My article for Wired on the Indie Web movement and the IndieWebCamp event:
One guy is wearing his Google Glass. Another showed up in an HTML5 t-shirt. And then there’s the dude who looks like the Mad Hatter, decked out in a top hat with an enormous white flower tucked into the brim.
At first, they look like any other gaggle of tech geeks. But then you notice that one of them is Ward Cunningham, the man who invented the wiki, the tech that underpins Wikipedia. And there’s Kevin Marks, the former vice president of web services at British Telecom. Oh, and don’t miss Brad Fitzpatrick, creator of the seminal blogging site LiveJournal and, more recently, a coder who works in the engine room of Google’s online empire.
Packed into a small conference room, this rag-tag band of software developers has an outsized digital pedigree, and they have a mission to match. They hope to jailbreak the internet.
They call it the Indie Web movement, an effort to create a web that’s not so dependent on tech giants like Facebook, Twitter, and, yes, Google — a web that belongs not to one individual or one company, but to everyone. “I don’t trust myself,” says Fitzpatrick. “And I don’t trust companies.” The movement grew out of an egalitarian online project launched by Fitzpatrick, before he made the move to Google. And over the past few years, it has roped in about 100 other coders from around the world.
On any given day, you’ll find about 30 or 40 of them on an IRC chat channel, and each summer, they come together in the flesh for this two-day mini-conference, known as IndieWebCamp. They hack. They demonstrate. They discuss. They strive to create a new set of tools that can give you greater control over the stuff you post to the net — the photos, the status updates, the blog posts, the comments. “The Indie Web is a community of folks interested in owning their own content — and identity — online,” says Tantek Celik, another developer at the heart of the movement.