Last weekend I began transitioning my personal website into an IndieWeb friendly site. I still have a lot of work to do on design, but more importantly I’d like to start interacting with other indie bloggers. This isn’t as easy as it sounds, since there’s one crucial thing missing from this generation of indie bloggers: the humble blogroll.
Those of you who were around in the pre-Web 2.0 era (before 2005-ish) will remember that early bloggers used to have a list of other blogs they read in their sidebars. That list was known as the “blogroll” and it was a great way for newbies to get to know established bloggers. The other neat thing about the blogroll was that it was a token of respect to the bloggers you admired. When I started ReadWriteWeb in 2003, this was my blogroll in August of that year:
Actually there’s another thing missing these days. In a precursor to ReadWriteWeb, a 2002 Radio Userland blog I called “Modern Web,” I also had an xml link for my blogroll. That was what was known as an OPML file. The idea was you could import the OPML file into an RSS Reader, as an easy way to subscribe to every blog in it. It enabled you to subscribe to my blogroll.
So where have blogrolls gone?
Well there is a page on the IndieWeb wiki devoted to blogrolls, but it’s pretty sparse. It’s treated like yesterday’s technology, which perhaps it is. After all, RSS Readers have mostly gone out of fashion too.
Speaking of which, is there an IndieWeb recommended RSS Reader?
In a word, no. However, in his Feed reader revolution post here on AltPlatform, Chris Aldrich mentioned a Reader called Woodwind.xyz. “Right now,” wrote Chris, “the Indie reader Woodwind.xyz (code available on Github) is the gold standard of what modern feed reader functionality should be.”
I think a big part of why Chris admires Woodwind is that it’s not only a reader, but a publisher too. Kind of reminded me of the very early browser-editors (notably, Tim Berners-Lee’s first browser application, which he called WorldWideWeb).
Woodwind seems to have all the technical wizardry required by IndieWeb proponents, but unfortunately the user interface is not ideal for the rest of us. I like a bit of fancy in my UI, so I ended up going back to my default RSS Reader, Feedly. Ever since Google Reader was abruptly pulled from the Web in 2013, I’ve used Feedly (and indeed pay for the Pro version). Feedly isn’t a Reader-publisher, but that’s okay. All I want to do, for now, is find a small network of indie bloggers to subscribe to.
Which brings me back to blogrolls. Since few people use blogrolls these days, finding indie bloggers was more of a manual process than I would’ve liked. So far I’ve found and added fifteen indie bloggers to my Feedly:
I’m sure there are many more indie bloggers out there, so please do let me know in a comment who you are! I’d like to subscribe to you if you have an active blog.
Eventually I plan to start adding the indie bloggers I interact with regularly to my own personal blog, as a blogroll.
Incidentally, with 2017 eyes it is painfully obvious that both my early blogrolls and the one I’m assembling inside Feedly are very male-oriented. Obviously I would prefer to make it more diverse! So I’ll be doing my best to do that over time too.
Once again, sing out if you’re an indie blogger and I’ll add you to my Feedly. My personal blog is at richardmacmanus.com if you’d like to do the same. Plus of course, you can subscribe to the AltPlatform team here.