Focus on Content

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As quite often happens when I discover some new thing or concept that peaks my interests, I become obsessive, descending into a rabbit hole of exploration and experimentation and lose myself. Because I want to learn as much as I can in as short a period as possible. So I’ll spend hours and days reading and testing and poking the edges of things. I become laser focused pushing other (sometimes important) things aside.

But as I've worked my way through trying various experiments with various tools in the IndieWeb toolbox I felt my frustration building. Some things were beneficial1 to my way of working, some things were more problem2 than a solution, and some things just didn’t produce the results3 I wanted.

I stumbled upon a blog post by Peter Molnar that I think captures what I was feeling and made me pause to rethink my efforts.

After encountering the IndieWeb movement I started developing the idea of centralising one's self. I wrote about it not once4 but twice, but going through with importing bookmarks and favourites had an unexpected outcome: they heavily outweighed my original content.

I kept long journal entries; notes, for replies to other websites and for short entries; photos; and tech articles - the rest needs to continue it's life either archived privately or forgotten for good.

I think Peter and I have different use cases for our sites and I think we both initially tried to centralize everything on our websites. But, I think I’ve come to the same place where Peter is now and some conclusions of my own. If my IndieWeb experiment has become a distraction then perhaps I need to abandon some part of the experiment and do only what works well for me.

The IndieWeb plugins — Brid.gy Publish, Webmentions, Semantic Linkbacks, Syndication Links — have all worked well for me. They all scratched an itch I’ve had for some time. I no longer worry about speed writing in-the-moment too short or too long comments on articles I encounter. With Webmentions and Semantic Linkbacks I can take my time to think before writing. I no longer worry that the comments to my posts are stuck on Twitter or Facebook. They make it back to my website.

But some things I just need to do the way I did them before I found these new tools. I feel like the problem with posting on one's site is that one loses some of the social aspect of some silos as well as the discovery aspect. Especially the discovery aspect. I also lose access to some of the analytics.

For example, I use Untappd to log and rate the ales I drink. Untappd can analyze that data and make recommendations for ales that I might like. I can also see a breakdown of my check-ins and ratings. I like drinking New England style IPA from home and my top-rated ales are from Troon Brewing. I also see what other beer geeks in the area are drinking and discover new locations and ales. I sometimes meet in person some of the people I’ve connected with on Untappd. And sometimes strangers I meet in-person becomes Untappd connections.

I think it would be very challenging to duplicate that experience publishing only on my site. So I used Zapier to push Untappd checkins back to Island in the Net and I manually link them.

It’s been a struggle to find a solution to integrate information from the other silos. Until I do, I will return to my former process of posting first on my website while creating a separate post on the silo. Before IndieWeb, that’s what I did for Instagram posts. But now I can link the Instagram post to my originating post via the Syndication Links plugin.

As Peter said:

Don't let your ideas take over the things you enjoy. Some ideas can be beneficial, others are passing experiments.

I’m going to use what works and is easy but focus on my content. When it doesn’t work; when it’s not easy. I’ll move on. Try another time.

5 thoughts on “Focus on Content”

  1. I recently wrote a post similar to this one.
    I appreciate the work of the people behind the IndieWeb. I love what the IndieWeb plugins, especially Webmentions, have done for my WordPress blog.
    But the startup process was a bit bumpy and somewhat frustrating and distracted me from focusing on the content.
    All of this is a work in progress.

  2. Camera : NIKON D5100, Focal length : 35mm, Aperture : ƒ/5, Shutter speed : 1/160s, ISO : 100, Credit : Khürt L. Williams, Captured : 25 July, 2014,
    Earlier this year I started using an Adobe Lightroom plugin to export my images directly to Instagram. I also use an Adobe Lightroom to WordPress plugin from Automattic to export images directly to my self-hosted Jetpack-powered WordPress.
    It’s a two-step manual process but made easier by the efficiency of getting the images online.
    However, neither post was connected to the other. Once I learned about syndication I started perusing the IndieWeb website to find ways to connect images I posted on my website with images I posted on Instagram (or elsewhere). I experimented with a few of these methods.
    As a minimum setup for some of these solutions I enabled and configured the following list of plugins:

