I have been using Known for the last few weeks. Known is a publishing platform that adheres to many IndieWeb standards, from marking up posts with microformats to supporting post creation using Micropub clients. I decided to check out Known out of curiosity. I wanted to know what an IndieWeb-first, hosted social platform looked like. I have explored many IndieWeb tools and played around with them but Known was a notable exception.
Known is built as an all in one solution for getting started on the IndieWeb quickly. I like this philosophy because getting more people to adopt the IndieWeb comes through simplicity and empowering users to create quickly. Most people don't care about how a tool is built. They care about what the tool allows them to do. In the case of online publishing, the key is expression. Does Known help me express myself on the internet? Yes. Does it also adhere to IndieWeb standards and interoperate with social web tools? Yes. That second point is a bonus but it shows that both of the statements can indeed be true.
While I was reading about Known, I realised there was an opportunity to use it for hosting my notes, likes, bookmarks, and other "social interactions." I have discussed at length how I show social interactions on my blog but I have often found myself experimenting more than sticking with a tool. I have learned a lot through this experimentation (I learn best by doing) but now I find myself wanting a stable tool that "just works" without too much thought.
I did have a lot of trouble setting up Known, which only supports self-hosting as their hosted version is closed to new customers. I tried setting Known up on my main web server but I ran into conflicts with Apache, the web server Known uses, and nginx which I use for all of the other services I host. I decided to set up a small new web server to host Known to save myself from spending too much time trying to get Apache and nginx to work together. There is documentation out there on this but I had already expended too much time on the problem so I decided to spin up a new server.
After the initial setup -- which was relatively seamless after installing Known on a new server -- I could start publishing on my Known blog. Known comes with all of the post types I wanted, from notes to bookmarks to RSVPs. This meant I could start publishing new content out of the box. Also, Known comes with a nice user interface that lets you configure your instance. Through this interface I chose a new theme and made a couple of configuration changes (i.e. I added my other website links to my author page.)
Earlier in this post I mentioned that Known supports Micropub out of the box. This meant I could write a quick program that made a Micropub request to my Known site to backfill the likes, bookmarks, and notes from my blog. I decided to do this so that I could worry less about all of the content on my blog which takes a while to generate as my blog is a static site (whose build time increases with each new post added to the site). After I figured out how to authenticate with Known (I sent an "Authorization: Bearer" header with my Known API key) I was able to quickly backfill my posts.
Now my Known site contains (almost) my full archive of notes, bookmarks, and likes. I intend to use Known to publish these types of posts in the future. Because Known supports Micropub, I can connect my instance to any Micropub client so I can choose my own posting interfaces. I have opted to use Known's web interface on desktop devices along with their custom bookmarklets to easily react to posts from my browser. I use Aaron Parceki's Quill on my phone which comes with a really nice mobile editing interface. And I can use my own Micropub clients too (i.e. the one I built in my feed reader). I love it when services support interoperable standards!
I have deprecated the notes, bookmarks, and likes on my site for now. The old URLs remain but in the future all of these post types will be found on Known. This makes maintaining my site a bit easier, reduces the amount of time it will take my site to build in the future, and also lets me maintain one site for longer content and another for short-form content.
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