There’s also no question that the social element of Twitter and Facebook is powerful, and getting even more so. But I think we’ve given over much of the conversation to proprietary platforms that remove content at will, and control the data underlying the content we provide — and that is very much a Faustian bargain.
    The unedited voice of a single author
    Before I start sounding like a World War II veteran who has had a few too many, the other thing that I liked about the blogosphere was just how personal it was. Yes, that often meant someone was up in arms or foaming at the mouth about something — often topics that perhaps didn’t justify the level of outrage being displayed (yes, I’m looking at you, Mike) — but there was still that quintessential element of blogging as defined by Winer: namely, the unedited voice of a person, for better or worse.

    That point came back to me when I was speaking with Ben Thompson, a tech analyst who recently launched his own membership-funded blog called Stratechery — written and edited and built solely by him, a kind of throwback to early bloggers like John Gruber of Daring Fireball and Jason Kottke, or Andy Baio of Waxpancake. Ben talked about how “there’s something really powerful about single-author sites that you don’t get anywhere else.”
    This is also what appeals to me most about the approach that I think First Look Media is trying to take with its “magazines,” each powered by strong voices with expertise and opinions. But will they be diluted in the same way that Ben argues Nate Silver’s voice has been at the new FiveThirtyEight? Will Glenn Greenwald be as effective or compelling when he is managing a team of other writers? I don’t know. But that’s what I feel like we have lost from the old blogosphere days — that personal connection between a blogger and their readers.
    I think (as I argued in a post yesterday) that this kind of connection is the most powerful thing, and potentially also the most valuable thing that digital media provides — I think it’s why we gravitate towards people like Greenwald, or Ezra Klein, or dozens of other brand names, and it’s why using social tools to connect with a community of readers is so important.
    We’ve definitely gained a lot as blogs and other forms of digital media have become more commonplace: there are a lot more voices, and that’s good — and they are being listened to by more people. I don’t want to downplay that fact at all. But it feels as though we have lost the personal element, as everyone tries to build businesses, and we’ve allowed proprietary platforms to take over a huge amount of our interaction. So forgive me if I get a little wistful.
    Post and thumbnail images courtesy of Shutterstock / Alex Kopje as well as Shutterstock / Marek Uliasz and Thinkstock / Alexskopje

    Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:Subscriber content. Sign up for a free trial.
    NewNet Q1: Advertising, commerce and discovery dominate
    NewNet Q2: Google closes the quarter with a bang
    A look back at the third quarter of 2013

    Source: Gigaom
    Share this:TwitterFacebookGoogleLike this:Like Loading…

  11. Thank you very much for sharing this +Dan Gillmor, installed Indieweb on one of my sites as well now. Works quite well, only problem I have is that I seem to have to approve every single one of them. Haven’t figured out yet which settings I need to adjust to allow repeat commenters/plussers to go through “auto-approved”. But I’m sure I’ll get there.

  12. Dan Gillmor: Why the indie Web movement is so important.

    We’re in danger of losing what’s made the Internet the most important medium in history – a decentralized platform where the people at the edges of the networks – that would be you and me – don’t need permission to communicate, create and innovate.
    This isn’t a knock on social networks’ legitimacy, or their considerable utility. But when we use centralized services like social media sites, however helpful and convenient they may be, we are handing over ultimate control to third parties that profit from our work, material that exists on their sites only as long as they allow.

    That’s a big part of why I started this blog. I realized I don’t want to let Google, Facebook, Twitter, or Tumblr own what I create, even if it’s a link to a silly meme. I’ll continue to be as active as before on those platforms, and I’ve configured this blog to automatically post links from here to those places. But the content will originate here. And if you want to follow me here rather than somewhere else, well, that would make me happy. 
    You’re free not to follow me at all, too. I won’t mind. I know what I do here isn’t to everyone’s liking, and if you don’t like it I won’t take it personally. 
    This blog is hosted on WordPress.com, but WordPress makes it very easy to move a website elsewhere if you don’t like what they’re doing. 
    So you can find me here on Like I Was Saying, hopefully for, well, the entire foreseeable future. 
    Share this:TwitterFacebookGoogleRedditGoogle+Mitch WagnerLike this:Like Loading…

    Related

  13. Rekord für organische Photovoltaik ()
    Eine Verzwanzigfachung der Produktion bietet bestimmt jede Menge neue Herausforderungen.

