Taking back control of my content

By · · 4 mins read · Tech

This year marks 20 years since I moved away from various free web hosting services that I was using (such as Geocities and Hypermart) and established a permanent personal web site.

When the site was first created, social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram didn’t exist and Myspace was still three years away. As a result, just about everything I posted online went on this site from photos of my travels (now on Facebook and Instagram) through to a feed of what music I was listening to (now on Last.fm).

Over the years I have lost quite a lot of content as sites have shutdown. These sites range from Geocities and Myspace in the late 2000s through to Orkut, App.net, Twitpic, and Path in more recent times. For this reason I wanted to again start using my site as the authoritative source for any content that I post online.

shaun.net in 2000
This site in 2000.

A few months ago I discovered IndieWeb which has a number of key principles for building and publishing on the Internet and primarily revolves around owning your data, publishing for longevity, and publishing for humans. Basically you are your own platform.

Moving into 2020 I have decided to adopt a POSSE approach to my content. POSSE is an abbreviation for “Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere”, where content will be published on shaun.net first before being shared to other social media sites where appropriate.

As part of this approach, I have:

  1. Imported all the old blog posts that I’ve been able to find, going back to 2002.
  2. Import my Instagram feed. These are now in the photos section.
  3. Import my old Twitpic feed. These are also in the photos section.
  4. Moved statistics gathering to my own self-hosted Matomo instance. This site does not send your data elsewhere.

I have also created my own Mastodon instance. Mastodon is an open-source decentralised social network that allows users to run their own instances (and retain control of their data) while still federating with other instances.

IndieWeb provides a set of metrics known as IndieMark to measure a site’s progress towards being aligned with IndieWeb principles, which I’ve been working through. The current status is as follows:

Level Description Status
Level 1 A domain that you own
Level 1 Have rel.me links to your other profiles
Level 1 Posts with permalinks
Level 1 Posts with h-entry markup
Level 1 Searchability, robots can index, search indexes can crawl the site
Level 2 h-card contact info and icon on homepage
Level 2 Multiple post types
Level 2 POSSE
Level 2 Posting UI
Level 2 Next/Previous navigation between posts
Level 2 Search box on your site
Level 2 Embeds/aggregation
Level 2 Web Actions
Level 3 Send webmentions
Level 3 WebSub Support
Level 3 Display search results on your site
Level 3 Display reply context
Level 4 Automatic Webmentions
Level 4 Handle Webmentions
Level 4 Display full content rich reply-context
Level 4 Search on your own search backend
Level 4 Multiple Reply Types
Level 4 Display Backfeed of comments

Moving forward I still need to figure out how I am going to differentiate smaller “notes” vs larger more detailed posts and will likely handle this with a feed from Mastodon to this web site but I am definitely excited about starting to publish on this site more as it has been dormant for some time!

If you use Mastodon make sure you follow me and also subscribe to my RSS feed to keep up to date with new posts.