Own Your Content
I’m a big believer in owning and maintaining control over one’s own digital output rather than leaving it to the whims, complexities, terms and conditions of the social networks and cloud storage providers. I have been looking around for a solution which allowed me to still use social networks , but permitting me a greater level of control over ownership of my digital output. The tools created by the IndieWeb movement are exactly what I was looking for.
The idea is to support a POSSE architecture: Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere and the principles of the IndieWeb are summarized as follows (from IndieWebCamp):
Your content is yours
When you post something on the web, it should belong to you, not a corporation.
You are better connected
Your articles and status messages can go to all services, not just one, allowing you to engage with everyone.
You are in control
You can post anything you want, in any format you want, with no one monitoring you.
There are various tools, services and plug-ins available to ‘IndieWebify’ (or ‘POSSEify’) your site and below is an outline of where I’ve got to so far:
– MacMini purchased and hosted at MacMiniColo running OSX Server
– WordPress installation
– I searched long and hard for a suitable WordPress theme that would require minimal adaptation and I eventually discovered Hyalite which, critically (as you’ll see below), supports the largest number of Post Formats.1
– After creating a child theme I managed to (with the expert help of Mat at Maze Creative) remove titles for status posts, make the title of link posts clickable through to their targets, style quote posts correctly and generally distinguish a little more between formats.
- Image – Photos taken by me, to be posted to Twitter & Facebook.
- Link – Interesting links I find, with room for my commentary.
- Quote – Inspiring/amusing/plain interesting quotes I find, with source link.
- Status – Short form status updates.
- Video – Links to videos.
- Standard – Articles or traditional blog posts.
(This leaves out Asides, Audio, Chat & Gallery which at this stage I don’t use.)
The frequency of posting has dictated how I’ve set up the act of posting to each of these formats and indeed the level of automation. I’m using the following tools (plus the ‘secret sauces’ below) to achieve what is currently on my site:
Pocket – Every article I find online to read later gets posted to Pocket. I have two tags set up; zapbloglink and zapblogquote.
Workflow – Every photo I want to post originates from my iPad Pro or iPhone. I have a workflow that asks for a name, resizes to 1200px width and saves this image to a holding folder on Dropbox. See the Zapier section below for the final stage of this.
Email – I can fire off an email with just a subject line and this is posted as a Status update to WordPress (see Zapier section below).
WordPress app – For other content, I just pull up the WordPress app on iPad Pro or iPhone and post from there.
There are plenty of plugins, scripts, apps and add-ons around that can pull content from a source and post to WordPress. However, I was already a Zapier user and once I tried the WordPress integration, I decided to use this as my main ‘conduit’.2
This zap picks up any image it finds in my Dropbox holding folder and posts it into the Image category in WordPress. Easy.
This zap looks every 15 minutes for newly-tagged articles and if it finds one, it extracts the title, link and an extract and posts this into the Link category in WordPress as a draft (I find I want to add some commentary or tweak the title a little before posting).
The zap uses a multi step word-wrangler which parses the link, extracts the core of the URL and appends that to the title. A similar zap picks up quotes.
Using “Email to Zapier”, any email sent to a custom address is parsed and posted as a Status post in WordPress immediately.
Status posts are sent to Buffer and immediately posted to Twitter. Links/quotes and other posts are added to my Buffer queue where I can tweak them if necessary. I separate out the two formats (Status vs everything else) by using the WordPress Webhook plugin Hookpress to send details to Zapier’s “Incoming Webhook” action which allows me to filter by category.
So, I have my various sources being captured (in Pocket, Dropbox & via email) and being funnelled through Zapier and out to WordPress. From WordPress, these are syndicated via Buffer to Twitter and Facebook.
Things To Do
I’m currently experimenting with the ‘return’ elements of the Indie Web, i.e. backfeed comments & retweets back from Facebook/Twitter into comments to the correct post in WordPress. For this, I’m implementing Bridgy which looks like it will do the job.
I’m looking into adding the correct code for Microformats2.
I’ll update this post as I further develop this site and I welcome any comments, questions and suggestions!
- Sempress is the best theme I found which supported the widest range of Indie Web principles, but I went for a slightly different style. ↩
- I have a paid Zapier account, and I appreciate Zapier is hardly open-source or self-hosted (or cheap!), but for my level of technical skill it opens up a huge realm of possibilities. ↩