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Jeremy Cherfas

Why Facebook is in a hole over data mining | John Naughton

One could, for example, imagine an honest business model – in which people paid an annual subscription for a service that did not rely on targeting people on the basis of the 98 data-points that the company holds on every user. All it would need is for Facebook users to fork out $20 a year for the pleasure of sharing LOLcats with one another.

What’s the likelihood of that happening? You know the answer. Which is why Zuck will continue to keep mum about the sordid reality underpinning his money machine.

Jeremy Cherfas

YouTube Demonetization: The Great Platform Problem

Interesting piece on "owning" your distribution channels. .

Now, here’s the thing I’ll tell you—if I was running this site on, say, Medium or Tumblr, it would not have buckled. But to me, I think that independence from platforms is a hugely important thing to have in 2017. If you can spin up the server yourself and figure out a way to cobble together funding, you may miss out on some of the perks of larger sites, but you call the shots. 

Jeremy Cherfas

Must we copy everything?

1 min read

I dunno. I see this Add a "tweetstorm" UI for chaining status updates with chained POSSE tweets and I think of something I wrote a while back: Or you could write a blog post. Does the really need to make indie copies of everything the silos offer? Even the workarounds?

Maybe I misunderstand, and a feature like this is what weans people off the silo pap. All I know is, I don't think it would work for me.

Jeremy Cherfas

Crossed the wide Pecos ...

1 min read

Playing Lyle Lovett singing Texas River Song, even though I know it's a stretch, to celebrate having eaten a giant bowl of my own dogfood.

A couple of weeks ago I followed Chris Aldrich to reading.am, which is a neat little spot for just putting down a marker for something that you're reading. I wanted more. I wanted to be able to save links to the things I marked. And now, a little over two weeks later, I've done it.

I have a PHP file that fetches the RSS feeds of things I've marked in reading.am, looks for any that are new since the last time the program ran, and then POSTS the results to Known's micropub endpoint. PESOS for my bookmarks!

There is no way I could have done it without amazing help from people on the IndieWeb IRC, and it isn't perfect by any means. There's more work to be done, for sure, before I even think about sharing the code.

But hey, it works.

And, as my main helper said, "Launch early and iterate often".

I'll be doing that.

Jeremy Cherfas

Virtual Homebrew Website Club

2 min read

We had a virtual meeting of the Homebrew Website Club yesterday evening, and as usual it was interesting and informative. We all forgot to take notes, but sketchess was prompted to do a brain dump, which I have added to and tightened up slightly to capture the main points.

  • There was a lot of discussion of the confusion among people new to caused by having so many different ways to achieve the same thing. Some people thought it would be good if there were, maybe, a recommended approach for specific circumstances. However, that does require the user to be clear what they are trying to achieve.
  • sketchess suggested that directed tutorials to achieve a specific outcome would be helpful. There was some support for this but, as ever, the issue of time can be a constraint.
  • We talked about the potential usefulness of different levels of wiki pages, or a special section, or something completely independent of the wiki.
  • aaronpk reminded us that the difficulty with independent offerings is that there can be difficulties in maintaining momentum. The wiki, as a collective effort, is more likely to be managed by individuals.
  • We noted that sometimes developers simply do not remember what it was like to start some activity, and also that a “getting started” for an experienced developer would be completely different from a “getting started” for someone who perhaps only knows silos. A beginner's guide written by recent beginners, with expert input from more experienced people, might be useful.
  • We talked about self-dogfooding, and that this may be inhibiting Generation 2 and up. They are not necessarily interested in building things themselves, although they want to make use of IndieWeb principles and practices.
  • Several people seem to be exploring the IndieWeb without making use of IRC or the wiki. Their efforts sometimes show up in IRC thanks to Loqi. Would it be useful to reach out directly and suggest they join and use the wiki?

Comments and edits welcome.

Jeremy Cherfas

Replied to a post on licit.li :

I've been thinking about Rob's post and your notes on vHWC, and I agree that swapping the quiet writing hour for a question session makes a lot of sense. I've certainly learned a lot and look forward to the meetings.

One thing I'd like to suggest is a follow up on the idea of wiki pages for beginners. Someone was recently talking about a "for dummies" approach to setting up a web mention receiver, but from the context, I got the impression that they were dummies only about IndieWeb, not about PHP and servers and all the plumbing. Essentially Gen 1. A for dummies for that person would look very different to a for dummies for Gen 2 or Gen 3.