    Mit einem den organischen Leuchtdioden entlehnten Verfahren produziert ein Dresdner Start-up Solarfolien, die flexibel und haltbar sein sollen.

    Die Zelle lässt sich transparent und mit verschiedenen Farbtönen – Grün, Blau, Grau – produzieren. Undurchsichtig hat sie einen Wirkungsgrad von zwölf Prozent. Wird sie mit einer Lichtdurchlässigkeit von 40 Prozent hergestellt, sinkt er entsprechend auf 7,2 Prozent.

    In den letzten zwei Jahren hat Heliatek eine Pilotanlage für 50.000 Quadratmeter pro Jahr aufgebaut. Jetzt sucht die Firma nach Geldgebern für eine Fabrik, die eine Million Quadratmeter herstellen kann. Das entspricht 100 Megawatt.Heise: Rekord für organische Photovoltaik

    Why the Indie Web movement is so important ()
    While i agree with Gillmor in general, unfortunately WordPress Jetpack (mentioned by Gillmor), requires a WordPress.com account to work and hence is IMHO a bad example for the indie web.

    We’re in danger of losing what’s made the Internet the most important medium in history – a decentralized platform where the people at the edges of the networks – that would be you and me – don’t need permission to communicate, create and innovate.Dan Gillmor: Why the Indie Web movement is so important:

    Via: Inessential
    @davidu ()
    Not sure if there are a lot of domains where a 1000-fold increase in a timespan of 9 years is even possible. Especially when the price remains basically the same.
    Via: parislemon
    The secrets of the world’s happiest cities ()
    From November 2013, but quite a coincidence: I repaired my bike yesterday and am starting to bike to work today.

    In the third year of his term, Peñalosa challenged Bogotáns to participate in an experiment. As of dawn on 24 February 2000, cars were banned from streets for the day. It was the first day in four years that nobody was killed in traffic. Hospital admissions fell by almost a third. The toxic haze over the city thinned. People told pollsters that they were more optimistic about city life than they had been in years.
    Charles Montgomery: The secrets of the world’s happiest cities

    Via: parislemon
    Green Rocks from Space ()
    Spiegelt ziemlich genau unsere Erfahrungen wieder. Keine Ahnung ob es am darunter liegenden Constraint-System liegt, das global statt lokal optimiert und plötzlich zu einer ganz anderen Lösung springt.

    The thing about auto layout, though, is that when things go wrong they go wildly wrong. I think that’s the issue for me. With old-fashioned layout code, things go wrong by just a little bit — and I can figure out, and fix, the problem pretty quickly.
    But with auto layout, when things go wrong, it looks like a bomb went off.Brent Simmons: Green Rocks from Space

    Uber, Airbnb vs Cartels and Regulators ()
    On a side note, i was surprised, that Neelie Kroes, in the discussion that followed her tweet (see below) revealed that she didn’t know about MyTaxi.

    In Brussels, on April 15th, a court order issued a straightforward ban of application-powered car services such as Uber, triggering the anger of the European commissioner for digital policies Neelie Kroes (see also her adamant blog post):

    I’m absolutely outraged at decision of a court in #Brussels to ban @Uber + issue drivers €10,000 fines for each pick-up. Cartel! More coming
    — Neelie Kroes (@NeelieKroesEU) April 15, 2014

    As for the socialist French MP, while his report leans only softly in favor of the old-fashion cab system that no French government wants to upset, its own website clearly expresses his personal bias again what he calls “Uber’s Cow-boy behavior” (always the long-standing cliché) and the fact that Google is behind the service.Frederic Filloux: Uber, Airbnb vs Cartels and Regulators

    Marvel Comics Developer API ()

