Author Archives: manton

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

Inspired to blog

Vincent Ritter has a new post about Micro.blog, and how it’s helped put a focus back on his own blog:

Later this year I finally got my invite through for Micro.blog. Just logging in, seeing the simplicity and the really amazing community of people, I knew this was something special. This ultimately made me rethink my entire site and what I want to do with it.

I created Micro.blog to encourage other people to blog more. It’s working. But I’ve realized it goes both ways: seeing all the great posts out there has inspired me too. Thanks Vincent and everyone who is taking the idea of an indie microblog and running with it.

iPhone X home screen

I rarely change my home screen, but I updated it after having more time with the iPhone X. Seeing Shawn Blanc’s home screen reminded me that I should post an updated screenshot of my own screen.

Screenshot

The notable icons are Micro.blog and Ulysses in the dock, where I do most of my writing and blog post drafts. I also stopped using Instagram since there are so many great photos being posted to Micro.blog, so I have Halide there instead. Great app for quickly adjusting the exposure before taking a photo.

New for the X, I’ve added an empty row to the top of the screen using David Smith’s blank icon tip. Much easier to reach all the icons with one hand.

Can’t expect too much with most of the Spurs resting or hurt, but they had an open shot to tie the game against the Thunder with 5 seconds left. Great defense from the bench. Almost stole this one. 🏀

→ 2017/12/03 8:52 pm

Absolutely love this video from Max Joseph. I made a kind of vertical zoetrope once for an art show, but couldn’t turn the corner from amateur-looking to great, and backed out. Incredible persistence to pull this off.

→ 2017/12/01 9:32 am

Back on track with Timetable. Four episodes this week and looks like I’ll hit 100 episodes before the end of the year. Today’s is about profile photos.

→ 2017/11/30 5:26 pm

Time to move beyond Gravatar, although I still think it’s a nice default. You can now upload a custom profile photo to Micro.blog. There’s a link at the top of the Account page on the web.

→ 2017/11/30 12:02 pm