Skip to main content

Jeremy Cherfas

An ad-hoc meeting of the WithKnown Open Collective

5 min read

The past 24 hours saw perhaps more activity in the IRC channel (yesterday and today) and than I have ever seen before. Near the end of it all, jgmac1106, having previously voluntold me to be the first rotating organiser, voluntold me to “call all of today a meeting of the Open Collective”. Obviously you can’t have a meeting without minutes,[1] so here they are.

It all started with jgmac1106’s heartfelt plea that he just wanted to publish his site, “not learn backend engineering” and contemplating starting afresh. LewisCowles raised the question of how to reward Open Source software developers and maintainers, and that started a discussion of what it would take to put Known on a commercial footing.

Jgmac1106 was of the opinion that easier install with auto-update was needed. Lewiscowles and jeremycherfas thought that better direction of the project was needed, with a model that offered installation, domain management and updates, for a fee.

“Make it Known would be such a great tagline if we could get Sir Patrick Stewart on board.” Lewiscowles

There followed further discussion of operational models, including micro.blog; pay for hosting, including updates, and some backfeed, with a free offering open to IndieWeb if you have a capable site elsewhere.

On funding, jeremycherfas related his early experience hosting through IndieHosters and jgmac1106 talked about applying for grants to fund specific pieces of Known development. We played around with numbers, concluding that nobody knew enough to build even an outline business plan. There did seem to be agreement that venture capital should be rejected from the outset, while collectives and cooperatives could provide a more desirable structure, and that any kind of structure needs direction.

After a gap, some other people joined the channel and mapkyca explained that right now, a bigger block than money was time as he is working flat out. He also said that the maths does not work out for SaaS.

Benatwork then rejoined the meeting and explained in some depth the history of Known, including funding decisions and his original vision.

The original intention was to build a community platform that could be hosted securely, with discussion not monitored by the likes of a Facebook. … [I]t was never built to be an indieweb platform or an individual blogging engine from the start. The core idea was: flexible, social feeds that one or more people could contribute to, with per-item access control and integrations both in and out. I still believe that it has most value as a multi-user platform.

Major problem: we gave our entire platform away as open source, and it turns out there was a strong correlation between people who wanted to use it and people who didn’t want to pay. Although they were happy to pay for an account on a shared host, which of course didn’t go to us. So it didn’t really work as a scalable business.

Benatwork then filled us in on recent developments and why his direct involvement has dwindled, all of which is very understandable, closing with his belief that SaaS is not the way forward.

Jgmac1106 then voluntold jeremycherfas to take the lead on setting up monthly meetings for the next three months, as the first rotating organiser.[2] He also shared his idea of having something like Known to offer local media as something they can sell to subscribers as a built in social platform.

In response to a question from Aaron_Klemm, Benatwork shared the Known roadmap on github. He also explained some of the past technical decisions and that maybe some of those should be revisited to improve the product as a whole.

People shared their different ideas of what Known could become for them, with the question of the current admin tax prominent. Cleverdevil said he would be happy to pay mapkyca to update his site, raising again the potential demand for SaaS.

Benatwork’s vision is Known not as a blog CMS exclusively, but rather:

What Known can do is create a stream of many different kinds of content, and present it differently based on context. Filtering is a similarly powerful idea. “Show me all posts that are sensor readings and photos tagged with bats, from January 1st.”

There was some discussion of other aspects of Known that need attention, including the templating engine, which mapkyca said he hopes to separate completely from the back end.

Chrisaldrich raised the possibility of working with Reclaim Hosting to devise a package similar to what Reclaim offers universities, i.e. Reclaim does the heavy lifting for turnkey Known installs while allowing a small group of others to support people who signed up. Aaron_Klemm supported this idea strongly.

There was a lot more discussion of various ways in which Known could contribute to community internet literacy and how it might be used alongside other web publishing tools.

This summary is an entirely personal capture of the discussion; corrections and comments welcome. (You know how to do that, right?) I’ll suggest some times for an online meeting through the channel.


  1. Though apparently you can have one without an agenda.  ↩

  2. Which I will do, bearing in mind that, with exceptions, I am really only available Monday to Friday from 08:00 to 19:00 CEST.  ↩

Jeremy Cherfas

I think it is a splendid idea to revisit indiewebify.me and reorient the expectations around that page. It does suggest that one fiddle with HTML, and that might well be off-putting if one is new to IndieWeb.

Jeremy Cherfas

@StPaulTim Lots of ways to do that, and we are friendly and welcoming. Here are some suggestions https://indieweb.org/discuss and there are lots of online meetings happening too.

Jeremy Cherfas

Replied to a post on dem.cx :

I very much share and understand Amani Mena's frustrations, and often feel the same way myself. That's the problem with plurality, and building blocks, and many things, loosely joined. Too much choice. That's why when I started I went for WithKnown out of the box. Today I might recommend micro.blog. Once you're up and running, and have everything on your domain, you can learn and change systems as you do so. The key is to have everything on your domain.

Jeremy Cherfas

@MGraybosch Fine sentiments, and for a one-page site with a single message, not sharing metadata is an OK choice. But a little markup with microformats on a site helps others to find and enjoy the in their own way.

Jeremy Cherfas

Day 1 of IndieWeb Challenge https://indieweb.org/2019-12-indieweb-challenge.

Fixed all the feeds for my main blog website and checked their validity.

Jeremy Cherfas

Jeremy Cherfas

Good work so far. As you note, micro.blog already offers a lot of the IndieWeb building blocks. And it recently started to offer an option to register your own domain, addressing another of your points. It's a good option for people (who can afford it) to explore the possibilities, and the nice thing is you can always move your content somewhere else if you want to. That's another good reason not to rely on silos.





Jeremy Cherfas

Yes: I just registered for Indie Web Camp Brighton 2019 https://ti.to/adactio/indie-webcamp-brighton-2019

Jeremy Cherfas

@noffle I know absolutely nothing about server admin but I am very happy using bits of indieweb. There is also micro.blog which is even more accessible than WithKnown.