Keep-it-Simple Ideas for Content Creation, Distribution, and Consumption

created Oct 10, 2017 - updated Mar 22, 2019

Definitely use

Publishing : I'll use my web-based, static site generator called Wren. I'm able to create, update, and search posts through the web browser on desktop, laptop, tablet, and phone. Readers view static HTML files.

Communication : Email. I use a custom email address that uses my domain name. This email setup is managed by Fastmail. My backup email is hosted at riseup.net, but I don't have a custom email address with them. I like riseup.net because I can use it without JavaScript.

Accepting feedback : Lo-fi commenting system.
Private comment:
Email me.
Public comment:
Write a post on your own personal website that contains the link to the post on my site that you are replying to. Then email me the URL to your response, and I'll link to it at the bottom of my article, maybe excerpting some of your reply too.
Consuming content :
Feed reader
I occasionally (not every day) use the web-based feed reader https://theoldreader.com. Feed readers make all web content look the same, which can be useful when time is limited, and because the content is the most important aspect. Although this works only when websites include the entire content of their posts within their feeds. Many sites, like mine, only provide an excerpt in the description area of their feeds.
Favorites
I visit websites directly either from memory or by using my "favorites" page of bookmarks. It's not a blogroll, since my favorites page also contains links to specific how-to articles and to professional media orgs. I like visiting websites to view the many different web designs. I enjoy the creative designs or article layouts, used by some websites.
Newsletters
I subscribe to a few daily, weekly, and whenever email newsletters, but I don't read most of them regularly. This ends up being an email inbox maintenance issue. I save them into folders within my Fastmail account. Eventually, I unsubscribe to the email newsletters that I rarely read. The "whenever" email newsletter may not be a newsletter. It's a notification of a new post from a personal web publisher. I "follow" a few bloggers this way who publish infrequently and send emails when they make new posts.

Options that I'm testing

I could pull the plug on these ideas that I'm using now.

Receiving Comments : My Wren code can send and receive Webmentions. Commenters can create Webmentions (reply posts) on their own websites. Then they copy the URLs for their reply posts and paste those URLs to my website. I provide an HTML form to accept Webmentions this way. If the commenters' web publishing apps support Webmentions, then their sites can automatically send the Webmentions to my website's Webmention API endpoint.

Social Media : I'm using IndieWeb concepts, such as the Webmention, to syndicate my sawv.org content to my jr_sawv test Twitter account. I rely on brid.gy and the Webmention to backfeed Twitter interactions to sawv.org. These interactions include Twitter replies, likes, and shares. It's interesting, but for me, this social media aspect is less important. From a programming viewpoint, it's good to know how to implement this concept for a possible future need. But it's doubtful that I ever make it a common practice at sawv.org. Since it's Twitter, then any knucklehead can reply. I'm disinterested in using Twitter for discussions. But many IndieWeb users and other personal web publishers enjoy holding their discussions on Twitter. Different strokes.

Distribution : Testing TinyLetter to create an email newsletter for subscribers. Test results: I like TinyLetter. The admin interface is simple and designed well, although I dislike the WYSIWYG editor. It's easy for users to subscribe to email newsletters. It's easy publishers to create and send emails to the subscribers. Stats are nice. Everything is great except that TinyLetter requires a postal address at sign-up. That's fine, but the postal address is included at the bottom of each email. The only way I would use TinyLetter in production is if I obtained a post office box. From the TinyLetter website:

Anytime you send a letter, we’ll automatically include a footer with TinyLetter details based on your account information: Your newsletter and author name, postal address, recipient's email address, an unsubscribe link and the “Delivered by TinyLetter” logo. This footer cannot be removed.

The inclusion of these details is required by our Terms of Use and anti-spam laws. The postal address used can be a home, work, or P.O. box address.

