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I’m done with syndication. Let’s help people be themselves on the web.

2 min read

The IndieWeb has long promoted the idea of POSSE: Publish on your Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere. In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, lots of platforms are re-evaluating their API policies.

This is kind of rearranging the deck chairs on the privacy Titanic, because the problem was that all this data was collected in one place, not that there was an API that allowed third party apps to publish on a user’s behalf. (To be fair, the publish API possibly enabled algorithmic propaganda / marketing campaigns to operate more efficiently.)

Still, here we are. I think this is a good opportunity to reconsider how the independent social web thinks of itself. I’ve long stopped syndicating posts to Twitter, and instead just post there directly. But I do try and post anything of substance on my blog.

POSSE requires participation from the networks. I think it might be more effective to move all the value away: publish on your own site, and use independent readers like Woodwind or Newsblur to consume content. Forget using social networks as the conduit. Let’s go full indie.

The effect of independence is practical, not just ideological: if you publish on your own site, your words are much more likely to stand the test of time and still be online years later. Social networks come and go, adjust their policies, etc. And there’s a business value to being able to point to a single space online that holds your body of thought and work.

Back when I was working on Known, investors would ask about the supplier risk of being so heavily dependent on third party APIs to provide a lot of the core value. They were right. Time to stop trying to integrate, and to double down on helping people own their own identities online in a way that helps them achieve their goals.