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?

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 Nürnberg, 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.

Frank Meeuwsen en ik hebben een datum geprikt en een locatie gevonden. IndieWebCamp gaat door, op 18 en 19 mei in Utrecht in de ruimte van, Kanaalweg 14-L in Utrecht. Een rudimentaire site met aankondiging vind je op IndieWebCamp, en dezelfde info vind je in de IndieWeb wiki.

Er is plek voor maximaal 35 mensen. Dus als je heel graag aanwezig wilt zijn, mail mij of Frank dan alvast even. De inschrijving gaat binnenkort open. We zoeken nog wat ondersteuning, zoals een sponsor voor de lunch op zaterdag en zondag. Als je iets bij kunt of wilt dragen laat het weten!

Help jij ons mee organiseren? We gaan een IndieWebCamp organiseren in Utrecht, een event om het gebruik van het Open Web te bevorderen, en met elkaar praktische zaken aan je eigen site te verbeteren. We zoeken nog een geschikte datum en locatie in Utrecht. Je hulp is dus van harte welkom.

Op het Open Web bepaal jij zelf wat je publiceert, hoe het er uit ziet, en met wie je in gesprek gaat. Op het Open Web bepaal je zelf wie en wat je volgt en leest. Het Open Web was er altijd al, maar in de loop van de tijd zijn we allemaal min of meer opgesloten geraakt in de silo’s van Facebook, Twitter, en al die anderen. Hun algoritmes en timelines bepalen nu wat jij leest. Dat kan ook anders. Bouw je eigen site, waar anderen niet tussendoor komen fietsen omdat ze advertentie-inkomsten willen genereren. Houd je eigen nieuwsbronnen bij, zonder dat andermans algoritme je opsluit in een bubbel. Dat is het IndieWeb: jouw content, jouw relaties, jij zit aan het stuur.

Frank Meeuwsen en ik zijn al heel lang onderdeel van internet en dat Open Web, maar brengen/brachten ook veel tijd in websilo’s als Facebook door. Inmiddels zijn we beiden actieve ‘terugkeerders’ op het Open Web. Afgelopen november waren we samen op het IndieWebCamp Nürnberg, waar een twintigtal mensen met elkaar discussieerde en ook zelf actief aan de slag gingen met hun eigen websites. Sommigen programmeerden geavanceerde dingen, maar de meesten zoals ikzelf bijvoorbeeld, deden juist kleine dingen (zoals het verwijderen van een link naar de auteur van postings op deze site). Kleine dingen zijn vaak al lastig genoeg. Toen we terugreden met de trein naar Nederland waren we het er al snel over eens: er moet ook een IndieWebCamp in Nederland komen. In Utrecht dus, dit voorjaar.

Om Frank te citeren:

Voel je je aangesproken door de ideeën van het open web, indieweb, wil je aan de slag met een eigen site die meer vrij staat van de invloeden sociale silo’s en datatracking? Wil je een nieuwsvoorziening die niet meer primair wordt gevoed door algoritmen en polariserende roeptoeters? Dan verwelkomen we je op twee dagen IndieWebCamp Utrecht.

Laat weten of je er bij wilt zijn.
Laat weten of je kunt helpen met het vinden van een locatie.
Laat weten hoe wij jou kunnen helpen bij je stappen op het Open Web.

Je bent uitgenodigd!

Now that we’ve visited the Nürnberg IndieWeb Camp this weekend, Frank Meeuwsen and I are thinking about doing an IndieWeb Camp in the Netherlands sometime next spring. Likely in Utrecht, although if we find a good event to piggyback on elsewhere, it can be someplace else.

If you want to get involved with organising this, do ping me.

At IndieWeb Camp Nürnberg today I worked on changing the way my site displays webmentions. Like I wrote earlier, I would like for all webmentions to have a snippet of the linking article, so you get some context to decide if you want to go to that article or not.

It used to be that way in the past with pingbacks, but my webmentions get shown as “Peter mentioned this on”.

After hunting down where in my site this gets determined, I ended up in a file my Semantic Weblinks plugin, called class-linkbacks-handler.php. In this file I altered “get_comment_type_excerpts” function (which sets the template for a webmention), and the function “comment_text_excerpt”, where that template gets filled. I also altered the max length of webmentions that are shown in their entirety. My solution takes a snippet from the start of the webmention. I will later change it to taking a snippet from around the specific place where it links to my site. But at least I succeeded in changing this, and now know where to do that.

When the next update of this plugin takes place I will need to take care, as then my changes will get overwritten. But that too is less important for now.

The webmentions for this posting are now shown as a snippet from the source, below the sentence that was previously the only thing shown.

So, my webmention issues can’t be solved in the theme, as the content isn’t decided there. I need to dig deeper into the semantic-linkback plugin that I use to handle them.

I found out that webmentions are mentioned in full if they are short enough, and that I can set that limit. So I now want to change the way webmentions are stored. To solve my main issue, I need to select x characters around the spot where my site is mentioned, and set the character limit for webmentions to x+1.

Task 1 now complete. My blog declared 16 h-cards, one for each time my name was mentioned as author under the 15 blogposts on my front page, and 1 in the side bar. That last one is the only one I want to have, so I wanted to remove those underneath blogposts.

To do that, I had to create a child theme of the theme I use, Sempress. I created it on my hosting server directly, not through WordPress.

In the original theme I then hunted down the function used to show the author information for each posting, the sempress_posted_on function. This by viewing the various Sempress files in the WordPress internal Themes Editor. Then I copied that over to my child theme, and changed it. I simply removed the bits that turned my name into a link and all the h-card elements declared as classes around it. There’s no need to link to my author page here. I’m the only author, don’t have a profile page, and if you look at the ‘author archive’ it is a list of all the postings on this site.

I also cleaned up my single remaining h-card, adding a “p-note” class so that the blurb becomes part of the h-card, and making sure it lists the e-mail addresses correctly now.

The child theme I created will be useful for changing the way webmentions are presented on my blog as well.