Open call to all you web developers, bloggers, and people who just want to try a new way to identify your internet self. Check out the indieweb.
Want the easy way / tldr ? Just check out http://withknown.com and try creating your own site there. Simple, clean, and powerful: Known has a lot going for it. Simple, clean, and powerful: Known has a lot going for it.
So how is this different from any of the blog platforms out there? Well a number of ways. First, you own your data. Lets say Facebook goes offline tomorrow. What are you left with? Where are your photos? What happened to all those things you have been writing / collecting all this time? Its all gone. You didn't get a say in it, you didn't want it, you didn't have the power to stop it. Tell me again how you own your data? These site deaths happen all the time, with the most recent being twitpic. Twitpic used to be a great way to share photos on twitter before they did that themselves. Its gone, people lost photos. Lets also think about what happens if your account gets locked for some reason. Gone. No chance to back up. You get the point.
The indieweb says you should have everything you create owned and controlled by you. Just by the fact that you have access to all your own data, you have control of it. Things stay online as long as you want. If you want to use Facebook, or Twitter, thats up to you. But there should be another choice that doesn't mean you lose all your friends. Which brings me to the next bit, Interoperability.
At this point some of you might think "Hey. I've got a WordPress blog." That's a good start but let's be honest, you still have friends on Twitter. How do you interact with them without just logging in to Twitter and posting there? Well in the indieweb there is a concept called POSSE. This backronym stands for Post on Own Site, Syndicate Everywhere. Instead of posting to Twitter, you post a note on your site and have the code copy this message over to Twitter for you. Where this really gets neat is the code could then watch that post for any comments and bring those comments back to your site. Your friends using Facebook can see what you post and you can see their comments.
Now all your data is in one place. So what? Well now you really have an identity online. Not just a collection of accounts but really a digital YOU. Because of this you need some way to identify yourself. So get a domain name. Your URL becomes your name. No one else can own that name. I own ben.thatmustbe.me. If I want to create an account on some site it would be great if I could just tie my account to the fact that I own that site. Whenever I want to login all I'd have to do is again prove that I am the owner of that site.
IndieAuth does all this certification in a few simple strokes. I provide my url as a login to a site. Then I'm presented with all the sites that it knows I have an account on that it can validate those accounts (Twitter, Google+, etc.), I allow access to it and thats it. I'm logged in. Done. "How does that work?" you might ask. Well lets look at an example. If you look at my site you will find a series of links tagged rel="me". This basically says that this link has a relationship: my account on some other site. One of those links is for my Google+ account. My Google+ account has a link pointing to my site with rel="me" on it as well (many sites already include that rel="me" tag). Now you know for sure the Google+ account of whoever owns my site. So its just a matter of using the API for Google+ to authenticate as that user. I personally use Google+ all the time because of the two factor auth setup of it (I need my phone the first time I login on a new computer... Everyone should be doing this). There is a list of sites we can already use for this method. No new passwords, just wonderfully simple authentication.
Once you start there you can head south lots of different paths. Private posts to certain friends. They don't need a login on your site, you just post straight to them. Private messaging or maybe private chat rooms. The privacy of these conversations is entirely up to you. You don't have to worry about AOL looking at your conversation, they don't control it. How about hosting events, posting videos, liking pages, sharing bookmarks? Its all under your control.
We are just scratching the surface of a whole new type of social networking. Want to come be part of it? Maybe you could help define the future of it. Or maybe you just want a new blog with some cool new features. Try out Known at http://withknown.com or come check out the wiki or join the chat at http://indiewebcamp.com.