Feb 14, 2018 TinyLetter update: I'm still testing. I send emails to my Fastmail, Gmail, and Riseup accounts. I want to send plain text emails, but it appears that TinyLetter does not provide an easy way to do this, which is freakishly bizarre. I'm one of the few remaining people who prefer plain text emails. I abhor HTML emails. The web and email are two separate protocols and applications even if an email service provides a web-based client. But we cannot let things remain simple. Long ago, people thought that it was a good idea to make email messages function like web pages. End rant and back to TinyLetter. A couple options work okay. One is to copy the text from the HTML page, paste the text into the TinyLetter editor, select all of the text within the editor, and then click the editor button for "Clear Formatting". The other option that might be the one that I choose if I were to do this for real is to copy the text from the HTML textarea box while editing the post, paste the content into the TinyLetter editor, and that's it. No need to clear formatting. Paste and send.

Mar 21, 2019 update: I created an account at buttondown.email, added an additional email address via my subscription page, created a test email, and mailed it. The email looked great in Fastmail and Gmail. I need to test for Riseup. The entire Buttondown process worked well. The editor permits me to type in Markdown, although I prefer little to no HTML in an email. If I decide to publish an email newsletter for family and friends, then I will use Buttondown.

Feed reader : I also occasionally use or test the feed reader at https://woodwind.xyz, since it incoporates IndieWeb concepts, such as IndieAuth, Webmention, and Micropub. Woodwind is a Micropub client. I can respond to other IndieWeb users by creating my response from within Woodwind, which posts it to my website, since I logged into Woodwind with my website's URL (IndieAuth). And then my website (Wren app) receives the Webmention post from Woodwind, parses the text for Microformats, realizes that it's a reply post, and then my Wren code makes a Webmention to the other website. It's fascinating. Replying directly from the feed reader with a copy of my reply posted on my own website. [Feb 2018 update: woodwind.xyz is no longer an IndieWeb-compatible feed reader. Other people, however, are developing new IndieWeb-based feed readers.]

micro.blog : - This service launched in early 2017, but it's still not open to everyone. In October 2017, I received my invite to create an account. [micro.blog opened to all in late 2017.] Links to my sawv.org posts appear at micro.blog because I have my micro.blog account configured to scarf my site's RSS or JSON feed. micro.blog employs multiple IndieWeb concepts. micro.blog encourages people to post on their own websites or to create mini posts at micro.blog. It supports replies and simple discovery. It supports the IndieWeb concepts, such as Micropub and Webmention. January 2018 update: A few other micro.blog users have replied at micro.blog to some of my sawv.org posts, and those replies came back to my website as Webmentions. I can also view those replies in my micro.blog feed.

Commenting :
micro.blog
Use micro.blog to comment on posts made by others
Webmention
Send Webmentions to sites that can receive them. I create my reply post on my website. Then I either have my code automatically send the Webmention to the site that I'm replying to, or I copy my reply post URL and manually drop it into a text input field provided by the website that I'm replying to. Some IndieWeb users offer that manual option in case someone's CMS does not support sending Webmentions.
Omnibear
Use the OmniBear web browser extension to reply to a post that I'm currently reading. OmniBear is a MicroPub client. Since my website supports MicroPub on the server, and my site exposes my MicroPub endpoint API, I can use OmniBear to create a post at sawv.org. My website sees that it's a reply post, and the content from OmniBear contains the web post URL that I'm replying too. Then my website code sends a Webmention to the site that I'm replying to.

When the web publishing app supports MicroPub and Webmention, then MicroPub-supported clients can be used to create posts and to create replies that get automatically sent to the other website. Of course, the receiving websites would need to support Webmention to receive the replies. Even if the other sites do not support Webmention, my reply posts still get created at my website.


IndieWeb

https://indieweb.org

I like these IndieWeb concepts from most important to least important, but my Wren code supports all of them.

  1. Microformats : "class=" markup attached to HTML tags. Easiest thing to implement. I recommend using Microformats at least within web posts (articles and notes) and in an automatically generated sidefile page that lists the most recent posts by creation date from youngest to oldest. This sidefile would be an h-feed page that uses h-entry for each post listed. For feed readers that can parse h-feed pages, this page would replace XML and JSON feed sidefiles. Mine: http://sawv.org/mft.html. I should change the name to hfeed.html. Microformats should also be used on the site's homepage. Not every Microformat class needs to be used. Keep it simple.

