Exploring Future’s Past: An IndieWeb NYC Reflection

bridge wires like a web
As I sit in design studio, an optional drop in class for my #edu106 class to sit during a quiet hack hour or to get help, I can finally draw in my reflections on IndieWeb Camp.

I left invigorated. Together as a community we want to save the web, rebuild our networks, and wrestle back control from the commercial silos who sell our data to the highest bidder.

We do this not using any fancy new tech,  without trying to be the Uber, Twitter or facebook of “X” or requiring some new start up that will save the web.

Instead we rely on HTML and real people. We want the web to work for us rather than us working to the line the pockets of corporate overlords.

When my train pulled out of Penn Station, I believe in the future of the web.

Organizers Meeting

On Thursday we hold the organizers meeting. As a community we open this optional gathering to anyone who organized two events in the last year.

The IndieWeb community continues our laser focus on diversity and inclusion efforts. Our goal, and we haven’t reached it, is to make sure more than white men gather around the power table.

To get ther we have focused not so much as tryin to eliminate exclusionary practices but stressing inclusive measures to bring important voices that will help us grow.

We decided to rename ourselves “organizers” rathe than leaders. Leaders just sounded to elitist and we are an organization that has no by-laws, no boards, no committees…not even a single white paper. We aren’t leaders we are organizers.

We also did the design work around realigning the homepage of https://indieweb.org to reach beyond an audience of developers. Our new three column layout should speak to those getting on to the web for the first time, WordPress users, and Do-It-Yourself developers.

I know next year when we gather for the organizers meeting at the summit we will have voices of the underrepresented at the table.

IndieWeb Meet-Up

That night we then headed down to the Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog for the IndieWeb meetup sponsored by Data Intelligence. The conversations were as almost as good as the cocktails. I highly recommend the coffee. Huge thanks to the staff as what has to be one of the greatest bars on the planet. No joke.

Friday Keynotes

In our efforts around diversity and inclusion I wanted to bring in speakers outside of the IndieWeb community. As Jean MacDonald of https://micro.blog reminds us if you want women to come, “Simply ask them, but if you want them to talk ask about their expertise not about being woman.”

This year we hosted Jess Klein, senior UX designer for the Wikimediq Foundation, and Maha Bali, founder of Virtually Connecting.

Maha Bali

Maha joined us remotely from Cairo and discussed the differences between good intentions and reality oin open source spaces. She discussed how different images are seen across the globe and how the idea of a “Domain of One’s Own” either does not resonate or is not affordable in the Global South.

After Maha’s talk I did some soul searching around my efforts at D&I and personally decided to add the word self-dogfooding to my list of words I won’t use in the community. It’s not that words like “scratch your own itch” and “self-dogfooding” have explicit bias, I just believe we can add more inviting choices for inclusion purposes.

Jess Klein

Jess Klein, whom I have known for 7 years but never met, delivered a wonderful talk about how to improve the open source design community. Jess shared an Open Source Design Kit she created. I used this when doing a SWAT analysis for my local park and recreation department. Jess then lead a discussion on how the design community needs open source projects to build their portfolios but discussed how many designers do not feel invited, or worse feel used by Open Source. We left with strong ideas to help young designers build reputation through the #IndieWeb.

Friday Breakout Sessions

The breakout sessions on Friday ranged from building your first website, to using IndieWeb building blocks, and the data portability project. I focused my effort on creating a workflow for webmention badges. You cqn read more about this as I summarized the reaction my sesssion go across multiple streams.

Saturday Hackday

On Saturday you take one of the projects, or any personal goal, and you hack away on the effort. Usually I aqm helping multiple people get online for the first time. So when folks demo I feel more pride in what they built than what I built. So I worked with people to show them how to change a namsever for a regisitered domain, launch a MySQL dtabase, and then set up a Known blog through FTP.

In the final minutes left I wanted to come up with a fun way to honor https://david.shanske.com for all the WordPress work he does. So I quickly threw up a project on Glitch to turn the knowledge bombs he wrote into as tshirt.

The other projects blew my mind. Marty kept working on webrings, while this was meant to nbe a fun throwback I think web rings have strong potential to help people build their own social networks. Tantek previewed an undo idea, that I needed hours later, Aaron built a color response like those annoying boxes on facebook, Demitri demoed an amazing host your own “GitHub” from your website, Jack Jamieson shared progress on a microsub reader, Tiara shared her new website, and so many more.

My Next Goals

  1. I need to start the WordPress migration process. I want to go to just a few static pages and a social feed running through Known. I started my IndieWeb journey here and it’s time to go home.
  2. I want to continue the webmentions badging project. So many people want to get involved. Steven Downes, Jess Klein, Nate Otto, Marty McGuire, and the computer science department at Southern Connecicut State University have all signed on. Repo coming soon.
  3. I have an idea for a simple media remix engine. I spent some time with Atul thinking about how to use javascript to change the values in CS grid rows/columns and the z-index of an element. More on this in the next post.
  4. Micropub Pomodoro Timer, because why not?
  5. Helping with website redesign
  6. Help launch HWC NYC and get HWC NHV going (after soccer season but before baseball season.

As I plopped my weary body into the train seats my newsfeeds exploded with more and more companies who “would save the web” by launching this or that. When you dig in you find a website,l a few users, and white paper.

I love the IndieWeb community because we save the web by building it and not simply talking about it. Learn a bit of HTML and help us protect the future.

Featured Image: The Intricate Web flickr photo by Thomas Hawk shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

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