Leon Paternoster wrote of the IndieWeb:
"I’m nearly convinced that the possibility of a decentralised network of websites talking to each other through comments sections and pingbacks (known as the web) has probably passed."
Platforms, and by this I don't just mean social networks, are too entrenched. Platforms "know best" and want you to do things their way. Platforms make things easy for you — maximum return for minimum effort. Competing with them is hard, if not impossible.
As much as I would love the Indieweb to grow and become a widespread force on the web, I agree with one of the comments to Leon's by Richard Carter:
"I’m less sold on the ‘homebrew’ software ethos of Indieweb. Yes, as someone (reasonably) technically competent, who loves to dabble, I can see the fun. But I think placing too much emphasis on home-grown solutions is going to put an awful lot of ordinary people off"
One of the IndieWeb mantras is "scratch your own itch" — if you want something, build it. After years of trying to push the IndieWeb principles shouldn't we be at the point where enough solutions already exist that someone else has already scratched your itch for you and implementing it is easy?
WordPress may have all of the building blocks available but it's still not native. Plugins, themes, tweaks to get just so and working properly. Micro.blog is the closest we have but it's still a platform with its own way of doing things.
The IndieWeb is an ethos, based on a core set of principles, but those principles are tightly linked to the technology employed:
"The IndieWeb Community is largely based on principles (AKA tenets) such as own your data, make what you need, use what you make, document your stuff, open source your stuff, UX design is more important than protocols, visible data for humans first and machines second, platform agnostic platforms, plurality over monoculture, longevity, and remember to have fun!"
There is still a focus on DIY. It is contradictory: UX design is more important than protocols but the front page of indieweb.org states:
"The IndieWeb is a community of individual personal websites, connected by simple standards"
You are better connected, but to connect requires those very protocols that, supposedly, aren't as important as the user experience. In this instance, the tech helps to define the UX — it cannot be truly separate. If the goal is to create a network of connected sites, it's a bit pointless to have a wonderful experience on your blog but not have it link to anything or not enable anyone to link back to you.
I think if the IndieWeb was going to become a bigger thing I feel it needed to happen before the big platforms became so dominant. That's not to say that nothing can surplant them but look at what does succeed in the current environment: more platforms. The platforms themselves won't support or enable IndieWeb principles or technology because it takes away from their very raison d'être — they know best, remember.
I first jumped on the IndieWeb train over four years ago and I was already late to the party. Realistically, how far have come since? Standards have been improved, tools and technology refined, but the reach is very slow to expand.
So, if I feel like this, why make so much of an effort to create a blog that handles webmentions, etc.? Because I still believe in the idea of an interconnected, independent web, and enjoy the connections having an indiewebified site enables. However, like Leon, I'm not so sure how much bigger it can get.
Maybe I'm overthinking it. Maybe the purpose of the IndieWeb isn't really to grow and become a dominant force. It's not trying to surplant the platforms, but to provide a sense of community to those that do not wish to be beholden to them.
Carl Barenbrug posted a definition of community:
"At its core, a community is a group of people that come together around a shared interest or purpose for active and expansive collaboration and engagement."
Manuel Moreale argues:
"I don't think we need something new. We need a new mentality, not a new tool. There's plenty of tools but they all try to reinvent the wheel."
The IndieWeb isn't trying to create new tools per se but ways of connecting existing tools so that we don't always have to go via one of the big platforms. It doesn't preclude using those platforms but is trying to instill a different mentality. At the most basic level, the IndieWeb is advocating having your own site, your own home on the web, and owning your own data. That's all it needs to be to get started, just like it used to be before the platforms took over.
Everything else is icing on the cake.
It's a trade off. Being a part of the IndieWeb should not require you to implement all of the technologies that empower connection, but doing so enhances the experience. It should be a choice based on wants, needs, and skills.