    Yes, that’s what I said: a developer API for seventy years’ worth of Marvel Comics content. You can now write your own application and make use of Marvel’s countless characters, creators, series, even story arcs. What a remarkable gift this is to kids (of all ages) with plenty of time on their hands and the…Khoi Vinh: Marvel Comics Developer API

    Reuters: Apple, Google Agree to Pay Over $300 Million to Settle No-Poaching Conspiracy Lawsuit ()

    Four major tech companies including Apple and Google have agreed to pay a total of $324 million to settle a lawsuit accusing them
    of conspiring to hold down salaries in Silicon Valley, sources familiar with the deal said, just weeks before a high profile trial had been scheduled to begin.
    Dan Levine: Reuters: Apple, Google Agree to Pay Over $300 Million to Settle No-Poaching Conspiracy Lawsuit

    Via: daringfireball
    Google+ Is Walking Dead ()

    According to two sources, Google has apparently been reshuffling the teams that used to form the core of Google+, a group numbering between 1,000 and 1,200 employees. … Basically, talent will be shifting away from the Google+ kingdom and towards Android as a platform, we’re hearing.
    Alexia Tsotsis and Matthew Panzarino: Google+ Is Walking Dead

    Via marco.org

  14. Why the Indie Web movement is so important
    “We’re in danger of losing what’s made the Internet the most important medium in history – a decentralized platform where the people at the edges of the networks – that would be you and me – don’t need permission to communicate, create and innovate.
    This isn’t a knock on social networks’ legitimacy, or their considerable utility. But when we use centralized services like social media sites, however helpful and convenient they may be, we are handing over ultimate control to third parties that profit from our work, material that exists on their sites only as long as they allow.”
    One reason why this site exists.

  15. I had been cultivating a fascination with Jekyll for blogging for a short while. It looked oh so clean, and minimalist, and sleek. It has its fans, for sure, and I am one of them.
    If I were starting my blog from this day, I would almost certainly consider using Jekyll for it, rather than WordPress.

    WordPress: better the devil?

    But, I am not. Back in 2007 (can it really be so long ago?!), when I started blogging, I didn’t give much thought to my requirements eight years down the line. And the funny thing is, they have hardly changed.
    Org2Blog is everything I need from blogging. It’s quick, because I can compose my text in Emacs, and also supply my category and tag information directly too.
    When saving the post in Emacs, I can save a local copy using the same date-title-based file name schema that Jekyll would expect (e.g.: 2015-10-28-Assessing_Jekyll_as_an_alternative_blogging_platform.org).

    Further benefits to Emacs/WordPress duality

    Emacs Rocks.
    As indicated by the previous filename example, blogs can be saved locally on my hard disk in Org-mode format, allowing me the option later on to convert everything for a Jekyll-based future. In other words, making the decision to hard-switch from one system or another need not be rushed and can, in fact, be assessed based on technical need.
    Another “turn-off” from Jekyll is that, despite various attempts to make it easy to migrate WordPress posts, I found the process awkward and the documentation confusing. There is more than one way to skin this cat.
    For me, Emacs provides such a comfortable environment using Org2Blog that it’s really hard to justify the alternative approaches of org-jekyll or Org+Jekyll.

    Disadvantages to using WordPress

    Well, it’s not elitest ?
    But aside from that, there are a few serious disadvantages. And these are ones you already know about: there’s lots of (potentially-vulnerable) PHP running, which is a security risk and also makes WordPress … slow.
    Also, WordPress makes microblogging, or “notes” in IndieWeb parlance, not very easy. I want to publish my own microblog on my site and publish it elsewhere, but this will take futher investigation.
    WordPress, also, has a reputation. It’s a bit like Walmart (or Asda in the UK). It’s a great, hulking CMS that everyone knows. It’s everywhere. Everyone uses it. Which means there’s less that’s “special” about it. And that’s a shame, because for all of that it’s really quite brilliant.

