Especially when you don’t know what you’re doing.
Owning your stuff in this context means controlling your content on the Internet, inasmuch as you can control anything about the Internet. When you post to Twitter or Facebook or Instagram, your stuff lives there. It isn’t always easy to get it back out or to switch services. There’s a tremendous amount of “lock-in” because of both your posting history and your developed social group. On the other hand, when I post to this blog, it lives — for now — on a WordPress installation I control, on servers I pay for, on a domain I own. The “for now” there is important because I can (and have) move the content to different platforms as future needs dictate.
I’d had an underused blog for a while, but the concept clicked for me when I started learning about Micro.blog. I’ve been using Micro.blog via this domain for more than five years (and I haven’t really understood it for most of the time). But conceptually, “owning your stuff” seems like a good idea.
I’m going to try to explain my (ongoing) effort to turn this blog into a Twitter replacement. As will become clear, I have very little idea how all this works, and so I’ll likely be using incorrect terminology as well as doing things that are incredibly dumb. If you’re able to kindly point these out to me, I’d sure appreciate it. And I probably still won’t understand.
I don’t write a whole lot, especially long-form. But I do like having a place to put stuff when the urge strikes. I like being able to share stuff — photos I took, links I find interesting, etc.
And then here’s where it’s fuzzy.
Recently I started trying to figure out more about how to be sure people could read me via Mastodon as well as how I could interact with others (following, favoriting, replying, reposting). That led me to Bridgy Fed, which I don’t quite understand. My username there seems to be @email@example.com. And in fact if I search that username at the journa.host mastodon instance, my info shows up (though not my posts). Searching the “other” username on either instance returns nothing.
I searched around a while and found some Bridgy Fed documentation about customizing your username via an h-card with a property using the “acct:” protocol. I attempted to add that to my h-card, but either I did it incorrectly or it seems to not have affected Bridgy Fed. (Update: It now seems that Bridgy Fed recognizes me as “@firstname.lastname@example.org”. Don’t know if publishing this post gave it a kick or if it was just a timing thing or whatever. But that seems to be resolved. Consequences TBD).
I also seem to have to include a link to the site in every post? Or just when I’m interacting? I dunno. None of that really affects the writing here, just the ways people can discover and read.
I’d like to replicate a Twitter-like timeline with folks who’ve jumped ship from Twitter. I’ve successfully used Aperture to create a list of folks and Monocle to read it. But I’m not sure I’m doing it right. For one thing, I’m adding each person’s feed manually in Aperture. I think ideally sending a u-follow-of webmention should add them to the list? Or something? I don’t know. Secondly, if I just paste in their Mastodon profile link, Aperture finds a feed but one that doesn’t have any posts in it. I have to manually add “.rss” to the end. And these don’t seem to have profile photos included, and may be limited in other ways.
No idea how any of this stuff works. I gather it involves webmentions.
If I make a post including u-follow-of, Bridgy Fed registers that as a follow…but I don’t really know what that means. I don’t seem to show up as a follower on anyone’s Mastodon account. And I don’t know if there’s a way for me to access a list of everyone I follow. Or how to unfollow.
I attempted a repost (u-repost-of), and Bridgy Fed registered it, but said there was an error. But that’s all it says, so I don’t know if the error is something I did (or didn’t do) or on the receiving end, or what.
I don’t know if any of this stuff is working, or how it’s supposed to work. I don’t know what would happen if someone tried to follow or repost or reply to me.
I have a section called “Followers (Fediverse)” under my Users menu in the WordPress backend. Maybe from the Activitypub plugin again? There are a couple people in it (who I recognize).
Owning your stuff is (at the moment, anyway) a lot harder than typing into a 3rd party site and letting someone else figure all this stuff out. But it seems worth it.
If anyone has any good tutorials on any of this, let me know.