    Semantic Linkbacks
    IndieWeb Plugin
    Micropub

    OwnYourGram
    OwnYourGram is a web service that polls your Instagram account, converts your posts to a Micropub request and sends them along with photos to your Micropub endpoint.
    I installed the Micropub and IndieAuth plugins for WordPress. IndieAuth is a way to use my own domain name to sign in to websites by linking my website to one or more authentication providers. I setup my website to use IndieAuth, linked it to Twitter, and then I signed into OwnYourGram with my domain.
    Once logged into OwnYourGram, I configured the hashtag that would trigger the import and automatic syndication of my post back to my website.
    I posted a photo on Instagram and waited. And waited. I did not test how long it took but OwnYourGrown did not post to the website in real time. Growing impatient I manually triggered OwnYourGram. The resulting post had a randomly generated numeral permalink, a randomly generated post date of 31st December 1969, an image in the body instead of the featured image, and badly formatted text, and the post title was blank.
    I care about how stuff looks on my website. I care enough that OwnYourGram isn’t the solution for me. For OwnYourGram to be a viable solution for me, I would want the image to be attached to a featured image, Instagram hashtags as WordPress tags, and a URL that was more meaningful.
    freedom.io
    Another web service that was mentioned on the IndieWeb website was freedom.io. However, when I visited the website I got the following:

    This was an app that copied your posts, pictures, and other content from Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ to a blog of your choice. It’s down now, but it’s open source. So long, and thanks for all the fish!

    A link to the source code was provided. I am will not explore this solution further.
    Single Photo Bookmarklet
    The Single Photo Bookmarklet by Tantek Çelik is a web browser bookmarklet that will extract the Instagram permalink, image URL, image caption and copy them into a text note. I can then create a WordPress post and paste that information into the appropriate fields. It’s a fully manual process.
    The bookmarklet works but provides a square formatted image only. This solution useful if you post Instagram infrequently and don’t mind the pain of using a mobile browser to create WordPress posts. If your posts to Instagram frequently this might not be the solution for you.
    I didn’t pursue this solution further since my process already involves manually re-creating Instagram posts after creating the original on my website.
    DsgnWrks Instagram Importer
    I think DsgnWrks Instagram Importer is the solution that Chris Aldrich uses. The plugin allows the user to import Instagram photos to a WordPress site with options to control the imported posts formatting including built-in support for WordPress custom post types, custom taxonomies, post-formats.
    But it doesn’t work with WordPress 4.9. and hasn’t been updated in 8 months. I usually don’t run untested code to reduce the likelihood of introducing security vulnerabilities. If a plugin has not been tested on the current (or at least the previous) release of WordPress or hasn’t been updated in a long time, I don’t use it.
    But I wanted to see if/how this plugin worked. It didn’t. After trying unsuccessfully for about an hour trying to get the plugin to connect to my Instagram account I visited the plugin support page. Another user has reported that Instagram tokens were being rejected and that the plugin no longer works.
    The UI allowed me to authenticate to Instagram. I was able to set the import options. However, once I clicked save, the user tab disappeared from the UI. Changing the import options from manual was not possible. The UI resets.
    Installed the DsgnWrks Instagram Importer Debug plugin to help with troubleshooting but was not able to get that to do anything useful and the plugin kept disabling itself after use.

    I gave up and moved on.
    SNAP Pro
    Social Networks Auto Poster {SNAP} from Nextscripts seemed the most promising. This basic WordPress plugin creates syndicated posts to various services including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Medium, Flickr, etc. and leverages the Bridgy Publishing plugin to link back to the original post on WordPress.
    There is a lot to like about SNAP. However, to take advantage of some of the features, including the ability to post to Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Flipboard, etc. a purchase of a ($49.95/year) Pro subscription is required. So I did.
    It has a number of advanced features including:

    Scheduled and Delayed posting
    Filters for posting to each service based on categories, tags, types, etc.
    Leverages Webmentions to auto-import comments from Facebook and replies and mentions from Twitter as WordPress Comments
    Post formatting, etc.

