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?

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.

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!

To me blogs and wikis are the original social software. My blog emerged as a personal knowledge management tool (Harold Jarche is the go-to source for PKM). Knowledge management to me has always been a very people centered, social thing. Learning through distributed conversations, networked learning (George Siemens and Stephen Downesconnectivism). My friend Lilia Efimova did her PhD on it, with our shared blogger network’s conversations as an empirical case. At some point social software morphed into social media, and its original potential and value as informal learning tools was lost in my eyes.

Blogs and wiki’s, they go well together. Blogs as thinking out loud and conversations (also with oneself). Wiki as its accumulated residue. I had a wiki alongside this blog for a very long time (until it succumbed to spam), both a public external one, and a private one. My friend Peter Rukavina still has his wiki Rukapedia alongside his blog. It serves in part as an explainer to his blog readers (e.g. see his wiki entry on me). Boris Mann, also a long time barcamp/blogging connection, runs a wiki which is editable by the public in part.

A year ago I felt the need to accumulate things in a more permanent way next to the timeline like blog. As I am the only one editing such a ‘wiki’, I opted to use WordPress pages for it (but you could open pages up for wider editing with a separate user-role). I added a few plugins for it, e.g. to add categories to pages so I can build menu structures. Kbase in the top menu leads to this wiki-for-just-me, although it doesn’t show all pages it contains (search will surface them though).

Replied to Introduced to infostrats by Neil MatherNeil Mather

So I am very intrigued by Kicks’ mention of the linkage between blogs and wikis. I like the idea of the blog timeline crystallising into a personal wiki over time.

Kicks Condor dives deeply into my info-strategy postings and impressively read them all as the whole they form (with my post on feed reading by social distance as starting point). It’s a rather generous gift of engagement and attention. Lots of different things to respond to, neurons firing, and tangents to explore. Some elements with a first reaction.

Knowing people is tricky. You can know someone really well at work for a decade, then you visit their home and realize how little you really know them.

Indeed, when I think of ‘knowing someone’ in the context of information strategies, I always do so as ‘knowing someone within a specific context’. Sort of what Jimmy Wales said about Wikipedia editors a long time ago: “I don’t need to know who you are“, (i.e. full name and identity, full background), but I do need to know who you are on Wikipedia (ihe pattern of edits, consistency in behaviour, style of interaction). As Wikipedia, which is much less a crowdsourced thing than an editorial community, is the context that counts for him. Time is another factor that I feel is important, it is hard to maintain a false or limited persona consistently over a long time. So blogs that go back years are likely to show a pretty good picture of someone, even if the author aims to stick to a narrow band of interests. My own blog is a case in point of that. (I once landed a project where at first the client was hesitant, doubting whether what I said was really me or just what they wanted to hear. After a few meetings everything was suddenly in order. “I’ve read your blog archives over the weekend and now know you’ll bring the right attitude to our issue”) When couch surfing was a novel thing, I made having been blogging for at least a year or two a precondition to use our couch.

I wonder if ‘knowing someone’ drives ‘social distance’—or if ‘desire to know someone’ defines ‘social distance’. […] So I think it’s instinctual. If you feel a closeness, it’s there. It’s more about cultivating that closeness.

This sounds right to me. It’s my perceived social distance or closeness, so it’s my singular perspective, a one way estimate. It’s not an estimation nor measure of relationship, more one of felt kinship from one side, indeed intuitive as you say. Instinct and intuition, hopefully fed with a diet of ok info, is our internal black box algorithm. Cultivating closeness seems a worthwhile aim, especially when the internet allows you to do so with others than those that just happened to be in the same geographic spot you were born into. Escaping the village you grew up in to the big city is the age old way for both discovery and actively choosing who you want to get closer to. Blogs are my online city, or rather my self-selected personal global village.

I’m not sure what to think about this. “Neutral isn’t useful.” What about Wikipedia? What about neighborhood events? These all feel like they can help—act as discovery points even.

Is the problem that ‘news’ doesn’t have an apparent aim? Like an algorithm’s workings can be inscrutable, perhaps the motives of a ‘neutral’ source are in question? There is the thought that nothing is neutral. I don’t know what to think or believe on this topic. I tend to think that there is an axis where neutral is good and another axis where neutral is immoral.

