Blogosphere v2.0?

created Jan 26, 2016 - updated Aug 22, 2017

"Blogosphere", that's a rarely used word from the past, as in 10 to 15 years ago.

Dave Winer's Jan 26, 2016 blog post titled Booting up a fresh blogosphere

My recent piece, Anywhere But Medium, has gotten a fair amount of play.

The Indieweb group has been championing this idea for a few years now. DW might be a little late to catch on, but because he has a large audience of readers, he can spread the concepts.

For some reason, DW does not write about the Indieweb. I think that he dislikes the group because the Indieweb prefers Microformats over RSS. I agree with DW on this. I like Microformats, but I'll stick with using RSS for feeds. The second choice would be a JSON format.

Putting the feed debate aside, the Indieweb has produced many other positive ideas, such as Webmentions, that DW should investigate and maybe contribute to.

More from DW:

Anyway, there is probably enough agreement "out there" to create a critical mass for a newly invigorated blogosphere to boot up along the lines of the one that started this whole thing in the late 90s to early 2000s. What we need is a little new technology, and support from one or two vendors.

New technology?

... have WordPress accept as input, the URL of a JSON file containing the source code for a post, and then do its rendering exactly as if that post had been written using WordPress's editor. That would give us exactly what we need to have the best of all worlds. Widespread syndication and control over our own writing and archive. All at a very low cost in terms of storage and CPU.

I don't understand. If I have my own website, why would I need to syndicate to WordPress? Did Dave mean, instead of "... have Medium accept as input ..."

Many Indieweb users post to their own domain name, and then their software uses hooks and bridges to syndicate their content to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc., and then the interactions, such as shares, replies, etc., on those social media sites come back to the personal websites of the Indieweb users.

It appears that the Indieweb users are actually using Twitter directly, but that's not the case. The users are "using" the other social media sites from their own personal websites.

Syndication bridges to the silos already exist for Indieweb users. I don't use those social media sites because I use my 13-year-old message board for discussions.

Therefore, I don't need to syndicate elsewhere. I'm only interested in discussions at TT. I'm not interested in using other websites to discuss what I post here.

The only discussion mechanism that interests me is Webmentions.

More from DW:

Just want to put this idea out there for people who are thinking about this stuff. APIs are not necessary. Just a new syndication format. We could even use an existing format, but since we're mostly working in JavaScript these days, I think JSON is also a fine way to go.

JSON is language agnostic. It may have begun under JavaScript, but I use Perl to send JSON to a CouchDB server that's written in Erlang.

When I use the Perl module Data::Dumper to display contents of a hash or an array or an array of hashes, etc., it reminds me of JSON.

JSON is a convenient way to structure data for transmission. It's not as messy as XML for human-reading.

But RSS is an old and stable syndication method. DW helped create it.

PHP is still used a lot. Many IndieWeb users have rolled their own web publishing apps, and it seems that many IndieWeb advocates like to use PHP.

Some geeky bloggers like to use static site generators that were created in Python or Ruby.

I started blogging in 2001 by using Greymatter, which provided a simple web interface to create static files. No database. Cool little tool that would be useful in 2016. Noah Grey built Greymatter in Perl. He may not have realized it, but he designed an app that has longevity.

Programming languages should be irrelevant to bloggers or writers. The content is the key. And easily creating that content is important.

Maybe writers prefer to blog from their favorite desktop editor or from their favorite email client. Maybe some want the ability to create and edit blog posts from their phone.

Database vs non-database? Also irrelevant to the non-geeky bloggers.

If a simple setup is good enough, then an app that produces static files may work. If the writer wants fancy searches, tagging, wiki features, etc., then a database-backed app may be needed.

If writers do not wish to incur the admin tax, then they will chose to host their sites at CMS-hosting companies, such as Blogger, WordPress, Ghost, Tumblr, and Svblte.

The admin tax means performing duties that would normally be done by programmers, designers, sys admins, database administrators, and security gurus. Most writers or content producers only want to produce content. They are happy with letting the hosting companies take care of the rest.

The markup language? Also irrelevant. Geeks like Markdown. I mainly use Textile. I've writing in Textile since 2005. I also like Markdown. I don't like to use word processors. I'm also not a fan of WYISWYG or similar web-based writing environments. I like the web-based JavaScript editor that I hacked from someone else's code to work the way that I desired.

Writers or bloggers should never be limited to certain functions.

I assume that this goes in cycles, and blogging will gain popularity again in a few years as people tire of social media, but they want to keep creating content.

Tumblr may have it figured out with its network combined with its following and reblogging features. Maybe it will get much bigger over the next five years.

My recent publishing apps save markup to the file system as a backup mechanism. I can dump and backup the database, and I can backup the markup files. At the minimum, I need the markup files.

DW's JSON format to represent a post:

Aug 22, 2017

My June 2017 post:

Aug 21, 2017:

I want to try to reconcieve blogging, to make it more like Facebook, but not in a silo. I've been having trouble convincing people this is possible, but it is -- if we believe it can. It really is that simple.

This is a good start, in my opinion.

Aug 22, 2017:

When Doc was starting his blog in 1998 or so, it took about six months for it to catch on. I was regularly pointing to Doc from my blog, because his writing was so good and perspectives about the net so valuable. Six months. You have to show people steadiness. Update even if they aren't reading in the numbers you'd like. Keep doing it. It takes time to build up a trust, a pattern, a habit. And that's what reading a blog is, a habit. Conclusion: If there's a will to reboot blogging, we have to create that kind of habit, across a number of sites.

Six months seems like too short of a time-frame for personal web publishers to use for determining whether to continue.

What about blogging or publishing to one's own website as a personal life habit? Write for self and not for others. For some people, writing on a personal website could become as essential as eating and sleeping.

Many people are not wired that way. They are not meant to write on their own websites daily or weekly. They might try for a while, and then give up due to lack of interest.

That's similar to how I have tried many different hobbies and activities through the years, and some I continue to enjoy today, such as birdwatching while others fall to the wayside, like running, replaced by other activities, such as crocheting. I exercise nearly every day, but I use the elliptical, which is easier on my body.

I wonder if DW's Aug 22, 2017 post was a response to this post:

We launched this blog less than three months ago to explore the latest in Open Web technologies. Things like the IndieWeb movement, blockchain apps, API platforms, Open AI, and more. AltPlatform has always been an experiment, as I made clear in our introductory post. However, from a publishing point of view the experiment hasn’t worked out as we had hoped. To put it plainly, the page views haven’t eventuated – at least in a sustained way. So it’s time to try something new. We’re going to pivot into something a bit different…soon.

After only three months?

Back in 1998, I cannot believe that Doc only had to wait six months. When I started in January 2003, I told myself that I would give the site two years before I decide whether to continue. Even after 12 months, I was pleased enough with MY usage of TT to continue. At the all-important two-year anniversary, the decision to continue was easy. And the site still exists, accepting new posts. It's not as active as in past years, but that's okay.

I think 12 months is the minimum to decided whether to continue with a website. 24 months would be a better timeline.

But few people are patient. Maybe three months in 2017 is equal to 12 months early last decade. Maybe the thinking today is that a new website owner should not have to wait long to gain traction because of the site owner promoting the site Facebook and Twitter.

I agree that it's easier today to spread the word about a new website, especially if the new website owner has built a following on social media.

People discovered Toledo Talk organically, probably because of searching for something and seeing a Toledo Talk thread appear in the search results.

Three months still seems short even for today. Six months seems short, despite social media. And why define a time limit if it's a personal website? People should either enjoy publishing on their own websites or move on to something else.