Microblogging by Paul Robert Lloyd

Microblogging by Paul Robert Lloyd (paulrobertlloyd.com)
I stopped using Facebook because I didn’t trust the people behind Facebook. I had grown weary of the sly and underhand tactics used to grow their network and was unwilling to remain part of it. But if I’m honest, I couldn’t trust myself either. Visiting Facebook would elicit behaviour you could only describe as stalking; trawling through the feeds of my friends, seeking out people I vaguely knew. I had better things to do with my time. Almost a decade later, I’m having similar thoughts about Twitter.

He’s got some interesting, but subtle references to pieces of the “old” web including Small Pieces, Loosely Joined.
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Books on Micro.blog by Manton Reece

Books on Micro.blog by Manton Reece (manton.org)
Today we’re introducing a search collection using emoji, starting with books. Just include the books emoji with your microblog text about a book you’re reading or related topic, and your post will automatically be collected on /discover/books.

@Manton has added an interesting new feature to micro.blog. He’s created a special book discovery page which users can use to see what others are reading or recommending.

Simply by including the books emoji 📚 in one’s post, the page will collect all those posts and display them at http://micro.blog/discover/books. In a sense, he’s using an emoji almost like a hashtag, though the mechanics of how things work are slightly different. I’m curious to see how it evolves.

Based on what I’m able to discern, I have the proud place of ownership for being the fourth book post to micro.blog with “The Library is finally unpacked” from several months ago. It isn’t a book recommendation, but it’ll give you and idea about what I think about books.

The sad part for me though is that he chose the books emoji 📚 . Why sad? Because for quite a while now I’ve been posting updates on my own site about what I read using various book-related emoji to indicate where I’m at with a book. I’ll use the bookmark emoji 🔖 to indicate things that I want to read. I use a green book emoji 📗 to indicate that I’ve started reading something, an open book emoji 📖 to indicate that I’m making progress, and a red book emoji 📕 to indicate that I’ve just finished or stopped reading a particular book. Most of my book status updates also have some notes or thoughts about what I’m reading as well as quotes, highlights, and other marginalia.

Since micro.blog’s discover page only uses one emoji, it’s missing out on all my past updates. For those who’d like to see them on my site, this link should have the entire archive. Not all of them are syndicated to Twitter, but this link will give folks an idea what these posts all look like there.

In a similar vein, I also often post what I’m reading online with glasses 👓 emoji. One of the things that’s always bothered me about Twitter was that people often share articles, but research has shown that very few actually bother to read them before sharing. (I’ve always gotten the impression that many don’t even bother to read the headlines.) Thus, following reading.am’s lead, I post everything I actually read online to my own website, but to indicate that it was read (from start to finish), I add the glasses emoji to the title. If I haven’t read it yet, it’s more likely hidden on my back end or, if it’s something I really want to advertise, promote, or highly expect I’ll come back to later, it will have a bookmark emoji 🔖.

I don’t publish all my reads publicly, a large number are published privately. You can find all of the public read posts here.

Lastly, for movies and television I’m watching, I include either TV emoji 📺 or film emoji 🎞️. I find that these emoji do really well for microblogging spaces which often have space restrictions.

Overall, I’ve quite enjoyed the evolution of micro.blog’s discovery features. While there are a few follow recommendations available, the service has a page with recent photos, so one can scan photos as a means of finding interesting people to follow on the service.

I can’t wait to see how the reading discovery page works out or what other new discovery tools Manton implements in the future. It’s nice to see a service that continues to evolve and change in reaction to its community.

Thanks Manton!

Title-less Status Updates for Micro.blog

Micro.blog just launched in beta recently and one of the biggest things burning up the airwaves there is how to easily post content from one’s own site as notes without including titles. Why? If a post has a title, then micro.blog thinks it’s an article and just posts the title along with a permalink to it rather than the desired content of the status update.

In the long run and for easier mass adoption, I’m hoping Manton can figure out how to parse RSS feeds in a simpler way so that users don’t need to do serious gymnastics to import their microblog posts from other sources. I’d imagine it’s far easier for him to adapt to the masses than for the masses to adapt to micro.blog. At the very worst, he could create a checkbox on the RSS import feeds to indicate which feeds are status updates and which aren’t and this would quickly solve the problem for the average user as most CMSes allow users to define custom feeds based on content type.

While there are a number of people doing things from simply adding date/time stamps (which micro.blog ignores) to functions.php tweaks to to custom plugins, some of which I’ve tried, I thought I’d come up with my own solution which has helped to kill two proverbial birds with one stone. (Note: I’ve listed some of these others on the Indieweb wiki page for micro.blog.)

The other day, I’d had a short conversation about the issue in the Indieweb chat with several people and decided I’d just give up on having titles in notes altogether. Most people contemplating the problem have an issue doing this because it makes it more difficult to sort and find their content within their admin UI dashboard which is primarily keyed off of the_title() within WordPress. I share their pain in this regard, but I’ve also been experiencing another admin UI issue because I’ve got a handful of plugins which have added a dozen or so additional columns to my posts list. As a result the titles in my list are literally about four characters wide and stretch down the page while knucklehead metadata like categories needlessly eat up massively wide columns just for fun. Apparently plugins aren’t very mindful of how much space they decide to take up in the UI, and WordPress core doesn’t enforce reasonable limits on these things.

So my solution to both problems? If found a handly little plugin called Admin Columns with over 80,000 users and which seems to be frequently updated that allows one to have greater simple control over all of the columnar UI interfaces within their sites.