  2. Webmention : Sending and receiving Webmentions, especially receiving to allow others to post comments. It's nice to provide a Webmention receiving API endpoint for IndieWeb-compatible CMS apps, but it's also a good idea to provide an HTML text input field that allows commenters to copy and paste their URLs for their reply posts into the text input field. It's lo-fi but simple, since most CMS apps do not support sending Webmentions.

  3. Micropub : API endpoint on the server. I'm not creating a Micropub client. My Wren code supports Micropub on the server. This allows me to use Micropub clients, created by others to create content at my Wren-backed website. https://quill.p3k.io is a Micropub client that provides a Medium.com-like writing experience. https://micropublish.net is a simpler Micropub client. Both require logging in via IndieAuth. The Woodwind feeder reader is also a Micropub client. The Omnibear browser extension is a Micropub client, allowing me to create quick responses to web pages that I visit. If the other sites do not support receiving Webmentions, then at least my reply posts still get created at my site.

  4. IndieAuth : My Wren code supports logging into my Wren-backed website by using IndieAuth. I enter the URL to my site to log into my website, which sounds strange. But IndieAuth also requires being logged into another service, such as my GitHub or Twitter account or having an email address. My website must point to the other service, and the other service must point to my website. That's part of IndieAuth too. If I'm relying on email, my preferred method for using IndieAuth, then I list my email address on my homepage. The IndieAuth server emails me a code that I have to enter into the IndieAuth form. Once accepted and approved, the IndieAuth server sends the login info to one my website's API endpoints to complete the login process.


Dec 31, 2017 blog post by jonmitchell.net, titled How to Stay Internet Friends Without Facebook or Twitter

If you want to stay in touch with people like me who shut off our accounts, or you’re ready to get rid of yours, too, here’s a comprehensive guide on how to have internet friends in the No Social Media Club (N.S.M.C.).

Email and Calendars

Messages

... iMessage, but WhatsApp is fine.

Writing

To do that, you’ll want a blog. When you blog, you can send links to your posts by email or text message or any other way of conveying text — even by petroglyph! — because blog posts are on the web, and things on the web have URLs. You may have forgotten what those are.

Reading

My new slot machine is Apple News, actually.

... but that’s really my secondary news source. I get most of my feeding done in my RSS reader.

Photos? Beyond sharing photos using any of the options above, built-in photo services from Apple and Google both allow sharing of albums through interfaces at least as good as Facebook’s.

Maybe there’s no other app or website better than Facebook for discovering local events you wouldn’t otherwise know about. I’m content to try just keeping up with bands and venues and stuff via email/blogs/web, finding out from friends by word of mouth, and seeing how it goes.


Slow Web Movement

February 2018 thoughts.

Consume information only on desktop and laptop computers. Limit or eliminate the time reading the web over the phone. (Downgrade to a flip-phone??)

The above restrictions might also apply to creating and updating content, although it's handy to create a quick note on my website by using the smartphone. And I like viewing my weather website http://toledoweather.info on the phone too.

A feed reader might not be anti-Slow Web Movement. While I can limit my access to the feed reader to once or twice a day, such as morning or night, the feed reader can lead to a lot of wasted time reading too much information.

That's why I waffle back and forth with feed readers. I add too many feeds. I leave the reader up too much. New posts arrive nearly constantly throughout the day. Information overload. And it's self-inflicted.

The slower web might mean visiting websites directly when time permits and not using a feed reader. Using a feed reader is listed above under "Definitely use", but I don't think that it's definite for me. I want to manage my time differently and better.

http://sawv.org/2018/02/11/web-diet-test-february-2018.html

I learn new ideas by visiting https://news.ycombinator.com at least once a day, and scrolling through the first three or four pages of posts. I don't try to see everything. Too much.


Related post: A Simpler Web