More on The New Yorker

I linked briefly to The New Yorker article by Cal Newport over the weekend, but wanted to add a few more thoughts. The article really does a great job of capturing what the IndieWeb movement is about, and’s role in it:

Even as it offers a familiar interface, though, everyone posting to does so on his or her own domain hosted on’s server or on their own personal server. Reece’s software acts as an aggregator, facilitating a sense of community and gathering users’ content so that it can be seen on a single screen. Users own what they write and can do whatever they want with it—including post it, simultaneously, to other competing aggregators. IndieWeb developers argue that this system—which they call posse, for “publish on your own site, syndicate elsewhere”—encourages competition and innovation while allowing users to vote with their feet.

As we’ve been consistently chipping away at bugs and features, moving the platform forward, I’ve always thought that eventually will get mentioned in the larger narrative about social networks from the mainstream press. We can’t control when we get noticed. We just have to be ready when it happens.

It’s great to see all the new folks joining! Whenever someone new has feedback, I’m reminded what we can improve so that the experience is better for the next person.

There’s one sentence in Cal Newport’s article that I keep going back to:

The Internet may work better when it’s spread out, as originally designed.

I have no doubt that this is true. It’s okay to have centralized services to make things easier for people, because it’s too much to expect that everyone should run their own server. The web can be “spread out” on multiple layers: a more diverse set of platforms, so that not all the power is concentrated in a couple massive platforms like Facebook; and more personal domain names, so that even if hosts 1000s of blogs, each one has its own identity on the web and can be moved.

Domain names are the key to content ownership. This is a fundamental part of’s architecture, not something that was tacked on as an afterthought. I’ve written more about owning your content here, which is one part of the solution to moving beyond today’s social networks.

Manton Reece @manton