I don’t really like likes. On the big silos of the social industry they have become weaponised; a kind of social Taylorism, where the craft of building social relationships has been reduced to unskilled labour – just another way of automating us.

Even on the open web, where they are not designed to distract, likes are still a bit of a weak form of interaction. I think they have their place, but I want something a bit more. Something more than comments below a post, too. They’re a bit constrained – in hock to the main body of text above.

Blogchains

I came across the idea of blogchains the other day, on Tom Critchlow’s blog I believe. The word is from Venkatesh Rao, and the very tl;dr is that it’s a string of short, ad-hoc blog posts that build on a theme. That’s cool, and tied in with a wiki is kind of how I see me builing up ideas over time.

But where the idea gets really interesting (for me) is when it extends to cross-site blogchains and open blogchains. These are more open-ended, involving two or more people conversing and building on a theme, simply by posting to their blog about it and linking the posts together.  Kind of like a webring, but for posts rather than sites.

There’s definitely something to be said for the long-form, turn-based conversation. One of the best conversations I have had recently was a long email chain. And some of the thoughts that have stuck with me the most are ones I’ve written as a long reply to someone else’s open question or musings on a topic.

Hyperconversations

The blogchain thing reminded me of something Kicks wrote about a few months back – hyperconversations. It’s a chat between friends, conducted across blogs and wikis. Less formal than a blogchain – no predetermined theme.

It’s very informal and fluid. It’s completely simple: just leaving messages for each other on our sites.

The Hyperchat Modality

Conversations that last

I think what they’re both getting at, is using social software to have distributed conversations that last more than just an hour or two.

Chris wrote about the temporality of social media.

Taking this a level deeper, social is thereby forcing us to not only think shallowly, but to make our shared histories completely valueless.

Shallow conversations disappear off the timeline and out of our minds pretty quickly. As mentioned, I don’t think this is true just for Twitter and Facebook though. It’s more a problem of the medium.

Relatedly, contemporary fediverse interfaces borrow from surveillance-capitalism based popular social networks by focusing on breadth of relationships rather than depth. […] What if instead of focusing on how many people we can connect to we instead focused on the depth of our relationships?

Spritely: towards secure social spaces as virtual worlds

Not to rag on likes and reposts too much. I do them plenty. There’s a time and place for everything. And I’m not saying that I want to have to sit down and write a 500 word blog post every time I want to say hi to a friend. But! I would definitely like some more conversations that last.

So who’s up for a blogchain, or a hyperconversation?

Read Mannequins

I turned in my book manuscript a few weeks ago. It took 18 months to complete, if I start counting from the moment when the idea first wormed into my brain. It’s by far the biggest writing project I’ve ever tackled.

Nadia Eghbal, someone who obviously loves writing, writes about writing a book. It sounds less… enjoyable than you might think.

What I hated most about this past year was feeling unable to seriously think about anything besides this one thing. Everything I read or talked about was in service to the thing. There was nothing but the thing.

Afterwards, I expected to feel a satisfying sense of completion, but mostly I just felt relieved. I didn’t think of it as having finished a manuscript so much as having expelled a virus from my body.

Read Your Website Is Your Castle by Desmond RivetDesmond Rivet

In which I zoom in slightly on the #indieweb

Some nice quotes on what the IndieWeb is about, from Desmond’s article Your Website Is Your Castle.

In a nutshell:

At the heart of the IndieWeb is an attempt to unify the ideas behind personal websites, blogs and social networks, but in a manner consistent with how the world wide web operates.

Your website acts much like your wall on Facebook or your timeline on Twitter – it’s your personal soapbox, your castle on the web.

[…]one recreates, in a decentralized manner, the kinds of online interactions one has come to expect from private social networks.

Read Your Website Is Your Passport by Desmond RivetDesmond Rivet

Your personal website as a form of identification #indieweb

I found this a very helpful discussion of IndieAuth from Desmond, touching on web sign-in, RelMeAuth, OAuth and OIDC along the way. It’s one of those things that I know exists, and just works for me (e.g. everytime I use a Micropub client), but it’s nice to get a bit of a handle on how it works.

In a nutshell the purpose is this:

your domain should function as a kind of universal online passport, allowing you to sign in to various services and applications simply by entering your personal URL

Desmond does a great job of explaining the nitty-gritty of how it works, too. The two bits I bolded below jumped out at me – a decentralised authentication mechanism leveraging DNS as a user registration system. It’s very elegant.

The process of using your domain to log in to sites and services is called web sign-in and is implemented via a protocol called IndieAuth, an extension of OAuth used for decentralized authentication.

If your goal is to make a social network out of the world wide web, there is a certain elegance to the idea of leveraging DNS as a user registration system.

I fixed a small issue in my theme that I’d noticed, where other people’s sites weren’t picking up my author details. The problem? My author info wasn’t included in the entries. I had a site-wide h-card but I hadn’t got it in the entries themselves.

The process for figuring out who has written a post is referred to as authorship, and the IndieWeb wiki page on it is very helpful. Also thanks to Sven for the help.

Replied to a post by Ton Zijlstra

Reading Jeremy’s monthly notes about March and the shift into Italian lock-down, I got intrigued by a mention of how his ‘7-minutes’ had increased. 7-minutes? No idea what he meant, but a quick search in his own blog surfaced the first mention of it in his September 2019 notes:
“Finally down…

This is a decent app for getting a bit of variety in to your 7 minutes: seven.downdogapp.com/
RSVPed: Unable to Attend ONLINE: Homebrew Website Club Europe/London

Join us… on ✨The Internet!✨
Join the Zoom call: tbc 20 minutes before start
We will provide a Zoom video conference link 20 minutes before the meetup here and in the IndieWeb chat.
Homebrew Website Club is a meetup for anyone interested in personal websites and a distributed web. Whether you?…

I’ve ended up with an online meeting schedule clash this week, unfortunately.