Nice! For my blog I have a Calibre db containing metadata, covers, etc, for books. Then I wrote a Jekyll plugin that uses calibredb to pull the data out and populate my pages at build time. This reminds me I need to write a post about this…
My hacky solution to book blogging and exercise tracking in the indieweb.
My personal blog, a static site built with Jekyll, is a bit of a frankenstein. I really need to write some posts that get into the dirtier details of how I’ve stitched various bits together (like webmentions, POSSE syndication, and so on). But for this installment I wanted to start with something I’m doing which I think is a bit unique.
So, backing up, as we all know, social media isn’t just about long-form articles on Medium, medium-length rants on Facebook, or short-form trollbait on Twitter. We also track what we read, what we listen to, what we watch, the games we’re playing, the exercise we engage in, the websites we’re bookmarking, and on and on. Basically, if there’s some human activity that we want to collectively experience, there’s probably a social platform somewhere.
I wanted to explore these same ideas, but in the context of my blog. First I started with replacing Goodreads. I’ve since followed that by blogging my cycling PESOS-style with Strava. In both cases I’ve used a combination of purpose built, locally hosted tools for collecting metadata, and then integrating those tools with my blog to enabling publishing the data to the world.
I won’t claim this is a friction-free approach. But it’s working pretty well for me, so I figured it was worth sharing!Continue reading...
Reminder: it’s a zillion times easier to hack Twitter and take over accounts of Apple, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Joe Biden, and others than it would be to hack their separate websites.
Distributed systems are safer.
Did you know Calibre can turn an RSS feed into an eBook? I didnt! It turns out Calibre, tt-rss, and Wallabag make it possible to roll your own news that you can read right on your eReader!
I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll mention it again: I’m a big fan of RSS. For the uninitiated, RSS is a way to subscribe to a feed of content from a website and consume it in a reader or other tool of your choice. And despite claims that it’s dying out, I still manage to have more content in my feed reader than I possibly have time to consume.
For a long time I used Feedly as my RSS reader of choice. But back in October I decided to switch to tt-rss, a self-hosted RSS feed reading service that works on both browsers and through a mobile app. Then, in a fit of boredom, I used some self-hosted home automation tools to incorporate email newsletters into my feed. Meanwhile, I also decided to stand up an instance of Wallabag, a self-hosted website bookmarking service.
But I ran across a problem: with all this content at my fingertips, I started to fall behind, particularly on all those long-form articles and newsletters I want to read.
And then I discovered Calibre’s news scraping features and a solution presented itself!Continue reading...
Social media algorithms care only that you’re engaged. They exist to advertise. Everything else is a side-effect. RSS lets you ditch the machine and build your own feed from trusted sources.
Quite a few years ago, for personal reasons, I decided to drop out of major social media platforms. This was just at the time when those platforms truly started to take over the world, so the whole thing more or less passed me by as I watched from the sidelines. As a result, it wasn’t until very recently that I came to appreciate just how much these platforms have become the primary way that people run across content online.
Of course, this really shouldn’t be surprising. Once upon a time, the internet was made up of an untold number of websites, big and small. And this posed a real problem of content discovery. Sure, we managed. We managed with search engines, and bookmarks, and web portals, and other ad hoc technologies. But it was a huge pain.
Today, this same kind of content discovery is done on social media platforms, with content pushed to the consumer by machine learning algorithms that optimize for “engagement”, which is a technical term for “time spent on the service”.
On its face this would seem like a good thing! After all, if you’re engaged, that must mean you’re delighted by what you see!
But the reality is a lot more complicated. Yes, certainly the things that delight us will keep us engaged. But so do the things that make us outraged, or offended, or jealous. And the algorithm can’t tell the difference. So whether you’re clicking on a link because you want to see a picture of a large cat in a small box, or you want to read an outrageous article about how the world is really flat, it’s all the same to the machine.
The result is an algorithmic filter bubble that often serves to misinform, usually while making us miserable.
On the other hand, those algorithms really do provide a useful function: They push interesting content to us so we don’t have to go and seek it out. The problem is, we have no control over how they function.
Well, as you can probably guess, I’m here to tell you that there is an alternative, and it’s a technology that’s almost as old as the web itself: RSS.Continue reading...
For book start/finish posts I’m using IndieBookClub. For reviews, I’m just posting to my blog. Hopefully Brid.gy supports Goodreads syndication soon (and if not I’ll write that code myself)! Ravelry support would be amazing!
A lot of things I post to Twitter start as notes on my blog so I host the content, but right now I don’t link back from the tweet to the note as I find it messy.
Most of what you see from me starts on my blog. Tweets, photos, or articles, I post them on my blog and syndicate. Part 1 on why and how!
If you’ve been paying attention to my writing lately, you’ll notice a theme. Toward the end of November I got it into my head to rebuild my blog for reasons that, in hindsight, I don’t actually remember.
At the time my main goal was to change the technology over from an old blog engine to something a bit more modern. But as I thought more about what I wanted for my blog, and read more about the IndieWeb movement, I realized my idea of what a blog could be was incredibly limited.
To their great credit, modern walled garden web services have given us with a lot of ways to express ourselves:
- Short notes (tweets, status updates)
- Long-form content (blog posts, articles)
- Reactions (likes)
- Shares (bookmarks, retweets)
Not to mention more specialized status updates like what we’re reading, what we’re listening to, etc.
Each of these represents a piece of content we’re creating and publishing. We may not think of it that way because firing off a tweet or writing a quick status update is so easy. But they’re all just alternative formats for self-expression.
Unfortunately, as I’ve noted previously, because these are each their own walled garden, this content is split up and spread out across many services. At best this is annoying! At worst, it’s a great way to ensure that the things we write or post could get lost someday when those services inevitably die.
And then, as I read more about the IndieWeb, I realized I’d been thinking about my blog all wrong.
Yeah, sure, traditionally blogs were the home primarily for long-form content. But it’s my blog. It can be whatever I want it to be. So, why not turn my blog into the place where I post all of the things! And then, after authoring on my own site, automatically syndicate to those social networks!Continue reading...