    What WordPress gives me

    Managing SEO settings per-post in WordPress
    Like others, I’m a firm believer in the IndieWeb movement, but I don’t have enough time to write software for personal use right now. Luckily, many talented and dedicated individuals have stepped up and kindly donated their time and code to enable the IndieWeb on WordPress sites. This suits me down to the ground. At least I can support the movement by advocating and using their code.
    WordPress also gives me flexibility. If I wish to write a short post about some coffee I’ve tried, I can. Picture too. If I wish to incorporate a video or music in a page fo rsome reason, the built-in editor makes that effortless. As it does, embedding a tweet too. WordPress is doing favours for the web at large, by keeping our writing options open and encouraging open sharing, rather than feeding us silo-centric drivel-data that we see so often from certain social networks!
    One last thing WordPress gives is the ability for people who are not computer-confident to use a device like a Chromebook, or even their phone, and still provide a compelling and easy-to-use platform for sharing content.

    Share:GoogleTwitterFacebookPinterestRedditTumblrMoreLinkedInWhatsAppTelegramSkypePrintPocketEmailLike this:Like Loading…

    Related

  16. I had been cultivating a fascination with Jekyll for blogging for a short while. It looked oh so clean, and minimalist, and sleek. It has its fans, for sure, and I am one of them.
    If I were starting my blog from this day, I would almost certainly consider using Jekyll for it, rather than WordPress.

    WordPress: better the devil?

    But, I am not. Back in 2007 (can it really be so long ago?!), when I started blogging, I didn’t give much thought to my requirements eight years down the line. And the funny thing is, they have hardly changed.
    Org2Blog is everything I need from blogging. It’s quick, because I can compose my text in Emacs, and also supply my category and tag information directly too.
    When saving the post in Emacs, I can save a local copy using the same date-title-based file name schema that Jekyll would expect (e.g.: 2015-10-28-Assessing_Jekyll_as_an_alternative_blogging_platform.org).

    Further benefits to Emacs/WordPress duality

    Emacs Rocks.
    As indicated by the previous filename example, blogs can be saved locally on my hard disk in Org-mode format, allowing me the option later on to convert everything for a Jekyll-based future. In other words, making the decision to hard-switch from one system or another need not be rushed and can, in fact, be assessed based on technical need.
    Another “turn-off” from Jekyll is that, despite various attempts to make it easy to migrate WordPress posts, I found the process awkward and the documentation confusing. There is more than one way to skin this cat.
    For me, Emacs provides such a comfortable environment using Org2Blog that it’s really hard to justify the alternative approaches of org-jekyll or Org+Jekyll.

    Disadvantages to using WordPress

    Well, it’s not elitest ?
    But aside from that, there are a few serious disadvantages. And these are ones you already know about: there’s lots of (potentially-vulnerable) PHP running, which is a security risk and also makes WordPress … slow.
    Also, WordPress makes microblogging, or “notes” in IndieWeb parlance, not very easy. I want to publish my own microblog on my site and publish it elsewhere, but this will take futher investigation.
    WordPress, also, has a reputation. It’s a bit like Walmart (or Asda in the UK). It’s a great, hulking CMS that everyone knows. It’s everywhere. Everyone uses it. Which means there’s less that’s “special” about it. And that’s a shame, because for all of that it’s really quite brilliant.

    What WordPress gives me

    Managing SEO settings per-post in WordPress
    Like others, I’m a firm believer in the IndieWeb movement, but I don’t have enough time to write software for personal use right now. Luckily, many talented and dedicated individuals have stepped up and kindly donated their time and code to enable the IndieWeb on WordPress sites. This suits me down to the ground. At least I can support the movement by advocating and using their code.
    WordPress also gives me flexibility. If I wish to write a short post about some coffee I’ve tried, I can. Picture too. If I wish to incorporate a video or music in a page fo rsome reason, the built-in editor makes that effortless. As it does, embedding a tweet too. WordPress is doing favours for the web at large, by keeping our writing options open and encouraging open sharing, rather than feeding us silo-centric drivel-data that we see so often from certain social networks!
    One last thing WordPress gives is the ability for people who are not computer-confident to use a device like a Chromebook, or even their phone, and still provide a compelling and easy-to-use platform for sharing content.

