From IndieWeb

Ease into IndieWeb was a session at IndieWebCamp Brighton 2024.

Notes archived from: https://etherpad.indieweb.org/intoindie

IndieWebCamp Brighton 2024
Session: Ease into IndieWeb
When: 2024-03-09 16:00



  • Matthew: Getting into the IndieWeb involved learning a lot about different concepts. Took a while to learn that our main principle was ownership of content. Then started to think more intently about more people. If there is a barrier of entry to someone who has been in the digital industry for 20 years, we are not going to be winning people over in other ways. Some people will never get there and that's okay, but it's still quite a hobbyist area vs. something that's easier for others to participate in. What ways can the community grow and scale? Want to get advice from other people.
  • Find it very difficult to describe the IndieWeb; from someone building a tool that is self-proclaimed as the IndieWeb for everyone. The feeling of independent is there and not being beholden to silos and companies that own your identity. But as soon as you get your own level of control, things get very complicated very quickly. Does it have to be that way? There is one way of being on the internet that is doing every well at the moment (social media)? How do we get more people on an indie web path?
  • Progressive enhancement of your indie web level.
    • WordPress.com is perhaps one of the easiest ways in to make a unique site where you can have your own DNS, etc. And within that framework there are easy ways to adapt your content. It isn't fully independent, but you can take your site and host it elsewhere. As an entry level, WP.com is a good one.
  • Side note, unrelated: Positive enhancement = graceful failure.
  • A lot of people in the community think more blog-centic
  • A page with one's CV / contact details / now / digital gardens -- the community has been trapped in post types, streams of content, posting content, etc. A website can be one page, five pages.
  • What is a digital garden?
    • It's like a blog, but instead of having posts in reverse chronological order -- blogs are mostly diaries with dated posts -- a digital garden reframes the personal website so that if your content is not organized by time, but you can come back and edit things over time. You build canonical pages of your knowledge in a content map. A personal wiki. You can make projects on a digital garden, too. Someone had a spinning record on their website, there were love songs, she would pull a comment from YouTube and show it -- a site with random pages.
    • What if content types grew slowly over time that did not focus on chronology? Old-school; fun.
  • What does it mean to be in the IndieWeb community? Yousef.
    • IndieWeb and indie web are very different.
    • Owning URLs are significant; being able to point old URLs to new places is significant. You could have a web page somewhere, but if the service goes down and you are still under their URL, you have lost it.
  • Am I in control of my content? Can any algorithm be changed that impacts how your content is seen? Is example.wp.com different to example.com? But there is a different level of control.
  • Even if you are on a subdomain that someone else controls and you can export your data, that is still significant. If, in theory, it was easy to export content from FB, would it count as IndieWeb?
    • Maggie: Meaningfully, you need to be able to recreate your content somewhere else.
  • If WP.com shut down, you would hope that you could easily get your content back. We have almost no guarantees from social platforms that were to fail.
  • Substack can control who to promote / not promote, etc.
  • Open question: What content guidelines does WP.com have?
  • Good argument for owning your own domain in running your own URLs. if you lose your example.wordpress.com site and can't redirect, you get link rot. If you are on example.com and using WP to host it, you will not lose links.
  • Sam: Bluesky. Handles are domain agnostic. But you need to own a domain to move your identity. If you were on example.bsky.app, will it break? (Needs a further check.)
  • Another sad thing of the independent web: the amount of people who use Linktree.
    • Why is /links not a default on someone's personal websites instead of using Linktree.
  • Helping a friend with expenses and giving advice on what they didn't need. One thing that came up was basically a Google Form. They didn't know that there were other options out there. They found a tool that works and stuck with it.
  • The more you go, the more you realize you don't need to be sold to.
  • Lowering the barrier to the IndieWeb.
    • Are there existing tools or a path where people can host their own website on their phone?
    • Dat protocol and Beaker Browser.
    • In this case, you are physically in control of your website.
    • Like an Apple TV-esque at home; a physical box where your website runs. An appliance.
    • An Alexa app?
  • Twitter caught on. It's microblogging. Yet the ones where you have more control, there is often a less usable experience.
    • What is the five star experience for blogging?
    • TLdraw. Let's you make a diagram that you can save. You have a URL. No friction.
  • Notion might be a good way for people to get on the web. It is essentially a Word document but you can put images, links, toggles, etc. You own your URL. You don't have to do as much as you do with WP. But you are attached to Notion.
  • Is there a path to IndieWeb laterally? Where you are using Facebook and you can get into having a personal website and reduces the barrier. Can you turn an FB page into a blog and you're up and running. But you can't get your data out of Facebook. If MySpace was still a thing, maybe there would be a draw into web building.
  • Talk about more things that aren't the web to get people into the personal web.
  • One of the reasons why tools like Instagram, etc. caught on is because there is money to be made. At first, though, it was network effects. Advertising did come to blogs though.
