IndieWebCamp is a 2-day creator camp focused on growing the independent web

reader


A reader (or indie reader) in the context of the indieweb is the portion/feature integrated into an indieweb site that provides a way to read content from other indieweb sites, possibly including posts from the current site as well.

If you're looking for pre-indieweb / legacy feed readers (e.g. like Google Reader) see:

Contents

Why

Reasons to have a personal reader (a reader integrated into your site for you to use)

  • If you had reading built into your own site, would you ever need to visit Twitter or touch a Twitter client again? (since you can presumably already post from your site and POSSE to Twitter, including replies)
  • Your own site can provide you with a superset of Twitter-like functionality, assuming you're already
    • posting notes,
    • POSSEing them to Twitter,
    • backfeeding replies/favorites/retweets onto your original notes (e.g. using Bridgy).
    • Add to that:
      • following others
      • reading others' notes
      • inline favoriting, retweeting, and replying to others' notes
  • Filter and prioritize posts from others using algorithms of your own choosing.

That's just the beginnings of what an indieweb reader can enable.


IndieWeb examples

In datetime order of implementation (earliest first)

acegiak

acegiak developed a Wordpress plugin, WhisperFollow, which aggregates RSS/Atom and Microformats2 data from the pages linked to in your blogroll and displays those updates in a private page in your wordpress blog. It currently defaults to RSS/Atom only attempting to read MF2 if the separate feed isn't found. It also allows updates to be reblogged and commented on.

Barnaby Walters

Barnaby Walters developed Intertubes, an experimental indieweb-oriented flow-based programming + feed reader UI parsing microformats and shimmed twitter.com microformats.

Aaron Parecki

Aaron Parecki developed a Microformats2 plugin for selfoss, and runs it on a subdomain of aaronparecki.com since at least 2014-02-13. The reader polls the subscriptions at a predefined interval looking for new h-entry posts on each person's home page.

Here's a screenshot of a following list:

12800072283_c6dde479c8_z.jpg

Here's a screenshot of a reading window:

12515340903_18df867e12_b.jpg

For more on this see: http://aaronparecki.com/notes/2014/02/13/3/microformats-selfoss-indieweb

Amber Case

Amber Case also uses selfoss with the Microformats2 plugin on caseorganic.com since 2014-02-13.

See: http://caseorganic.com/articles/2014/02/13/1/indiereader-subscribe-to-people-from-your-own-site

Andy Sylvester

Andy Sylvester also uses selfoss with the Microformats2 plugin on http://andysylvester.com/selfoss/ since 2014-03-01.

See http://andysylvester.com/2014/03/01/howto-setting-up-the-selfoss-feed-reader-with-microformats-support/ for instructions on how to set up the Selfoss reader.

Ben Werdmüller, Aaron Parecki, Emma Kuo

At IndieWebCamp 2014, Ben, Aaron, and Emma built an IndieReader demo/prototype in PHP reusing components from their personal site implementations.

Features:

  • allows authoring comments and liking posts via micropub
  • reads microformatted subscription list from a URL
  • supports mf2 h-feeds as well as RSS/Atom feeds
indiereader-IWC-2014-07-22.png

Emma Kuo

Emma Kuo uses an experimental reader in neonblog since 2014-7-26.

  • reply/like/repost buttons link to posting UI
  • only supports mf2
  • requires manual polling

Brainstorming

Integrated Activity Reading

From analyzing the screenshots in this article:

of Facebook's News Feed experiment:

gpnggaky8d1gog_small.jpg

A single integrated news feed of friends' activities, including posts and likes.

Comparing the experiment and the reversion, shows the experiment provided:

  • More efficient reading (less time spent by the user reading the news feed)
    ...users who were switched to the new News Feed tended to spend less time on the site.
  • Less distraction (less frequent browsing of other pages)
    ...users no longer felt the need to browse areas outside of the News Feed as often...
  • Fewer UI elements overall (including fewer navigation links, especially with activity numbers on those other pages).

All of these differences provided for a better-for-the-user user experience (faster, more focused, more relaxed) which could (should) be used in the design of indieweb reader user interfaces, as it provides opportunities to outdo silo UX.

Tantek 16:36, 27 March 2014 (PDT)

Jeena Notes Reader

Thoughts on challenges and how to develop an indie notes reader:

Shane Feed Me See More

I (Shane) have "plans" to build a personal reader, as a separate project, called Feed Me, See More. I made a static prototype in 2010-08 (with static snapshots of real data from then)

http://feedmeseemore.com/activities

The plan is for Feed Me See More and Homesteading to be sister projects. Subscribe webactions (while browsing around the web) will get caught by Feed Me See More. Repost/Reply/Bookmark webactions will go from my Feed Me See More app to my Homesteading powered site. But both will be optional connections to the other. Either Feed Me See More or Homesteading could be run stand-alone without the other one. At least, that's the Big Plan™. (Not enough time/money/people.) -Shane (2013-08-10)


Partial Feeds

See: h-feed#partial_feeds

Autodiscovery of h-feeds

See: h-feed#canonical_feed_autodiscovery

Challenges

overload

As Twitter, Tumblr, and other aggregators have demonstrated, keeping up with everything you've subscribed to is both challenging, and eventually unrewarding. Thus some amount of smart filtering/pruning/batching is likely to be an essential part of making indie readers scale beyond following only a handful of people. See also:

one of the reasons I'm not building algorithmic filtering into whisperfollow at the moment is to avoid the filter bubble effect: [1] - acegiak (2013-08-10)

distraction

Whoever is working on the indie reader problem, please consider the problem of social media distraction (which seems to come more from the reading side than the writing side). See related: silo-quits.

missing good stuff

Likely as an attempt to compensate for #overload as noted above, users tend to limit the number of sources they follow, thus resulting in another challenge - the loss of signal, AKA "missing good stuff".

It is possible that there are some approaches for mitigating overload (e.g. perhaps categorizing notes with non-self-source links as comments on those links, and aggregating them by link destination) that could help bubble up "good stuff" from a larger set of people you follow.

outdo search

One of the reasons I have not prioritized the reader for myself, because I have better luck reading social media by searching for hashtags (results piped to IRC) and having other people send me things :)
- Aaronpk in IRC.

Subscription Maintenance

It becomes more and more time consuming to maintain a large list of subscriptions in traditional feed readers. It isn't uncommon to see feed URLs go dark, change location or just stop working for whatever reason. It would be advantageous for the next crop of readers to provide tools to help automate this sort of maintenance. It would also be great to find ways for feeds to state "This will never be updated again" and "This feed will be moving to this new location".

Open source examples

  • Status.net - allows you to subscribe to any PuSH-enabled feed on the web and view it on your home page.

Silo examples

Many social content hosting silos have integrated reader like features, but only for "feeds" of accounts on the particular silo.

  • Facebook - logged in home page has a "news feed" that essentially provides feed reader like functionality of the activities (including posts) of friends of the logged in account.
    • Issues: some sites have successfully gamed the Facebook news feed to dominate, e.g. Upworthy:
      BfawXsMCIAAqSrW.png
  • Tumblr - logged in dashboard has a feed reader of Tumblr users followed by the logged in account
  • Twitter - logged in home page is a feed reader of Twitter users followed by the logged in account

Next Steps

After implementing an indie reader, you may find that you want to search all the things you read. See:

See Also

Legacy: