Bridging the gap

Eli Mellen wrote a great post about how the #indieweb needs to be more accessible to non-developers. It prompted some considered response including this post from Jeremy Cherfas in which he points to a response from Peter Molnar. And then there is "An Indieweb Podcast" from David Shanske and Chris Aldridge.

Eli linked to the indieweb generations page (the suggested adoption path) exclaiming that much of the current technology is rooted in generations 1 & 2 (the more technical users) but needs to be accessible to those in generations 3 & 4.

He espoused micro.blog as an example of pushing things towards the later generations suggesting it's 'time to update some of the tooling" to bridge the gap.

Having written previously about the need for easier implementation I didn't want to just repeat myself, or Eli, so wasn't sure how to respond or what extra I could add.

But then two posts cemented my thoughts.

Firstly, Manton Reece (creator of micro.blog) highlighted that the much sought after ownership of content doesn't just mean owning the server and having direct control over the source code. Instead, it's about "portable URLs and data. It’s about domain names" so that a site can outlive any platform.

Micro.blog as a service definitely straddles generations 3 & 4 as it works just as well with existing blogs as a blog hosted on the service itself. But If you opt for the latter then Manton has made things considerably simpler for you.

A CMS, webmentions, publishing by micropub, it's all built in, nothing else required apart from a micropub client - of which the native iOS and Mac micro.blog apps are perfectly functional and more than adequate examples.

This is exactly what Eli alludes to when he says you can't assume that users will care about the tech or the specs - they just want the tools.

Peter Molnar argues that "people should care, they should be at least be aware of what's happening when they press a publish button" and that "providing the tools only is not a goal I can align with."

I have to agree with Eli here.

People don't have any idea how Twitter and Facebook work but are willing to throw themselves at it despite warnings. Merely a fraction of the population has ever heard of MX records, and wouldn't know their POP3 from their IMAP, but billions still use email.

This is why ecosystems and adoption curves exist; some blaze the trails and develop solutions so others can use them without having to.

WordPress users, for example, load plugins to get the functionality they require with no idea of how that's actually achieved. It's taken on faith because the creators and the standards organisations have done their jobs.

And that is the generational gap

Next, Jason Kottke's linked to Dan Cohen's post "Back to the Blog" in which he talks about the importance of writing on one's own domain but suggests many don't because we are social animals and social networks provide "a powerful sense of ambient humanity."

I've previously described micro.blog as a social layer or glue but I think "ambient humanity" sums it up perfectly - the feeling that "others are here" as Dan puts it. This is absolutely what micro.blog helps to achieve: that connection between people, between blogs, even if you have set up on your own.

You don't have to be isolated.

The aim of the indieweb is that we can do our own thing, or join something like micro.blog, and that our sites and services are portable and interoperable because the technology is platform agnostic. For this to happen the ecosystem needs to be mature with tooling simple enough that anyone can plug and play, or have it built in to their platform of choice, without needing to know how it works.

It needs to be invisible.

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Colin Walker Colin Walker colin@colinwalker.blog