  • One of the biggest blockers for one person in the room who has a book blog on IG is that it is difficult to get people to see your content. 700 views on content. 20 people read it. Can see that from content analytics for Professional accounts on IG. The blocker is perhaps metal. I spend a lot of time on IG. There is bookstagram/book talk, etc. Why should I spend my time and money to make it on a personal website that is probably not going to be seen by anyone? Has a few hundred followers; at least some people can see it.
    • But you should think about it as having a blog that is the main source. Promote your website rather than writing all your content on a platform?
    • Started with Tumblr for longer form reviews and nobody clicked the link. I kept getting more followers on IG but nobody clicked the link to go to Tumblr. It's because the target audience is so different.
  • Key question: generally, do you care where people read your content?
  • Having a blog gives you a backup. You own your data. You don't have to worry about a platform going away.
  • Most people that have a blog on IG would find it daunting to set up a website.
  • On a blog, you can be yourself. You can write as much as you want. But if you are playing to the rules of another system, then you are limiting yourself. Express yourself in the place that you can. Use those platforms to cheat to build your audience. Use the platforms to help you rather than for you to help them. You are signing up for a different game.
    • enshittification -- Instagram is going to keep things a little bit out of your reach to encourage continued engagement. They want people to keep flipping through. The relationship on IG is never set up in your favor.
  • The Marginalian blog was mentioned. Person writing in depth for a couple of decades. Someone in the room gets lost on the site for hours because the content is so interesting. She has a lot to say. Everything has been designed around the world she wants to go into. There is no competition; she creates for the joy of creating. You don't have to compete. You are making something that is natural to you. Chase mastery; you can't cheat it. The only way you can get there is to put in the time. Finding something you really love.
  • What's the point of POSSEing; it's to help people grow their audience. But these platforms may get worse. Do you need to make the same content in three different mediums to help you grow your audience?
  • Matthew: joined from a content strategy perspective. Don't want to put content on Medium because there is a wall, etc. I should own my content.
    • I want to publish my things on my website. But there is nobody on my website. So I'll syndicate. But when they link, they link back to my site. I have been thinking about extending that to TikToks, IGs, YouTubes, etc. -- those platforms are trying hard to create the illusion that you produce for their platform. But it should be your content. Switch the perception of what IG is. You are using the tool to access their audience and tools. That video should also sit on your site. (Is that possible? - Q from James, the notetaker.) Everything is hosted on my website. If the platform gets worse, etc. I still own my content.
  • You should own the master copy; a social network post can be a cut.
  • Matthew: YouTuber did video that was popular a few years ago. One hour video essay of a person who went down a cave. Animated. Popular. Made the creator money. Later found out that it was plagiarized from a ten year old article. But I keep thinking that we're missing something. Those people were sitting on that great content. Why didn't the authors also make the video?
    • Write book reviews as your own; the primary source. Now, what would this content look like on IG, etc.
  • Convey indie web to friends in three sentences
    • It's your content. Own it. Value it. Recognize your value.
    • Don't be a creator for a platform.
    • Create a space for yourself where you can meaningfully share ideas.
      • Maggie found intrinsic pleasure doing something in an environment divorced from likes, comments, etc. To have a space and a medium where you can express ideas how you want, that is intellectually and probably spiritually good for your development. And leads you to wonderful things!
    • Organic web vs. pesticides food.
    • Shopping in the local market vs. mass-produced fruit.
  • How do people discover personal websites?
    • One person looks a lot for reviews on Google; wanted to make automation for iPhone. Searched for instructions. Didn't find a personal website.
    • eXa.ai: AI-powered search engine. They have a function that lets you search only for personal blogs, etc. Maggie: The results are great.
      • Could be a selling point. Tell them that there are search engines that don't suffer from SEO spam, etc. By getting a head start, you can move on.
    • There are web directories, too. Oooh directory: ooh.directory. Small web search, etc.
    • Retro gaming as an entry point -- blog posts and forums are helpful.
  • Yousef: My website is an extension of my notes / personal knowledge base. Just the 20% I want to share are published. People have read some things I have written that I didn't think anyone would search for.
  • Search as an entry point.
  • Connections you make through a search are strong -- if you are searching how to do something / improve / fix something, you have a high motivation to understand and connect with an idea. But if you are on social media, it is a firehose.
  • Comfort in sharing is important. Some people may wonder why you need to share X, but you never need to.
    • Anonymity: On a site like Twitter, you can make as many handles as you want. For IndieWeb, you need to register a domain; there is a natural limit for how many domains you can have.
    • Start off with a site that doesn't have your name attached to it.

See Also