A Warm Adieu, 2018

2018, for me, was a year of many firsts. To be frank, I was uncharacteristically active overall — so much so that I startled myself at multiple times throughout the year with the liveliness. I possessed heaps of clarity in terms of what I was working on, both within and outside of the profession.

Sure, if I look outward, 2018 has left the world in complete disarray. There is chaos, unclarity all around. There is an inconspicuous tension building up in every part of the world. A lack of trust, faith in one another. In humanity.

2018 may very well be remembered as the year when the word true” lost all its meaning. A fight to drum up the perception that my truth is the only truth made one insensitive of everything that was being said by anyone.

And it did get tiring. As Scaachi Koul rightly said, 2018 wore us all the hell out” (h/t Sameer Vasta). I empathise with her when she says

I am usually energized by arguing, by getting aggressive, by putting a name or a face to an enemy, online or otherwise. Not this year.

But then I have decided to remember 2018 for the goods it brought me personally.

I expressed. Kept churning up more longer posts and lots and lots of shorter microposts.

I captured. Snapped a significant part of my life as pictures. Posted them, shared them more.

I learnt. Understood. And got enamoured by IndieWeb.

I developed. Worked on so many new projects - many found useful even by few others.

I experimented. Recorded a first podcast episode. Started a new individual podcast.

Unlike me, I gave up a lot lesser in 2018. Almost everything I noticed above was taken to completion.

And most importantly, I lived. Quality time with people closest to me. Family reunions. Getaways. Holidays. Making new friends, in real and digital life.

Yep. I will remember 2018 as a year of being satisfied. And being alive. It is only fair to welcome 2019 with a clean, untidy slate.

🗓️ The Weekly Digest [31/12] - Season Special!

🖼️ Celebrations! Sameer 📷, Tones 📷, Steven 📷, Randy 📷, Paul 📷, Rosemary 📷, Gabriel 📷, Andrew 📷, Simon 📷, Smokey 📷

🔗 Season Stories: David, Alans, Ron Guest, Eddie, Ron, Patrick

🖼️ Serenity! 📷 📷 📷 📷 📷 📷 📷 📷 📷 📷, 📷

🔗 Jarod’s 1st feature film

Every time I read or watch anything listicle, I cringe. I inattentively fall for the shady tricks from these evil” people - I am a sucker for such stuff, I guess. There so much angst for this form of media that I feel crummy inside when that happens.

In times like these when I have to fight the winter outside and wake up early to watch a cricket match, I wonder is there no one on my timeline who follows the sport? I have hardly seen any mention of a post related to cricket. No love for the sport, I guess? 🏏🤔

Black Mirror: Bandersnatch

we could finally see the video-streaming service roll out a new feature that lets viewers use their remote controls to decide how the film ends.

Great time for creative minds to experiment — multiple endings on user’s choice will be interesting.

🎥 Finally managed to watch The Last Jedi — I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. Of course, I am discounting the fact that some plot points may not fit the universe well and many were just left unacknowledged. But as a movie, it was a brilliant watch - had some scintillating scenes when I had goosebumps along my arms.

I think it also helped that I watched it way after it was released. I had forgotten about all the hype it had garnered and all the spoils that had escaped through to me. So, I was watching it with no expectations at all. (★★★★)

Finally, managed to document the steps to enable webmentions support on one’s site. I hope it comes handy for at least few people. This should allow people to fetch mentions to their posts, including the replies from micro.blog, and display them along with posts.

Displaying Webmentions with Posts

I have been using Blot, a simple blogging platform with no interface, for quite some time now for running my blog. I am not alone when I say this, but am mighty impressed with how simple it is to post things on blot and maintain the overall site. They are just some files in Dropbox - that’s about it. So, it was pretty straightforward to customise the theme to my liking and to enable the support for IndieWeb principles.

Post Notes

One thing I have noticed, though, is that most of the IndieWeb principles are not visible. They enable a more open web, providing sites a grammar they can talk to one another with. But for someone who owns the website or even someone who reads the posts on a website, whatever changes go in just aren’t apparent. Except, of course, for webmentions.

