HTML graffity tag, image by Markus Tacker, license CC-BY-ND

In developing for the web HTML is the very frontest of the front-end, and if you’re a front-end person, you do need to know your HTML. It helps keeping things simple and allows people like me to hit ‘view source’ and figure out how something is done, so I can use it on my own site. I started out writing HTML decades ago in simple text editors like notepad. I still write on my blog in text mode exclusively, never in visual or wysiwyg mode, and add a lot of my html in postings by hand (sometimes aided by keyboard shortcuts that make things easier and avoid repetition)

HTML is the web. And it is useful and powerful in its own right. Without embellishments through scripts etc.
It is in part why I like the IndieWeb, as it seeks to use HTML itself to make webpages machine readable, and to add things that take the best of the social media silos, without all the ajax stuff for instance. So that it works, because it is made of the web, on the web, for the web.

When organising the IndieWebCamp Utrecht last month I realised how little connection I still have to coders and developers for the web in my network. Many people I approached with an invitation to participate told me ‘I don’t develop much for the web really.’, they’re more into all kinds of frameworks and work on things like algorithms, machine learning and data analysis. Cool stuff I heartily agree, but ultimately it mostly ends up being shown in a browser. In HTML. So in a way it is disappointing to encounter a certain disdain here and there for HTML.

For me, I need to dive more deeply in the various ways HTML is currently used to add machine readability to web pages.

We have a little rooftop terrace and I am using it to try to grow berries and other things with the little one. The roof terrace has two advantages over the garden: it catches more sunlight, and the cats don’t go up there.

The plants have taken well it seems, are blooming, and even providing some harvest already.


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tomatoes and red pepper

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blossoming blackberries and red currants

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blueberries underway, and first raspberries

20190617_193441cucumbers coming up

Journalism as a service, journalism as a process. And quoting The Guardian on how they diversify revenue streams, as different groups of readers are willing to pay for different things, despite reading the same stories. This ties into what Hossein Derakhshan talks about when he says journalism needs to leave ‘news’ as a format behind.

Liked How news organisations are succeeding with reader-first digital transformation by Kevin Anderson, Author at Strange Attractor

I think his framing of how to become reader focused also made sense in terms of selling journalism as a process rather than as a product. By looking as journalism as a service to be sold instead of a product, then companies could re-orient around their “impact on the customer”, he said.

Van harte gefeliciteerd met je verjaardag, Frank! Toen ik je posting las vroeg ik me eerst wel af wat ik aan het lezen was “Wat is dit? Een AI-gegenereerde tekst?” Na het lezen van het laatste stukje werd de rest ook ineens begrijpelijker. Nu je 4.6 release het ondersteunt stuur ik je app geen kaartje of bericht, maar schrijf ik je felicitatie gewoon hier op mijn eigen site. Voelt dat hetzelfde?

Replied to Hoera! Versie 4.6 is live! by Frank Meeuwsen

Vandaag vieren we een nieuwe versie-release! Na een jaar hard werken mogen we met het complete ontwikkelteam trots zijn op de stappen die we hebben gezet. Vorig jaar rond deze tijd merkten we dat er nog wat incompatibiliteits issues waren, sowieso draaide de software in een andere hardware omgeving …

Thank you Chris for pointing out your work on your own blogroll, and how WordPress itself might be of use here.

Adding images is a nice feature. I added faces in my blogroll in 2003, because I generally subscribe to people not sources, and showing them in my blogroll was a nice way to visualise my blogging peer network, and make blogs look more like the social tools they are.

My blogroll in 2003

Bringing that back would be cool. Especially if relying on gravatars where possible.

So if I understand your postings correctly, the Links manager in WordPress also creates a separate OPML file. Now if this OPML file could e.g. be automatically loaded into a microsub server like Yarns, that would be even better. Then it would all be under the same WP roof.