    Share:GoogleTwitterFacebookPinterestRedditTumblrMoreLinkedInWhatsAppTelegramSkypePrintPocketEmailLike this:Like Loading…

    Related

  17. Update (22-02-17): This post has been modified from the original. Changes include updated in-text citations, minor grammatical improvements and an added reference list.
    Yesterday I posted the first section of my CPN book chapter on critical digital pedagogy. That section lays out what I think is especially problematic in our classroom teaching and learning practices, informed largely by the work of Paulo Freire and Henry Giroux. If you haven’t read it then you might want to check it out quickly, since this post continues that argument. Today I’m sharing the second section of the chapter where I describe how the use of technology reproduces and reinforces these problems, only in digital and online spaces. Remember, this is a first draft. If you do comment, please be gentle.
    The title for this section comes from John Taylor Gatto’s Weapons of Mass Instruction: A Schoolteacher’s Journey Through the Dark World of Compulsory Schooling (2010).

    “We shape our tools and then our tools shape us” (Marshal McLuhan)
    Education is not neutral. It either serves to programme people into conformity or gives them the tools to engage critically and creatively with the world in order to transform it. Given that context, we can analyse the predominant way in which technologies are used in higher education, and ask if that use is oppressing or liberating our students.
    The best thing we can probably say about the use of technology in higher education is that it serves to support traditional methods of teaching and learning; we use it to improve lectures with slides and interactive whiteboards, we make our notes available online, libraries provide access to digital resources, and tutorial discussions can be performed asynchronously online. These are positive, incremental improvements in the quality and flexibility of our classrooms, but are nowhere near being transformational (Laurillard, 2007). This is not the use of technology that I’m interested in. There is nothing wrong with teachers using technology to make small iterative changes to their teaching and learning practices. However, for this chapter I want to get to the more insidious aspects of technological integration that needs our attention.
    The Learning Management System (LMS) is by far the most ubiquitous use of technology in higher education. The LMS enabled universities to bring new technology into the institution without any of the bother of actually changing anything. The plug and play, template driven, user friendly LMS meant that we could provide universities with a digital facelift that made us feel like we were moving with the times (Campbell, 2009). The reality is that we simply took an oppressive pedagogy and reproduced it in software. The LMS manifests a form of curricular design and implementation that substitutes technological control for democratic processes and goals, making both teachers and learners passive. At its core, the LMS means that course is behind a wall, and everything in the course happens behind that wall (Watters, 2014). At the end of the course students lose access to it, and to any of the content or data they’ve created as part of their learning process. In some cases, their creative works may be signed away as part of the Terms of Service. As Watters’ puts it: “There is one instructor and possibly a few course assistants. They grade. They monitor the forums. The teachers are at the center. The content is at the center. The learner is not at the center.” (Watters, 2014).
    Insofar as the educational process can be controlled, the LMS is the digital equivalent of Benthem’s Panopticon; the closest thing we have (so far) to a perfect system of observation and control. As we saw in the previous section, the Panopticon is a representation of power in its ideal form, increasing the number of people who can be monitored, recorded, and controlled, while at the same time decreasing the number of people needed to operate it (Foucault, 1977). Digital technology has taken this concept to astounding new levels. An information Panopticon need not rely on physical arrangements, such as building structures and direct supervision. The information Panopticon is defined as a form of centralised power that uses information and communication technology as observational tools and control mechanisms (Berner, Graupner & Maedche, 2014). Software tracks and records everything about a student’s online interactions, from the time a task is started to the time it is completed, and every click along the way. Based on the data that this process generates, the teacher monitors a students’s performance and intervenes when necessary.