I have already detailed the steps to Indiewebify one’s website (specifically one built with Hugo). I did not go into the details of setting up webmentions. And that is exactly what I get asked the most about - how does one display mentions along with the posts.

The need is more evident with microblogging - and especially so with micro.blog. The platform fosters a very active and pleasant community focused more on the interactions (replies) than meaningless reactions (likes, reposts). It also sends webmentions for every reply to a post to the sites that can receive them. So the desire to display the interactions along with the posts, microposts more so, is understandable.

In this post, I will (finally!) document the steps that can help one receive, fetch and display the webmentions along with the posts. The steps are documented from a reference of a blot website. However, the steps below can be altered at appropriate places, primarily formats, to implement the support for any other platform.

Essential Indieweb

Before you can start receiving the webmentions at your site, there is an essential step from IndieWeb to be achieved - to make your website your identity online. It involves declaring openly your social network profiles as rel-me links and link those profiles back to your site. This allows you to login to any IndieAuth enabled services using your website’s homepage - no need to create an account or maintain passwords.

To achieve this, modify the head.html of the site’s theme to add such links to your other online profiles in <head> element. These profiles can be at Twitter, Github, Facebook, or even email - anything where you can link back to your website from. Some reference links are shown below.

<link rel="me" href="https://twitter.com/abcxyz" /> <link rel="me" href="http://github.com/abcxyz" /> <link rel="me" href="mailto:abcxyz@example.com" />

After you declare your website with either Twitter or Github, they can authenticate your identity. With email, a link is sent to the configured email address to do the same, very much like any email-based two-factor authentication.

You also need to declare the service which will act as an authorization endpoint when needed. This is used by other services, mostly IndieAuth clients, to validate your identity. To configure this, just add the below link to your site’s head.

<link rel="authorization_endpoint" href="https://indieauth.com/auth">

Once you have this enabled, you can test your setup using Indiewebify.Me. Test the Set up Web Sign In” section.

You are now ready to receive the webmentions from other sites, including Micro.blog.

Receive Webmentions

This primarily involves hosting and declaring a webmention endpoint. Of course, the active IndieWeb community already has a ready solution for this - webmention.io by Aaron Parecki. It is a hosted service created to easily handle webmentions”. All you have to do is sign-in with your domain (i.e. validate your identity) and let Webmention.io receive all mentions to your site. Once that’s done, just declare the webmention endpoint as below in your site’s head.

<link rel="webmention" href="https://webmention.io/username/webmention" />

The username is typically the url of your site (you can also find these details on the settings page). To test this setup, login to webmentions.io dashboard and you should start seeing the mentions sent to your site (which includes the replies on Micro.blog.

Display Webmentions

Webmention.io also provides APIs for you to fetch the webmentions to your posts/site. You can implement a custom solution using Javascript for fetching and displaying these mentions along with posts. Below is one of the ways this can be achieved. It specifically pulls the likes, reposts and replies and puts them below the posts. The code might look a bit untidy, but it would be easier to follow what’s going on. You can improve over this eventually.

To start with, declare a placeholder for the webmentions. Place the below div element in your entry.html file between {{#entry}} and {{/entry}} - preferably towards the end of the file, just above {{/entry}}.

<div class="post-mentions" id="post-mentions" style="display:none"> <ul class="mentions-list" id="mentions-list"></ul> </d

Of course, you could replace the unordered list ul element with anything else. This is just one of the ways you can do it.

Next, you need to fill this div element with the mentions the entry has received. You can use the javascript snippet available at this gist to fetch and display the webmentions along with the post. Just place the complete code available there at the end of script.js file of your blot’s theme. So it would look something like below (note that this is an incomplete snapshot).

{{{appJS}}} var post_url = window.location.href; $(document).ready(function(){ $("ul#mentions-list").empty(); $.getJSON("https://webmention.io/api/mentions?jsonp=?", { target: post_url }, function(data){ ... ... 

Make sure the first {{{appJS}}} line is not removed. This import makes sure the additional javascripts necessary for some specific features provided by Blot - for example jQuery for image zoom, Google Analytics etc. - are imported.

