Twitter threads

Twitter announced today they will make it easier to chain tweets together in the official app. John Gruber summarizes the pro-tweetstorm argument on Daring Fireball:

This is a good idea. People are creating threads without official support, so true support can only make it better.

The problem is that Twitter threads take the place of blog posts. Most people won’t think to switch to their blog instead of firing off a series of tweets, but some will. Promoting Twitter threads to such a prominent place in the UI will encourage more people to create Twitter threads. It will lead to more content in Twitter and less on the open web.

Micro.blog takes a different approach. When you type over 280 characters, instead of offering to split it into multiple posts in a thread, it reveals a title field and lets you turn it into a full blog post. I feel really good about this solution because the UI actively tries to make the web a little better instead of worse.

IndieWebCamp Austin wrap-up

Over the weekend we hosted the first IndieWebCamp in Austin. I’m really happy with the way the event came together. I learned a lot in helping plan it, made a few mistakes that we can improve next time, but overall came away as inspired as ever to keep improving Micro.blog so that it’s a standout platform of the IndieWeb movement.

There’s nothing like meeting in person with other members of the community. I know this from attending Apple developer conferences, but the weekend in Austin only underscored that I should be more active in the larger web community as well.

IndieWebCamp group photo

The first day of IndieWebCamp started with introductions, a chance for attendees to demo their web sites, an overview of IndieWeb building blocks by Aaron Parecki, and then brainstorming what topics the afternoon sessions should cover. After lunch, we held sessions on WordPress, static sites, Micropub posts, Webmentions, payment APIs, audio, decentralized aggregation, and post kinds.

The second day was a hack day, with a chance to work on our own web sites. This was a very valuable day for me — being able to bounce ideas or questions off other attendees. I chose to make an improvement to Micro.blog’s Micropub API endpoint to accept “bookmark-of” POSTs, mapping them to favorites. This evolved into opening up Micro.blog to allow favoriting any URL, even if the post doesn’t exist in any feed that Micro.blog knows about yet.

At the end of the day I was happy enough with the feature that I deployed my code and database changes. I demoed it using Indigenous for iPhone and Micro.blog for Mac, favoriting an indiewebcat.com post on the web and watching it show up in the app under the post’s domain name. Micro.blog got better support for Microformats with this change, pulling the author info, post text, and photo when you favorite a post via Micropub.

Mac screenshot

For the last few years I’ve attended WWDC and Release Notes each year, and I’d usually give a talk at CocoaConf. This year I added WordCamp and IndieWebCamp, and gave a talk about indie microblogging at Refresh Austin. I hope that it works out to attend another IndieWebCamp or IndieWebSummit in 2018.

Special thanks again to Tom Brown for helping out with planning IndieWebCamp Austin, EFF-Austin for hosting their holiday party after our event, and our sponsors DreamHost, Polycot Associates, and SuperBorrowNet. We should do this again next year.

Kawhi may be back for tomorrow’s Spurs game in Dallas. He’s been out 27 games, the most he’s missed of any season in his career. Spurs are on track for 55+ wins even without him. 🏀

→ 2017/12/11 3:28 pm

Worked on expanding Micro.blog’s Micropub endpoint with support for bookmark-of today during IndieWebCamp Austin. The weekend really helped clarify how I want to approach replies, favorites/bookmarks, and other reactions.

→ 2017/12/10 9:40 pm

Aaron Parecki talking about the building blocks of the IndieWeb — your own domain name, types of posts, Microformats, Webmention, and more — at IndieWebCamp.

→ 2017/12/09 10:56 am

Friction and silo dead-ends

Instagram is experimenting with a repost feature. From The Next Web:

Instagram appears to be finally working on a native Regram button. It’s a feature many users have been waiting for for some time. Currently, users wanting to reshare content have to either save the image or video to their device and re-share it from their own account, or call upon one of several third party apps like Regram, a popular Android option.

I wrote last year about how I thought the lack of Instagram reposts was deliberate. Early versions of Instagram were built carefully, and it seemed designed to encourage posting your own photos:

When you have to put a little work into posting, you take it more seriously. I wonder if fake news would have spread so quickly on Facebook if it was a little more difficult to share an article before you’ve read more than the headline.

If Instagram ships this, it will likely increase memes and other non-photos in your timeline. Along with ads, it will make the timeline feel even more cluttered.

Meanwhile, Ben Thompson covers Facebook’s curation efforts and how the lack of friction on social networks is both a good and bad thing. If it’s difficult to post, fewer people will do it. But if it’s too easy — with few limits on what is appropriate to share with your followers — you’ll get the dumpster fire that we currently have.

I believe in a middle-ground solution. Make it easier to post to your blog. That’s what indie microblogging is all about, why I’m writing a book on it, and why I built Micro.blog. But don’t make thoughtless re-sharing completely frictionless. That’s what leads to fake news spreading, why hateful tweets are exposed in algorithmic trends, and why safe communities must have some amount of curation.