    A central idea of Foucault’s panopticism concerns the systematic ordering and controlling of populations through subtle and often unseen forces. Such ordering is apparent in many parts of the increasingly digitalised world of higher education. The LMS, used mainly to distribute content and monitor progress along the assembly line, is a claustrophobic space where students consume information, rather than create knowledge. Students know they are being monitored at all times. Even if a teacher is not physically there, the software records their every move and this data is available to the teachers at all times. Like the prisoners in Foucault’s Panopticon who never know if they’re being watched, students feel the need to conform and satisfy the system rather than do their best work. The purpose of technology in higher education – as it is generally implemented via the LMS – is not to enhance learning, but rather to enhance the control of learning through surveillance, measurement and control.
    How did we get here? Castells (2001) has argued that the events leading up to the production of a new technology determines the content and uses of the technology throughout its existence. If we want to better understand when and how we lost our way with educational technology, we must go back to the early days of the Internet. The system began as a military-oriented project that embodied the key elements for the military requirements of a communications network that was “survivable”: flexibility, absence of a command centre, and maximum autonomy of each node. Even though it was – at the time – rejected by the military it was reborn at ARPANET, an experimental non-military network that extended the communications architecture of the nascent network based on three main principles: 1) the networking architecture must be open-ended, decentralised, and multi-directional, 2) all communication protocols and their implementations must be open, distributed, and susceptible to modification, and 3) the institutions of governance of the network must be built in accordance with the principles of openness and cooperation (ibid.).
    The Internet is therefore a cultural creation where the culture of the Internet is the culture of the creators of the Internet (Castells, 2001). To explore this culture, Castells draws on the lessons derived from an analysis of the history of the Internet. The first lesson is that the Internet grew from an unlikely collaboration between university based academics and graduate students (the hackers), and the government. The second is that the network was shaped by those who were using it.
    In the 1960s and 1970s there was a flourishing of a culture of individual freedom across university campuses in the United States. The students involved were not social activists but nonetheless had strong beliefs about freedom, independent thinking, and cooperation. In most cases this culture was seeking technological innovation for the pure joy of discovery, and community networks were established in many university towns. But these networks were small and limited and in order to grow they needed a backbone anchored in more powerful machines. This was only possible through collaboration between science-based networks in government, and the student hacker communities in the universities. The second lesson that Castells derives from his analysis is that the early Internet was shaped as the users of the network became producers of the technology by adapting it for their own purposes. The source of the Internet’s strength was its openness. For example, the development of the world wide web was only possible because Tim Berners-Lee was supported by the Internet community and his project stimulated by contributions from hackers all over the world. Some of these contributors went on to commercialise the web, seeing it as a space of enormous opportunity, while others, including Berners-Lee continued working in the public interest.
    One interesting side effect of the openness embedded in the culture of the early hackers is that changes to the network were communicated back to the whole world in real time. This is the reason why the Internet grew – and continues to grow – at unprecedented speed. When the Internet was first conceived, it was made open as a way to learn and share, designed to provide people with the power to free themselves both from governments and corporations (Castells, 2003). Thus, the internet emerges as a tool of liberation, expressive of individual freedom produced through the practice of openness both in its technical architecture and its social organisation (Castells, 2001). However, at the same time, the network was also influenced by the contributions of government-based entities with an interest in controlling the network, and entrepreneurs focused on commercialising it. Without the cultural and technological contributions of these early groups, the Internet may have been very different today. The Internet has been robbed of its historically open architecture. What we currently have is a theoretically open network, infiltrated by capitalist and governmental motives that disregard openness as crucial for the Internet to continue to be an instrument in acquiring knowledge, aiding innovation, and encouraging democratic engagement (Castells, 2001).