The above javascript snippet does below.

  1. Gets the current post url and fetches the webmentions for that url from Webmention.io.
  2. Divides and groups the mentions by the activity type (like, repost, link, reply). This is so that you can control how each activity-type is styled.
  3. Finally, populates these mentions into the above-created placeholder div element.

At this point, you should start seeing the webmentions along with the posts once the above-mentioned steps are carried out.

In case, the webmentions are available on the webmentions.io dashboard, but aren’t getting loaded on the post, one possible root cause is failure of jQuery import. Declare a jQuery import explicitly in head.html by adding below statement within the head tags.

<script src="https://ajax.googleapis.com/ajax/libs/jquery/3.2.1/jquery.min.js"> </script> 

You will also note that all the html elements in the javascript code are tagged with class attribute. This allows you to control the style of the elements as per your liking. Just modify the main css file for your theme (typically style.css) to add styling for these classes.

For reference, find below a sample styling for the main post-mention class.

.post-mentions { padding-top: 15px; margin-top: 10px; border-top: 1px solid #AEADAD; border-bottom: 1px solid #AEADAD; font-size: 16px; } .post-mentions ul { list-style:none; padding:0; margin-left: 0; }

Similarly, you can also style the mention, mention-author, mention-social and mention-text classes.

Interactions from Social Media

Though references to your posts from IndieWeb sites are handled, what about the references made on Twitter or Facebook? It can be in any form of response (i.e. likes/retweets/reposts) to the syndicated post. Of course, they do not send webmentions (wish they did).

One option is to implement your own backfeed to poll for such interactions and handle them as response. Well, the community has made sure there is a simpler hosted option. Enter Bridgy.

Bridgy is an open source project and proxy that implements backfeed and POSSE as a service. Bridgy sends webmentions for comments, likes, etc. on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and Flickr.

Just connect your social accounts with your website at Bridgy and every time there is an interaction about your post on a service, Bridgy captures that and sends a webmention to your endpoint configured earlier.

I understand that the IndieWeb journey can get overwhelming. Webmentions are a critical part of this journey and, as I said earlier, one of the more prominent pieces of the overall puzzle. I have never been comfortable using any of the commenting systems, be it those that come native with the CMSes or external commenting systems like Disqus. I have also observed that the new platforms, like Blot or Micro.blog, rarely come bundled with commenting systems of their own.

Webmention has a potential to address that need. I hope the steps detailed above come in handy for anyone who wants to display webmentions on his or her site right next to the posts. The source for the theme that styles my blog at Blot is openly available at GitHub. So, if you like anything that you see at my blog, you can refer to the source and get inspired.

Do let me know if you face issues with getting any of steps carried out. If you don’t face any issue and get everything working perfectly, send me a webmention — the best way would be to link to this post. If all’s well, your links would be visible below this post as mentions.

Minor Micro.threads update: You can now favorite/unfavorite a post right from the thread discovery section. So, in addition to an option to open a conservation thread, you can now bookmark posts right on discovery. I hope the small change comes handy.

We are all poets now

Every word counts. Every breath as well. In a world filled with empty noise, the most important slots are reserved for the poets we seek to listen to, and the poet we seek to become.

Seth Godin gets it bang-on every time - so the first thing I read.

The joy of art is in letting one’s mind free to express itself. I need to remind my sister to let that happen more often.

The Future Book’ Is Here, but It’s Not What We Expected

Physical books today look like physical books of last century. And digital books of today look, feel, and function almost identically to digital books of 10 years ago, when the Kindle launched

A behind the scenes view.

My timeline’s full of charming, festive pictures, full of merriness. Any review post for this week can be filled with just these snippets. They‘re enough to spread the much-needed positivity in the world.

Here’s wishing that happens. Here’s wishing a merry Christmas to all! 🎄

It’s Christmas Eve. And isn’t it a wonderful time to marvel at the life one has? Here’s a new episode of Third-Person Voice.

A tale of two grumpy, old souls. And of forming of one unexpected bond, via one unlikely source. A tale of spreading love.

