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Biomedical and Electrical Engineer with interests in information theory, evolution, genetics, abstract mathematics, microbiology, big history, Indieweb, and the entertainment industry including: finance, distribution, representation







Jeremy, if you haven't tried it before, take a look at Ryan Barrett's Instagram Atom Feeds tool which will give you the ability to put your Instagram account into a feed reader and allow you to have both an ad-free and chronological stream of your Instagram feed. The UI you get may be somewhat dependent on the reader (and its settings) you use to consume it, but it's better than the slightly prettier and draconian alternative.

As for extracting your own photo data, I've heard this week that although Instagram is cutting off more and more API access, while confronting the Facebook problem lately and the looming GDPR, they've apparently enabled the ability to download all of your photos. I haven't tried it yet to see what the data looks like or the quality of the images is, but it's a tiny step forward for data freedom that they didn't have before.


I think a lot of the problem comes down to all of the siloed walls out there which are causing most of the friction. We're still relatively early days yet and only a tiny few are using the concept of salmention which would help keep running threads working properly. Admittedly having the context live somewhere and then having proper threaded communications isn't easy, so many do what they're able to for the moment.

I'm usually attempting to manually accomplish salmention as best as I'm able, but I may not hit every syndicated target unless you're displaying it directly. Additionally some targets just don't make sense--I'll webmention your original, for example, but this lengthy reply just won't look right at if you syndicated a simple headline and URL there, so why bother since you'll see it at the original anyway? Others who are on may miss out on part of the conversation, but presumably if they're looking at your copy on, they'll be able to see the original as it was intended.

Colin, you mention that not all of your content needs to go to Perhaps, but to think so in my mind is part of the older silo way of thinking. The only reason you're syndicating there is as a stopgap to reach the people who don't currently have the time or luxury to be doing things the way you are. Otherwise they could subscribe to you directly at the source (and potentially even circumscribe the types of posts, keywords, or content to get exactly what they want from your site.) In some sense you syndicate there to reach and communicate with the non-IndieWeb crowd. Perhaps some of your content doesn't make as much sense there as is limited in what it is able to do, but that is its limitation, not yours. Eventually in a fully IndieWeb-ified world, everyone would have their own domain, their own data, and syndication of any sort won't have a real need to exist at all.

As to Jack's comment, syndicating things out to multiple places is often difficult as is getting all the responses back. (Fortunately services like make things far easier though they don't cover all the bases.) I do it in large part because while I prefer to own all of my content and have all the conversation take place on my personal site, I can't necessarily make that choice for everyone else. My mom is likely to never have her own domain much less a site. The only way she'll see my content (whether it's meant for her or not) is to syndicate it to Facebook. For those who aren't yet aware of the IndieWeb or using it, they're still reading and interacting on other platforms, which, for me is fine since I can still have my cake and eat it too. Eventually there will be inexpensive platforms that will let people who don't want to deal with the development cost and overhead that allow much of the IndieWeb-types of functionalities they're not currently getting from their silo platforms for free. I suspect that these will be easier and easier (as well as cheaper) to use over time. I suspect more people will use them for their freedom, flexibility, and increased control. Until then, I have the privilege of using my site much the way I would Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Flickr, GoodReads, etc., etc., I just get to do it through a more unified experience instead of having to juggle dozens of accounts and only being able to interact with my fractions of friends, family, and colleagues who coincidentally happen to be spending the time and effort to interact on those websites. As an example, I have dozens of friends who interact with me on Facebook about things I'm currently reading or finished reading, but if I was only doing this on GoodReads, they'd never have a chance to see it as they don't have accounts there or even know it exists. (Coincidentally, this is also the reason that GoodReads and most other silos allow one to syndicate their accounts to Twitter, Facebook, etc.)

Not all social sites are as lucky as Facebook to have such massive adoption. This creates a value imbalance with respect to the classic "network effect" (see: Philosophically I think that an decentralized and distributed version of IndieWeb philosophies add far more value than having hundreds or even thousands of individual silos.

