The IndieWeb as a minimum viable social web ecosystem

July 9, 2013 | 1 comment

I wrote a post as a submission for the W3C’s upcoming Workshop on Social Standards: The Future of Business.

Although there have been significant advances in the field over the last five years, there remains a need to prove the business value of decentralized web technologies. To many of us involved in both the industry and the movement, this seems silly: after all, the business value of other decentralized technologies, like email and the phone system, are hardly questioned. Nonetheless, in a world where centralized data siloes regularly receive multi-billion-dollar valuations, the onus is on those of us who are building more open technologies to demonstrate their worth. Note, it is not enough to argue their worth: we must build, ship, and actively demonstrate a profitable product or service with a business model where the decentralized social web is an inextricable component.

I believe that these compelling business models exist, and that they are most easily discoverable in the enterprise. However, belief is not demonstration: we must continue to test and iterate them. During this exploration phase, this means that, our software and underlying protocols must be easy to write, adapt and change. Ease of development is more important than sophistication; we must not create our own technical lock-in before we even ship.

I posted the whole piece on Werd.io, and it also made it to the front page of Hacker News.

Introducing Herebe

I wrote a short novel about Silicon Valley, startups, and, well, dragons. It’s a little different to the kind of thing I normally share here, but bear with me.

From a review on Amazon UK:

What happens when dragons appear over California? And why are they appearing? And how can our hero use them to get himself a good tech job?

This book is a bit hard to categorise. It has elements of fairy tales, without reading like one. It’s got enough computing terminology to make me feel like I might have learned something. It’s got some pretty pointed moral philosophising. It’s urban fantasy. It’s comedy. It’s got a hint of Chuck Palaniuk, a dollop of Douglas Coupland and also a touch of Tom Holt.

And on Amazon.com:

OMG, this book was a lot of fun. Take all the magic of JK Rowlings and set it in the get-rich-quick start-up fever world of San Francisco, subtract all the douchiness of that Bravo TV series, add a touch of Firefly wittiness, and you get magic for big kids.

So, er, that’s that. Here’s that Amazon link again.

What is idno?

July 3, 2013 | 2 comments

I wrote a post over at werd.io about idno, the open source publishing tool I’ve been building:

You may know that I co-founded Elgg, the open source social networking engine, which is used by the likes of Oxfam, NASA, the World Bank and several national governments as a social intranet and learning platform. The original thinking around Elgg happened a decade ago. Given that, you shouldn’t be surprised to learn that my original thought experiment was: What decisions would I make if I was building Elgg today, in 2013? What would I do the same way, and what would I do differently?

It’s still a relatively technical post – it’s still very much in development, after all – but go read the whole post and let me know what you think.

Decentralized comments and the IndieWeb

July 1, 2013 | Leave a comment

I just stumbled on this old thread by Marc Canter and Stephen Downes (emphasis mine):

I think that so long as we leave content on other people’s sites (or in their in-boxes) we will have the dual problems of spam and host lock-in.

The primary use of OpenID should not simply be identification, but also, to tell remote sites where to direct our actions. So – in a sense – I carry all my own home website tools with me when I travel around the web.

This is, in part, what the IndieWeb is all about – and it works today. I recorded a video demo of how these features work in idno last week:

(Reading this in an RSS reader? Here’s a direct link.)