IndieWeb Summit 2019, day 1

First day of #IndieWeb Summit, scattered notes that I take as they come. Hopefully I don’t end up misrepresenting things too badly.

Pre-keynote breakfast

Had some great chats with a bunch of folks who were really interested in a bunch of stuff. Lots of people were following Publ’s development with interest, as well as appreciating the way I’ve handled long-form blogging in general. That felt really cool.

Also, a lot of people are very interested in building friends-only/private-entry functionality into the indieweb. Most of the discussion seems to be around the federation aspects, although I’m more interested in the Publ-specific aspects (like how to actually plumb through some sort of authentication mechanism and only present the authorized data).


Keynotes were introduced/run by Tantek.

Amazing opening keynote by Kitt Hodsden about how life is a series of contractions and expansions, and how that relates to how we communicate and withdraw and deal with life on the Internet and how important it is for us to own our own narrative and the associated data.

Then mJordan talks about how she started putting forward a more gender-neutral web presence changed the way how people interacted with her and took her seriously as a developer, and then how much difficulty she had with multiple online identities and then the struggle of then reconciling the two separate personae into a single presence. It’s pretty interesting to hear about something that is similar to a trans identity coming from a (presumably) cis person.

Marty McGuire talked about how we can own our own mobile experiences. Eddie Hinkle’s Indigenous, which seems to be a nicely integrated IndieWeb experience with Micropub and Microsub, and brings the microblogging/timeline-social experience to self-hosted stuff. Great for follow-style social, at least. Maybe I’ll eventually get around to actually writing a Micropub endpoint for Publ. Someday…

He also showed off Monocle’s mobile UI, which is pretty decent, and also using iOS Shortcuts for indieweb workflows to add things like micropub sharing widgets to iOS (as an aside I’m surprised that isn’t a native function in Indigenous). turns out I had a misconception about this – it’s for sharing stuff that can’t be natively handled by the sharing widget, like live photos which get uploaded to a video sharing site and then shared indirectly.

Tantek also pointed out that Marty’s presentation was the first IndieWeb presentation done entirely on a mobile device.

Jacky Alciné had the final keynote speech, about inclusivity and keeping IndieWebCamp open to all. (Aside: why isn’t “inclusivity” in Sublime Text’s spelling dictionary?) The focus was mostly on approaches to teaching people how to build their own websites and show how beneficial it is for them to do so. For example, taking bottom-up approach, and showing how one can manipulate one’s own data to be a part of a social web, or showing visualizations of how conversations grow, or how to have different sorts of presentations to demonstrate how much diversity there is in experiences and how individual the platforms themselves can be. And when people run into barriers, how do we understand what those barriers are and how do we get people past them?

Jacky also talked about “audience control” (a more general form of friends/private/etc.) and how there’s probably no one-size-fits-all solution, and it’s about making building blocks that let people work on things how they want to. He also mentioned IndieCMS as a platform for this sort of experimentation although I’m not able to find a link for it offhand.

Site demos

Oh god that was nerve-wracking

(good idea for next time: just have one shared computer that we all use for our website presentation, to cut down on A/V issues)

(also, it was a mistake to click on guest comics in front of a crowd as I forgot what was most recently on it…)

One person whose name I didn’t catch (hopefully I remember to find out and fix this) briefly talked about a device called IndieBox which is a small Raspberry-Pi-based device preconfigured to provide an IndieWeb server. That will be really interesting if it goes anywhere, although I wonder about the actual deployment story in this day and age of ISPs filtering port 80 and so on.

Darius demonstrated how he uses Google Sheets as his CMS. Which is both scary and cool.

Someone (again, need to get their name and link here) Mime Čuvalo talked about their Tumblr-esque personal blog, and also a tiny house housing complex project, the “Napoleon Complex,” which is exactly like a thing I’ve wanted to be a part of for years.


I had a kefta wrap. It took forever but it was worth it.


Long-form syndication

This is something dear to my heart, namely about having a syndication and UX model that are a better fit for long-form content than a stream-of-updates timeline. Mostly Jamey and I were talking about the problems with the current subscription and reading experience where it comes to things like comics, serial fiction, podcasts, etc., and evangelizing RFC5005 as a mechanism for providing a content backfill. (As far as either of us know, my comic was the first to implement RFC5005, and Jamey has since gotten a few others to implement parts of it. Also technically Oglaf (NSFW) accidentally supports it, sort of.)

Dynamic features for static websites

Lots of discussion about adding IndieWeb stuff to static site generators, with a Jekyll emphasis but plenty of mentions of other tools as well. Lots of people are using (and I brought up my own webmention.js thing).

There’s some neat tooling around having the IndieWeb stuff check things directly into your repository and then trigger a commit hook to rebuild, and this would be a useful use case for Publ (even though it’s technically not a static site generator). I need to look into the Micropub thing especially since that would be a great fit for my needs.

I also managed to promote Pushl as a mechanism for sending WebSub and Webmention (since that’s what it’s for, of course), although there’s other tools that exist as well (they just didn’t cover my use cases, which is why I wrote it).

Discussion about comment systems; Disqus came up but of course there’s a bunch of reasons to not want to use it (it’s a silo and only supports a handful of OAuth providers for login, the export mechanism is a bit onerous, etc.) and building some sort of self-hosted or federated comment system would be great. I’m glad to hear that being discussed, because so far most of the IndieWeb focus has seemed to have been on Webmention as the native comment system, which isn’t great.

Some talk also about POSSEing video to YouTube; YouTube has an upload API that’s a pain to use, and Vimeo has a paid feature that enables API access that will also republish to YouTube.

Federated identity

Lots of discusion about how we do friends-only posts and trying to come up with a mechanism for making a standard way for providing access. We generally agree that the actual auth/group/etc. model is CMS-specific, and that the biggest problem is in figuring out how to actually send notifications to people that there is content that’s available. Which has of course been the hard part for me to come up with in Publ – if I have a private post with access control, how do I let people know there’s a post to see, using a notification mechanism that ideally doesn’t rely on IndieWeb access?

One straightforward-ish IndieWeb-only thing is to send a Webmention that provides the new content’s URL, although there’s a problem with it potentially leaking a list of who’s got visibility (at least without private webmentions), and of course it doesn’t allow for any notification via RSS/Atom or the like.

One possibility that came up is having per-recipient notification mechanisms; for example I can imagine the CMS’s friends-group configuration having configurable (by the recipient) mechanisms, like sending a Twitter DM or an email or whatever, and the link itself could be a magic link with an auth token. But an authenticated feed mechanism would still be great to have, ideally one that doesn’t require buying in to IndieAuth/AutoAuth.

Anyway, for now I think I’ll just go ahead with adding stub items into my Atom feed, which is what I had on the previous iteration of my blog. It worked well enough and had the minimum set of downsides, at least for my usage.

Meanwhile there were two other simultaneous sessions about federated identity; one was focusing on AutoAuth specifically, and the other was about using “ephemeral identities” (twitter, facebook, etc.) as part of IndieAuth. i.e. why the heck I still want to build Authl.

The Future of IndieWeb

Started out with brainstorming about what trends we’re noticing in the social web. Things like Gen Z rejecting public social media, and the population at large getting wary of Facebook. Also the authenticity of content that’s being posted.

Categories: STEEPV - social technological environmental economic political values

I’m not really sure what’s going on in this session.

Closing Session

Primarily just a wrap-up of what’s happening tomorrow, and what folks can do for entertainment/dinner/etc. tonight.

Random notes

Everyone is ultra-respectful of my pronouns here and it’s awesome