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Pen pals update

December was probably the wrong month to start. Even while work may ease off for some, it's always a busy time of year with the holidays.

A couple of good threads were started but life got in the way and there is so much more to explore with these folks that I hope we can continue throughout 2024.

It was always my intention/wish for conversations to become more long term and established, rather than fitting a monthly schedule, and that is still the goal — building friendships over time.

Using this format as a tool to get to know someone seems like a surprisingly good one. There appears to be a certain willingness to open up and share. Trying to condense a lifetime of experience into a few emails instills a particular focus when you know there is limited time and scope.

While I still don't intend to operate on any kind timetable I am keen to continue. Let me know if you're interested and, maybe, check out the penpals page for some more info.

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I've been saying for years that IndieWeb technology needs to be simpler to implement. That's IndieWeb - one word.

A number of people have linked to a post by Giles Turnbull saying Let's make the indie web easier. That's indie web — two words.

There is overlap and the same principles apply. However, the IndieWeb is part of the independent web but not all of the independent web is IndieWeb.

The IndieWeb website states it is a people-focused alternative to the "corporate web" and:

is a community of independent and personal websites connected by simple standards, based on the principles of: owning your domain and using it as your primary identity, publishing on your own site (optionally syndicating elsewhere), and owning your data.

Great, isn't that the same thing? Well, not exactly no. To be 'IndieWeb' (one word) means to follow the basic principles of the independent web (and more) but ideally using IndieWeb standards as listed on the site: 1

  • IndieAuth
  • Webmention
  • Micropub
  • WebSub
  • Microsub

My previous posts have been about how difficult it is for people to implement these standards.

Giles goes way further by saying that it needs to be easier to set up a website period. Never mind the fancy bells and whistles, never mind the nerdy standards and protocols, just setting up a simple self-hosted site is … too. fucking. hard.

We need more self-hosted platforms for personal publishing that aren’t Wordpress …

Why not build static website generators that people can just unzip, upload to the shared hosting they've just paid for, and start using via a browser?

Jeremy Herve goes even further saying that it's not just the tools that are the problem:

The minute we're talking about "unzip", "upload", we’ve already lost folks.

He argues that the onboarding flow matters more than the tools. There absolutely needs to be more platforms that provide a simple 'point and click' style of installation and more hosting providers that support such installations. That over 40% of the web runs on WordPress tells a worrying story.

Update Kev has some thoughts and is collecting links to others as well.

  1. if anyone tells you that's not what IndieWeb means then why do things like IndieMark exist to check the "indieweb-ness of a site" 

nsmsn says: Reply to nsmsn

@colinwalker Couldn’t agree more. I moved from a static site to WordPress so I could participate in IndieWeb more easily. The IndieKit project looked promising until I realized I had to pay for and set up a separate server to get all that functionality.

I currently pay $150 for managed WordPress hosting, but that seems like a barrier too. Would gladly pay for a different service to run the protocols, CMS, host the website, etc. but give me access to the theme files and CSS. I’m a designer and I just want to write and design!

But I would love to see more non-techies and dare I say normies proliferate on the IndieWeb, too.

pimoore says: Reply to pimoore

@nsmsn @colinwalker Agreed with you both. The more options available that are accessible to everyone, the more people might just be inclined to write on their own domain that they control. Anything that takes away from the corporate silos is a good thing for the web—dare I say society in general, even. Despite the IndieWeb technology being complex, these are still simple principles that it rightly espouses when you peel those techie layers away.

…give me access to the theme files and CSS. I’m a designer and I just want to write and design!

So much this, and I would add keep them optional so those that want to dig in can do so, while leaving them otherwise tucked away.

Dunk says: Reply to Dunk

@colinwalker 🤷‍♂️ I don't get it. What is wrong with the web? Plain vanilla HTML is all you need. If we could persuade people to add hypertext links to their posts it would be a major breakthrough. I fear these techie people are painting themselves into a corner. IndieAuth, Webmention, Micropub, WebSub, Microsub (whatever they are. Standards?) may well be difficult to implement but why would I want to? And don't get me started on that IndieMark nonsense 🤮. Who are these people they imagine are unable to set up their own sites? The intelligent university educated people I worked with before retiring will tell you that a web browser is "the Internet". That is all they know. That is all they need to know. They are, rightly, not interested in any of this other stuff - because it is not that interesting. As Groucho said....

Colin Walker replied:

You're absolutely right that all the extras are not needed. However, even creating a simple HTML site is harder than it needs to be when you consider the full workflow involved.

Dunk says: Reply to Dunk

@colinwalker In days of yore (this was a time when you could buy an actual book that listed interesting web sites to visit) signing up with an ISP would provide you with some web space. The ISP would have an icon on your Desktop onto which you could drop your files and the shell script behind it would automagically upload them to your web space. Are there any hosts today that are geared towards personal sites? There is no market for them. Adding all this extra stuff is not going to change anything.

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