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January 2020 Weblog: It’s a New Year, Let’s Try New Things

Quick personal note. Now seems like as good a time as any to try out a few new things on this blog / newsletter / timeline. So in no paritcular order, here’s a quick of laundry list of stuff I’ll be trying. Let’s see how I do.

  1. I want to tweet more. In the coming weeks and months I’ll be using my personal Twitter account (@jay_hoffmann) to share little tidbits and research notes and generally get things out as I’m forming them in my head, so if that’s kind of thing you think you’d be into give me follow.
  2. I’m doing said tweeting so that I can start having more of a running log of my thought process as it’s happening. In that spirit I’ll be following some IndieWeb principles and hosting my own data and syndicating it out. Maybe I’ll even send it out to some Mastodon instance.
  3. I want to source more of these links from blogs.
  4. I also want to read blogs more. To do that, I’m going back to my handy feed reader. I’m using Feedly right now and it seems to be working. If anyone has some blogs I should follow, let me know.
  5. There will be another redesign at some point. It won’t be big and I don’t know when.

Anyway, here’s January:

All Hail First-Wave Indie Web

Boing Boing is 20 years old as of last week. Actually it’s 33 years old. You can find out how it’s both in a nice write-up by founder Mark Frauenfelder (or read my post on it). Boing Boing was a major part of what I’ll call first wave Indie Web, when blogs began competing with mainstream media and created a new, far more personal relationship with their readers. If you want to get a full sense of the promise and potential that was felt back then, I highly recommend the TED talk from Mena Trott, co-creator of Moveable Type with an incredible influence on the web at the turn of the century.

Speaking of Feed Readers

Looks like I’m not the only one trying to make better use of their feed reader. Novelist and legendary comic book writer Warren Ellis shared his list of feeds he follows. I plucked out quite a few good ones from the list.  If you’re looking for something a bit more comprehensive, Šime Vidas posted his full list of almost 800 feeds that he uses to put together the excellent newsletter Web Platform News. Haven’t had a chance to cull through this list yet but I’ll be diving in soon. And I came across two great link dumps, one from CSS Tricks and the other a final year-end recap from Ana Rodrigues.

Year End Recaps I Missed

A couple of year end posts that I missed in my last weblog. Desirée García on the Web We Lost, where she explores the nostalgic pang we all often feel for the early web and encourages us to move past in order to be more inclusive, more welcoming, and to build a better web for the future. Abid Omar wrote an article with a title that says it all: The modern web is becoming an unusable, user-hostile wasteland. And Anil Dash with maybe a touch of hope about the smaller websites we sometimes forget that can mean everything to our digital lives.

To Experiments Long Gone

The folks at Paravel posted an interesting experiment they created a few years ago but never publicly shared. A beautiful hypertext retelling of Arthur Conan Doyle A Scandal in Bohemia.

A Panel Worth Watching

Was digging into research for my upcoming talk and I came across a recording of a panel from Rhizome last year. It features Claire Evans, author of Broad Band: The Untold History of the Women Who Made the Internet (highly recommended), in conversation with the founding team of Word Magazine, Jamie Levy and Marisa Bowe, as well as Stacy Horn, creator of the BBS Echo. I’ve written about both before and it’s incredible to hear them talk about their experiences with the early Internet and web. Give it a watch.