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 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 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.

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 ūüėÄ

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

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…

Having installed 2 WordPress sandboxes for #indieweb things, I’m now working my way through getting things working. First up is the original issue I had on my blog: authorisation headers.

What’s odd this time is that last time’s fix doesn’t work, even if my IndieAuth plugin reports “Authorization Header Found. You should be able to use all clients.” Using any clients, or servers like Aperture, Quill or Monocle all result in the dreaded 403 Forbidden error, saying “Unauthorised”.

What does work is logging into the Meso sandbox with this blogs credentials, by providing the url of this blog. That is a small win at least ūüôā

Welkom op het IndieWeb Edwin! Mooie stappen. Last weekend we had an IndieWebCamp in Utrecht, the notes, videos and demo’s of which you might find interesting. And in September (28/29) there likely will be a similar event in Amsterdam. Btw, Sebastiaan Andeweg is also in Nijmegen, and has a ton of experience in coding indieweb stuff for your site. If you don’t know him already, I’d ping him for a drink if I were you ūüėČ

Replied to This domain joined the IndieWeb! by Edwin Wenink

I joined the IndieWeb!
What does that mean? For the long version, I recommend reading An Introduction to the IndieWeb. Here is a super short version…

Björn Wijers demoing, with Dylan, Neil and Julia in the photo looking on

Most of yesterday’s participants returned today to get under the hood of their websites and build something. I didn’t attend in person, but participated remotely in the opening session this morning, and the demo’s this afternoon. The demo session has just concluded and some cool things were created, or at least started. Here are a few:

Frank Meeuwsen worked on an OPML importer for Aperture, a microsub server. This way it is possible to import the feeds from your existing RSS reader into your microsub server. Very useful to aid migrating to a new way of reading online content.

Jeremy Cherfas worked on displaying his gps tracks on his site, using Compass

Rosemary Orchard, extending on that, created the option of sharing her geo location on her site for a specified number of minutes.

Neil Mather installed a separate WordPress install to experiment with ActivityPub, and succeeded in sending messages from WordPress to Mastodon, and receive back replies.

Björn Wijers wrote a tool that grabs book descriptions from GoodReads for him to post to his blog when he finishes a book.

Martijn van der Ven picked up on Djoerd Hiemstra’s session yesterday on federated search, and created a search tool that searches within the weblogs of IndieWeb community members.

That concludes the first IndieWebCamp in Utrecht, with a shout-out to all who contributed.

It’s a wrap! The first #indiewebcamp in Utrecht was a lot of fun. Thank you to all participants, @frankmeeuwsen for doing the heavy lifting (I had to bail), and Johan Adriaans for providing the venue this weekend! #indieweb See you at #indiewebcamp Amsterdam in September?

Indeed, much better. Thank you! Quick question, I had a look at the WP database, am I right concluding you store the fetched feeds in wp_posts? What’s the reason(s) for that choice?

Replied to

Liked IndieWebCamp Utrecht: Importeer OPML in je Aperture microsub server by Frank Meeuwsen

Een van de interessante bouwblokken van het Indieweb vind ik het opslaan en lezen van je eigen abonnementen in een app naar keuze. Natuurlijk kun je een RSS reader gebruiken, maar je weet maar nooit hoe lang deze blijft bestaan (Ik kijk naar je Google Reader….).
Vorig jaar is er al een component g…

This is a quick exploration of my current and preferred feed reading patterns. As part of my activities, for Day 2, the hack day, of IndieWebCamp Utrecht.

I currently use a stand alone RSS reader, which only consumes RSS feeds. I also experiment with TinyTinyRSS which is a self-hosted feed-grabber and reader. I am attracted to TinyTiny RSS beacue 1) it has a database I can access, 2) it can create RSS from any selection I make, and it publishes a ‘live’ OPML file of feeds I track, which I use as blogroll in the side bar.

What I miss is being able to follow ‘any’ feed, for instance JSON feeds which would allow tracking anything that has an API. Tracking #topics on Twitter, or people’s tweets. Or adding newsletters, so I can keep them out of my mail client, and add them to my reader. And there are things that I think don’t have feeds, but I might be able to create them. E.g. URLs mentioned in Slack channels, or conversation notes I take (currently in Evernote).

