I received encouraging notes from a couple of readers after posting my 100th Post Milestone article a few weeks back. These messages were most welcome. While I don’t harbor any grandiose visions about garnering a large audience with for this website, it’s nevertheless a valuable reminder that I’m not just shouting into the void. There are real people who read this blog and outside acknowledgement is always gratifying. I wanted to publicly thank those who have written to me over the past few months to give me their thoughts, opinions, and feedback. I appreciate it and have learned a lot from your comments.
These recent reader messages along with a thoughtful blog post by Marko Saric, How You Can Help Keep Blogging Alive, got me thinking more about my relationship with the web. In particular, I’ve been increasingly intrigued and appreciative of the independent web. The “indie web,” as defined by indieweb.org, is the personal, people-focused alternative to the corporate web—small, individually hosted websites sharing ideas, knowledge, and opinions with others. This is how the web was back in its nascent years in the 1990s. Sure we had to deal with peculiar web-design, blink tags and headache-inducing website backgrounds, but in return we were treated to an assortment of earnest websites lovingly crafted by enthusiasts. Contrast the independent web with today’s monolithic platforms—Facebook, Twitter, and others—that dominate the headlines and garner the lion’s share of media, user, and advertiser attention. These sites are focused on monetization, attention and viral-loops.
I don’t know about you, but I find myself longing for more independent web and less monolithic web. The bright spot in all of this is that indie websites are still doing their thing. They may be overshadowed by the big platforms, but they still exist—you just have to look a little harder.
If we are to ensure that small, personal websites and content creators continue to do their thing, those of us who appreciate the independent web need to encourage and support these creators. The simplest way to show support is to send a message when you read something that resonates with you. I don’t doubt that many creators do what they do without any expectation of outside acknowledgement. The intrinsic benefits of publishing online are sufficient reward for some of us. But I imagine there are many others who periodically get discouraged or wonder “what’s the point?” Letting folks know their blog posts, podcasts, videos and other published resources are having a positive impact is one way to offer some added motivation.
A new habit that I recently started and hope to cultivate is to select one or more of the small content creators profiled in my weekly “Articles & Podcasts of Note” and send them a short note letting them know that their work is appreciated. If you’ve read this far, and are as much of a fan of the indie web as I am, I’d encourage you to give it a go too: let those creators who inspire and enlighten you know that their work is having an impact.
Lastly, I wanted to offer up some links for further indie web explorations. The biggest problem I’ve encountered—as someone who generally eschews social media—is the act of discovery: it’s hard to find new, independent sources of high-quality content. No doubt there’s a vast network of amazing content out there, it’s just tricky to find at times (this is a topic that warrants a future post since blog and content discovery are more challenging than ever in our SEO and SEM optimized world).
- Curlie: Web Directory (curlie.org): The successor to the DMOZ open directory project. Offers a human-edited web directory.
- Github: Awesome Lists (github.com): Awesome Lists are curated link collections for niche topics (often technical topics since they are hosted on Github).
- Indieseek Blog (indieseek.xyz): Coverage of niche directories and independent website resources.
- The IndieWeb Movement: Owning Your Data and Being the Change You Want to See in the Web (jvt.me): Transcript from an OggCamp presentation with lots of actionable ideas.
- Into the Personal Website-Verse (matthiasott.com): An ode to the personal website (along with some practical solutions).
- An Introduction to the IndieWeb (boffosocko.com): Some of the principles behind the IndieWeb movement.
- Million Short Search Engine (millionshort.com): A search engine that facilitates discovery of small sites by excluding the top websites from the results.
- Personal Sites Are Awesome (personalsit.es): A directory of personal blog sites.
- Rediscovering the Small Web (neustadt.fr): Excellent overview on what a small and independent web might look like.
- Tiny Web Directory Forum (indieseek.xyz): Forum focused on the problem of small and niche website discovery.
- What is the IndieWeb? (indieweb.org): Official site for the IndieWeb community.
- Wiby Search Engine (wiby.me): A search engine that indexes “old-school” websites. Great for uncovering cool niche sites.