Back to the Web

Back to the Web

Indie Web Camp


The Early Web

  • Static HTML pages
  • Content updated manually
  • Required learning HTML and learning about DNS & hosting

1997-2002: Blogs

  • A domain name with a blog was one's online identity
  • Blogging tools allowed people to focus on creating content rather than code
  • People made personal connections via reading and commenting on blogs
  • RSS/ATOM feeds for subscribing to others' blogs

2003 - Peak Independent Web?

Hello My URL is

2004 Friendly Silos Arrived

Flickr All Time Popular Tags

2002-2006 Rise of Social Networks

  • Friendster
  • Myspace
  • Orkut
  • Facebook


  • Easy signup
  • Find your friends and your friends' friends
  • Integrated reading and posting

Rise of the Silos

Matrix silos

2007 Twitter Popularizes Simplicity

Screenshot of Twitter UI circa 2007

2007 Facebook F8 platform launch

2007 Facebook F8 Platform Launch

2008 Facebook Connect launch

2008 Facebook Connect Launch

2014 Facebook F8

2014 Facebook F8

While Some Silos Distracted Us...

2008 AOL Homesites Shutdown

AOL Homesites shutdown thread

2009 Geocities Shutdown

GeoCities  shutdown

Shutdowns continued...

2013 Shutdown

Upcoming not found

2013 Posterous Shutdown

Posterous shutdown

More shutdowns past & future:

What Went Wrong in 2003?

What Happened To The 2003 Independent Web?

Hello My URL is

2003: RSS/Atom Wars

RSS vs Atom

2003: RSS/Atom Wars

  • Significant energy was put into debating the merits of syndicating in Atom vs RSS formats
  • Slightly different formats for essentially the same content

What About Trackback & Pingback?

Trackback became spam

Pingback Spam

Pingback - noisy user experience

Pingback UX

Decline of personal sites

  • Distracted by format wars, blog UX stopped evolving
  • People went to social networks to connect … to people!
  • Silo UX evolved: Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook
  • Likes, retweets, etc made us dopamine dependent...

Distractions vs focus

The Internet vs Blog post cartoon

Silos made it easier
to consume
than to create

Silos don't have any incentive to make federation work

We Tried Anyway…

2008: Social Web Foo Camp — Federating Twitter & Jaiku

Blaine Cook and Ralph Meijer at 2008 Social Web Foo Camp

We Kept Trying…

2010: Federated Social Web Summit

2010 Federated Social Web Summit with Chris Messina, Aaron Parecki, et al

2010: Frustrated Social Web Summit

2010 Federated Social Web Summit with Chris Messina, Aaron Parecki, et al

2010: Federated Frustrations

  • tl;dr: too much talking, not enough building
  • Architecture Astronauts
  • More talkers than doers
  • Complexity: Atom, Activity Streams, Salmon, OAuth...
  • Too hard, too fragile, and too few implementations

“I don't care about federation,
I care about my content,
and my friends.”

2010: “How about an indie web?”

2011: IndieWebCamp founded

Aaron Parecki Tantek Çelik Amber Case Crystal Beasley
Co-founded/co-organized by:
Aaron Parecki, Tantek Çelik, Amber Case, Crystal Beasley


  • Discussion: #indiewebcamp Freenode IRC
  • Documentation: wiki
  • All contributions: public domain / CC0
  • In-person BarCamp/DevCamp!

IndieWebCamp 2011, Portland Oregon

  • Show, don't tell
  • Creators only
  • Must have own domain name to attend
  • Use your site as OpenID to sign-in to the wiki
  • RSVP on the wiki
  • Creators may bring an Apprentice

IndieWebCamp 2011

2011 IndieWebCamp group photo

IndieWeb Discussions Afterwards:
No mailing lists!

No email lists, no Google Groups

A mailing list archive

Screenshot of mailing list

Our IRC archive

Screenshot of indiewebcamp irc

IndieWeb Tech: Simplify, Simplify

  • OpenID -> RelMeAuth -> IndieAuth
    • rel=me on your existing "elsewhere" links
  • microformats/microdata/RDFa -> microformats2
    • less markup, simpler generic syntax
  • pingback -> webmention
    • Drop XMLRPC. (You really don't need a whole XML wrapper to send two values, just use HTTP!)
  • Easier for publishers and consumers!
  • Most importantly: user experience first

Learning from Twitter:
From IndieWeb Reply …

Screenshot of an indieweb reply

… to federated comments!

eschnou indieweb comments

Pingback Display — Yuck

Screenshot of pingbacks

Webmention Comments
Via microformats2!

Screenshot of webmentions

indieweb event

benwerd indieweb event

With federated rsvp

aaronpk indieweb rsvp

2014: But do we have a chance?

How can we compete with silos?

Matrix silos

2014: Peak silo UX? (FB & Twitter)

Side-by-side comparison of Facebook and Twitter profiles

UX Before Protocols

At the end of the day, the UX is what matters regardless of protocols

Without considering the UX, you'll overdesign/overengineer your protocols

2014: How we're growing:
IndieWeb Generations

IndieWeb Generations

IndieWeb Generations

Generation 2: Journalists

Screenshot of Slate IndieWeb article

Generation 2: Journalists Doing

Screenshot of Dan Gillmor original


Screenshot of Dan Gillmor original comments

Building Blocks

  • IndieAuth - sign in with your domain
  • Microformats 2 - make your posts machine-readable
  • POSSE (Syndication) - share your posts to existing networks
  • Webmention - direct site-to-site comments
  • Micropub - post to your site from other IndieWeb apps

The IndieWeb Wants You!

to own your data.
to own your permalinks.
to own your identity online.

I can only show you the door...

Thank you.

Indie Web Camp