Using IndieWeb building blocks: the attraction of IndieWeb here is that it makes a distinction between collecting / grabbing feeds and reading them. A Microsub server grabs and stores feeds. A Microsub client then is the actual reader.
Combined with Micropub, the ability to post to your own site from a different client, allows directly sharing or responding from a reader. In the background Webmention then works its magic of pulling all that together so that the full interaction can be shown on my blog.

The sharing buttons in a (microsub client) reader like Monocle are ‘liking’, ‘repost’ and ‘reply’. This list is too short to my taste. Bookmarking, ‘repost with short remarks’ and ‘turn into a draft for long form’ are obvious additions. But there’s another range of things to add about sharing into channels that aren’t my website or not a website at all, and channels that aren’t fully public.

To get things under my own control, first I want to run my own microsub server, so I have the collected feeds somewhere I can access. And so I can start experimenting with collecting types of feeds that aren’t RSS.

#indiewebcamp Utrecht off to a good start with 9 ppl on site, and me remote. Day 2 is about building things for the #indieweb, with live streamed demo’s at 15:30. Topics range from opml importers, reader syncing, federated search, visualisations for discovery, and more.

I will try to clarify my own routines on reading feeds: what is my current process, what demands does it make of my tools? How well do building blocks like Microsub and -pub map on to that?

I may also take a look at the code of the Yarns WordPress plugins, how it stores feeds. I am interested in tagging feeds (not articles). Most of my feeds are people (Frank’s blog, Peter’s blog etc), and with tags I can make subsets across feeds like “show me what indieweb folks are up to today” or “I’m visiting Vienna, let’s catch up with the Viennese in my reader before contacting them for a meet-up”.

But first, coffee!

It was a beautiful morning, cycling along the canal in Utrecht, for the first IndieWebCamp. In the offices of about a dozen people found each other for a day of discussions, demo’s and other sessions on matters of independent web activities. As organisers Frank and I aimed to not just discuss the IndieWeb as such, but also how to tap into the more general growing awareness of what the silos mean for online discourse. To seek connection with other initiatives and movements of similar minded people.

P1050053Frank’s opening keynote

After Frank kicking off, and introducing the key concepts of IndieWeb, we did an introduction round of everyone there. Some familiar faces, from last year’s IndieWebCamp in N√ľrnberg, and from last night’s early bird dinner, but also new ones. Here’s a list with their (personal) websites.


After intro’s we collectively created the schedule, the part of the program I facilitated.

20190518_115552The program, transcribed here with links to notes and videos

Halfway through the first session I attended, on the IndieWeb buidling blocks, an urgent family matter meant I had to leave, just as Frank and I were starting to prepare lunch.

Later in the afternoon I remotely followed the etherpad notes and the live stream of a few sessions. Things that stood out for me:

Federated Search
Djoerd Hiemstra talked us through federated search. Search currently isn’t on the radar of indieweb efforts, but if indieweb is about taking back control, search cannot be a blind spot. Search being your gateway to the web, means there’s a huge potential for manipulation. Federated search is a way of trying to work around that. Interestingly the tool Djoerd and his team at Twente University developed doesn’t try to build a new but different database to get to a different search tool. This I take as a good sign, the novel shouldn’t mimic what it is trying to replace or defeat.

This was an interesting discussion about how to discover new people, new sources, that are worthwile to follow. And how those tactics translate to indieweb tools. Frank rightly suggested a distinction between discovery, how to find others, and discoverability, how to be findable yourself. For me this session comes close to the topic I had suggested for the schedule, people centered navigation and personal information strategies. As I had to leave that session didn’t happen. I will need to go through the notes once more, to see what I can take from this.

Sebastiaan took us all through the interplay of microsub servers (that fetch feeds), readers (which are normally connected to the feed fetcher, but not in the IndieWeb), and how webmention and micropub enable directly responding and sharing from your reader interface. This is the core bit I need to match more closely with my own information strategies. One element is that IndieWeb discussions assume sharing is always about online sharing. But I never only think of it that way. Processing information means putting it in a variety of channels, some might be online, but others might be e-mails to clients or peers. It may mean bookmarked on my blog, or added to a curated bookmark collection, or stored with a note in my notes collection.

Day 2: building stuff
The second day, tomorrow, is about taking little steps to build things. I will again follow the proceedings remotely as far a possible. But the notes of the sessions about reading, and discovery are good angles for me to start. I’d like to try to scope out my specs for reading, processing and writing/sharing in more detail. And hopefully do a small thing to run a reader locally to tinker.