Who am I? Who does the web think I am?


One of the biggest issues facing us on the web is identity. Who are we or, perhaps more accurately, who does the web think we are?

We have become an amalgam of usernames, email addresses and profiles, and who we appear to be depends on which instance is being viewed.

You may say that this is no different to offline life where we are "different people" when interacting with family, friends or work colleagues - and you'd be right. But, even against this backdrop, we have our birth certificate, driving license and passport: officially sanctioned ways to say "this is me."

We need this for the web.

Half way house?

I'll admit I am conflicted about different aspects of the #Indieweb like comments, replies and other cross-site actions.

When relaunching the blog last year I deliberately removed all commenting functionality as I didn't want the hassle of handling them at my own site. I did have to re-add a simple comment loop to account for webmentions (how Micro.blog will let you know if replies to posts) but still don't really want to go beyond that in order to support additional elements.

Without the various cross-site actions is it a bit pointless going the #Indieweb route if I'm not all in?

I don't believe so and here's why.

The most important aspect of the Indieweb is owning your identity, your proper identity as mentioned above. Everything else stems from that. And, the most stable way of creating an identity is by owning your own domain and all that's connected to it.

Owning your content is a key part of this but that is not entirely possible without your own site.

Controlling who you are and having a fixed identity (not one framed in the context of a social network) is liberating.

Being able to sign in as you on another web property - literally as your domain - rather than as an external and fragmented instance of you, e.g. your Twitter account, is fundamental to what the Indieweb is all about.

We may be able to associate our domain based identity with these external aspects of ourselves by way of rel="me" links but, what if everywhere allowed you to sign in with a single account.

Truly you

What if you were truly you on Twitter or Facebook, if accounts on disparate services were actually all the same identity. Everything related back to a single point. Your single point.

No confusion, no ambiguity.

It won't happen as these silos want to control this identity, have it feed back and work for them.

So, we should support those services that, in turn, support this ideal. Beyond that, we can always dream.

  1. Perhaps I'm not quite reading your meaning properly, but I'm curious about the portion about your having turned off comments. I also notice your link requesting to "Comment on this at Medium". Both seemed odd to me as some of the benefit of having an indieweb site is having things set up to have better two way communication with others, while still owning the and having control and agency over the conversation. This being said, I have, however, been considering turning off generic public (and anonymous) comments in favor of receiving comments only via webmentions. I think the fact that users who wish to comment on my content needing to post it on their own site first helps cut down on the spam and poorly thought out me-too commentary. To some extent I think this was the tremendous value of Tumblr's not having a native commenting system. In their paradigm, to comment on something, one needed to put their commentary into their own personal stream first to be able to push the comment to the receiver's site as a secondary action. The social consequences of this are much stronger in terms of cutting back on a lot of junk, spam, and personal attacks because it becomes personally identifiable as representing themselves first and foremost (especially on their own site). Some of the problems Twitter and others have stem from users not really owning their content or their identities on those platforms which makes it much easier to become a nameless/faceless bully. In some sense I think of it by analogy as a "Christmas tree effect". One purchases a wonderful Christmas tree and only puts up the useful and pretty decorations on it because it's what they and others who visit will see in broad view--often even publicly through their window from the street outside their home. Very few will go out of their way to buy a shabby looking tree and festoon it with dreadful ornaments as it's something ugly that not only they see constantly within their own home, but which will publicly brand them as such to friends, family, and even outsiders within their community. Separately, thanks for the example your site provides. There are many subtleties you've got within your theme that I've been slowly working my way toward as well. I appreciate the way you've laid out and delineated the content. I also love the idea of a microcast which is something I've been contemplating for ages, but have never gotten around to actually doing. Your version and conceptualization are inspiring me to take another hard look at actually doing something.