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A silent night in the IndieWeb district of the Web town

Posted on  by Tommy Ku

In a corner of the populous Web town lies the IndieWeb district. A small district which lives the people who still remember a time when Web town were the wild west—when new buildings is built every minute in the maze like, almost chaotic town where the only map were manually populated indexes.

Next to the IndieWeb district, an once vibrant community of the past now largely abandoned, with a small part of it preserved for visiting only. Nothing new is being made in that corner of the town. A majority of it, however, were demolished, forgotten, and never see the sunlight again.

Against the backdrop of the monolithic constructions, these little districts are almost invisible. People mostly gather in the squares, the bars, the concert halls, the theatres, the markets and the malls where they no longer have control over how their own places are designed or how they work. A lot of what they do is to create content that fits into a limited length, or a square frame, or a tape which all could get censored by the place’s owner, or taken down, or demonetized for an arbitrary “terms of service” the moment they entered the place.

Oh yeah, there’s no window to peek inside, the bouncer ensures you sign the lengthy “term of service” before you could even enter. Most of them are free to enter, but all content you create stays with the house, even if it changes hand or become “for view only” or they decide to show you ads based on your behavior in the house.

Ads are ubiquitous, and the houses could have sold all information about you without you noticing it. They know where you’ve been and what you’ve consumed from the dozen wristbands they put on you when you visit. Removing them is troublesome and denying them sometimes means no entry. And you can’t just hit a delete button to remove this profile of yourself.

On the day of Christmas Eve I moved into the IndieWeb district, or at least tried to. I have a little house of my own. (where you are reading this is called the “blog” room)

I made a few changes, added signs here and there to make it fit into the community. Most of which pretty hidden, such as linking my place in those big “social places” and my house using “rel=me”. I made sure everyone (even robots) knows who I am using a “h-card”. I ensure everyone, human or robot, understands exactly every piece of decoration in my house, be they a “h-feed” or “h-entry”, suitably supplemented with “e-content” and “dt-published”.

After moving my cozy little place into the IndieWeb district of the Web town, it’s almost dusk of the Christmas Eve. So I sat by the fireplace, and began writing articles, whilst waiting for visitors to come.

Nobody came. And I couldn’t finish the bottle of red wine myself.

The festive decorations and activities of the big social communities in town reminded me. How could someone know about what I put up in my house, if all they see is inside their own communities? Sure, organic traffic sometimes bring lost souls here for a quick glance, before moving on to the popular forums and Q&A boards for the answers they want.

I still occupy a small corner of the social communities, so I made sure to put up a copy of whatever I have at my house, and include a “permalink”—a map to my house. This is still a manual proces to date, before I can build a robot to do it for me.

Some folks in the IndieWeb district seem to embrace the work of rebuilding the wheel, in many different ways, shapes or forms and feel proud of their work. I do too, sometimes.

Oh, a community hall was burned to the ground, gone with it all the creations people have spent countless hours creating and posting there. If one day such thing happens to the community building I frequent, at least I am going to have a golden copy at home. What if my home gots burned down? Boy, go read the <Zen and the Art of IT Backup>.

The Fediverse? I was there for a while. But it’s still a community hall people gather, not a place they all own and control like my very own house.

Sipping the last drop of wine in my wineglass, I stood up and stretched my back, knowing that this place, and the district, will remain largely quiet and neglected tonight. But the people of our kind will remain, moving from one place to another, yet staying true to the old days, the old ways when the possibilities and creativities were limitless.

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About the author

Profile pic of Tommy Ku

Tommy Ku, a Hong Kong-based Software Engineer experienced developing PHP and Java-based web solutions and passionate in Web technology.

Also a hobbyist digital and film photographer.