Despite previousposts advocating the indieweb, sadly I need to trim down my WordPress plugin experience. This is mainly to seeing a lot more traffic on my site recently, and not having the time or resources to optimise the plugin code running on my virtual server. I found that the number of plugins in my site (around 48) was really starting to hamper performance.
So it’s with regret that I step out of the indieweb sharing platform, by removing all associated plugins from my WordPress. Despite being in full agreement with the indieweb mantra, of owning one’s own data, I do find some satisfaction and convenience of using WordPress.com‘s own tools to do the same job now. To some extent, they have embraced providing a richer, more social experience through WordPress sites – whether hosted by them, or by “us”.
My only regret is that I couldn’t contribute to the project, the principles of which I wholly believe in and support – if only on an intellectual level.
Discovering the IndieWeb movement was a 2015 highlight for me. It addressed many of my concerns about the direction of the modern internet, especially regarding ownership and control over that data. But to truly own your own data, self-hosting is a must!
Background: Self-hosting your own stuff
I’m an ideas person. I have a number of projects – or, rather, project ideas – lined up, which I need to record and review. My blog provides me with the ideal space for that, as some ideas may attract the attention of others who are also interested. But why does this matter?
As someone who naturally likes to share experiences and knowledge, I see no benefit in not sharing my ideas too. After all, the web is all about sharing ideas. This matters to me, because the web is widely regarded as the most valuable asset civilised society has today (aside from the usual – like natural resources, power, warmth and sustenance)!
Owning your own data
As a small business owner, I sometimes benefit from various common business practices. For example, the standard accounting principle of straight-line depreciation means that after several years, capital assets once purchased by the business have little-to-no use for the business, meaning they become potential liabilities (both in the financial and risk-management sense). This means I am able to get hold of used, good-condition computing hardware of 4-5 years old at very little cost.
This is useful for me, as a blogger and an IndieWeb advocate, as I can not only publish and manage all my own data, but also physically host my own data too. As I have fibre broadband running to my house, it’s now feasible to serve my blog as reasonable speeds with 10-20 Mib/sec upstream (“download speed” to you), which is sufficient for my likely traffic and audience.
This ties in nicely with one of my core beliefs, that people should be able to manage all their own data if they choose. I am technically competent enough, and have the meants at my disposal to do it. So why not!
Another driver towards this is that I wish to permanently separate “work” and “pleasure”. My business web hosting and cloud service is for my customers. Yes, we host our own web content as a business, but personal content? Well, in the interests of security and vested interests, I am pushing towards making personal content something that is only hosted for a paying customer.
Of course, I would encourage anyone to start their own adventure self-hosting too!
Many bridges to cross
Naturally, taking on this type of arrangement has various challenges attached. Here is a selection of the tasks still to be achieved:
Convert some space in house for hosting
Create a level screed
Sort out wiring
Fire detection/resistance considerations
Power supply (e.g. UPS)
Get server cabinet & rack it up
Configure firewall(s)/routing accordingly
Implement back-up – and possibly failover – processes
Step one: documentation
Whilst I am progressing these endeavours, it would be remiss if I didn’t document them. There is a lot to be said for the benefits (to a devop, anyway) of hosting one’s own sites and data, but naturally my blog must carry on while I am in the process of building its new home.
A quick jiggle around of my site’s menu structure will hopefully clarify where you can see this work, going forwards (hint, check the projects menu).
Taking it from here
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The movement is towards a free web, unimpeded by the silos that threaten to own us, and liberated from social-networking norms that diminish our individuality.
And yet, there isn’t actually one movement; there’s two. In fact, there are many more than two, but I’ll focus on just these for now.
Friendica is a social networking platform which is decentralised, distributed and fully privacy-respecting. It is, of course, open source too. Friendica’s purpose is to be an ‘alternative to those “creepy” social networks that don’t really care about your privacy’. It is primarily a web site with components that interact with other social networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc) as well as other instances of Friendica.
Friendica requires self-hosting.
Conversely, the “Indieweb” is more of a concept than a specific implementation. Its guiding principle is that “When you post something on the web, it should belong to you, not a corporation.” Although similar ideologically to Friendica, the implementation is less defined. Some people have implemented it via WordPress plugins, others through Jekyll and other static blogging systems.
Indieweb’s principles can even be implemented in “closed” systems, provided the data can always be accessed by its owner.