Welcome to The Emu Café Social, a project created and administrated by the editor of The New Leaf Journal, Nicholas A. Ferrell (that is me, of course). Below, I will offer a brief introduction to our new project.

What is The Emu Café Social?

The Emu Café Social is a social-publishing site powered by WordPress. Members will be able to use the site to post about what interests them and discuss their external projects. While the site is conducive to short-to-medium-length posts, it also accommodates longer-form writing. By advertising feeds and user profiles, it will be easy for visitors to follow individual writers or to follow the project as a whole. In general, members of the site can and will post about subjects of interest to them.

Who can join The Emu Café Social?

The Emu Café Social is a members-only site and we are not accepting general sign-ups. We have no plans to do so in the future. However, all Emu Café Social accounts can be followed from Mastodon or many other ActivityPub clients with the format @username@social.emucafe.org. You can also send ups Webmentions by posting on a site set up to send Webmentions or posting the link the article where you linked to us in the Webmention field below the relevant post. Finally, if you run a WordPress site with the Friends plugin, you can submit a friend request. If accepted, you will be able to comment on posts at Emu Café Social (and vice versa for our authors). We are also planning to add a Guestbook to the site in the near future, and individual posts or pages may be open to public comments.

Purpose

Working on The New Leaf Journal inspired me to take an interest in online publishing and owning one’s own writing and place on the internet. Moreover, because The New Leaf Journal is powered by WordPress (the software, not the service), I also learned a good amount about working with WordPress. I have a generally negative view of proprietary social media, both because of its centralization and because it encourages bad writing. I came to believe that the future of social publishing, and, perhaps, social networking, should be found in sites run by individual human beings.

I articulated the principles underlying this project in several New Leaf Journal articles. I list the most pertinent examples below:

Of course, these principles will not hold anyone’s attention without good writing, photographs, and other notes and art. But I think that The Emu Café Social will have the content to match its ideals over the long haul. I described the idea behind The Emu Café in my May 16, 2020 introduction to The New Leaf journal section of the same name:

Welcome, one and all, to the opening of The Emu Café. In this special establishment of The New Leaf Journal, we serve only the finest descriptions of coffee, tea, and snacks to accompany. After you brew and procure your own, enjoy the lively discourse about aesthetics and the life lived well. The ambiance is always peaceful. Light flits through the windows such that, while indoors, the particular sensibilities of the days and seasons permeate the establishment. The traits of the seasons are most crisp in the refreshing mornings. Hours pass by slowly, like a reverie, in the bold colors of the afternoon. Lovers of elegance and wisdom are all in accord that the Moon, embroidered in the starlight curtains, as seen through The Emu Café’s window, is indeed beautiful.

I hope that this iteration of The Emu Café lives up to The New Leaf Journal’s original billing.

Through this project, I hope to inspire other people to take ownership of their own writing and art and build their own connections and communities instead of relying on the proprietary big tech giants (our project is powered by open source). To quote former U.S. President Calvin Coolidge on public works:

They contribute to the general welfare of all the people, but they are too detached, too remote; they do not make the necessary contribution of a feeling of proprietorship and ownership. They do not complete the circuit. They are for the people, but not of the people. They do not satisfy that longing which exists in every human breast to be able to say: ‘This is mine.’

While there is a place for public services (or perhaps public-private services in big tech’s case), there should be an even bigger place for digital home ownership. The Emu Café is one such place. Perhaps some of you will start or share your own.

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