#IndieWebCamp 2014 Year in Review — This Is A Movement

on (ttk.me b/4cG1) using BBEdit

2014 was a breakthrough year for IndieWebCamp and the IndieWeb movement. Beyond our technical achievements in creating, building, deploying, and using simple formats & protocols on our personal sites, we organized record numbers of IndieWebCamps and Homebrew Website Club meetups. We gave talks to audiences of thousands, and the press started covering us in earnest. We saw the launch of Known and its hosted service Withknown, a user-friendly mobile-web ready solution for anyone to get on the indieweb.

With our increasing visibility and popularity, we encountered perhaps the inevitable re-use of our community terms or similar terms to mean other things, and subsequent online confusion. As expected we also saw the shutdowns of many more silos. We lost a very special member of the community. We kept moving forward and finished the year with the first of its kind virtual online IndieWebCamp, and verbal commitments to each other to launch personal site features for the new year.

Table of Contents

A lot happened in 2014. Enough for a table of contents.

  1. The IndieWeb Movement
  2. Record Numbers
    1. IndieWebCamps
    2. Homebrew Website Clubs
    3. Press
    4. Talks
  3. Losses and Challenges
    1. Losing One Of Our Own
    2. The Web We Lost 2014
    3. “Indie” Term Re-use
  4. Technologies
  5. Services
  6. Community Resources
  7. Summary And Looking Forward
  8. New Year Commitments

Let’s get started.

The IndieWeb Movement

Anyone can call something a movement, but that doesn’t make it so.
A tweet is not a movement.
A blog post is not a movement.
A single-page-site is not a movement.
A manifesto is not a movement.

This is a movement. People are a movement.

2014 IndieWeb movement grid of faces

This is everyone who participated in one or more IndieWebCamps during 2014. Real people (with the exception of one cat), passionately using their own personal websites to express themselves on the web, creating, sharing, and collaborating with each other to grow the independent web.

Click / tap the image to go to a fully interactive version on the IndieWebCamp wiki, with every person (but 3!) linked to their personal site.

Record Numbers

The 100+ participants above participated in six IndieWebCamps in San Francisco, New York City, Portland Oregon, Berlin, Brighton, Cambridge MA, and Online. Twice as many as the previous year:

IndieWebCamps by year

Handcrafted ASCII graph (took Tufte class twice, not his fault):

             LA   SF
        UK   UK   UK
 ———— ———— ———— ———————————————
 2011 2012 2013 2014

You can see summaries and links to all of them here: IndieWebCamps

Beyond double the number, 2014 saw innovation in the very format of IndieWebCamps with a simultaneous three location annual main event, as well as the first IndieWebCamp Online. Thanks to David Shanske for organizing and leading the charge with IndieWebCamp Online using IRC and Google Hangouts.

Homebrew Website Clubs

In addition, 2014 was the first full year of Homebrew Website Club meetups. 27 days in total across several cities: San Francisco, Portland, Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, London, Paris.


2014 had breakthrough press coverage of IndieWebCamp and the IndieWeb as a whole. Most notably:

See more articles about the IndieWeb in 2014.


2014 had a record number of IndieWeb related talks being given at conferences by community members. Here are a few of them ranging from introductory to technical:

If you enjoyed those, check out the videos about the IndieWeb page for many more.

Losses and Challenges

The IndieWeb community went through some minor growing pains in 2014, and tragically lost a key community member. There was also the continued series of site shutdowns, some of which members were able export from, but all of which broke the web.

Losing One Of Our Own

Mid last year we lost IndieWeb community member Chloe Weil, and we miss her very much.

Chloe Weil's Indie Web Camp pin

Chloe participated in the very first IndieWebCamp 2011, as a shy apprentice, but learned quickly & eagerly, and put her many creative skills to work building & growing her own personal web presence. Here she is at that event, third from the left edge:

Photo of IndieWebCamp 2011 participants

She built her own personal-site-based replacement for tweeting. She participated in both the first IndieWebCamp NYC as well as the subsequent main IndieWebCamp 2014 East at the NYC Location. Here she is again, front row and confident:

IndieWebCamp 2014 East club photo

She captioned this photo:

“Your high school’s yearbook club just graduated and knows HTML”

Here are a few posts about Chloe from the community:

If you’ve written your own blog post in memory of Chloe, please let me know so I may link to it in the above list.

The Web We Lost 2014

We saw many silos go offline, taking millions of permalinks with them. Here are a few of the notable clusters of sites the web lost:


The most common shutdowns were acquisitions or acquihires:

Short Notice Shutdowns

The second most frequent shutdowns came suddenly, or nearly suddenly, unexpectedly, and sometimes with a complete loss of content (without any opportunity to export it).

The Cloud Is A Lie

So-called "cloud" services have been heralded as the new most reliable, scalable, available thing for storage etc., and yet last year:

Breaking The Web

All these shutdowns break the web in some way or other. However there are particularly egregious examples of breaking the web, such as when third-party link-shorteners and identity providers are shutdown. In 2014 we lost another one of each:

Losing A Classic

Lastly we lost a classic site in 2014:

See: IndieWebCamp: site-deaths 2014 for more.

“Indie” Term Re-use

Last and least of our challenges, but worth noting for the consternation it’s caused (at least on Twitter, and perhaps that’s telling), the overloading of the term and prefix “indie” has led to some confusion.

