Concurrence as in Cooperation
About a week ago Joschi Khupal wrote “Indie” as in “individuality” criticising the indiewebcamp for, among other things, fostering concurrent opinions/approaches. I really do not understand this objection, and here’s why…
The whole point of the indieweb — as Joschi himself points out — is to have independent sites that can communicate with each other without going through third-party silos like Twitter, Facebook or Google. For this communication to work, both parties should understand the same language; a common protocol if you will. I don't see how to do this otherwise. If everyone does their own thing, it is the anarchy of the old-blogosphere not individualism; if people form separate cliques each with their own protocol, we're no better than having silos. The only sane way to have replies and comments work across sites is to form a consensus on how we are going to communicate.
In the indiewebcamp, the current consensus is to use HTML+microformats+webmention (for this communication problem — there is no general consensus on a lot of things like RSS vs. h-feed, or database vs. file-storage). But, this wasn't mandated by some 'high indie-overlords'. Like consensus on most topics, people in the indiewebcamp constantly discuss, debate and try out alternative ideas and adopt some reasonable common ground that allows them to work together.
Even though there is a consensus on some ideas, there are a lot of individual implementations. The individual sites are built with different tools, have very different designs and visual aesthetics. No silo1 comes anywhere close to having the amount of individuality that people’s sites on the indiewebcamp display! But there needs to be some common ground so all of these different approaches can talk to each other.
If you are looking from far away, it might appear that some arbitrary directive was adopted without question but that is certainly not my experience2 with how things are done in the indiewebcamp. There are pretty solid discussions (some times multiple, simultaneously) running on the indiewebcamp IRC, and it is not all "yes sir!", "this is the bestest idea", everyone pats everyone on the back.
The indiewebcamp does have concurrence — though not concurrence as in “agreement of opinion” but as in “cooperation” or “combined effort”.
It is easy to have this misconception of the indiewebcamp consensus at a distance, from where all the individuals in the indiewebcamp look like one homogenous blob, or only the loudest voices are heard.
If you have some neat idea on how to make an independent web work join the discussion on the IRC. Of course, there is no reason for anyone to take your idea seriously, if it is all philosophising. Build something, even if it is rudimentary, a mockup or a sketch, and show it. People will try it out, give comments, tell you what they like, and what they don't, ask you questions. Discuss it, debate it. Participate.
If you are not a programmer or designer, play around with some current indieweb tools; give feedback on what works for you, what more do you need to be writing independently on your own site. Ask questions on the IRC; a lot of questions. That’s what I did. In my experience, people will always help you, with specific instructions no less.
Building an open, and federated web needs more active participation, and less philosophising. It needs some consensus on how to do things so we don’t get isolated on our own islands in the Web. We need some measure of concurrence.