One might perhaps come to the conclusion after following me in recent times that I’m just a technology skeptic. I must believe all the tech bros are jerks, and I hate anything newfangled. Cue the Old Man Yells at Cloud memes.
But believe me when I say this: I’m not a technology skeptic. I’m a bad technology skeptic. If I think a technology is fundamentally poor and ill-thought out, destined to (maybe) benefit a select few at the expense of the many, I’m going to call it as I see it. And we’ve had a bucketload of bad technology hype cycles lately.
But one major technology I’m actually extremely bullish on, one that I think does have tremendous potential, is the concept of the metaverse. And no, I don’t mean anything actually being built by Meta right now. I mean the initial conception of the term, which I understand to be a pervasive digital virtual reality where what you do matters.
Many of us use what I might call “proto-metaverses” all the time. My favorite is Minecraft. My kids and I have a handful of home servers we engage in regularly. And what we do there matters. If we build something today and come back a week later, it’s still there. If somebody drops a TNT block next to the wall of my house and it detonates, my house is destroyed. If I decide to go off exploring and find an exciting new landscape to play in, I can write down the coordinates and teleport there again in the future. I have memories of things I’ve done in Minecraft, just like I have fond memories of playing the Myst series of games—as if I were actually there, in a real place. That’s the magic of digital worlds.
The first metaverse I ever experienced was Second Life. (This was almost two decades ago!) I spent a lot of time there, built a lot of things, made friends. I ended up choosing to leave because I got really addicted. I was spending too much time in my “second life” and not enough time in my “first life”. That’s the danger of this technology. The addiction.
Still, I’m an unabashed fan of metaverses, and I’m always excited to hear about and possibly try out new ones. What I’m ultimately hoping for is that the World-Wide Web evolves into a #metaverse platform. If I could easily invite a bunch of friends over to “jaredwhite.com” and we could hang out in VR, wouldn’t that be amazing? I like think so. But it needs to be a truly #openweb solution, built atop open specs and open protocols. The worst thing in the world would be if any one corporation ends up “owning the metaverse.” We must resist that at all costs.
I regret spending so much time contributing content to corporate social media. I regret expending my limited creative and financial resources all in the service of Big Tech.
But you know what I don’t regret?
Publishing content on my own #website. Yes, right here. And in other places I inhabit on the internet. And even on sites that no longer exist, because thank youWayback Machine.
It makes me think that, huh, perhaps I should spending more time publishing content in places I “own”. Even if my website is technically hosted on a service I don’t control, the content 100% belongs to me, and I can take it with me anywhere I want because Cool URIs don’t change.
Maybe the #openweb would be in better shape if more people valued personal domain names as much as they value other things in life. I’m coming to realize jaredwhite.com is one of the most prized possessions in life.
Blog: short for Web-log. A personalized record of content you post on the web.
Web: a shortening of World-Wide Web. A global network of hypertext documents all linking to each other.
So then, why is it rare to find anyone actually doing this with their blog? 🤔
There’s a term in IndieWeb circles called Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere (or POSSE). It sort of captures an aspect of that idea…basically you use your own blog to publish thoughts, link commentary, photos, videos, newsletters, etc., and then disseminate that content out to other services (YouTube, Twitter, mailing lists, your own RSS feed, etc.)
I tried POSSE in a previous incarnation of this site. I ended up not liking it. It doesn’t capture the workflows I instinctively prefer on a regular basis, nor how I wish the #openweb really functioned.
What I want to do is the exact opposite! IndieWeb also provides a term for this: Publish Elsewhere, Syndicate (to your) Own Site (or PESOS). They don’t recommend it, and the wiki page enumerates some of the reasons why. But I have come to realize I prefer PESOS for a lot of the content I produce, because it’s generally way easier and the UX is way better.
I like “microblogging” on Twitter. [11-2022 update: er, not anymore! 🤪]
I like uploading podcast episodes to Buzzsprout. (I don’t for this site, but I do use it for the Fullstack Ruby podcast.)
I like posting photos on…well, certainly not Instagram any more. 😂 Glass is pretty rad, but I haven’t determined if I want to reserve it for the “fancy” photos I take with my “fancy” camera, or simply give up and flood it with on-the-go iPhone snaps.
I likereleasing music on Bandcamp. (Honestly, I don’t know of any indie musician who doesn’t use Bandcamp at this point!)
So the question then becomes: how do I post all this content elsewhere, then transparently pull in links and import content back to my own #website? Of course on a technical level, it means I’ll be writing lots of Ruby plugins for Bridgetown, the software I use to build my website. But I’m always musing on workflows that can be easily applied to the industry of blogging as a whole. I haven’t seen much evidence anyone’s truly cracked this nut. Also admittedly, dragging your own content in kicking and screaming from third-party silos is often less than straightforward (hence the notion of POSSE), because they have a vested interest not to let you feature your own content on your own website. (YouTube remains sort of a weird outlier here because they make it easy to embed videos anywhere, and youtube-dl is certainly a thing.)
