Introducing Whiskers

by Todd

Whiskers Logo

Today we’re opening up a long-simmering project that started pre-Denim & Steel: a bespoke, open-source project sponsored by Larry Halff.

That project, Whiskers, is the first step for an idea to make the experience of posting to multiple social networks smoother, and to truly own one’s own social media content.

The Origin Story

A few years ago Larry and I had a conversation about the trend of content cross-posted to Facebook and Twitter. You’ve seen them: tweets with a little #fb on the end, Facebook posts with hashtags. They always seemed a fit for one or the other network, but felt mechanical in the cross-post where the language and syntax often didn’t translate.

The conversation moved into a small design project where we worked out the interactive potential for a multi-network posting tool. Instead of posting dumbly to multiple channels, we would let a person to start with one ‘seed’ post and to modify it for each destination as appropriate.

Whiskers Overview

As time went by we saw more people being weirded out by Facebook’s shifting sands approach to privacy, as well as stories of lost access to accounts, and by extension lost data. Having navigated a serious data loss in Ma.gnolia (later renamed Gnolia), Larry was thinking about social tech that built in backup at the personal level as a step towards greater data independence. Whiskers was becoming as much about personal ownership of one’s data as much as it was about making fully coherent cross-posting a reality.

Shortly before Tylor and I started Denim & Steel, Larry asked if we would take on development as well. We brought in Adrian Unger to help move the project along, which with Tylor’s support got us to an alpha offers an installation process, account management and posting to Facebook and Twitter thought the split-posting interface. Everything posted goes into a local database for a safe, user-controlled backup.

It’s been a slow-burn project, but we’re no-less pleased to see the project go open-source today. At its core, Whiskers is a very different way of thinking about the self-hosted personal stack, where social media starts at home and pushes outward, rather than always living at arm’s length. Congratulations, Larry, for bringing this idea to life and for sharing it with the world.

To learn more check out the case study or jump straight to the Whiskers repo on Github.