Responding to this is a multi-headed beast, as there’s a range of layers and angles involved. Again a lot of this is context. Let me try and unpick a few things.

First, it goes back to the point before it, that filters in a network (yours, mine) that overlap create feedback loops that lift patterns above the noise. News, as pretending to be neutral reporting of things happening, breaks that. Because there won’t be any potential overlap between me and the news channel as filters, no feedback loops. And because it purports to lift something from the background noise as signal without an inkling as to why or because of what it does so. Filtering needs signifying of stories. Why are you sharing this with me? Your perception of something’s significance is my potential signal.

There is a distinction between news (breaking: something happened!) and (investigative) journalism (let’s explore why this is, or how this came to be). Journalism is much closer to storytelling. Your blogging is close to storytelling. Stories are vehicles of human meaning and signification. I do follow journalists. (Journalism to survive likely needs to let go of ‘news’. News is a format, one that no longer serves journalism.)

Second, neutral can be useful, but I wrote neutral isn’t useful in a filter, because it either carries no signifcation, or worse that has been purposefully hidden or left out. Wikipedia isn’t neutral, not by a long-shot, and it is extensively curated, the traces of which are all on deliberate display around the eventually neutrally worded content. Factual and neutral are often taken as the same, but they’re different, and I think I prefer factual. Yet we must recognise that a lot of things we call facts are temporary placeholders (the scientific method is more about holding questions than definitive answers), socially constructed agreements, settled upon meaning, and often laden with assumptions and bias. (E.g. I learned in Dutch primary school that Belgium seceded from the Netherlands in 1839, Flemish friends learned Belgium did so in 1830. It took the Netherlands 9 years to reconcile themselves with what happened in 1830, yet that 1839 date was still taught in school as a singular fact 150 years later.)
There is a lot to say for aiming to word things neutrally. And then word the felt emotions and carried meanings with it. Loading wording of things themselves with emotions and dog whistles is the main trait of populistic debate methods. Allowing every response to such emotion to be parried with ‘I did not say that‘ and finger pointing at the emotions triggered within the responder (‘you’re unhinged!‘)

Finally, I think a very on-point remark is hidden in footnote one:

It is very focused on just being a human who is attempting to communicate with other humans—that’s it really.

Thank you for this wording. That’s it. I’ve never worded it this way for myself, but it is very to the point. Our tools are but extensions of ourselves, unless we let them get out of control, let them outgrow us. My views on technology as well as methods is that we must keep it close to humanity, keep driving humanity into it, not abstract it so we become its object, instead of being its purpose. As the complexity in our world is rooted in our humanity as well, I see keeping our tech human as the way to deal with complexity.

I have a ‘recent posts’ and ‘recent comments’ section in the sidebar. This seemed to create problems with the processing of webmentions, specifically with Aaron Parecki’s Xray library for grabbing structured info from any URL. It would find an apparently improperly micro-formatted link in the sidebar and take that as the URL of the posting referred to. This would create faulty likes on other people’s sites, which then would send webmentions to the wrong postings.

As recent posts and recent comments are only a navigational aid when you’re looking at things like the front page, search results and archive pages, I looked into if I can show them on those pages only. Because if those sections aren’t present on the pages of individual postings, they cannot cause problems when parsed for structure. This being a WordPress site, of course there’s a plugin for it, Widget Context. I installed it, removed the offending widgets from individual pages, and it looks like the problem has been solved.

Backfeed is an important element in breaking out of silos like Twitter, Facebook, and others. Backfeed means if I post something from my site to e.g. Twitter, that the responses to it (likes, answers) also become visible on my site. So that when those silos inevitably go away and get replaced, my interactions are still available on my own site and available in my own database. Ryan Barrett of the valuable backfeed service Bridgy writes about the difficulties of creating backfeed (with lots of things to figure out for each additional silo), and wonders about making backfeed possible without additional or separate code. Sort of how IFTTT allows you to create your own recipes to let various applications you use talk to each other.

An example of backfeed in action:

I posted this article on ‘slow AI’ on my website, and had Brid.gy automatically post it to my Twitter account.


the tweet, notice the repost and likes.