Invariably some people are likely to stick with Twitter, Facebook, or others because they don't have the same values I do. (Currently I suspect the majority do it because it's frictionless and easy.) But this doesn't change the fact that one can't have a "universal" conversation if one prefers. When I look at various platforms, some of them have different personalities and types of conversations because of the (possibly) self-selecting group of people on them. I loved Twitter more in the early days because of it's smaller and more engaged community--things have naturally changed drastically since those early days. is a bit more like it now, but to me it's not so much a social media replacement for Twitter. To me it's really a social reader that I use to quickly follow a subset of interesting and thoughtful people until I have a better social reader built into my own site. The conversation would be somewhat different if these silos were working on niche audience content like knitting or quantum mechanics, but typically they're not. Most social silos are geared toward mass adoption and broad topic discussion or content posting for everyone/everywhere. Their goal is for their site to be the proverbial "phone number and dial-tone of the web". Why do this when I already have a connection and a "phone number" that is my own site URL?

Jack, while some bloggers have turned off comments, they've often done so saying "Post your reply on your own site, or on Twitter, Facebook, etc." This has just pushed the conversation on their ideas off somewhere else which is disconnected and not as easily searchable or discoverable. And without some kind of notification mechanism, the author of the original post has no idea it exists. (I'll elide a conversation about blocking trolls and abuse here.) I've written some thoughts on comments sections in reply to such a blogger who recently re-enabled comments which also links to several interesting articles about the pros/cons of having comments at all. To me, between webmentions, spam filtering, and even moderation, we're lightyears ahead of where we were in the early 2000s.

One other thing I do find interesting is that the way all of this is set up is allowing us the ability to write extended thoughts and extended multiple replies (with civility as relative strangers). I don't think there are many sites on the web that allow this type of interaction, and they certainly don't do it with anything remotely close to the open architecture we're using. While at times it can be a headache for maintenance and problems, I find far more value in it than using anything else.


Is it just me or has @sciencemagazine quit showing/allowing comments on articles? Perhaps a response to


Hans, I've got the same issue of being marked "pending" and sadly those only show up in your own feed on Disqus. I typically post responses on my own website first and then copy them over to help guard against my work being lost/not seen, or not being able to point at it via URL. See also:


#IndieWeb Raison d'etre #55: Freedom of the press trumps atrocious comment moderation

2 min read

Last week I wrote up "Some Thoughts on Academic Publishing" after reading “Who’s downloading pirated papers? Everyone” from Science | AAAS which made some heavy rounds in social media, particularly in academic spheres. Originally I began typing my thoughts/comments into the Disqus box on their website. After getting to the third graph, I began thinking, I should be writing this on my own website as a standalone comment/piece of content and just POSSE it over to their Disqus box.

Despite the fact that the editors/moderators of one of the most venerable science journals of our day will allow internet trolls like CPO_C_Ryback and CPO_C_Rybacks_Mother to go thirty rounds on nearly every comment on their featured piece for the week, my slightly more tempered comment is still sitting in their moderation queue untouched. 

My poor pending commentary

Fortunately I had the foresight to have self-published it before hand, or the not-insignificant time I spent thinking and writing about the topic at hand would have been gone the moment I pressed send. It's one thing to get lost in the shuffle of hundreds of comments amidst trolls, it's another thing altogether to be moderated out of existence. The IndieWeb movement has prevented me from feeling like I did two decades ago after writing a term paper for hours only to lose it after discovering that I hadn't hit control-s to save what I'd written. The additional benefit was that I was able to post those same thoughts on multiple other networks effortlessly while still being able to own what I'd originally written.

The greatest irony of the whole affair is that in conjunction with the particular article I was commenting on, Marcia McNutt, Editor-in-Chief Science Journals, published a companion piece about the high costs and attention to detail and quality that journals try to maintain in their digital presence. Apparently this massive expense and terrific effort doesn't go as far as preventing internet trolls like those mentioned from running roughshod over their own site (which is "moderated" by the way) while keeping out commentary that may add to the discussion and community that they're apparently not attempting to foster.



