Engine attribution

March 21, 2013 | 2 comments

This site is (right now) powered by the WordPress open source blogging engine. If you hit “view source” in your browser, somewhere near the top, this is what you’ll see:

<meta name="generator" content="WordPress x.x.x" />

(Where x.x.x is the current version.)

I’m in the process of moving away from WordPress. More about that another time. But as part of this, I’ve been wanting to check out the sites of folks who participate in the IndieWeb community and figure out what they’ve been using. The IndieWeb community believes in owning your own content and pushing out to silos, and many of its participants create their own publishing platforms and release them as open source. (Again, more on this from me another time.)

So here’s a proposal. Let’s use that “generator” metatag to link to our home-spun platforms, and include a link to the repositories for those platforms, or at least pages that ultimately link to those repositories. For example:

<meta name="generator" content="My platform http://github.com/myplatform/core" />

That way, while there’s no need to place a visible link where it might not be relevant, people who are interested can always find a way to your software, where they can make use of it, learn from it, or even help extend it.

Schneier: nationalism on the Internet is getting worse

March 15, 2013 | Leave a comment

Internet security expert Bruce Schneier is worried about the increase in Internet nationalism:

For technology that was supposed to ignore borders, bring the world closer together, and sidestep the influence of national governments, the Internet is fostering an awful lot of nationalism right now. We’ve started to see increased concern about the country of origin of IT products and services; U.S. companies are worried about hardware from China; European companies are worried about cloud services in the U.S; no one is sure whether to trust hardware and software from Israel; Russia and China might each be building their own operating systems out of concern about using foreign ones.

A smart piece. I tend to be an outlier in that I have a hard time even with patriotism – but this is the Internet, where we’re all supposed to be coming together and learning from each other. There’s nothing positive to be gained from this kind of bone-headed national competition.

Silos, the open web, and selfdogfooding

March 14, 2013 | Leave a comment

Tantek Çelik has written an important post about silos vs an open, social web:

The answer is not to not “only [be] relevant to geeks”, but rather, reframe it as a positive, and be relevant to yourself. That is, design, architect, create, and build for yourself first, others second. If you’re not willing to run your design/code on your own site, for your primary identity on the web, day-in and day-out, why should anyone else? If you started something that way but no longer embrace it as such, start over. Go Selfdogfood or go home.

It’s thought-provoking, and worth a read: On Silos vs an Open Social Web.

Tantek defines “selfdogfooding” as “using your own creations on your own personal site that you depend on, day to day.” That’s an important perspective, because for one thing, many of us don’t have personal sites anymore, and yet more of us never did. Some of us have social networking profiles, but I wouldn’t classify those as sites.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I interface with the modern web, and in the wake of the Google Reader closure that’s an even more important discussion. I like the POSSE: (Publish Own Site, Syndicate Everywhere) approach very much – by publishing to something I directly control and then pushing out to sites like Twitter, Facebook and Google+, I’m the one who’s in charge of my presence on the Internet, without losing any of the network effects.

This poses other questions. When you control the entire platform that your presence runs on, and you know how to write code, what should your presence look like? Right now I’m using WordPress to power this site, and ThinkUp to process my interactions with the wider social web, but what could I build myself?

This dovetails nicely with another question I’ve been asking myself lately. I designed the architecture for Elgg 0.x in 2004, and the original 1.x architecture was set down two years later. What would an easy-to-use open source social platform that was easy to deploy onto shared hosting look like, given the set of technologies we have available to us in 2013? Let alone what we know now about user behavior and design? It’s a different web out there, and I don’t know. But if I want to, I can explore; the best way to do that is to use it myself.

Updated to add: I built this. It’s called idno, and I’m using it over at werd.io.

Google Reader is dead

March 13, 2013 | 8 comments

Google Reader was a tentpole of the web I wanted: open, with full freedom of expression that wasn’t tethered to the platform you happened to choose to use. That web is now, largely, gone. Reader will be discontinued this spring.

In the same announcement, Google are talking about killing the standardized CalDAV API in favor of a Google Calendar specific set of calls.

You mean to say we’re going to have to go back and build that web again? That sounds like a good thing to do.

(If you’re missing Google Reader as much as I am, The Old Reader is a worthy alternative.)

Next Page »