On Twitter people responded, with a repost and 2 likes.
Which Brid.gy sends back to my site, so I can show it underneath the original article:


the article showing the repost and likes as well

Through this, I can use Twitter to reach people and interact with them, without actually going to Twitter myself. I post on my site, it gets automatically sent to Twitter in the background, where people respond, which I see directly on my own site as incoming reactions. A full conversation on Twitter can be done completely on my own site this way. When Twitter dies, which it will, they will take all their data with them and all conversations will be lost. Yet, my Twitter interactions through my blog will remain available to me. Losing conversations isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I’d rather decide myself which conversations to keep and which to remove, than let some third party or outside event be the judge of that.

Backfeed is an emerging key bit of internet plumbing, much like RSS already is for a long time. Making that plumbing easier will be of tremendous use.

While we were with friends on one side of the Atlantic, other friends such as Jon Husband and Lee Bryant met under the Lisbon son at SocialNow, brought there by Ana Neves, to discuss digital leadership. I need to find out if some of the talks were recorded and got posted already. Here’s a brief recap, with lots of familiar names from our early blogging forays taking on the push for agency and real transformation in the emerging space now that some of the luster of the big tech platforms has gone out of style and seen for what it is.

From the recap the term neo generalists is something I will explore, as it was put forward by Kenneth Mikkelsen in the context of increasing people’s agency.

No that’s not my ‘ideal’ way of reading, although it is a representation of the core concept that made blogs blogs, the reverse chronological order. Ideally I’d have ‘heat maps’ of activity in a network visualisation. The way you can spot on a public square where people are most engaged. Or other visualisations along those lines.

For that reason I mostly leave the compilation of all feeds in my reader alone. What I do is I check in a folder which blogs have posted (in the earlier screenshots you see the author’s name and then a number, which is the number of unread posts). I click on the individual feeds I am curious about. Then I start working my way from the ‘closest’ folder to the ‘furthest’ in terms of social distance.

For the start of actual reading, within a single blog’s feed, I am fine with the reverse chronological order, as most recent is an aspect of how I filter. Yet, it usually leads to reading on the source blog and then following links etc deeper into a site. I do need full post feeds though, I can’t stomach just having excerpts or not even that, which require me to click through just to see if it is worth a read. I use an offline reader on purpose.

I have noticed that the news-feed type stream of posts of all feeds together carries echoes of the allergy I built up for my endless FB and Twitter streams.

Replied to Feed Reading By Social Distance (Kicks Condor)

I think the one area where I am not sure is still having to deal with a ‘news feed’-type stream of posts in each of those folders—is that your ideal way of reading?

At last week’s Crafting {:} a Life unconference on PEI I participated in three conversations on blogging:

  1. What happened to blogging? Initiated by Steven Garrity
  2. The future of blogging. Initiated by Peter Rukavina
  3. Doing Blogging. Initiated by me

Elmine already blogged some of her impressions from these conversations. I’ll add some of my own.

What happened to blogging?
It started with Steven Garrity who asked “What happened to blogging?” in the morning of the first day. Some 20 people wanted to take part in that so we put together a big circle in the main hall. The group had long time bloggers (over 20 years), those whose blogs fell more or less silent, and those who never blogged but are interested in doing so. What followed was a discussion of why we started blogging, and what happened to those initial conditions. I started to think out loud, but kept going because of the wide peer network that emerged because of our distributed conversations across blogs. We suspected started blogging right in the perfect moment: the number of people blogging in your fields of interest was big enough to feel engaged, and small enough to feel like a town you can keep an overview of. We first welcomed the silos like Facebook and Twitter as it made interacting even easier and brought in more people as the required level of tech savvy dropped. What however at first seemed like a source of agency turned into the erosion of it. Long form writing evaporated, more exchanges turned into ’empty calories’. RSS as an easy way of following what was going on eroded the too. Many sites ‘forgot’ what RSS was, and that accelerated when the most visible reader by Google fell by the wayside. Although we also felt that blaming Google Reader solely isn’t right, it was a development that fit in a larger change already underway.
We also discussed how some of that original blog interaction in the early ’00s has been channeled into other modes of communications, like newsletters. Peter Bihr for instance mentioned how it felt like newsletters are a more direct form of communication, with a clear audience in mind, and responses to it are of much higher quality. We missed the kick of the interaction between blogs, as well as having the time and attention to reflect and write more deeply.