In just a few minutes, I was able to quickly get rid of several columns of data I’ve never cared about, expand the title column to a reasonable percentage of the space so it’s readable, and tweak all the other columns to better values. Even better, I was able to add the slug name of posts into the UI just after the title columns, so I can leave status update titles empty, but still have a field by which I can see at least some idea of what a particular post was about.

My first title-less status update with a descriptive slug
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I’m curious if I can post to my hosted blog and my own site simultaneously with micro.blog?

I’m curious if I can post to my hosted blog and my own site simultaneously with micro.blog?

(Update: It turns out you can’t, you can do either one or the other, but not both.)

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My reply to Micro.blog Project Surges Past $65K on Kickstarter, Gains Backing from DreamHost | WordPress Tavern

Micro.blog Project Surges Past $65K on Kickstarter, Gains Backing from DreamHost (WordPress Tavern)
With one week remaining on its Kickstarter campaign, the Micro.blog indie microblogging project has surged past its original $10K funding goal with $66,710 pledged by 2,381 backers. This puts proje…

I love that Micro.blog is doing so well on Kickstarter! I’m even more impressed that DreamHost is backing this and doubling down in this area.

I coincidentally happened to have a great conversation yesterday with Jonathan LaCour before I saw the article and we spoke about what DreamHost is doing in the realm of IndieWeb and WordPress. I love their approach and can’t wait to see what comes out of their work and infectious enthusiasm.

I’m really surprised that WordPress hasn’t more aggressively taken up technologies like Webmention, which is now a W3C recommendation, or micropub and put them directly into core. For the un-initiated, Webmention works much like @mention on Twitter, Medium, Facebook, and others, but is platform independent, which means you can use it to ping any website on the internet that supports it. Imagine if you could reply to someone on Twitter from your WordPress site? Or if you could use Facebook to reply to a post on Medium? (And I mean directly and immediately in the type @mention/hit publish sense, not doing any laborious cut and paste from one platform to another nonsense that one is forced to do now because all the social silos/walled gardens don’t inter-operate nicely, if at all.) Webmention can make all that a reality.  Micropub is a platform independent spec that allows one to write standalone web or mobile apps to create publishing interfaces to publish almost any type of content to any platform–think about the hundreds of apps that could publish to Twitter in its early days, now imagine expanding that to being able to use those to publish to any platform anywhere?

While Twitter has been floundering for a while, WordPress has the structure, ecosystem, and a huge community to completely eat Twitter’s (and even Facebook/ Instagram’s, Medium’s, & etc.) lunch not only in the microblog space, but the larger space which includes blogging, photos, music, video, audio, and social media in general. The one piece they’re missing is a best-in-class integrated feed reader, which, to be honest, is the centerpiece of both Twitter and Facebook’s services. They seem to be 98% readers and 2% dead-simple posting interface while WordPress is 98% posting interface (both more sophisticated/flexible and more complicated), and nearly non-existent (and unbundled) reader.

WordPress has already got one of the best and most ubiquitous publishing platforms out there (25+% of the web at last count). Slimming down their interface a tad to make it dead simple for my mom to post, or delegating this to UX/UI developers with micropub the way that Twitter allowed in the early days with their open API and the proliferation of apps and interfaces to post to twitter, in addition to Webmentions could create a sea-change in the social space. Quill is a good, yet simple example of an alternate posting interface which I use for posting to WordPress. Another is actually Instagram itself, which I use in conjunction with OwnYourGram which has micropub baked in for posting photos to my site with Instagram’s best-in-class mobile interface. Imagine just a handful of simple mobile apps that could be customized for dead-simple, straightforward publishing to one’s WordPress site for specific post types or content types…

With extant WordPress plugins, a lot of this is already here, it’s just not evenly distributed yet, to borrow the sentiment from William Gibson.

For just a few dollars a year, everyday people could more easily truly own all their content and have greater control over their data and their privacy.

I will note that it has been interesting and exciting seeing the Drupal community stepping on the gas on the Webmention spec (in two different plugins) since the W3C gave it recommendation status earlier this month. This portends great things for the independent web.

I haven’t been this excited about what the web can bring to the world in a long, long time.

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Reply to Dave Rupert’s Poll with another alternative

a tweet by Dave RupertDave Rupert (Twitter)
Anyone else starting to look for a way out of Twitter?

#4 IndieWeb: Publish on your own site, syndicate elsewhere. (The missing option.)

I’ve been microblogging from my own site and syndicating content to Twitter and other social silos for a while.

I usually consume Twitter via an RSS hack and respond either via Woodwind.xyz which micropubs directly to my site or from a built in RSS reader on my own site. I use Brid.gy and webmention to collect replies back to my site to continue the conversation.

For me, my personal website is my end-all-be-all hub for reading/publishing and Twitter, Facebook, et al. are just distribution channels.

From what I understand about Manton’s proposed implementation, he’ll be using or making a lot of these technologies available, he’ll just be making it a bit easier for my parents and the “masses” to do it.

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Reply to Manton Reece: This morning I launched the Kickstarter project for Micro.blog. Really happy with the response. Thank you, everyone!

Manton Reece (manton.org)
This morning I launched the Kickstarter project for Micro.blog. Really happy with the response. Thank you, everyone!

Manton, I’ve been following your blog and your indieweb efforts for creating a microblogging platform for a while. I’m excited to see your Kickstarter effort doing so well this afternoon!

As a fellow IndieWeb proponent, and since I know how much work such an undertaking can be, I’m happy to help you with the e-book and physical book portions of your project on a voluntary basis if you’d like. I’ve got a small publishing company set up to handle the machinery of such an effort as well as being able to provide services that go above and beyond the usual low-level services most self-publishing services might provide. Let me know if/how I can help.

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