I've followed this process from before it's administrative beginning. It's nice to see that we've got a philosophy for what academic freedom is, though I honesty fail to see how it differs from a basic definition of what academic freedom means in the last century, so congratulations to the dozens of people who spent countless hours rewriting a basic definition. We've done the academic equivalent of writing the words, "We hold these truths to be self-evident" while failing to create any actual rules or guidelines by which the administration can hold the faculty, staff, or students accountable or which actually serve to protect the faculty, staff, or students from overstepping of authority by the university.

Where is the following "Constitution"? Where is the process for "Amendments"? Is the University actually granting any real rights here, and how are they to actually be protected? Surely we've evolved past the level of even the rights available during the Carolingian Renaissance and the early days of the birth of the universitas?

In particular, I find it disconcerting to see even the scant guidelines that existed in the intermediate draft that was sent for approval before it got to the board level have been removed. For example, statements like:
"When one is speaking on matters of public interest, it should be made clear that personal views do not represent those of the institution." or
"Professors who express their personal views on a contested issue must make it clear that students may disagree with those views without penalty."
no longer appear in the statement at all.

It's lovely that we have this new "document", but when the rubber actually meets the road, what will we do? Will we trip, stumble, and fall down as we have occasionally in the past? Where are those general guidelines? No one will care what we've said in this document, but they will surely judge us more harshly in the realm of public opinion based on the future actions of the administration and this is where the real work will have to begin.

Ron Daniels has been doing some generally good things in guiding the direction of the university community, but it seems odd that, as one of the first presidents of the institution with an academic background in law and what I know to be his philosophy in social equity, that we've heard nothing of next steps. I hope that with books entitled "Rule of Law Reform and Development: Charting the Fragile Path of Progress" and "Responsibility and Responsiveness," that we will see much more.

Some of my additional thoughts on the practicality of these matters can be found at: "Reframing What Academic Freedom Means in the Digital Age" []


Johns Hopkins adopts statement on academic freedom principles, philosophy


Johns Hopkins adopts statement on academic freedom principles, philosophy | Hub

to come back to Moulton's comment here on tenure faculty versus other levels. Check to see how the tenure ratio fits into rankings of universities and colleges.


Along with @JHAA_President I hope all @JHU_Alumni comment on this statement of academic freedom.

For bonus points, can you find the repeated sentence and the glaring repeated error I saw?

Some of my thoughts on academic freedom can be found here:


Response to JHU's academic freedom statement created by the Task Force on Academic Freedom:

Paragraph 5 of the statement beginning: "Academic freedom also entails academic responsibility." repeats itself unnecessarily in almost exact language with the following two sentences which should be combined into one:

"Faculty who express their personal views on controversial subjects in the classroom must make it clear that students may disagree with those views."

is followed by an intervening sentence, and then essentially repeated in the final sentence of the paragraph:

"Professors who express their personal views on a contested issue must make it clear that students may disagree with those views without penalty."

Also from a grammatical standpoint, while the issue at hand is academic freedom, which we can all agree is important, it is not so important that a major research university should capitalize it unnecessarily in a document like this. Except in the cases where it starts a sentence (and then only the 'A' in academic freedom should be capitalized), or perhaps in the main title which appears in all caps, academic freedom should not be capitalized anywhere in the document.

From a semantic and administrative standpoint, while it's lovely that we have such a statement, it really doesn't do much to actually institute any actual mechanisms to prevent administrators or professors from abusing the academic freedoms of others in the community. The general concepts stated here are, to a great extent, already living within our community; the real step would have been in going further spelling out something further. Where are the broad guidelines for actually instituting and safeguarding these freedoms? In essence, we've written a lovely preamble to a constitution, but forgotten to include the actual articles.