In reply to Publish Obsidian Documents to WordPress by Curtis McHale

I didn’t come across this posting at the time. As you say, having to log in every single time as well as having to send it already formatted raw HTML (and not the markdown one writes in in Obsidian), are drawbacks. XMLRPC is blocked by my hoster (part of their security decisions), and I have disabled it within WP therefore. I went with Micropub to publish from Obsidian to WordPress, around the same time as this posting. As notes in Obsidian are plain text files in the local filesystem, I run a local script outside Obsidian periodically checking for files marked for publishing. Using Micropub it can post such files, while turning markdown into html, to several of my WP-run sites, both as post and as a page. The latter allows me to add them to my wiki-like section of my blog. Just posting at the moment though, not updating.

To publish click the WordPress icon in your sidebar which will reveal a panel in the sidebar with a Publish button for you to click. Once you click the Publish button a window opens up with your username prefilled and asks you to fill in your password. The plugin … publishes RAW HTML on your site. … While this does work, it feels far from optimal to me. I’d love to see the option of pushing straight markdown to the editor.

Curtis McHale

Robin Sloan has proposed a protocol, Spring ’83, that serves publisher’s content like a magazine stand. You see a board of cards, where cards get replaced whenever its publisher releases a new one. He aims to ditch the timeline experience it seems, partly considering form and content as pieces of the same expression, as well as a way to maintain space for voices that do not express themselves every other minute but way more infrequently.

A Beijing news stand with spread out mags competing for your attention. Image by Peter Ashlock, license CC BY

Others in my feedreader have commented on it in the past days and it gets me thinking. Not in any structured way yet. No idea yet therefore what I think about this in a form I can narrate, but some associations come to mind.

I do like the notion of small cards. Makes me think of Hugh’s Gaping Void back-of-a-business-card drawings, and of tiny zines made as a folded single sheet chapbook. The set limit creates friction for creativity to feed on. Yet, the built in size limit, when putting more of them together on a ‘board’ may well mean the same drawbacks as in Twitter, aiming for the highest attention grabbing value. Magazines in a kiosk do the same thing after all, using the cover to try and lure you into reading them. Look at that image above. Does that make a board of cards just a collection of adverts for your attention? Reading Maya’s annotations, there too the scarcity mindset a board of such cards might introduce is raised. Are there other ways to thread such cards?

The focus on p2p distribution, and on making it easy to put out there, chimes with me in terms of networked agency and in terms of low thresholds for such agency.

The notion where softer voices have the same claim to space as louder ones (i.e. more frequently posting ones) I appreciate a lot. Kicks Condor in his Fraidycat feedreader provides neat sparklines indicating frequency of posting, and allocates every single author the same space by displaying their last few postings regardless of timelines. That points back as well to my use of social distance (not the pandemic kind!) as a method to order presentation of feeds I follow, in a person focused way, and less a timeline. I follow people’s expressions, not blogs as publications. It also makes me cringe at the use of the word publisher in Robin Sloan’s explanation.

À propos following people, Maya also mentions how she likes to see friction between different strands of her online expression (e.g. blogposts, and Mastodon messages). Such different strands have different qualities to them, and having them in one place, like an IndieWeb enabled site may put them too closely or too obviously together. The notion of friction is important I think when getting to know someone online in more detail by following more of their online traces. I follow people, and for a good number I follow multiple traces (photos, posts, tweets e.g.). Combining those traces needs friction I feel, getting to know someone better from their expressions needs a certain effort. That’s about me having something at stake in building interaction. Blogs are distributed conversations to me and you need to invest your presence in such conversations. Connecting with others should be extremely easy in terms of being able to connect, but certainly not effortless in terms of time spent on the actual connecting. Way back when (2006), Lilia and I had conversations about this, and it’s still relevant now. My site purposefully introduces friction to readers: casual visitors see only a fraction of the postings, some content is only shared through RSS and not findable in the site, some content is both not listed nor shared through feeds etc. All the fragments are still in the same place, mine, though, and not farmed out to various silos to create the same effect of deliberate fragmentation. It means I’ve greatly reduced the friction for me as author using IndieWeb, not eroded the needed friction for readers. Someone who puts in the effort will be able to gather all my traces in their reader.

Tracy Durnell has some remarks, and compares Spring ’83 to IndieWeb efforts and discusses the visual aspects. Her suggestion showing a blogroll as cards, not as a list, is a good one I think, perhaps showing the last three postings the Fraidycat way? I’ve seen others do it as a river of news, but that once more provides additional amplification to the loudest authors.
Louis Potok takes a first look under the hood.

