TL;DR: Self-hosting is not only about controlling your data, it also
influences how you consume Internet for the best.
- I POSSE; Publish Own Site, Syndicate
- I own my data, I self-host my blog, notes, my repositories, my
- I use espial for self-hosted bookmarks and
- I use node-red to publish my blogs, bookmarks and
notes to twitter, sync bookmarks with pinboard
- Enhance not only publishing experience but consumption of Internet
- read Digital Minimalism
- Control notifications
- Control real-time interactions
The way we use Internet as changed drastically in a few years. A
popular meme about it states:
- toilet ⇒ 5min
- toilet + smarphone ⇒ 55min
The book Digital Minimalism is really insightful on
the subject. In particular the apparition of attention grabbing features
that target our "social brain".
One solution to protect ourselves from the problem generated by these
platforms would be to get rid of them. But those platforms are
My current personal solution is to keep the
useful features of these platforms while minimizing my exposition to
most anti-features. Everything starts by how I produce content.
It then affects how I consume Internet.
I self-host many services. I control my data, and then I broadcast
those info to different platforms. This is called POSSE.
Articles: self-hosted blog
First thing the classical blog.
It is more and more common now, to simply use micro-blogging, or
commenting. I think blog article format is important. It is a longer
form than a comment or a tweet. But in the same time, it is not
necessary to work on it as hard as for a journal article.
I wrote an article that explain the
technical details behind my blog. It also describes how I try to make it
To self-host anything, you should buy a domain name, and configure
you DNS correctly. That is certainly the biggest blocker for non
Code: Git Broadcast
I self-host the code of my open-source projects. As Github is the
de-facto developer social network, it is easier to find contributor on
Github than on your self-hosted repository.
Thus I sync my repositories between my self-hosted instance and
GitHub. If something goes wrong with Github, I could easily switch to my
self hosted repositories only.
This is how I configured my git repos to push to multiple URLs:
git remote set-url origin --push --add <remote-url>
git remote set-url origin --push --add <another-remote-url>
I also wanted a tool to keep track of web pages I like and might want
to keep track of. For that, I self-host espial; an
open-source, web-based bookmarking server.
It is a very easy to install, this is a single binary. Your bookmark
are kept in a single sqlite file.
This is perfect if you want to keep a lot of bookmarks some private
some public. But as well as I use espial I plan (I haven't done it yet)
to synchronize my bookmark from espial
Another feature provided by espial
is the ability to save notes.
You can generate public or private notes. I intend to use those notes
for my "micro-blogging" needs. Useful, for just making some short remark
without investing in a full blog post.
It is important for me to provide RSS feeds. People should know when
I update my content.
So my blog, bookmarks and note generate RSS feeds.
Syndicate Elsewhere: node-red
With those RSS, it is then quite natural to syndicate elsewhere. For
that I use node-red.
This is a web-based tool that make it easy to write flows.
Think about it like a super IFTTT.
To give you an example, each time I save a new public bookmark, a new
blog post, a new note, I tweet it.
Since I generate my content using my own, self-made environment, it
also influenced me for the best the way I consume and interact on
Before I used to read a lot of news directly from my
smartphone. Most of the time using many apps dedicated to some social
The natural presentation is an infinite scroll of content, with
buttons to engage in the social network with likes/upvotes/comments etc…
Most of the time, notifications where enabled by fear of missing a
comment or any kind of interaction.
Before explaining how I consume Internet news, I like to make a short
By writing this article I realized that, I mostly consume Internet
content via news. More than that, now, Internet is
almost synonymous to news on the Web. Which is only a very small part of
Consuming news via a social networks makes you a lot more passive. I
can remember being a lot more active on the Internet just a few years
This is something to keep in mind I think. I will certainly write an
article about that in the future.
Here is how I consume Internet content now.
My entry point to news consumption are:
I plan on generating RSS from those different sources with "smart
filters". Typically number of upvote filters for lobste.rs, laarc.io,
sub-reddits, but also number of bookmarks in popular pinboard, etc…
My preferred Internet consumption environment is elfeed inside Spacemacs. I really enjoy
staying inside emacs as much as I can. This is a clean, dense,
I also use elfeed-org to organize my feeds
and I also take care to remove feeds with too much volume. Generally we
shouldn't read more than a few articles a day.
Most of my notifications go through my email. Social network
notifications are moved inside a dedicated folder and are not directly
present in my inbox. I check my social notifications once in a while. So
if you are waiting for an answer, sorry for the late reply, it might
take a while.
I still get notifications on Github because I use it a lot for my
work. But only via email and the web interface. So even for Github, I
can take a few days to react.
I described how I control my usage of social networks. I own my data.
I am a lot less exposed to attention grabbing techniques.
For now I'm quite happy with the system I made, and I'll certainly
improve it in the future by synchronizing more and more services between
a self-hosted one and a social-network one.
I really advice anyone with sufficient tehcnical skills to do the
same. This is really worth your time.
For other people, I know some platform intented to be self-hosted and
here to provide a bunch of services for you. But having a self made
environment also enhance greatly the experience. And really,
self-hosting is still reserved to few people.
I think we could be inspired by espial
to create a simple small platform to provide those feature to most
- ability to blog/micro-blog and syndicate
- ability to publish securely private info to a small group of friends
- generate RSS feeds for different groups of people
I think I can say a few words about federated networks like Mastodon.
Somehow, Mastodon replicates the anti-features promoted by Twitter or
Furthermore I don't really like some details about the federation
As an example, I wrote a commenting system that I could easily
self-host. I first intended to use it for my blog. But after a second
though, I'm not sure comments are that positive. I prefer to edit my
articles with comments that people would send to me via other
communication channel, typically, my mail.
A last note about anti-features. I call anti-feature a
feature that provides very few or no benefit for the user but provides a
lot more benefits to the platform. Generally it is a feature just here
to make you stay on the platform and many quite talented specialists
work on optimizing those.
Most anti-features share the same pattern; they use spaced random
Spaced Random Reward
Typically the few first random gifts in a new downloaded game. The
main way used to hack your brain, is by giving it something he
likes at a random time. Then you start to give reward with lower and
lower probability. Your brain will then be in a search mode
where he will hope to get another reward by staying a bit
longer in the system.
- notifications ; they are here to grab your
attention when you are away doing something else.
- likes / upvotes / retweets / pokes… ; those are
also Internet reward but are even stronger because they also
target your "social brain". They reinforce a feeling of social approval.
More than that, we generally fall for most psychological tricks with
those and make our production oriented to short content, memes,
- infinite scrolling ; make you brain want to look a
bit more, because it creates a fear to miss something.
- comments ; Unlike likes or retweets, comments are a
lot more useful, they can start a discussion. They still have two
- Public comment are subject to spam, troll, attacks, etc…
- Generally comments are associated to real-time notifications, and
thus break a slower, calmer, more respectful communication channel. We
are not all meant to react instantaneously.