Marvelling at Life [#3]

A tale of two grumpy, old souls. And of forming of one unexpected bond, via one unlikely source. A tale of spreading love.

Stories are written so that mind stays free to wove some more stories. It works more often than not – and so needs to be done more often than not.

🗓️ The Weekly Digest [23/12]

🔗 YouTube Conundrum by Nitin

🔗 Quantum Amplitudes via John

🔗 Like-button and Internet via Fiona

🔗 Themes: Blot, M.b

🔗 Indieweb and Google by Brad

🔗 (Not) Applying for Jobs by Fiona

🔗 Few more Gems by Sameer

🔗 Serverless by Matt

💬 Reading long

🔗 Found Negatives by Jack

🖼️ Holidays! 📷 📷 📷 📷

The Fall and Rise of M. Night Shyamalan

In one of the first scenes, the nanny enters the house (..) Taking the step over the threshold, almost like a vampire being led into the house for the first time.

Interesting that Apple’s agreed to produce the Shyamalan’s mysteries.

Fog Waves Are The Most Beautiful Thing I Captured After 8 Years Of Experimenting - Bored Panda

Shooting fog is a study and takes a lot of patience, preparation, and knowledge of the area to catch it as it is very elusive

These are some stunning non-photoshopped pictures.

So Blot still seems to be down. So I have dusted my old Hugo based journal, just to see if things are up - working. I hope it is. I believe it is.

Fog Waves Are The Most Beautiful Thing I Captured After 8 Years Of Experimenting - Bored Panda

Shooting fog is a study and takes a lot of patience, preparation, and knowledge of the area to catch it as it is very elusive

These are some stunning non-photoshopped pictures.

Advocating for privacy in Australia

Both the bill itself, and the controversy around the process by which it passed, have damaged the reputation of Australia in the international marketplace

Attempts by law makers to unintentionally kill privacy continue to rise.

The Rise and Demise of RSS

This is such fascinating write up by Sinclair Target on history behind the challenges RSS has faced over the years. And also why it just never managed to succeed — even though it had the backing of all the major publishers, at least everyone adopted and served it.

Today, RSS is not dead. But neither is it anywhere near as popular as it once was. Lots of people have offered explanations for why RSS lost its broad appeal. Perhaps the most persuasive explanation is exactly the one offered by Gillmor in 2009. Social networks, just like RSS, provide a feed featuring all the latest news on the internet. Social networks took over from RSS because they were simply better feeds. They also provide more benefits to the companies that own them.

RSS isn’t dead, yet. It still serves all the podcasts feeds, and there are a large number of users, including me, for whom it is the only source of any timeline of sort. But the fact cannot be denied that it does not draw any attention from big technology companies. With Firefox too recently dropping the built-in feed support, it became clear everyone wants the standard to exists but no one wants to work on improving and maintaining it. Wish it did not stagnate.

RSS might have been able to overcome some of these limitations if it had been further developed. Maybe RSS could have been extended somehow so that friends subscribed to the same channel could syndicate their thoughts about an article to each other. Maybe browser support could have been improved. But whereas a company like Facebook was able to move fast and break things,” the RSS developer community was stuck trying to achieve consensus. When they failed to agree on a single standard, effort that could have gone into improving RSS was instead squandered on duplicating work that had already been done.

I believe that is the story of how standards proliferate. But I just hope more people realize the importance of the RSS standard for the existence of open web and work on evangelizing and advance it.

If we stay dependent on technology companies to back it, we will always end-up with siloed timelines. For them, achieving consensus and coexisting with other players is costlier. It is cheaper to foster user engagement in a walled platforms controlled centrally by the owners. Companies will always go with the cheaper options.

Open APIs and the Facebook Trash Fire

I’m done assuming good faith; I’m done assuming incompetence; I’m done assuming ignorance.

Once on internet, it is better to be crazy cynic towards online services than to mourn later. Facebook has long lost even that privilege.

So we name the moons of other planets - Titan for example - but our moon is just the moon”. Not sure what that says about us humans. 🤔