Mid-september is het Nederlandse WordCamp, een tweedaagse bijeenkomst over alles dat WordPress is. Ik ben niet zozeer de doelgroep lijkt me, maar het oogt wel als een goede manier om de IndieWeb ervaringen van mijzelf als WordPress gebruikende blogger te gaan laten zien. Wie weet kan ik een lans breken voor het vaker adopteren van IndieWeb bouwstenen in WP themes, plugins of zelfs core. Daarom heb ik nadat ik de oproep bij co-organisatoren Marcel en Remkus tegenkwam deze dagen, me aangemeld als spreker. Ze zoeken nog meer sprekers en workshops, tot 1 juni kun je nog een voorstel indienen. Eind juni hoor je dan meer.

Ongeacht dat voorstel is het misschien ook de moeite waard om te kijken of er iets meer te organiseren is, zoals een homebrew website meet-up of zelfs een IndieWebCamp. Daar moet ik nog even over nadenken.

I extended the capabilities of my microsub feed reader with the option to save web articles directly from the reader to my Obsidian notes in markdown format.

Until now if I wanted to save an entire article I found in my feed reader, I would open it in the browser and then use the markdownclipper browser add-on to add some context and then save the article in markdown in my notes. I wanted to cut out that step of opening it in the feed reader, by saving it directly to my markdown notes. In my feedreader I already have a response form to e.g. post a reply to a posting on my own site. Posting it to my notes means adding a path to how I process that form.

I had to find a suitable script for converting HTML to MarkDown first. Which I found in PHP League’s HTML-to-Markdown, as suggested by Jan Boddez. It requires Composer which I already had installed on my laptop.

I tweaked my feed reader’s response form to also (as a hidden field) include the original HTML of a posting (using htmlentities to stuff it into a form field value). The script that processes the form I altered to both have a path for posting to websites (using micropub) and a new path to make a note in Obsidian, which is then saved as a .md file to the folder I store all clipped articles in.
To make a note I shape the available input the same way I template clipping things from the browser. At the top is my rationale for clipping something and reference to the source, followed by the original posting after which I add some keywords as tags and again the reference to the source.

In the images below you see the corresponding elements marked both as they appear in the reader as well as the resulting note.

The article as shown in my feed reader:

1: the original HTML content from a feed
2: title of the article (prefilled by my feed reader)
3: name of the author (prefilled by my feed reader)
4: original article’s URL (prefilled by my feed reader)
5: the reason and context why I am saving this to notes (also used to write a reply to a post, or the reason for bookmarking something if it will be posted on my site)
6: a quote I want to highlight
7: keywords that will become tags or categories on my site, and tags in my notes
8: selector for which site to post to (zyl is my blog), or ‘obs’ for making a note in Obsidian

Except for that last one those numbers are marked on the image of the resulting markdown note.

The resulting note in Obsidian:

1: the original HTML content from a feed shown in Markdown as the main body of the note
2: title of the article, both shown as part of the content of the note, as well as the title of the note (where a timestamp is added)
3: name of the author (mentioned with the source both at the top and bottom)
4: original article’s URL (mentioned with the author both at the top and bottom)
5: the reason and context why I am saving this, always at the top as it helps me process the content better
6: a quote I wanted to highlight
7: keywords that have become hashtags

(This posting was also written in my notes and, except for the images, posted directly from Obsidian to my site. Meaning I can both automatically move material into Obsidian, as well as automatically move material out of Obsidian. I quite enjoy the feeling of using that ‘magic’.)

Bookmarked Interoperable Personal Libraries and Ad Hoc Reading Groups by Maggie Appleton

I somehow missed Maggie Appleton’s blogpost (bookmarked above) about the IndieWeb pop-up session on personal libraries of a few weeks ago. During the session I found her suggestion for ad-hoc reading clubs very interesting, as an application of having book lists on your site. I first and foremost think about discovery in the context of publishing book lists: if I enjoy your blog, or know you and you share book lists those may contain good suggestions to read. Discovery is also why in my ‘data format‘ for such lists I allow for sharing the URLs of lists of others, as well as share the URL of where I found the recommendation for a specific book. What Maggie Appleton suggests is something else and interesting: what if you could see when several others in your network are also currently reading the same book you are reading, allowing an ad-hoc book reading club for that book. It would require a way to compare lists you follow. My sharing of lists I follow is a useful start for it I think, but you’d add a match detection layer on top of it. Whether that matching needs to take place in my site, I don’t know. To me it feels like a personal tool perhaps, alerting me to other readers, and allowing me to privately think about whether I’d want to form an ad-hoc book club with them at that time.

An idea I brought to the event and ended up hosting a session on was ad hoc reading groups – discussions and meetups facilitated by our public bookshelves.

