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EH

A Citizen of the IndieWeb

Aaron Davis asked the question

This made me wonder, when are you an actual ‘citizen’, that is when do you belong to, in or are a part of the Indieweb? Is it when you develop your user page? Is it when you check IRC/Slack Community regularly just because? Or is it when you have a site that has the badge on it? Or is is simple, are you a citizen if you want to be?

I think you can be things to different degrees. You can visit a country, you can work in a country on a visa, and you can get a green card in a country. (At least as far as I understand). But, only the most committed become citizens of a country.

So when I read a question like "What does it mean to be a citizen?" as opposed to a question like "What does it mean to be a member of?" I take that as a much different question. So because of that, I actually want to start with a simpler question:

What does it mean to be a member of the IndieWeb?

The IndieWeb is a very inclusive community. I have been part of it for about a year, and yet in some ways it feels like I've been a part of it much longer. It is a great aspect to the community. In fact, Ryan Barrett epitomized it on his Indie Map site:

Any personal web site is IndieWeb in spirit! Especially if the owner uses it as some or all of their primary personal online identity.

However, he also exposed a "technical definition" for people who are asking because they want to engage in an IndieWeb website in some way. For that, he provided a wonderful definition of it from a technical side:

I also propose the modest criteria that a site is IndieWeb in a technical plumbing sense if it has either microformats2, a webmention endpoint, or a micropub endpoint.

Together, I think these two statements explain the open spirit and yet technical nature of the IndieWeb movement, and they really explain what it means to be a member of the IndieWeb.

So, what is a citizen?

When talking about words, I think it's important to think about context and what they mean. So I looked up the dictionary definition of citizen:

a native or naturalized member of a state or nation who owes allegiance to its government and is entitled to its protection(distinguished from alien).

I think it's important to consider someone using a word like citizen differently than a "member". Not because the IndieWeb is exclusive or anything of that type. But because a member can quite something at anytime, but a citizen "owes allegiance", which sounds crazy considering we're talking about the internet. So to lighten it up a bit, I'd like to change the idea of "owes allegiance" to "very committed".

To me, understanding the difference between a member and a citizen is understanding the level of the person's commitment. The IndieWeb does not define nor track "citizenship", but if someone uses the language that they are a citizen of the IndieWeb, I would think that this speaks to their level of commitment to the ideas of the IndieWeb.

If that is the case, someone who expresses a large commitment to the IndieWeb, I would expect that they post the majority of their text and photo based content on their website. That doesn't mean they can't also share that information on silo-based social media, or that they can't occasionally put information that they see as ephemeral directly on Twitter or Facebook. They are welcome to do whatever they like, but if someone has a true commitment to IndieWeb principles which the citizenship language leads me to believe, I would assume the majority of their thoughts and photos are posted to their website either through POSSE or PESOS

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