The shoebox - a manifesto for

Over the last couple of years I have been thinking about how we view each other through the web, the content we post and the interactions we have. Like many people, I am not happy with the path Facebook and Twitter are taking us on.

Rather than just get upset at the every increasing monoculture that is slowly distorting the early promise of the web. I want to help build a new type of relationship that we can all have with the web and these sites. These are the ideas that have directed me.

Shoeboxes and mementoes

When I was a child, my brothers and I all had a shoebox each. In these we kept our mementoes. A seashell from a summer holiday where I played for hours in the rock pools, the marble from the schoolyard victory against a bully and a lot of other objects that told a story.

We all collect mementoes of some sort, they are the stories that we use to define ourselves. These stories are not static things built in stone, but a living part of us. We often reshape them through time as our view of life changes or our memories colour them. They are also used in different combinations to weave the way we present ourselves to the different groups of people in our lives.

The webs idea of memory is not humanistic

Today large amounts of humanities online content is published on social networks. These sites seem to consider every bit of content/interaction to have the same level of importance. In a recent talk Maciej Ceglowski said:

The Internet somehow contrives to remember and too much and too little at the same time, and it maps poorly on our concepts of how memory should work
Maciej Ceglowski, beyond tellerrand 2014

The incumbent social networks seem unable to forget a single piece of content we give them, as it is required to power their business model of profiling us for advertising. At the same time we don’t have enough control within these spaces to curate our stories. To be able to group together those things that are important to us and subdue those that are not. I would like to build publishing environments that map to the way we keep mementoes and tell stories.

My presence on the web needs a new foundation

For me to rebuild a presence on the web I need to take back control of how I create, collect, distribute, store and publish my content. Only then can I curate a more personalized representation of myself.


I have been working with a small group to build, it:

  1. Collects digital content for publishing, it’s not just a file store.
  2. Has a content creation and collection interface that is designed for mobile first and for social content such as status updates and check-ins.
  3. Simple distribution tools that link pre-existing services, allowing you to control your own content while still being part of the conversation on social networks.
  4. Imports pre-existing archives from Twitter, etc.
  5. Provides a simple API allowing the reuse of content i.e. in blogs.
  6. Provides auto backup in HTML for longevity.

Transmat is just a foundation on which I am going rebuild my blog. It’s not a story telling tool in itself, it’s more like my online memory from which I can pull and weave content from.

I also hope Transmat and all its tools will help others collect and reuse their digital content so they can weave their own stories. If you’re interested why not sign up for an invite.

  • transmat
  • indieweb
  • indiewebcamp