Evergreen Diary #9: On IndieWeb

When IndieWeb started, some years back, the first thing I noticed was that they appeared to be against the idea of feeds — or, at least, what they called side feeds: RSS and similar.

Their idea was that the data a reader might collect should be encoded in the page itself, using microformats. The argument (I think; I hope I’m not misrepresenting anyone) was that microformats are simpler than mantaining a separate file.

I don’t know which thought occurred to me first:

I took it personally, since I’d spent much of my career working with feeds, and I took this as a suggestion that my career was all wrong and they wouldn’t be interested in someone like me, someone who would be an ally in their committment to the open web.

I objected on practical grounds, too. Feeds have been and remain tremendously successful — see podcasting, for one thing — and the way forward is to build on that success. And, while I understand the elegance of microformats, side feeds have critical advantages that microformat-feeds don’t.

So I decided to ignore IndieWeb.

Here’s the thing, though: that was me being a total jerk.

(I’m telling you about this so you can learn from my mistake.)

Fast-forward

In the last couple years I’ve been chatting with Manton Reece, Micro.blog creator, a bit — and Manton agrees with me about feeds.

But Manton also works with IndieWeb, and has mentioned any number of good ideas they have that I should look into.

It took me a while, but I realized that I was acting like a Clinton or Sanders supporter still arguing with the other side about the 2016 primaries — after losing the general election to a monster, after the point where those small differences matter at all.

And then I started to get excited about IndieWeb. I may have a difference of opinion when it comes to feeds, but who the hell cares when there’s so much good stuff to do? (They’re not holding my opinion against me; why should I hold theirs against them?)

And so I decided to support the h-feed format in Evergreen (hopefully in 1.0). That’s just for starters: I also decided to look into everything else and see what makes sense to support.

My default position now is: if a format or API or syncing service makes sense for a feed reader, then I’ll (at least try to) support it.

25 Jan 2018

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