Indieweb adoption – how does a new way spread?

A conversation cropped up in the #indieweb slack about how wide its adoption currently was. It surprised me to learn that there were, at most, around 10,000 sites that could currently be described as indieweb properties.

While Micro.blog supports indieweb technologies (so will technically boost those numbers as it grows) it was wondered if its members were "all 'actively' seeking out an indieweb presence" and whether this actually mattered.

Does having it but not understanding make a difference?

Of course not.

Everyone uses the web and email without having a clue about how they work, about the protocols behind them or the RFCs these protocols originated in.

People don't need to know and the indieweb will be no different.

An understanding is currently required solely because it's the only way to get it set up: implementing it yourself, either completely manually or in conjunction with a selection of plugins.

Stealth

When I wrote about mainstream social media adoption back in 2008 I said it would happen by stealth. People weren't actively seeking a social presence, they didn't wake up one day and suddenly think "I'm going to join a social network!"

They fell in to social, they just wanted to talk to their friends and family.

Widespread indieweb adoption will be the same, it will happen by stealth because someone with a bit of clout decides to implement it.

What if, for example, Automattic (the company behind WordPress) suddenly decided that all standard WordPress.com themes were going to include microformats2 markup and support webmentions? You've instantly got millions of people with an indieweb presence who haven't got a clue what it is or how it works, just that things are a little different.

Attempts at getting microformats2 markup into the WordPress core, however, have so far proved unfruitful.

Trigger

Ideas spread slowly, organically, word of mouth and person to person, until a tipping point is reached.

Even though something may be ratified as a W3C standard it doesn't mean everyone is going to start using it.

Maybe there needs to a trigger, a light bulb moment, a catalyst that galvanises the decision. What if something like Micro.blog takes off and starts getting a lot of attention.

What would it take?

If such a moment did occur any widespread adoption certainly wouldn't be couched in indieweb terms; there would be new terminology. Perhaps it would just be described as a new way to present your information to make it easier to identify, respond to, and to interact with other sites.

After all, if the indieweb becomes mainstream it's no longer indie.

  1. Well put, Colin. A platform like Micro.blog has a great deal of potential to advance the adoption of IndieWeb building blocks like Micropub, IndieAuth, Webmention, and mf2, even if the users of Micro.blog don’t know or understand any of the underlying foundations. Why? User experience! Micro.blog is simply leveraging IndieWeb technology and standards to build a platform that makes users happy.
    While Micro.blog is a great step forward for the IndieWeb, I still believe that the holy grail is getting native support for IndieWeb deep within WordPress core, including broad support from themes. WordPress runs over 28% of all websites, and IndieWeb support in core could be the tipping point for broad adoption.
    →†’