Webmentions & Microblog
I’m active on the new Microblog site that Manton Reese has created. (See my link in the header above.) I guess it’s still in beta, because it’s not yet open to everyone and he’s constantly adding new features and fixing things. It is generally designed as a micro blogging (short posts) site that isn’t a silo. I signed up for the Kickstarter because I wanted to try out a new blogging platform that isn’t a silo, sort of a Twitter that is more a part of the IndieWeb. So far I’ve been enjoying it a lot! The time I used to spend on Twitter, I’m now spending doing blogging on Microblog and here on Blot. I paid money in the Kickstarter to be able to have my Ron.micro.blog site hosted on Manton’s server. Then I splurged ($20/year) to also have this blog on Blot.
On top of that, I went crazy with a spending spree at Namecheap and bought my own domain name for every subject I have posted about in the past and/or that I expect to write about in the future. A LOT of them. To me, it seemed like the bare minimum for having some independent presence on the Internet is to publish on a site(s) where I own the domain name. The only reason I did this is that at long last I have a computer guy who I pay to setup servers for me. I would never try to do it on my own, as I’m a tax accountant. not a web designer, sys admin or computer engineer.
But many of the folks on Microblog are one of those things that I’m not, most of them being of the Apple computer persuasion. One of the main things I see them tinkering with is Webmentions. They all have their own websites or blogs and Webmentions seems to be a key element of going the full IndieWeb route. So they’re working on getting their websites working with Webmentions and also getting all that to work with Microblog. This all goes over my head. By taking Baby Steps, I was able to get this Blot blog working. But remember, I’m a tax accountant, a good one with over thirty decades of experience, not a computer nerd.
Many of these developers, who mostly use Apple tools, have been super nice to me, even though tax accounting means I have been using Windows computers for about forty years. They don’t hold it against me, at least not out loud. I’ve had more interaction with these folks than I ever did in five years on Twitter and ALL of it has been friendly, positive and helpful.
Is Webmentions the Next Fork in the Road I Must Take?
Baby Steps can only get you so far, especially if you’ve decided not to go the silo route any longer. Do I need to get Webmentions working? I’ve been kicking this around in my mind, reading about various things these developers are doing to make it work for them. It always sounds pretty darn complicated to me, with its own special jargon and I’ve been lazy about getting all these new terms defined. It’s hard to sing the tune, if you don’t know or understand the words.
Yesterday Jeremy Cherfas wrote a short piece, We are still a long way from home that made a lot of sense to me. Maybe silos are popular because they’re so damn easy to use! I found the link to Jeremy’s posting on the Microblog Home stream yesterday morning. But when I went back later to look at it again, it seemed to have disappeared from the Home stream. Fortunately I had clicked Favorite on it, so I was able to find it again and follow it to his blog. Once there, I poked around and found a much more detailed discussion of Webmentions.
I looked at his About page and found he’s a freelance communicator, probably an expert one. He doesn’t seem to be a web developer, but wanted to get this Webmentions thing working on his website. His article describes the many hours he has spent trying to get it working using a plugin he found and then another approach he is taking. He is obviously very motivated to getting this stuff working, which is clear from the title he chose for his article, Not giving up on IndieWeb.
He also linked to an article by Glenn Dixon, who HAS given up on IndieWeb and webmentions in particular. He makes a sobering statement about all this: There is a reason that the handful of people who actually care and talk about this stuff have careers in programming. At this point, that is what is required to get this up and running. I had been suspecting that this technology was not ready for my Baby Steps approach. My suspicions seem to be well founded. Jeremy Cherfas is likely well beyond the Baby Steps stage and persistent as hell on top of that.
Last night I visited Jeremy’s first short article again and discovered that it had acquired a comment at the bottom from Chris Aldrich, who said there is a “(currently small) group of geeky IndieWeb users who will eventually make it easy enough for everyone else too.” Hey, maybe this is even a webmention in the flesh, but one that confirms that the stuff is not yet ready for my Baby Steps!
So I decided not to take the Webmentions fork in the road, at least for now.
I have only one reservation about the development of this IndieWeb stuff. While it is in progress, most of these websites have disabled regular comments, if they ever had them. Often there is also no contact information given, or it takes a lot of hunting on their websites to find it. So if one doesn’t have webmentions working on one’s own website, there is no obvious way of communicating with these folks about things they post. I have found that if they’re also on the Microblog website, one can post a message there, addressed to them. But that seems pretty round about, when an old school place to post a comment on their original post would be very easy to leave. I guess that’s a temporary cost of progress during this interim period.
What is the next step I can take with my Baby Steps? Well maybe I will see whether I can get a picture posted on this blog, maybe even a picture with some text along with it. That might be nice.
Colin Devroe wrote an article pointing to this one, which I then replied to on his blog. He replied to that and that comment appeared as a webmention on Jack Baty’s blog. And I began to see why people might want an automated way to keep track of all this stuff! I find it very interesting that Colin decided to turn comments back on, on his blog, after reading my article.
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