joe crawford. blog since 2001 indieweb guestbook

Where’s the IndieWeb going? some random musings

Tracy Durnell, who you ought to be reading, posted The IndieWeb’s next stage?.

But the growing newsletter movement shows there’s a hunger for deeper conversation — nearly every Substack newsletter I read has a lively section of thoughtful replies. Having more readers of personal websites could bolster the existing community of indie publishers. The more people who use the independent web–whether creating new work, participating in conversations, curating links, or simply reading–the healthier it becomes.

In IndieWeb Zooms my age and experience compels me to bring up prior art that is similar. I try not to focus too much on the past, but I do appreciate that patterns recur. And the walled garden-to-open platform pattern is not new.

I was an AOL user. I loved the Trivia chat rooms – rapid fire trivia quizzes run by whomever was around? Free form text chat? Sign me up! I fell in love with the platform and with a woman I met there. Had parties and meet-ups with fellow chat room denizens. But at some point it was not enough. I moved to Earthlink because it had a fuller experience of Usenet, it came with a webspace I put my first professional website on. On an account that I can still type out from memory:

Cory Doctorow reminds us about a similar transition, from MySpace to Facebook, in an piece for Locus:

Facebook addressed this problem by giving MySpace users who switched to Facebook a bridge between the two services. Simply give this tool your MySpace login and password, and it would use a bot to login to your MySpace account, scrape all the waiting messages in your queues and inbox, and push them into your Facebook feed. You could reply to these, and the bot would log back into MySpace and post those replies as you. is a service that allows a similar kind of interop or transition. But you can’t bridge to or from Instagram:

Why not Instagram?
Sadly, Instagram’s API is locked down to limited manual approval.

My favorite tool for capturing Instagram content for backup, InstaLooter has been broken for some time–the issue? Instagram does all it can to thwart people having control over their own work. I talked my mistrust of the silos recently.

Back to Tracy’s words:

It may be that most community members are satisfied being more of a hobbyist organization than an activist one. Or we might want the community to stay at a small scale so we don’t have to address spam and moderation. What we’ve got already may be as far as folks want (or have the energy) to take it. Maybe there’s some other group that makes more sense to be the David to the corporate Goliaths. But without asking, I won’t know.

I think people who are living IndieWeb values outnumber actual community members of IndieWeb by 100x or 1000x. There are a lot of websites. And I’m not factoring in sites with a language barrier–it’s a big planet. In 2001 when I attended SXSW there were already a lot of bloggers but I had a sense of the 500 or so that existed. It was when I ran San Diego Bloggers and went looking for bloggers I realized just how many there were just in San Diego alone.

If it’s true what Molly White says, that everyone is a blogger, that scale is already larger than my brain can possibly understand. And that’s not even considering blogs not in English or English with a little Spanish. There’s no way for me to wrap my brain around the scale.

To me the victory condition of IndieWeb is not that everyone joins the wiki, it’s that everyone that wants a web identity has one that they can keep easily, with minimal expense, minimal admin tax, and can do what they want. I want them to not feel censored, limited or algorithmed out of finding and being found by whomever they might choose and whatever information they’d like to find and I’d like nobody to be subject to harms, spam and abuse as much as practical. It’s a big ask, and implies large swaths of infrastructure and tooling that only exists as patchwork.

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