The Web is more than Facebook and Twitter. It is definitely more than the photos we post on Instagram. Our lives are more than that. Our physical lives are in our own control (in general). But we have been losing control of our virtual lives in exchange for a tine-tiny bit of convenience. We have been losing ownership of our own content (thoughts, pictures and what-not) while others are selling our data to god-knows-whom. They’re also making more tools that push us to create and consume more content.
Not everyone is content with the current state of affairs. Some folks are taking small/big steps to take back control. I’ve been taking baby steps to take back control. This website was one of the first steps in the process. I’ve been writing on this website for about half a decade now but a huge piece of my online life is still in the dark shadows of Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Slowly, but steadily I’ve been moving away from third party websites. Trying to take back control of the things I put and see on the internet. Yes, we might have some control on the things we post, but we have no control on the things we see. This loss of control is causing us a lot of anxiety which in turn makes us consume more content. It’s this vicious cycle that most social networks put us in. Sad, but true. Dominic Tarr from Scuttlebutt had some interesting things to say about this.
My virtual gurus for ownership of content has been the IndieWeb Community. The IndieWeb Community has very similar ideas and have done a lot of ground work to make this transition. The transition from a centralized web to how the web was meant to be, decentralized and user owned.
As a reboot of my efforts, I spent sometime last month to setup WebMentions on my website. WebMention is actually a web standard so that websites can talk to each other. Instead of setting up my own WebMentions server, I am using webmention.io to manage all mentions. On top of that, I have also setup Birdgy to get social replies from twitter back to the website. This way, even if twitter dies in the future all the interactions would live.
On the side, I have restarted working on my stream application, It has been my tweeting application and bookmarking manager for almost a year. So far It can only tweet text, so next I want to add media upload to it. That way, I can first upload tweets and media on my stream first and that can be tweeted later. Added benefit would be that the tweet/post would also be open to receive WebMentions and all the replies on twitter will be fed-back to the stream. That reminds me that I wanted to extend the stream application to accept all my WebMentions as well. Hopefully, one day in the future, it would do all that and more.
Apart from the IndieWeb efforts, I have been actively communicating on the peer-to-peer distributed social network Scuttlebutt. The community has been really warm and the best part is that ownership of content is one of the core philosophies of Scuttlebutt. I’ll probably write about Scuttlebutt at one point, but also wanted to mention the community in this post.