I much like Laura Kalbag’s “I don’t track you” declaration on her blog. She links to that post in the footer of her webpages.

As Laura Kalbag says it’s “as much a fact as a mission statement“. I would definitely like to be able to say the same, because it’s important as a signal, as a statement that the web does not need to be what the silos as advert delivery and manipulation vehicles make it to be. But for this blog it isn’t fully a fact.

I do not track anything anyone does on my site. But others in some instances do. This is the case where I embed material from elsewhere. Although often what I embed is still my own content, such as photos and slides, they are served from the likes of YouTube (Google), Flickr, and Slideshare (LinkedIn). The primary reason for using such services is storage space. Presentations, videos and photo collections tend to be large files, filling up the allocated space in my hosting package quickly. And of course there are occasions where I do want to show content by others (photos and videos). Especially in the case of images, showing other people’s content here is very deliberate, based on an obligation to re-use.

This means that I am an enabler of the tracking that such services do when you visit my blog. To be certain, you have a personal responsibility here too: your browser is your castle, and that Castle Doctrine of browsers means that you should already actively block tracking in your browser. However, I also have a responsibility to not expose visitors to tracking where that can be avoided.

So how to avoid tracking? What alternatives are out there? Here’s a list with the services from which this site over the years has embedded material.

  • YouTube (Google): I did not know this until I looked for it today, prompted by Laura Kalbag’s blogpost, but Google provides a setting with embedded YT videos that disables tracking and serves the video from a different domain (youtube-nocookies.com). This is what I will do from now on, and I will go through my older postings to change the embed code in the same way.
  • Flickr: I use Flickr a lot, it’s both my off-site online photo backup, as well as an easy way to post images here, without taking up hosting space. My tracking detection tool (Ghostery) does not find any trackers of embedded images, provided I strip out some of the scripting that comes with an embed by default. This stripping of superfluous stuff I routinely do, and is in my muscle memory.
  • Slideshare: this I think needs replacing. A Slideshare embed always comes with a Google Analytics tracker and a 3rd party beacon it seems. There is no way I can strip any of that out. It’s a good idea to do without Slideshare anyway, so need to search for an alternative. I might go for my own cloud space, or start making my slides differently, e.g. in HTML5, or find some other tool that I can attach to a private cloud space, and allows easy sharing with others.
  • Scribd: this one definitely needs to go too. Embedding a Scribd document adds Google Analytics and a Facebook tracker, and curiously still a Google+ tracker too, though that service no longer exists. Again, need to search for an alternative. Same as with Slideshare.
  • Vimeo: this video embedding service does not add trackers as far as I can tell from my Ghostery tracking monitoring plugin.
  • 23Video: this platform has pivoted to corporate marketing videos and webinars, and no longer supports casual embeds like in the past. I will need to go through my archive though to clean up the postings where I used 23Video.
  • Qik. This was a live streaming video service I used around 2008. The domain is no longer active, and any embeds no longer work. Will need to clean up some old postings.

So, from this list, Slideshare and Scribd stand out as the ones adding tracking features to this site, and will need to go first. So I’ll focus there on finding replacements. Flickr and Vimeo are ok for now, and Youtube for as long as they respect their own privacy settings. Flickr and Vimeo of course don’t have your data as their business model, whereas YT does, and it shows. Once I’ve removed the tracking functionality from embedded content, what remains is that any call to an outside source results in your IP being logged in that outside server’s logs, and by extension your user agent etc. This is unavoidable as it comes with connecting to any web server. The only way I can avoid such logging is by ensuring I no longer use anything from any outside source, and hosting it myself. For my own content that is possible, as for images I re-use from e.g. Flickr (by serving the image itself from a server I own, and otherwise just linking to the source and creator. As I did with the image below), but hardest for re-using other people’s videos.

Tracks of footprints in the snow, image by Roland Tanglao, license CC BY

Welcome to using WebMention, Jeremy. Still figuring out how to best use it myself with regard to how they get displayed on my site.

Like you I use WordPress, and I would love for mentions to display more like the old pingbacks, where you’d get a snippet from the mentioning site from around where it links to you. Now it mostly is ‘site x mentioned this.’ which makes me click to get a notion if it’s relevant.

On Webmention tweaks I documented some of the things I tried. The issue is that because the tweaks are in the Semantic Linkbacks plugin, not in the WP theme, you can only make those tweaks a permanent option if it gets rolled into the plugin (no such things as a child-plugin like with themes). And I’m not confident enough of my changes to figure out and try submitting them to the maintainers of the plugin.

Replied to Now supporting Webmention by Jeremy Felt

I think? If you know how to send a Webmention, please do so that I know it works!….I’ll need to do some spelunking to figure out how I want to display and style them

You can find my current list of feeds I follow on https://zylstra.org/opml/tonzylstra.opml, which I publish as my blogroll. It’s an OPML file that is also readable for human eyes, and can be directly imported into your feed reader. Latest version is from November, I’ll update it later today.

Replied to Shill me your feeds, please (Boris Mann’s Blog)

Just got on the NetNewsWire Public iOS beta. It’s free and open source and a good excuse to reboot your RSS habits.Shill me your feeds, please 😉

Last year I added openly licensed images of the week number to my Week Notes postings. I want to more frequently use openly licensed and re-usable cultural artefacts. Because ultimately, only if you use it will it stay available, so there’s an obligation to re-use common cultural artefacts. All images I use here on my blog, and also all images I use in presentations are Creative Commons licensed or Public Domain images (except for screenshots). My own photos are Creative Commons licensed (though not fully open, as they preclude commercial re-use), as are my postings here.

For 2020 I came up with a new rationale for the expected 53 weekly images, using an idea that Elmine suggested to me.

In 2020 I will choose re-usable images based on historical events of the week in question. So every Week Notes of 2020 will end with a ‘This week in … ‘ segment with an openly licensed image.

Here’s to 2020!

20 20

(Left hand side image by Andy Maguire, license CC BY. Right hand side image by John Johnston, license CC BY SA)

My site’s RSS feed both contains more postings than the site shows, as well as less postings than are on the site. E.g. I post my Week Notes unlisted, so they do not show up to casual website visitors, but they do get distributed through RSS. Vice versa I post things to my site, such as check-ins and messages that get syndicated to twitter, that do not get added to the RSS feeds. I am not at all sure how any of those categories do or do not show up in my microformats feed. It might even be that the h-feed only shows front page postings, which means most of my postings won’t be visible in it, as I only post a selection to the front page.

The discrepancy you encounter (“items missing text”) sounds like something different though. RSS feeds might contain only excerpts of posts, where the h-feed has all of a posting (unless the blog page with also only shows excerpts). My feed is a full-article feed, but I think the WordPress default might be excerpts only.

Replied to a post by Jan BoddezJan Boddez

Turns out a lot of IndieWeb peeps’ RSS feeds are rather incomplete. Like, if I subscribe to their Microformats feed, everything is there, while RSS items are missing text. Should be an easy fix.