Since Space Karen1 bought Twitter, I’ve been looking at how I can make my presence on the World Wide Web more decentralised.
I’ve dipped my toe in the waters, creating social media accounts on services like Mastodon2 and PixelFed3. But why stop there?
The distinctive thing about lots of federated social services is that they’re built on top of open web standards like ActivityPub and Webmention. These are standards that any website can adopt to plug themselves into the Fediverse.
So that’s what I’ve done!
I’ve added Fediverse features to this humble blog
Now, if you ‘like’ or ‘boost’ a post on a service like Mastodon, and that post contains a link to a blogpost on this website, then your avatar will now appear in at the bottom of the blogpost itself. Cool, right?
My site will also send out ‘web mentions’ to any webpage that is linked to from the blog post that I publish here. That doesn’t guarantee that the recipient will know about – muchless do anything with – it of course; but they can, if they do and they want to.
Made possible by generous people and free stuff
I’ve got to admit, I don’t entirely understand how this all works. It does appear to work, though.
Making it work was complicated by the fact that this site is built on Jekyll and hosted on GitHub Pages. Jekyll is a ‘static site generator’; there’s no database or other fancy stuff actively running in the background. So adding these federated features has been a case of hacking together bits and pieces.
I’ve used Aaron Gustafson’s Jekyll Webmention Jekyll plugin to handle the sending and receiving of these federated signals every time my site is built. That plugin, itself, relies on two free web services – Webmention.io and Bridgy. It took a few hours to wrap my head around the basics and to set it all up. I also added some custom styles to display the outputs on my webpages (scroll down to see them!).
Give it a try
You can test this out right now.
If you’re on Mastodon, you can ‘like’ or ‘boost’ this Mastodon post and your avatar should show up in the new likes and reposts sections at bottom of this page up to 24 hours later.
This should also work on other Fediverse platforms that use ActivityPub and Webmention too; just try to ‘favourite’ or ‘like’, ‘boost’ or ‘repost’ anything containing a link to a blog post on this site.
I’ll be experimenting some more with this over the next few months, seeing what else the plugin lets me achieve. In the mean time; give this a like or boost and help me test it out!