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Why I IndieWeb

Published by on under the IndieWeb category.

I wrote a post a few days ago on how I IndieWeb. I feel like I should go further and talk for a moment about why I am an active participant on the IndieWeb. This topic came to mind in response to an email I received earlier today. This email made me think about my motivations behind contributing to the IndieWeb. What is it that excites me about contributing to the wiki? Why do I spend so much time building IndieWeb principles into my website.

I’ve been contributing actively to the IndieWeb for over a month. I cannot doubt that the IndieWeb has been a place for me to go in tough times. I know myself well enough to know that programming makes me feel good. In the IndieWeb, I’ve found that there is no shortage of ideas for me to explore. There’s always something for me to do. Coding is certainly more constructive than thinking all the time (although there is a place for thinking).

The Community

Undoutably, the community is the biggest reason why I am so active in the IndieWeb. I’ve met dozens of incredible people. I don’t talk with many people on a frequent basis. Most of my discussions happen in the community chat. It always seems like there’s an interesting discussion going on, or that there is about to be one that comes up soon. If I ever need to chat with someone, there’s always the community IRC/Slack group.

I contribute to various degrees. I often just say morning in the chat and that facilitates some kind of response. I hear about people who are switching between the community chat and their day job, just like I do sometimes. Sometimes I ask other people what they are working on. The most exciting discussions are those that relate to some website or programming idea that I’m interested in.

When I started my weather station, I found out that there was a community member who has an advanced sensor setup. I didn’t follow up too much but I learned that it was not just me that was building a weather project. I turned to the wiki and found that at least three other community members have experimented with weather data on their websites. One creator made a stylesheet that changes depending on the weather.

The Homebrew Website Clubs take the IndieWeb to another level. Every two weeks, I meet up with a group of people to talk about websites. We sometimes showcase what we’ve been building. At the last meeting, we all spoke about our Raspberry Pis and what we use them for. I appreciate that the London/Europe meetup is online. I would not be able to join otherwise. During these calls, I don’t just get to talk about tech. I get to meet other people. To know that I’ll be talking with passionate techies about websites no more than two weeks away is an exciting feeling. I look forward to HWC meetings the day after the last one.

Openness

I have no thoughts on what it takes to participate in the IndieWeb community other than that you need to own a domain name that points to some site. That site could be as simple as a “Hello, world!” or it could be a site that is statically generated using a generator like Jekyll. That’s the setup I have for this site.

This spirit of openness is why I got into the community in the first place. I had a domain name to use. I had already built websites. I just needed to start participating in the community. Within minutes of joining the chat, I knew that I had stumbled upon somewhere that I’d want to spend time. Other people were talking about how they build their websites. I’d spent so many weekends hacking away on my site. It turns out other people do the same thing.

Own Your Web

I’m not going to cite the list of IndieWeb principles. I can’t remember most of them verbatim. I can summarize them by saying that, from my experience, the IndieWeb is about owning your web experience. I own my web experience because I have a domain name where I publish my content. I choose how my site is laid out. I choose what features to add to my site, when they are added, and what features I want to remove.

The IndieWeb takes this to varying degrees. Webmentions let you take control over your replies. I can send a message to someone’s website, as long as that website supports the webmention protocol. That’s exciting to me. I don’t depend on any centralized platforms. I do use webmention.io to view webmentions and Telegraph to send webmentions but those are both open source tools. I can send webmentions from the command line if I want. The protocol is open.

Some community members own their bookmarks and replies and likes and more. I don’t do this because I don’t think this data is valuable enough to share. I do see why other people own this data. If you’re moving from a social network like Twitter, reactions are probably somewhat important. I can only speak speculatively beacuse I did not have a Twitter or social media account when I joined the community chat.

Technical Barriers

I can say that there are many technical barriers for entry. I’ve not wrapped my head around a lot of what goes on in the IndieWeb community. I joined a microformats issue resolution session and, honestly, I was way out of my depth. I get a lot of value out of the IndieWeb because I’m interested in customizing my personal website and my web experience. If this speaks to you, I’d recommend that you join the IndieWeb chat and say hello.

I do recognize that a lot of what goes on is technical in nature. I’m not sure whether some discoveries will spill over into the consumer internet. I believe this is fine for now because there is technical work that needs to be done. Discussions that are going on about protocols will help us all figure out what a more open web looks like. Even owning a personal website is a step in the right direction. Without personal sites, the web would look very different to what it does today.

Conclusion

I spend a few hours a week contributing to the IndieWeb community. I like writing on the forums about what I’ve been learning. It’s a good way to reinforce my knowledge, especially if what I’m learning is not in the right shape for a blog post. I like talking with other people about technology. I spend a few more hours working on my personal website. My personal website work is less consistent. On some days, I’ll work for hours; some weeks, I’ll do very little.

That’s what I love about the IndieWeb: I can take work at my own pace. The IndieWeb is a community for me to talk about tech. I love it. I’ve been able to improve my personal website. I do not adhere to every standard that exists. There are just too many. I pick and choose what I like and do not like.

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