How To IndieWeb, For Free!

Jun 24, 2018

I managed to stitch a thing together that lets me own all my social media posts, publish them through to Twitter and Facebook so people might actually read them, requires no server management, kind of has a mobile client, and costs zero dollars per month!

It works roughly like this:

  • I have a workflow that takes some text input, and posts it as a Markdown file to my blog repository in GitHub.
  • Whenever there's a new commit, Netlify runs a site build.
  • Gatsby reads in all the Markdown files and transforms them into a static website.
  • Netlify serves up that static site, including an RSS feed.
  • When a new item shows up in my feed, IFTTT tells about it.
  • publishes my new post to Twitter.
  • An ancient integration I've had running for at least eight years publishes my Twitter post to Facebook.
  • It's just that "easy"!

Why would somebody bother with all this crap? I'M GLAD YOU ASKED.

I've been alarmed for a long time that a handful of companies effectively own our relationships and communications with the people we care about. A decade ago, it wasn't this way, but network effects have caused so much centralization that the open web is all but gone. That upsets me. Why did we work so hard to build all this stuff, just to throw it away for a little bit of convenience? How are we going to defend ourselves against propaganda and control of communication?

I have no illusions that this is going to get adopted by the mainstream anytime soon...but if I can break out of the walled garden, maybe other people can too. Maybe we can make it easier and easier, until the idea of storing all your stuff in a third-party service makes as much sense as it does to do it with AOL.

It's obviously still way too complicated for a non-technical person to pull off, but it's amazing how well all these different pieces work together, and it's particularly neat how much the IndieWeb standards do to make it all interoperate.

Next up: webmentions. If somebody replies to me on Twitter, I should be able to see the reply on my own site...


If you liked this, you're welcome to read more of my blatherings.