    Back to the present where we can now better understand our current predicament in the roots of our history. Unlike the early days of the Internet that saw little distinction between the users of the Internet and the creators of the Internet, we could reasonably ask how much development in the domain of educational technology is being driven by teachers? How are we contributing back to the network, ensuring that the tools developed by third party organisations are designed with learning in mind, rather than shareholders? It is increasingly clear that education is influenced by a Silicon Valley narrative proclaiming that more technology is always the answer to whatever problem we’re currently experiencing – as well as for some things that we didn’t know were problems. More servers, more apps, more data, better algorithms and more integrated services mean that we’ll be able to make better choices (Morozov, 2013). Maybe we don’t need better relationships with students, we just need more technology. How much time did that student spend on the page? At what point did they exit the book? The emphasis is a preoccupation with the instrumental use of knowledge, where it is “prized for its control value — its use in mastering all dimensions of the classroom environment.” (Giroux, 2011; 33).
    Castells said that “the Internet is indeed a technology of freedom – but it can free the powerful to oppress the uninformed, it may lead to the exclusion of the devalued by the conquerors of value.” (Castells, 2001; 275). While the world wide web is considered to be relatively open – we can still create personal spaces through blogs and social networks – our freedom as online agents is limited by governments and corporations (and, as we have seen here, universities). When the intentions of these corporate and government actors are made clear, one questions how freely the self can be extended in this conceptually liberating spaces.
    We had an opportunity to choose the open web over the LMS. To choose creativity and opportunity over limitation and constraint. But we made poor choices because we – the teachers – were not involved in the process of building the web we need for democratic and critically informed learning spaces. This is why we have third parties who control our digital learning environments, who profit from our work and the work of students, and who allow learning materials to exist on their servers only as long as it makes financial sense (Gillmor, 2014). “We’re in danger of losing what’s made the Internet so important: a decentralised platform where people don’t need permission to communicate, create, and innovate” (ibid.). The open web has increasingly become the corporate web and despite their frequent invocation of “personalisation” in learning, these technologies “present users with a very restricted, restrictive set of choices of what they can do, of who they can be.” (Watters, 2014).
    Marshal Mchluhan said that the medium is the message, and that new communication paradigms change what can be imagined and expressed. The printing press didn’t just mean that we could do better calligraphy, and the web is not just a more efficient telegraph (Campbell, 2009). We didn’t realise that we could use the web to transform, instead of simply to transmit. Jesse Stommel has said that “remote proctoring tools can’t ensure that students will not cheat. Turnitin won’t make students better writers. The LMS can’t ensure that students will learn. All will, however, ensure that students feel more thoroughly policed. All will ensure that students (and teachers) are more compliant.”(Stommel, 2016). “We can’t get to a place of listening to students if they don’t show up to the conversation because we’ve excluded their voice in advance by creating environments hostile to them and their work” (Stommel, 2016).
    Audrey Watters (2014) has asked if we’ve even considered the implications of adopting tools that surveil and extract and control students? What happens to identity formation under these circumstances? What happens when we give students little leeway in expressing themselves as learners online? What are the implications of adopting tools that give students only a small range of avatars and status updates and profiles and backgrounds? Education technology has become a new and powerful way to demand conformity from students – and to demand they play out that conformity in the classroom (Watters, 2014). The Internet is no longer a free realm but is instead a contested space, where a new battle for freedom in an increasingly digital society is being fought (Castells, 2001).
    As teachers we need to ask, what are we going to bring to that battle?
    References