Would it be interesting if we picked a specific page and some of us (me, probably, although of course others too, and because it is a vHWC they could be anywhere) tried to do do a for Gen 2 dummies write up as a new version. Then at the vHWC you Gen 1people could take a look and explain in more detail, if necessary, or correct it, if wrong in some detail.

Does that sound worthwhile?

I don't actually have a good sense of which page might be best to start with, but it could be setting up to receive webmentions without, for now, going into the complexities of bridgy. So, for static sites, or CMSs like Grav.

Jeremy Cherfas

Chris Aldrich is way too kind, but it is the kind of kindness I need. A couple of quick responses:

I will indeed tweak the regex as you suggest. That behaviour by reading.am does rather spoil using it as a repository for links I want to go back to, but hey ho. On posting to Wayback Machine, I thought I saw a blog post from Reading that this was now done automatically for all saved posts. Getting things into my Known stream is on the horizon, but I will have to learn a lot more about how to use the web publish tools.

The webmention form is now looking good and working well, and I think I may even have got email notifications up and running, thanks once again to great help from the IndieWeb community. I'm not happy submitting anything to the original plugin, because it is so very different in scope and approach. But I am definitely thinking about creating a plugin of my own, which would also make it very easy to send the notification email. That's definitely on the cards. Putting it all on the wiki is next on my list.

And thanks again for being a guide and an encouragement.

Jeremy Cherfas

Owning my audio clips

3 min read

In the past couple of days, prompted by Marty McGuire's write-up, I raved about the potential of Audiogram to help promote the podcast by making it easier to share audio clips to social media -- by turning them into video clips. This afternoon, having managed to get tomorrow's episode edited early, and having had to chop quite a few interesting digressions, I thought I would have a serious play.

Tl;dr: It worked. I'd show you here, but I haven't found an easy way to upload video to Known yet. If you want to see the result, you can go to Patreon right now.

Installing Audiogram was not entirely plain sailing. Marty used Docker, and so despite warnings from other IndieWeb friends, I tried the same. All went well out of the gate, but then fell at the first. Something to do with virtualbox. So I switched to Homebrew and that did the needfull. Even then, though, Audiogram wouldn't start, but the error message made it clear that I needed to update node.js and npm. That done, it still wouldn't start.

Turned out I already had a local server running, via MAMP, and that was getting in the way. Switching off that server, and all was good.

That was two days ago. Today, I tried to use it for serious, and although there were plenty of hiccups along the way, I got there.

The instructions for modifying the theme are very straightforward, and with a bit of trial and error I was able to create a background for any future clips.

Uploading the audio, inserting the caption, all that was dead simple thanks to Audiogram's editor. Actually generating the videos, though, generated error after error, and some of them scrolled through several screens. But I kept my nerve, turned to search engines and StackOverflow and eventually got there.

Some of the fixes seemed to be pure voodoo. There's an invisible file that one of the Audiogram developers suggested deleting. The first time I tried that, it worked beautifully. The second time, not so much. Nor the third. But then, it worked again, at which point I called a halt, for now; a wise decision in my opinion.

I'm looking forward to seeing whether clips will attract listeners to the podcasts in their entirety. I put the first one on Patreon because the episode is not yet public, although Patreons have received it. I'll probably use clips there as bait and see how it goes. Once episodes are public I'll send clips to Twitter and, maybe, Facebook which will, I think make it relatively easy to trace any impact. And if the whole process isn't too hard (getting to the first video uploaded took almost three hours today) then I can imagine it might be useful to promote older epsiodes too, when there is a news peg.

So, grateful thanks to Marty McGuire and WNYC.

Jeremy Cherfas

Post Kinds Plugin for WordPress

Really super, fully comprehensive explanation that should make life easier for anyone wanting to make more use of WordPress in the IndieWeb.

Jeremy Cherfas

We are still a long way from home

1 min read

Struggling to understand how different bits of the  work in WordPress, I received some very sound advice from lots of people, including this little exhortation from @chrisaldrich:

I'll admit I had to read it about 3 times before I grokked it myself, but it also was a great general and practical intro to the inherent value of microformats.

If that were what it took to grok Facebook or Twitter, would anyone beyond a small, self-selecting cadre of geeks be using them?

I thought not.