Facebook is right to hire 10,000 curators. But what they’re missing is the balance between curation and an open platform, with the freedom to post to your own site. That’s why Facebook is a dead-end for the web.

IndieWebCamp Austin is this weekend! We’ll have IndieWeb co-founders @t and @aaronpk in town for the event. Join us for a day of IndieWeb topics, plus a hack day to work on your own web site or new projects.

→ 2017/12/06 3:28 pm

Cold, rainy day in Austin. Must’ve rushed out the door, because only realize after my meeting downtown that I have been wearing my jacket inside out all morning.

→ 2017/12/06 12:03 pm

Timetable on MarsEdit 4 and open APIs

Today I posted another episode of my daily podcast Timetable. It’s a short episode about the MarsEdit 4 release and why even competing apps should be compatible and embrace the open web. Here’s a transcript.

Today, MarsEdit 4 shipped. I posted to my blog with a link to the new version, and I included some comments in the blog post about using MarsEdit with Micro.blog.

Congrats to Daniel. This has been years in the making. It’s great to see it come out, and we’ll be talking more about this on my other podcast Core Intuition later this week.

Even if Daniel wasn’t my friend and co-host of Core Intuition, I’d still be excited about MarsEdit, because more blogging software is a good thing. The Mac version of Micro.blog kind of competes with MarsEdit, since you can use Micro.blog to post to WordPress, just like you can with MarsEdit. But it’s also a nice complement, because you can use MarsEdit to post to blogs that are hosted on Micro.blog. And MarsEdit is full-featured and has more features that you might want to upgrade to, even if you’re using Micro.blog.

And this is how I think software should work, and why the open web and open APIs are important. You should be able to switch between apps without changing everything.

You should be able to use MarsEdit to post to your blog. You should be able to use Micro.blog — the Mac app or the iOS app — to post to that same blog.

Imagine if you could use the official Twitter app to post to Facebook. You open Twitter, you click new tweet, and then you click in the destination (somewhere in the UI), and you select Facebook instead. And instead of going to Twitter, it goes to Facebook.

Sounds crazy. How could that possibly work? Why would Twitter or Facebook ever allow something like that?

But that’s how it should work. We are so used to these silos and these apps that are not compatible with anything, that we just accept it. But that’s how it should work.

You should be able to use multiple apps to post to different services. And that’s what’s happening with apps that are built with some compatibility in mind, especially on IndieWeb standards. That’s what’s happening with MarsEdit and Micro.blog, although on a much smaller scale.

I’ve been thinking about how much work we have to do to reach the audience of potential indie microbloggers. Last night, I attended AustinRB, a local meetup here in Austin for Ruby programmers. There was a great talk on metaprogramming — really enjoyed it. And as I mentioned yesterday, Tom Brown, who is also helping me out with IndieWebCamp planning… He gave a talk on the IndieWeb.

And listening to questions from the audience, it was just so obvious how far we have to go. Everyone is so used to Twitter and Facebook and Instagram, that in a way we have to outline the IndieWeb and services like Micro.blog in a way that mainstream users of other social networks can relate to.

It’s a big jump to go from only thinking about Twitter, to all of a sudden thinking about your own domain name, sending replies between independent web sites perhaps, to thinking about a timeline that is based on feeds from all over the web. It’s a big jump.

And in a way, it’s kind of discouraging when I think about making that case for how the web should work. It’s a massive task to explain the value of the open web and the danger of relying on 100% centralized networks.

But on the other hand, there are a lot of people in the world, a lot of people who want to write on the internet, who care about what they say and how they say it. WordPress powers 29% of the web.

The market is there. It’s just a matter of reaching everyone. And so that’s encouraging.

And it starts in communities like the IndieWeb. And hopefully in the community we’re trying to build on Micro.blog.

It’s not too late to register for IndieWebCamp. It’s this weekend in Austin. Go to IndieWeb.org. I hope you can join us. There’s a lot of work to do to build the web that we need. Thanks for listening today.

MarsEdit 4 and microblogs

Daniel Jalkut shipped MarsEdit 4 today. This version includes many improvements, from brand new icons to support for WordPress “Post Formats” which are convenient for microblog posts.

Micro.blog-hosted blogs also have full support for posting from MarsEdit 4. You can post short microblog posts, or you can add a title, upload photos, and write longer posts. Blogs on Micro.blog are really fast, have custom domain names, and support importing from WordPress.

MarsEdit screenshot

Congrats Daniel! I’m sure we’ll be talking about this milestone on Core Intuition.

Alabama, you can do this. Doug Jones will be a great senator. One week left to get out the vote.

→ 2017/12/04 1:36 pm

Secret feature I like in Micro.blog’s WordPress import: if your blog photos are no longer online, it hits the Internet Archive to look for a copy there. Why open APIs are good.

→ 2017/12/04 12:53 pm