Webring

created Jun 10, 2019

April 2019 post:

https://www.sonniesedge.net/posts/webrings

That's a good, long post, made by someone who must be familiar with the IndieWeb.org, since the author accepts Webmentions.

A couple lines from the post:

What would it take to bring webrings back?

Yeah, let's do it! (er, not me, as I'm a time-limited tammy). But someone, yeah, go do it!

In June 2018, an IndieWeb webring was created. I was surprised that nobody mentioned this in the comments, attached to the sonniesedge.net post.

https://indieweb.org/indiewebring

At IndieWeb Summit 2018, Marty McGuire built the IndieWebRing which is available on Glitch at https://xn--sr8hvo.ws.

In the summer or fall of 2018, I joined that webring, via IndieAuth, and I added the webring code to the bottom of my home page. I have discovered many interesting personal websites because of the IndieWeb webring.

https://xn--sr8hvo.ws/directory

More historical info about webrings, which began back in the mid-1990s, can be found at the webring Wikipedia page.

More excerpts from sonniesedge.net's post:

So, for the whippersnappers amongst you, back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth (the 90s) we had the concept of a "webring". A webring was a bunch of related sites listed together in a central directory. You could visit this central directory and find a link to any of the member sites from there.

This is just a tiny list of related sites (a database if you're feeling grandiose). But what made it special was that to be a member of this list you had to embed a little visual component on their page that contained a "forward", a "backward", and a "random" button.

So webrings were ENORMOUSLY important for discovering new and exciting content. Hitting random would take you to things that you shared an interest in, but would never have any other way of discovering.

You might recall blogrolls, and what a good memory for 90s concepts you have if you do! But a blogroll isn't quite the same thing as a Webring. A blogroll was (is! They're still around!) a way for site owners to list other sites that they found interesting and would recommend to their readers. It was maintained and run on an individual site without any external dependency. So related, but not the same.

Why, in the age of highly effective search engines and the connections of social media, would we want to bring back something so decrepit? Randomness and self-discovery is the reason.

A webring would, in contrast, be an open collection of personal websites, with whatever content the author wanted on there. If you visit and you like what they produce on there then you can save it to your bookmarks, or subscribe to it via the equally 90s concept of the RSS feed!

Webrings could be something that gets us back into a slower world of personal sites and personal, very human stories. None of your "personal brand" (unironic use of which needs to die in a fire, as it is simply a way of defining your worth by your employability). Bring back the human brand! Bring back the ability to find smart amazing, original, bizarre, wonderful people!

And finally ...

And what of the webring embeds on each site? We could go the original 90s way and publish a little snippet of JS that is placed into a page by the author, much like Tweets are so often embedded. The snippet could then ping the endpoint with the current URL and get back the next, previous, and a random site. Or it could just grab the entire JSON object and utilise that.

Even better, if the webring member is into static sites then they could pull the webring JSON data in at build time and embed everything as HTML on the page - no need for an extra script and API call at all!

And so much additiona data could be in the webring site entry! Author photos, last updated info, summaries. The author doesn't even need to submit all that stuff - if we encouraged more use of Microformats we could just pull that off the page and store it alongside the original submission.

No JavaScript is needed to embed links for the IndieWeb webring on a website.

<small><a href="https://xn--sr8hvo.ws/%F0%9F%87%A6%F0%9F%87%A8%F0%9F%87%AC%F0%9F%87%B8/previous"><<</a> An IndieWeb Webring <a href="https://xn--sr8hvo.ws/%F0%9F%87%A6%F0%9F%87%A8%F0%9F%87%AC%F0%9F%87%B8/next">>></a></small>

That IndieWeb webring probably relies on Microformats to display info on its directory page, which shows author photos and additional text if the authors display that info on their sites.


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