When I first used the phrase “indie web to refer specifically to independents using their personal websites for their online identity and content (instead of large corporate silos like Facebook & Twitter, or even group sites running open source like Diaspora), I knew both that the prefix “indie” was already both in heavy use across industries and with different meanings.

When Aaron Parecki and I deliberately chose to use the term “IndieWeb” or phrase “Indie Web” to refer to a difference in focus from “Federated Social Web”, and then co-found IndieWebCamp with Amber Case & Crystal Beasley, we viewed our usage of “Indie” as deliberately continuing in the same spirit and theme as earlier "Independent Web" efforts (such as the early 2000s "Independents Day" campaign), and complementary to “Indie” efforts in other fields.

2014 saw the launch or promotion of other things labeled “indie” on the web (and at least somewhat related to it), which had little or nothing to do with the “IndieWeb” and was a source of repeated confusion (and continues to be).

Ind.ie Confusion

The privately held startup “ind.ie”, bootstrapped & crowdfunded, and yet developing various "independent technology" or "indietech" efforts which could easily be assumed to overlap with "indieweb" did not relate in substance to the IndieWeb at all.

There were numerous instances of people confusing "ind.ie" and the "IndieWeb" in their posts, and criticism of one would inevitably lead to errant conflation with and criticism of the other. It got so bad that "ind.ie" themselves posted a blog post:

Are you the same as IndieWeb?

No. IndieWeb is a separate movement and yet we have some overlap of goals.

The IndieWeb community similarly documented as much on the wiki: ind.ie is not IndieWeb nor IndieWebCamp. Others have also noted that naming something even more similarly e.g. "indienet" will only create more misunderstandings (nevermind that IndieWeb itself is peer-to-peer/distributed).

Despite this effort at proactive documentation, confusion has continued, though now it's typically quickly followed up by a clarification that the two are not the same, and link to one or both of the above.

indie.vc not IndieWeb-specific

A new VC firm launched in 2014 called "indie.vc". Due to their name and web presence, they too were inevitably confused with “IndieWeb” or people assumed that they were some sort of IndieWeb investment fund. Neither of which is true.

In the future it is possible that indie.vc will fund an IndieWeb startup, but until that day comes, they are disjoint.

IndieWeb Technologies

Despite such challenges, the IndieWeb community proposed, discussed, specified, built, and interoperably deployed the following indieweb technologies in 2014. These IndieWeb innovations in the past year were nothing short of web technology breakthroughs.

And the best part: all of the following are 100% free as in freedom, creative commons zero (CC0) licensed, openly documented, and real: interoperably shipping, often with multiple open source implementations.

This is technology by independents declaring independence. You could even call them “indietech” if you thought they needed another buzzword, which they don’t.

In alphabetical order:

In addition to all those groundbreaking technologies, IndieWeb community members continued to evolve what types of content they posted on their own sites, documenting the paths as they paved them with permalinks on their own websites — all of the following have documented real world public web publishing examples (at least one, typically many more) on their very pages in contrast to the more aspirational approaches taken by other current attempts in this space (e.g. ActivityStreams, and the since defunct OpenSocial)

IndieWeb Services

Beyond technologies, several indieweb services were built, deployed, and significantly improved by the community.

IndieWeb Community Resources

There's lots to technology development beyond the technology itself. Over 1000 new pages were created in 2014 that documented everything from concepts, to brainstorms, designs, and everything else indieweb related that the community came up with.

The IndieWebCamp wiki is now the pre-eminent reference for all things Independent Web.

If you have a question about something "independent" and "web", you're very likely to find the answer at https://indiewebcamp.com/

Here are some of the top such resources created in 2014:

Summary And Looking Forward

2014 was a year of incredible gains, and yet, a very sad loss for the community. In many ways I think a lot of us are still coping, reflecting. But we continue, day to day to grow and improve the indieweb, as I think Chloe would have wanted us to, as she herself did.

By the end of 2014 we had community members organize IndieWebCamps in 2014 in more cities than ever before, and similarly, start more local chapters of the Homebrew Website Club as well.

I'm grateful for each and every person I've met and worked with in the community. Everybody brings their own perspective, their own wants and desires for their own website. As a community, we can best help people by channeling their desires of what should be done, into what they should do on their own website for themselves, building upon the work of the community, and then, how can we connect amongst our sites, and in-person, to motivate each other to do even more.

That's exactly what we did at the end of the year.

New Year Commitments

At the last Homebrew Website Club meetup of the year on 2014-12-17, we decided to make verbal commitments to each other of what we wanted to create, launch, and start using on our own site by the start of the next year.

As you might guess, we did pretty well with those commitments, but that's a subject for another post.

If you’ve gotten this far, congratulations, this was a long post, and long overdue. You’re clearly interested, so you should come by for more:

Independence on the web is within your grasp, and there’s a whole community just waiting to help you take the next steps. The first step is up to you.

Thanks to reviews and feedback from fellow IndieWeb Community members Kevin Marks, Kartik Prabhu, Ryan Barrett, and Shane Hudson.


I wrote most of this post incrementally on the IndieWebCamp wiki with a bunch of contributions from the IndieWeb community (citations, images etc.). Thus the text content of this blog post is CC0 licensed for you to re-use as you wish and preferably quote, cite, and link. Please credit the “IndieWeb Community”. Thank you for your consideration. — Tantek