I notice that the Links Manager allows categories and multiple at that, but tags next to categories would be even better. To do ‘Berlin coders into gardening posts this week’ type of searches in a reader. Having all the tags as categories would look cluttered in WP. I have little use for the defined XFN fields, I’d rather have tags that concern various facets of a blogger’s profile (tech, Drupal, infosec, parent, Barcelona, French, Arabic, rock climbing) to enable fast and detailed cross sections of my feeds. Having those tags here would presumably more easily allow me to carry them over into my reader somehow. Basically trying to figure out if WP Links manager could be the source of such data.

In terms of my ideal feedreader lots of the other features could then happen in a microsub/pub client.

One other question to explore: is there a way to bulk load links into the link manager. It is likely easier to build a spreadsheet with all relevant info for my current 200 feeds or so first. Do you add link by link by hand, Chris?

Replied to a post by Chris AldrichChris Aldrich

I’ll see you your blogroll and add in images and descriptions as well! … Perhaps what we really need is to give some love to that Link Manager in core to update it to OPML v2 and add in the rel attributes from XFN microformats to the links?

Recently at the Crafting {:} a Life unconference fellow participant and all around Internet Gentleman Olle hosted a session on fantasy cartography. Today I came across these excellent examples of using fictional maps, those of Middle Earth, to explore the possibilities of professional geographic information tools.

In short, Frodo could have saved half his travel time, cutting it by over 3 months, by spending some time on data analysis and route mapping first to get to the route that is the safest direct route against lowest effort.

Alternative routes into Mordor

Or should he have flown? (Fly you fools!)

Peter in his circle of friendsPeter in his circle of friends at the start of Crafting {:} a Life (image by Elmine, CC-BY-NC-SA license

When the first Dutch astronaut Wubbo Ockels, went to space on the D1 mission he had a clear goal. Earlier astronauts upon returning to earth had all responded to the question how it was to see the entire earth from above, our blue ball in the black void, with things like “Great”, “Very moving”, “So very beautiful”. Ockels was determined to find a better description for the experience, by preparing for it, by more consciously observing and reflecting while up there. Yet when he came back he realised all he could say was “So very beautiful” as well. There was no way for him to put the layering, depth and richness of the experience in words that would actually fully convey it.

Experiencing an unconference can be like that. It certainly took me about a week to come back down to earth (and overcome the jet-lag) after spending a handful of days on Prince Edward Island in a somewhat parallel universe, Peter‘s Crafting {:} a Life unconference with around 50 of his friends and connections.

Here too, the description “it was great” “it was beautiful” is true but also empty words. I heard several of the other participants comment it was “life changing” for them, and “the start of something momentous on PEI”. I very well understand that sentiment, but was it really? Can it really be that, life changing?

I have heard the same feedback, ‘life changing’, about our events as well. Particularly the 2014 edition. And I know the ripples of those events have changed the lives of participants in smaller and bigger ways. Business partnerships formed, research undertaken, lasting friendships formed. I recognise the emotions of the natural high a heady mix of deep conversations, minds firing, freedom to explore, all around topics of your own interest can create. I felt very much in flow during an hours long conversation at Crafting {:} a Life for instance.

Reboot had that impact on me in 2005, reinforced by the subsequent editions. Those multiple editions created a journey for me. Bringing students there in 2009, because I was one of the event’s sponsors, was certainly life changing for them. It spoilt them for other types of events, and triggered organising their own events.
In a certain way Crafting {:} a Life brought the Reboot spirit to PEI, was a sort of expression of Reboot as it included half a dozen connections that originated there in 2005. Similarly I feel our own unconferences are attempts at spreading the Reboot spirit forward.

What makes it so? What makes one say ‘life changing’ about an event? Space to freely think, building on each other’s thoughts, accepting the trade-off that if your pet topics get discussed others will do other things you may not be interested in. Meeting patience while you formulate your (half-baked) thoughts. That is something that especially has been important in the experience of teenagers that took part in our events, and I think for Oliver too. That everyone is participating in the same way, that age or background doesn’t somehow disqualify contributions, and being treated as having an equal stake in being there.

