What is the IndieWeb movement? Let’s begin with a brief definition according to indieweb.org:
The IndieWeb is a community of individual personal websites, connected by simple standards, based on the principles of owning your domain, using it as your primary identity, to publish on your own site (optionally syndicate elsewhere), and own your data.
The premise is simple. Rather than post content you’ve created to a corporate website, where the corporation profits from the data you provide, you publish to a site you own. You still have the option to syndicate elsewhere (e.g., Facebook or Twitter), but everything you create begins on a domain over which you have control.
First of all, you should have total control over your identity on the Web. If you want your avatar or profile picture to be large or small, round or square, that should be your choice. If you wish to design your Web presence using the color purple, it should be purple. If you express your thoughts and beliefs online, no one should have the right to flag or ban you. A corporation should not have the power to increase or decrease your exposure to others based on arbitrary algorithms.
Second, a corporation should not own your content. It should not use your creative work and effort to draw visitors to its website while building massive databases of personal information whereby it alone profits. Its arbitrary algorithms should not choose for us what they think we want to see.
The IndieWeb movement is about escaping the corporate silos and redeeming your online identity.
I’ll warn you, though, you may feel a bit lonely when first joining the IndieWeb, especially if you’ve deactivated your social media accounts as I’ve done. How do you find your friends? How do you discover other intriguing people or content? Solutions exist, but they’re hardly mainstream at this point. Blogrolls, for example, are an excellent way to connect people. Webrings are another. I wish we could count on search engines, but they favor corporate websites with teams of people cranking out impersonal, search-friendly content.
Here’s what I recommend. Get yourself a domain. You can purchase one for less than $15 a year. Set up a website. If you don’t know how, ask an Internet-savvy friend or family member to help. We all know at least one capable person. Then, whatever you’re willing to publish online, post to your website first.
Are you concerned that no one will see it? Email continues to be the most personal way we can communicate with one another online. Send an email to your closest friends and family, explaining your decision to join the IndieWeb movement. Tell them where to find you.
Granted, if everyone goes Indie, keeping up with those you want to follow would be cumbersome. That’s why websites have RSS feeds. I subscribe to hundreds of sites using an RSS feed reader. It’s like an email inbox for websites. I open it and see new posts from every site I follow. Ask your techie friend to help you get started.
By the way, churches and small businesses can learn from the IndieWeb. I’m not on Facebook. When you post important announcements to Facebook rather than your website, I may not see them. Even if I search for them, Facebook doesn’t make it easy for me to find them.
I realize the corporate silos are convenient. The IndieWeb movement is fighting an uphill battle, but I stand with it. I’ll even bet it outlasts the current status quo where most people spend most of their time on a handful of websites. Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, YouTube, Medium— The major players will continue to alienate their users little by little until most of us have moved elsewhere.
And where will we go? We’ll find a small corner of the Web to call our own, a place we control where no corporation profits from our labors.
That’s the IndieWeb dream. That’s the movement.