    Laurillard, D. (2007). Foreword. In H. Beetham & R. Sharpe (Eds). Rethinking pedagogy for a digital age: designing and delivering e-learning. Abingdon, Oxon. Routledge
    Berner, M., Graupner, E. & Maedche, A. (2014). The Information Panopticon in the Big Data Era. Journal of Organization Design, 3(1):14-19.
    Campbell, G. (2009). A Personal Digital Cyberinfrastructure. EDUCAUSE Review (44)5.
    Castells, M. (2001). The Internet Galaxy. Oxford University Press.
    Castells, M. (2003). Communication Power.
    Foucault, M. (1977). Discipline and punish.
    Gillmor, D. (2014). Why the Indie Web is so Important.
    Giroux, H. (2011). On Critical Pedagogy. Continuum. The Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd., The Tower Building, 11 York Road, London SE1 7NX.
    Morozov, E. (2013). To Save Everything, Click Here: The Folly of Technological Solutionism. Public Affairs.
    Stommel, J. (2016). Against Counteranthropomorphism: The Human Future of Education.
    Watters, A. (2014). Beyond the LMS. Hack Education, September 05.

    Share this:

    Email
    Twitter
    LinkedIn
    Facebook
    Pocket

    Like this:

    Like Loading…

    Related

  18. I’ve worried about data compatibility and posterity since I was old enough to type.
    My cousins had IBM-clones while my school had Apple //e computers. My closest friends’ families got Holstein-patterned Gateway 2000 towers while I had been begging my parents for a Macintosh (which quickly changed to pleas for a Power Macintosh 7200/120 with an Intel PCI card capable of running both Windows and Mac OS at the same time).¹
    My typed journal entries from my angst-ridden early-teen years were carefully saved to a 3.5″ floppy disk in Rich Text Format, as I wanted to be sure I could open them decades later² on whatever futuristic software had replaced Microsoft Office in the 21st century.
    As I aged and the internet grew bigger and more media-rich, my desire to keep data free and compatible grew with it. To share videos and pictures of our children, I secured a domain name and web hosting for a blog. No need to force grandparents to sign up for Facebook or YouTube, just send them our URL. It worked great and I was proud of it.
    But years later my wife and I got smart phones. Now content didn’t need to go from a digital camcorder or camera to a computer, where it was then just as easy to post to our blog as to web service. Now we could post straight from our phones to Google+, YouTube and Twitter. We were busy with young children and welcomed the ease of sharing content with relatives who so eagerly asked for more. We explained this migration to Google+ on our family blog and it’s still the most recent post almost five years later.
    But the internet is always changing, and it’s more and more owned by corporations that will shut down or change products and services with little warning. The World Wide Web is littered with broken links to non-existent pages as content owners rise and fall and change.
    Don’t get me started on the death of RSS.

    I was lamenting this publicly last year when a friend tipped me off to the IndieWeb movement. To the uninitiated it can seem a bit confusing. The IndieWeb isn’t something you sign up for, or download, or copy and paste. But that’s the beauty of it. The IndieWeb is an ever-evolving set of principals around which a healthier, more diverse, and longer lasting web can thrive.
    I’ll spare you the details, but a tagline could go something like “post here, syndicate elsewhere”. Buy your own domain and use a content management system that is easily customization or exportable. Now you control your links and the longevity of your content. You want to share with your friends on Facebook and Twitter? No problem. Post to your personal blog and push that content to other services. Should those services delete, archive, or otherwise change your content on their side, your content is still safe at “home”. Innovative individuals and teams are creating free tools to automate this process too, so your posts can not only automatically go out to places like Twitter, but then replies made there can come back as comments on your posts.
    For those interested in learning more, technology writer Dan Gillmor does well explaining why the Indie Web movement is so important, and software engineer Brett Slatkin echos why I have my own website.
    So this new blog of mine will hopefully serve as a sort of experiment for me, dipping my toes into the waters of the Indie Web. Will a lack of readership eventually cause me to ignore and abandon this blog? Almost definitely. But it should be fun while it lasts.

    ¹We ended up getting an HP Pavilion with Windows 95. I felt dirty for about five minutes; then the enormous library of Windows/DOS games and applications washed away any sense of a dirty conscious this ex-Apple fan could have felt.
    ²This effort was doubly wasted when I destroyed the disk some years later, still a teen but deeming my earlier teen feelings too embarrassing to revisit.

  19. Being a control freak I’ve never been that comfortable with with the rise of Facebook and the likes of Twitter, Google and a host of other companies that provide really useful services.  Being ‘old’ skool the only way to publish anything online (outside of BB’s) was to own your own domain.
    There are more than enough reasons for anyone to have a concern about using these easy sites not least the question about who really owns your data, that stuff you write and post, I mean … did you really read the terms and cons (pun intended) before you signed up and started writing and sharing your pictures, photos and life with the world?
    The Indieweb movement is about empowering you, me and others to take back control.

    Whatever the reason, you’re done with sharecropping your content, your identity, your self.
    Our content is becoming more important, and sometimes even critical to our lives. It is not secure in the hands of random ephemeral startups or big silos. We should be the holders of our own data.

    So .. IF I’ve got this right this is my first article that will get POSSE’d and be capable of having you dear reader comment from where you read it and those comments appear back here on MY blog.
    Lot’s more to learn, Lot’s to play with and many happy/frustrating hours tinkering ahead.  Stay tuned and join in the fun.
    Related articles

    Why the Indie Web movement is so important


Leave a Reply to Yossi Sheriff Cancel reply