How do you get to such a place? I find it’s mixing the informal/human with the depth and content normally associated with formalisation.

What made Peter’s event work for instance was the circle at the start.
The room itself was white and clinical to start in, and people were huddled in the corner seeking the warmth of the coffee served there. The seating arrangement however meant everyone had to walk the circle on the inside to find their seat. Then once seated, after welcoming words, there was music by one of the participants who offered it, first a reflective and then an upbeat song. This in aggregate made the room the group’s room, made it a human room. The post-its on the wall after the intro round led by Elmine increased that sense of it being our room, and the big schedule on the wall we made together completed it. Now it was our own central space for the event.

Splitting the event over two days and marking both days differently (meeting/talking, and doing) worked well too. It meant people weren’t coming back for the same thing as yesterday, but had something new to look forward to with the same measure of anticipating the unknown as the first day. While already having established a shared context, and new connections the day before.

The result was, to paraphrase Ockels, “great”. Clark, one of our fellow participants, found a few more and better words:

Crafting {:} a Life was a breath of fresh air. The unconference dispensed with pretension, titles or faux expertise. Everyone had for the most part a chance to share their story, contribute, and talk. While some asked what I did for a living, it was only after all other avenues of discussion were explored. For the most part one-to-one conversations were much like what I had with Robert Paterson, (“What is Clark’s story” he asked) open ended, personal, and with the ability to discover new things about the other. The activities emphasized small groups and there was no “oh my God my PPT is out of order what will we talk about” that I myself have fallen victim to. There was music, laughter, food and tears. It was genuine, …

I think that goes to the heart of it. It was genuine, the format didn’t deny we are human but embraced it as a key element. And in the space we created there was way more room than usually at events to be heard, to listen. And most of all: space to share the enormous gift of two days worth of your focused attention.

I feel it is that that makes these events stand out. Most other events don’t do that for its participants: Space for focused attention, while embracing your humanity. Reboot did that, it even had a kindergarten on site and people brought their kids e.g. But that approach is very scarce. It needn’t be. It also needn’t be an unconference to create it. A conversation, dinner party, or other occasion might just as well. (I found that video btw on a blog in the rss feeds of one of the participants, which seems apt).

On our way home Elmine suggested doing a second edition of our e-book ‘How to unconference your birthday’ (PDF). I think that is a very good idea, as Peter and us now have experience from both being an organiser and a participant, and we have now several additional events worth of experiences to draw upon. We created the first edition as a gift and memento to all participants of our 2010 edition, the 2nd such event we did and the first we did in our home. A decade on a second edition seems fitting.

In the whole blogroll and rss feed nudging of the last few days after Crafting {:} a Life, Luisa Carbonelli alerted me that my blog hasn’t updated in 41 months….according to the Feedly rss reader. And when I tried it myself I got the same result: ‘unreachable’.

That seemed odd, so I took a look at my server logs. Indeed Feedly requests for my feed all get a ‘403 not allowed’ response.

My server’s error log shows the reason why. Because feedly in its request says it is ‘like Feedfetcher-Google’, it triggers a filter to block bad bots. After all there’s no Feedfetcher-Google anymore, so anything pretending to be it can be denied access.

However Feedly is a useful service, and strictly speaking not even a bot, as it reduces the requests for info for all Feedly followers to just one fetch of my feed.
I submitted a ticket with my hoster asking them to whitelist Feedly, [UPDATE:] which resolved the issue later today.

We came across this bird in Montréal, and wondered about its name. I said it looked a bit like a blackbird, with added red stripes.


Wikipedia tells me it is indeed rather unimaginatively called ‘red-winged blackbird‘. Its sounds were quite varied and beautiful, so I suspect in its own mind it will have a rather more impressive concept of self than being merely a pimped up blackbird.