Still, I’m motivated to figure this stuff out. I’ll let you know how it goes! ☺️
Alongside the “Great Resignation” of 2021-2022, we are witnessing the “Great Recognition” of the simple fact that the #openweb is the only digital space where you can leave a true legacy as a thinker and a writer.
Walled gardens like #Facebook, #Twitter, Medium, and many others have tried to capture words over the decades. They failed. 100 years from now, when people look back in time to witness What People Thought, they won’t be gleaning the highest wisdom and deepest insights from tweets and likes and shares.
It will be Articles. Essays. In other words, Blog Posts. (Before you say “what about Newspaper Columns?”—in this day and age they might as well just be considered Blog Posts because we typically consume them the exact same way.)
Medium-to-longform content, written by individuals, and largely posted on independent websites for all the world to see. Not trapped inside a social network, but freely accessible*. I’ve never been more bullish on the power of the #openweb to both contain and promote forward thinking than I am today.
* Rest assured I’m not making a case here against paywalls—even paywalled #writing can be “freely accessible” on the open web in the sense that you don’t need to join a Big Tech platform to make #payments in order to access the content.
Back to the #openweb I go. Not that I ever left it…but to be quite frank, it’s so easy to post and get immediate feeback on #Twitter that I spend most of my day-to-day “chit-chat energy” there and not on my own #website.
No longer! Now that Elon Musk is buying Twitter and taking it private, I’m done putting serious effort into creating content for walled gardens. Everything, and I mean everything I publish from here on out will start on my own properties and then get syndicated elsewhere.
I’m also in the process of switching from Revue (owned by Twitter) to ConvertKit for my email newsletter. In the meantime, feel free to email me to get in touch! 😃
I find it utterly despicable that companies such as Spotify have taken it upon themselves to redefine the meaning of the word podcast. There is no such thing as an “exclusive podcast” because podcasts, by their very technical nature, are not exclusive and are part of the very fabric of the #openweb.
A podcast is simply an RSS feed which is downloadable from a website. The RSS feed contains items with various metadata and links to MP3 files. In theory an RSS feed could be behind some kind of HTTP auth paywall or be served via an obfuscated URL—but at the end of the day, that RSS feed can and should be playable by any podcast client.
A “podcast” that can only be played by a single client is not a podcast. That’s as absurd as somebody claiming they’ve published an “exclusive website” that’s only accessible via a single app. If the website can’t be viewed via any standard web browser on the internet, it’s not a website. If a podcast can’t be listened to via any standard podcast player on the internet, it’s not a podcast.
Spotify, and anybody else out there trying to pull a fast one like this, you do not get to redefine the terms or the technology of podcasting. They belong to the open web. They belong to us. And we won’t let you have it.
Some sort of indication of future notebooks that don’t suck
Dedicated App Store for Watch
I’m currently in the process of uploading all my #vlog episodes to date to Vimeo. I’ve decided that as part of my #openweb content strategy, I’m going to post videos there and “syndicate” some of them to YouTube (and Patreon).
In this scenario, Vimeo is simply a hosting company I pay for, so ultimately the canonical home for my vlog is my own website. As it should be!
If all the people out there who complain about how “blogging/
RSS/websites/whatever” is dead and we’re all stuck with “Twitter/Facebook/whatever” — quit those services and used blogs, Mastodon, and other open web services, we’d be back to where we were before: a vibrant online content ecosystem free of aggressive corporate dominance and a data-sucking ad-tracking hellscape.
It all starts with us: we the people. Join the revolution! #openweb
My latest fun geek project in my ongoing quest to use self-hosted, libre#openweb apps as much as possible is installing Gitea on a DigitalOcean server. I’ve used either Bitbucket or GitHub for hosting all my code repositories (including this #website), but I’m planning to transfer them over to my own Gitea-powered server going forward. The great thing is, Netlify (which I use to publish static sites) supports custom Git servers. Simply install the SSH key they provide, add a webhook to your repository settings on Gitea, and it just works! I’m a happy camper.
I was very skeptical of the move to Medium when Signal v. Noise first jumped on that platform, so I’m super excited to see this classic blog from the Basecamp folks return to full independence. I love the new design as well.
Also, as someone who really, truly dislikes long tweetstorms (honestly, if you have more tweets to convey a singular thought than you can count on one hand, start a blog!), I can’t welcome this trend wholeheartedly enough.
Initially this appears to benefit DuckDuckGo more than #Apple, due to the fact that you already have to be using DDG in order to utilize this feature. It’s not the kind of earth-shattering news that Apple switching the search default in iOS from Google to DDG would be. However, I feel like this is simply the opening statement of a much deeper collaboration. The relationship between Google and Apple is strained to say the least, and after this announcement about Apple and DuckDuckGo working together on search functionality, I feel much more confident in postulating that Google’s days as iOS’ default search provider is numbered. #openweb#privacy