In a time when Facebook, Google, Apple and others seem to be intent on owning and controlling all our data and content, how do we regain control over our presence online? How do we stop being the product?
These are questions of focus for the "IndieWeb" movement that are perhaps best stated by this text on the top of indiewebcamp.com:
Your content is yours
When you post something on the web, it should belong to you, not a corporation. Too many companies have gone out of business and lost all of their users’ data. By joining the IndieWeb, your content stays yours and in your control.
You are better connected
Your articles and status messages can go to all services, not just one, allowing you to engage with everyone. Even replies and likes on other services can come back to your site so they’re all in one place.
You are in control
You can post anything you want, in any format you want, with no one monitoring you. In addition, you share simple readable links such as example.com/ideas. These links are permanent and will always work.
As well as in greater detail on the IndieWeb principles page. A key point is what is called "POSSE":
The idea being, again, that you own your own content and then share it out to the other services where people can engage with that content.
Another way to think of this is that the IndieWeb is distributed and decentralized ... kind of like the "Web" used to be before people increasingly started using centralized platforms such as Facebook and Google's properties.
The "IndieWeb" has been around for several years now, but this month it gained some momentum with the launch of Known, a new blogging platform built on IndieWeb principles. Mathew Ingram introduced it on GigaOm with:
The Known software is available in two forms:
- A hosted version at withknown.com where anyone can set up their own Known site for free
- as I have done with danyork.withknown.com
- A standalone version you can install on your own server - with the full source code available on Github as well as themes and plugins.
And yes, this is very similar to WordPress with the hosted version at WordPress.com and the standalone version at WordPress.org. (And in fact, WordPress can support many of the IndieWeb principles through various plugins.)
One of the interesting aspects is that your instance of Known can use some of the IndieWeb protocols such as Webmention to communicate with other instances of Known - as well as other sites that support the IndieWeb protocols.
The Known software is also "responsive" so that it works well on mobile devices - and the entire code base is open source so that anyone can see what it is all about and modify or extend it. On For Immediate Release (FIR) Podcast #773 I devoted most of my report to talking about Known and the Indie Web - and Shel Holtz spoke at some length about the platform, too. And both Shel and I referenced Leo Laporte's This Week in Google 266 where he had Known co-founders Ben Werdmûller and Erin Jo Richey on as guests, as well as Kevin Marks. I would encourage you to listen to them all if you are interested in further discussion.
To me this issue of owning your own content is critical. Perhaps THE most critical question in many ways to me personally.
It goes back to the question of what kind of Internet do we want?
Do we want one in which we are in control - and have control of our own data and content? Or do we want an Internet where the content we create is locked inside of corporate walled gardens? (Even if those gardens let us display it to the world... we still may not be able to easily get it out.)
I don't know if I'll honestly keep using danyork.withknown.com in the long term, or whether I'll install the Known software directly on one of my servers... or whether I'll just look at making my WordPress installations play as nicely as possible with the IndieWeb protocols.
The key point is that wherever I post my intent is that I will not be locked in to closed proprietary systems. Known and the IndieWeb are more tools that we have in our toolbox that let us retain our freedom and control!
P.S. If you want to give Known a try, visit the withknown.com hosted platform to get started! It's free and easy to sign up.
- Known is an open source, freely-available blogging/publishing platform that you can either use in a hosted version or on your own site. You can publish your own status updates, blog posts and audio content - and share those posts out to social networks. Think of it as similar to WordPress.
- Ello is a closed source (proprietary), invite-only (right now) social network where you can follow friends and share status updates, photos, links, etc. It currently has no APIs or method to export your data. Think of it as similar to Facebook.
That's the key difference - Known is a blogging platform while Ello is a social network.
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