After my recent posting where I asked people which RSS feeds they read, I received several responses. One of them is Peter’s. Like me he was publishing an OPML file of his feeds already. OPML is a machine readable format that most RSS readers will be able to import, so you can subscribe to blogs I subscribe to. OPML however isn’t easily readable to human eyes.

Peter describes how he added a style sheet to his OPML file, and then ends with “You can do this too!“.

I can’t help but feel obliged to respond to that.

I downloaded Peter’s styling file, hunted for the images mentioned in them and downloaded those too. Then uploaded them into the same folder structure as Peter used, and made changes in the header of my existing OPML file. All according to Peter’s description.

When I say existing OPML file, that isn’t entirely true. Until now I used TinyTiny RSS to automatically post a OPML file from the feeds I follow in my TT-RSS instance. However, in practice I use Readkit as a feedreader, and every now and then I load an opml export of it into my TT-RSS. This as I use TT-RSS for some experimenting, but not as a ‘production’ environment. So in practical terms uploading my Readkit opml export to my site isn’t any different from uploading it into TT-RSS to have it automatically published on my site. So I will from now upload my Readkit OPML export directly to this blog. Which is what I used to do anyway before I started using TT-RSS.

The result is, yes I can do this too, and now have a human and machine readable OPML blogroll file in the right hand sidebar as blogroll.

Machine readable presentation of my opmlMachine readable presentation of my opml file

Human readable presentation of my opmlHuman readable presentation of the same opml file

Now it’s your turn 😉 : You can do this too!

A jet-lagged week as it came at the end of travel.

  • Monday we spent enjoying Montréal before boarding for Amsterdam
  • Jetlag dominated the rest of the week
  • Had a conference call on hosted open date registries / portals and hosted open source solutions for government entities in general
  • Did preparatory work for facilitating an unconference to celebrate the 10th anniversary of a professorial chair
  • Did preparatory work for a new engagement in Malaysia, which 18 months after the first proposal seems to be coming to fruition finally
  • Worked on an open data project for a province, concerning industrial zones, innovation subsidies, circular economy, and energy poverty
  • Got offered an extended engagement more heavily focused on change management and digital transformation, which sounds very appealing
  • Blogged a lot, enabled by jet-lag apparently, and motivated by last week’s Crafting {:} a Life unconference. A range of drafts is still unpublished
  • Trying to find a good way of posting something here on the go, which likely involves less tech than letting go of what a posting is supposed to be to be called finished. Reading up on my list of permissions to self therefore.
  • Enjoyed a lazy unhurried Saturday with the family

24 oreimage by Gilberto Taccari, license CC-BY

No it’s definitely not bad form to mention multiple things at the same time. And even if, all would be forgiven as you provide me with the honorific ‘blogfather’ 😀

From your post the quote below I very much recognise. Not just because that web of connections is fun, also because I know it is important in dealing with a complex world. Yet as you say, others will get lost in trying to get your message.

Keep it concise. I’m gonna struggle with this one because I really like the giant web of connections that my brain makes around any topic.

Replied to How to talk more? by rosie

Ton, is it bad form to webmention multiple of your blog posts in this one? Is that like spamming?

I guess the novelty will wear off after a year, but for now my ‘on this day’ widget keeps surfacing small fun finds in my blog archive. Fifteen years ago today I installed our first wifi at home. Twelve years ago today I hurt myself playing Wii-Tennis.

Looking back at my own archives day by day also helps repair some of the images I lost when migrating to a new server 6 years ago. Somehow after the migration I mislaid an image folder, chances are (along with my bitcoin wallet) it is still on the old laptop I stopped using around the same time. The web archive has stored most of the images as well however, so whenever I come across a ‘broken’ post and I still find it interesting, I go and get the images and upload them to the correct path on my web server. I just noticed that restoring the original image folder is still patiently in my Todo app after 6 years! I’ll mark it completed now 😀 .