Last year I traced the path covered in a decade of maintaining rudigermeyer.com – my home on the web. At the end of that lengthy post I touched on a source of inspiration and pointer for the way ahead – the indieweb – and I’m pleased to say that I now have webmentions, one of the central indieweb tools, implemented on my site.
One of the joys of maintaining a personal site is being able to publish on one’s own terms with full control and ownership of the content created. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, or Medium offer the lure of a large audience – each though within their particular form and bounds. The indieweb offers the possibility taking back control of one’s material and regrouping an online identity split between the various forms of social media without giving up the reach that those platforms offer. More than an approach, indiewebbers have been active in developing tools that make it possible for their sites to communicate with both each other and the major platforms, in some respects even outreaching them. “Your content is yours, you are better connected, and you are in control,” as the Indie Web Camp site explains.
The central indieweb tenet is that one publishes on one’s own site and the webmention is a core indieweb tool that enables communication with other sites. A webmention is simply a way for one site to tell another that a response has been published. Instead of writing comments in someone else’s comment field you can publish your response on your own site and have that response show up on theirs – a conversation. The webmention opens up for a lot more than simply letting someone know about a response however. It can also be used to connect a site up to platforms such as Twitter and have the favourites and replies that take place there fed back to your personal site: The best of both worlds – maintaining one’s own domain without having to exclude current forms of social media.
At a recent Indie Web Camp in Düsseldorf, Bastian Allgeier, creator of the Kirby CMS on which this site is based, put together a fine webmention plugin which makes it possible for Kirby based sites to both send and receive webmentions. Plugins have also been developed for a number of other platforms and since webmentions are based on an open protocol they can in principle be implemented by anyone on any system.
Built on components developed by the indieweb community, Bastian’s webmention plugin automatically notifies other sites when I link to them in a post and similarly automatically receives notifications from others. However since not all sites have this functionality built in I’ve followed Jeremy Keith’s lead and included a form at the end of my posts that gives those publishing on sites that don’t (yet) have webmentions implemented the opportunity to notify me manually.
If the site notifying me has been marked up with microformats I have the possibility of displaying the (entire) content of that response on my own site. Those without microformats will simply show up as a hyperlink – which is in itself a pretty good starting point.
Once webmentions have been implemented Bridgy is a service that makes it incredibly easy to link to Twitter, for example, and have favourites and replies sent back to your own site in the form of webmentions.
Should you be interested in the technical details Jeremy Keith has written post that takes an accessible look at the minimum requirements for setting up webmentions and parsing them with microformats. Jeremy’s site is generally also an excellent place to view the full possibilities of webmentions and microformats in action.
Kartik Prabhu has a good post explaining his implementation of webmentions as well as a wonderful overview of indieweb principles along with some delightful diagrams that make it all a little easier to visualize.
Kevin Marks, one of the microformats co-founders, has also developed fragmentions – another exciting indieweb tool that Kartik has expanded on using webmentions, as described and demonstrated in his article Marginalia. Kevin has also written about how these indieweb developments relate to features developed on Medium, for example.
If you’re interested in getting going with the indieweb I can highly recommend indiewebify.me which takes you through the steps (with gradually increasing complexity) involved in setting up your site for the indieweb, along with tools for testing your implementation of the various indieweb features.
I’m inspired by the indieweb approach as a true alternative to the big social media platforms (rather than an attempt to recreate them) and thrilled with the possibilities that the tools being developed by the community are opening up.
Now the next step is to start POSSEing tweets from my own site.