    It took some tweaking but for a while, I was very happy with the results. And then recently the SNAP Pro service starting having problems posting to Facebook. And then Instagram. Until the issues with Facebook and Instagram are resolved, this solution is dead to me. I have given someone money for a service which I can’t use. Which to put it bluntly, fucking pisses me off.
    Keyring Social Importers
    Xavier Roy suggested I try using the Keyring Social Importers plugin. This plugin supports a set of social importers that pull in content created on other sites and re-publishes it on your own WordPress site. After an initial import, the importers optionally check each hour and automatically download new content. New posts are created for each item imported with support for specific Post Formats, depending on the content type.
    At the time of writing this, the plugin had not been tested on WordPress 4.9. Untested code can be unstable code and unstable code can lead to security leaks etc. so I configured and tested everything on a test instance of WordPress.
    I had to also install the Keyring plugin to use with Keyring Social Importers which provides the authentication and API connections to each of the external services. I configured API access to Instagram and then from the “Tools->Import” section of the dashboard I clicked the link to start importing from Instagram.
    I’ve had my Instagram account for just over a year. The importer bombed after importing the most recent Instagram posts but I was able to restart the importer which continued in the background. Each photo on my Instagram account was downloaded and imported into myMedia Library. The imported image was attached to each post as a featured image, which is a feature I wanted, however, each image is only 640px × 479px. I would have preferred to import the 1080 version of the image. I know Instagram support this. The body of the post was set thusly:
    <p class="instagram-image"><a href="https://www.instagram.com/p/Bc0Hw30HlOS/" class="instagram-link"><img src="http://104.236.216.66/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/25006240_1693035707385550_7011669385009954816_n.jpg" width="640" height="479" alt="You know what? Sometimes you don’t even need the bandanna.

    @troonbrewing Crust Punk Dog is a New England style IPA.

    #troonbrewing #crustpunkdog #ale #beer #craftale #ipa" class="keyring-img" /></a></p>
    <p class='instagram-caption'>You know what? Sometimes you don’t even need the bandanna.

    @troonbrewing Crust Punk Dog is a New England style IPA.

    #troonbrewing #crustpunkdog #ale #beer #craftale #ipa</p>

    All of the Instagram hashtags were imported as WordPress tags. The importer leverage the Post Kinds and Simple Location IndieWeb plugins to set the Post Kind to Photo and set the geographic location for the post. However, syndication links were not set. That means setting it manually later. I am also disappointed that the entire content of the Instagram caption was used as the title of the post. It’s ugly.
    The original Instagram post is neat and tidy. The WordPress copy is not.

    My (mostly) Manual Solution
    My original workflow involved creating a separate post on my website and on Instagram. But since I started using the IndieWeb and Syndication Links plugins I have adjusted my workflow. For my new workflow, I still manually post the same photo to Instagram and my website, but now I copy the Instagram URL and add it as a syndication link on the original WordPress photo post.

    Original post: http://104.236.229.226/tired-chasing-perfection/
    Instagram post: https://www.instagram.com/p/BcmgMfKnN1q/

    It’s not an ideal solution but for me, it works better than the other solutions I tried. Ideally, if Nextscripts could fix the problems with SNAP Pro I would switch to that but the cost of the annual subscription is also an issue.
    As I stated in an earlier post:

    I’m going to use what works and is easy but focus on my content. When it doesn’t work; when it’s not easy. I’ll move on. Try another time.

  3. Focus on Content by Khürt Williams (Island in the Net)

    I’m going to use what works and is easy but focus on my content. When it doesn’t work; when it’s not easy. I’ll move on. Try another time.

    Some worthwhile thoughts especially from a Gen2 perspective and on.

    Author: Chris Aldrich

    I'm a biomedical and electrical engineer with interests in information theory, complexity, evolution, genetics, signal processing, theoretical mathematics, and big history.

    I'm also a talent manager-producer-publisher in the entertainment industry with expertise in representation, distribution, finance, production, content delivery, and new media.
    View all posts by Chris Aldrich

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