Maggie Appleton

Yesterday a pop-up IndieWeb meet-up (event page) took place on Personal Libraries / distributed libraries.

It was a nice group of people, and I was able to put some faces to names of people I’ve had in my feedreader for a good while. I had to miss the start, which was family dinner / putting our 5yo to bed time in our timezone, but was able to join three sessions afterwards. The conversations were interesting and gently paced. Thank you to Chris Aldrich for organising, and to all participants for their contributions to worthwile conversations.

The videos and notes are / will be linked to on the event page (see link in first sentence).

The sessions were:

  • Ad hoc book discussion clubs and sessions (how to use personal libraries to facilitate ad-hoc discussion of a book with other current active readers of the same book?) Moderated by Maggie Appleton
  • Decentralised bookshelves (What conventions do we need to reach a useful level of interoperability between the different ways people and platforms make such data available) Moderated by Manton Reece
  • Book Identifiers (There are multiple identifiers in use for books, ISBN, OLID, ASIN, WorldCat etc. How can we interact with them, how are we supposed to, how is it useful?) Moderated by Tom MacWright.

While these were three distinct sessions, to me it felt like basically the same ongoing conversation, so my impressions aren’t tied to specific sessions as such.
Elements that stood out for me, or that I realised listening to the other participants:

  • OpenLibrary is a good neutral way to link to a book (I avoid Amazon as well as Amazon’s GoodReads links, and publisher’s or author’s links aren’t always available), and they have an API. Missing books can be added, as OpenLibrary is a wiki. They also make a useful difference between the work (the book written) and the editions (the book version you’ve read) that they list for the work. I may want to check out their API and see if I can use that for my internal book notes and/or public book postings.
  • Calibre, an app to manage e-book collections I use for my non-Kindle books, has an API as well. It makes me wonder the same about Delicious Library, of which I have a 2012 database somewhere, from the 500 or so physical books we did away with that year.
  • Discovery to me requires both information about the book and about the readers, so I can navigate triangles, the key element in social media. To evaluate recommendations they require information about the person making the recommendation more than about the book being recommended.
  • I’m not interested in pretend-social information around books that really are masked statistics. They may seem to provide what I seek in the previous point, but actually provide a meaningless regression to the mean. Things like ‘others who bought this book also bought’ don’t increase the space of discovery but will eventually always limit the space of discovery to the fat head of the long tail. The stuff far down the long tail sees too little interaction for such ‘also bought’ algorithms to aggregate.
  • Whatever you want to do with book information, you need to first publish data about your reading in each case. So that is the focus. I’ve been collecting a list of some URLs where people share book lists they’ve read. They are all different it seems to me, but at least the data is out there to try and consume in a personally meaningful way.
  • Whatever is consuming book related data or posts, needs to take on the burden of figuring out what identifiers are used, or what other meaning can be gleaned from it. A to me key remark made by Jacky Alciné. The flip side for me is, I only need to concern myself first with publishing information that is meaningful and useful to myself.
  • It is possible to help others though by providing multiple formats. Specifically now that I have automated generating OPML from my booknotes for my booklists. Creating the same lists in CSV, in RSS, or JSON for instance is easy enough to do now. This I added to my list of small side projects.
  • Book lists are basically just spreadsheets Drini Cami of the Open Library / Internet Archive remarked. This ties into the above. I also realised it’s true for pulling together the data about books I bought and read from the various platforms I use. So this morning I pulled the information about the 800 or so books I bought with Amazon over the past 15 years into a spreadsheet. This is a first step to backfilling my book notes and reading lists, as well as my anti-library, using a script.
  • I’m not very interested in algorithms across the reading patterns of the general population of readers. This is another statistic basically, not a socially meaningful thing. I would be very interested in running algorithms or analysis across the information about other people reading, who are within my scope. E.g. the bloggers I follow in my feed reader, or the bloggers they follow. An algorithm that serves me, not describes or commodifies me, an algorithm as personal assistant. That way my own preferences can be its default.
  • We talked about ad-hoc book clubs, both where a book is the key point, as well as where the socialising is more important. I’m on which aims to be a federated GoodReads, something that is in itself not appealing to me as just a means of replicating the same data as on my site. But I have seen instance form around an established group or niche themes. That is a more appealing usage. Only afterwards I thought of how this ties into the Readers Republic we recently formed. A next meeting is in 2 weeks, I’ll think about how to feed some of these discussion back to that group.
  • Amazon with their ASIN numbers is messing up the discovery value of ISBN numbers, by deliberately removing the relation between the two. That frustrates interoperability with other platforms and resources, which is their point I’m sure.

That’s a good list of take-aways from a few hours of conversation!

(also posted to Indienews)