What happened to blogging?What happened to blogging?
Part of the blogging circle

The future of blogging
Having looked back in the morning, some of us felt we wanted to not just be melancholic but also look at what a constructive future of blogging looks like. So Peter suggested to do another conversation in the afternoon. Part of the reason for this was in our immediate circle we saw several people who ‘returned’ to blogging, like myself. Part of it is the appearance of new web standards, the IndieWeb that intends to take the useful traits of social media platforms and apply them to your own websites. Opting to enjoy the weather we had this conversation in Peter’s back yard. We talked about a variety of things connected to blogging. The technology that can assist in getting more interaction between blogs, in helping to make publishing easy. And the behaviours that help to blog more, doing away with expectations of what ‘proper’ blogging is and giving oneself permission to just do what you want.

20190607_161502
The future of blogging taking shape in Peter’s back yard

Doing blogging
The second day of the unconference was positioned as a ‘doing’ day. As the ‘future of blogging’ conversation surfaced a lot of ‘how-to’ questions, I suggested we could do a more practice oriented session. On what is currently technically possible, and how that looks in practice for instance in my blog. The weather was great again, so we opted for the back yard like the day before. Bright sunlight and a scarcity of laptops meant we didn’t ‘do’ much. We did talk about the practical steps one can take, and the purpose and working of the various IndieWeb standards. This developed in a wider ranging conversation on our various information routines and the tools we use. Participants were eagerly taking notes to learn from each other’s tool use. From tools and routines we went to life hacks, and a much wider scope of topics. That was a great experience, although it meant that the original topic of conversation moved out of sight. I felt in flow in this conversation, and it went on literally for hours without effort and without energy levels dropping away.

Garden conversation
The ‘doing blogging’ circle of participants

Direct consequence is that one of the participants launched her own blog, with IndieWeb support from the start. Another that questions about how I read along lines of ‘social distance’ led to me explaining that in detail today. Important to me is that I also could add a number of bloggers to my ‘global village’ of people whose postings I read, adding more voices to the mix I take in. I also plan to write a number of postings starting from the issues raised in the conversations to introduce and explain the IndieWeb standards. The current documentation mostly starts with tech, and that means a too high threshold for adoption for large groups.

The reason I came up with letterpress made QSL cards, Peter, was of course that you have one. Also Aaron Parecki is interested. Not only is he deeply involved in Webmention as a standard, he also has a ham radio license (W7APK) like me (PE1NOR). So we have at least an audience of 4 😀

Bonus pic: the QSL cards I sent when I didn’t have my license yet (I got it in ’89) and sent out listening reports to both sides of successful connections (QSO). These were often highly appreciated by the stations involved as sometimes the only proof they had that a conversation with some exotic station had taken place was that someone overheard it and sent a report.

These QSL cards were bundled nationally and then sent as packages to the ham radio club of the destination country, where they would be disseminated through the various regional ham radio clubs. I should have a stack somewhere of QSL cards I received from all over the world.

And here’s an example of the logs I kept as a teenager, exactly 34 years ago:

Replied to WebmentionQSL by ruk.ca

While we were waiting for the bus home today, Olle explained to me and Oliver how QSL cards work: two ham radio operators establish a radio connection, the more distant and unlikely the better; during the connection they exchange call signs, which are globally-unique and can be used to look up a pos…

The P2P Foundation reposts an article by Jeremy Lent from late 2017 on how corporations are artificial intelligences.

It doesn’t mention Brewster Kahle’s 2014 exploration of the same notion.
SF writer Charlie Stross referenced Kahle when he called corporations a 19 century form of ‘slow AI’.
Because “corporations are context blind, single purpose algorithms“.

I like that positioning of organisations as slow AI and single purpose algorithms. For two reasons.
First, as it refocuses us on the fact that organisational structures are tools. When those tools get bigger than us, they stop serving us. And it points the way to how we always need to think about AI as tools, with their smallness as design principle.
Second, because it nicely highlights what I said earlier about ethics futurising. Futurising is when ethical questions are tied to AI in ways that puts it well into the future, and not paying attention to how those same ethical issues play out in your current context. All the ethical aspects of AI we discuss apply to our organisations, corporations just as much, but we simply assume that was considered some point in the past. It wasn’t.

P1000960Your Slow AI overlords looking down on you, photo Simone Brunozzi, CC-BY-SA