Tag Archives: microblog

Demo of Micro.blog 1.3.4

We shipped version 1.3.4 of the Micro.blog iOS app. It includes a bunch of photo-related improvements and bug fixes, including better support for non-square photos.

We’re on a bit of a roll with Micro.blog, shipping microcast hosting, our brand new app Wavelength, a new blog theme, and this iOS update all in the last week. Great time to join or come back to the platform.

Wavelength 1.0.2

We just wrapped up a bunch of improvements to the initial Wavelength for Micro.blog app. Here are the changes:

  • Updated MP3s to 128 kbps, mono. We’ll consider adding a preference for quality and stereo in the future.
  • Fixed playback volume using correct iPhone speaker.
  • Fixed a few potential crashes and improved publishing error messages.
  • Fixed Auphonic username field to not use auto-correct.
  • Fixed glitches with consistently using external microphones.
  • Fixed error sometimes when splitting segments.

I recorded and edited the last 2 episodes of Timetable exclusively with Wavelength on my iPhone X. It’s really great to see some new microcasts pop up over the last few days. Thanks for trying it out!

Wavelength for Micro.blog

We have something really big to announce today. Micro.blog now supports hosting short-form podcasts, also known as microcasts, with a companion iPhone app called Wavelength for recording, editing, and publishing episodes.

Wavelength screenshots

Before the Kickstarter campaign last year, I started my Timetable microcast to talk about the things I was working on, with a focus on planning what would become Micro.blog. Creating a short podcast is really fun. It’s much easier to record and edit than the longer podcasts we’re all used to. But it’s still not easy enough, and even after nearly 100 episodes of Timetable my workflow was cobbled together with too many apps: Ferrite, Logic, Auphonic, WordPress, a shell script, and sometimes Transmit.

Micro.blog is about making short-form content you own as simple to post as a tweet because we believe blogging should be easier. Podcasting should be easier too.

We’re rolling out a new hosted plan on Micro.blog to accommodate microcasts. When you upload an audio file to your site — either from the web, Wavelength, or a third-party app — Micro.blog will automatically create a podcast feed for your microblog. Listeners can subscribe directly, or you can add the feed to the Apple Podcast Directory and it will show up in popular apps like Overcast and Castro. Everything can be served from your own domain name, just like a normal microblog. We’ve been using this infrastructure for all the episodes of our weekly Micro Monday microcast.

New hosted microblogs with microcasting support will be $10/month. Microcast audio files will be limited to 20 MB. Existing microblogs hosted on Micro.blog can be upgraded to support microcasting for an additional $5/month.

Everyone has a story to tell. Whether that’s through short microblog posts, longer essays, photo blogs, conversations with friends, or now through podcasts, I hope that the Micro.blog platform and suite of apps can help. If you haven’t checked out Micro.blog lately or are learning about it for the first time, now is a great time to join the community. Thanks!

Apps of a Feather

I posted a link to this last week, but it’s worth some additional comments. Apps of a Feather is a new site to spread awareness about upcoming Twitter API changes:

We are incredibly eager to update our apps. However, despite many requests for clarification and guidance, Twitter has not provided a way for us to recreate the lost functionality. We’ve been waiting for more than a year.

I have a long history with Twitter. I was user #897. I built multiple apps for the platform. I invested so much of my time and code into the Twitter ecosystem.

Then Twitter leadership showed us the future, and it was clear that third-party developers had little or no place in it. It was just a matter of time. And now, maybe time has run out.

If you still love Twitter, absolutely tell them to reverse course and rebuild their relationship with third-party developers. These are great apps and great developers, and I don’t want to see their business cut down because of a developer-hostile platform outside their control.

Meanwhile, we’re working to make Micro.blog better every day. It’s the most ambitious thing I’ve ever worked on. Building for the open web needs to be done in parallel to hoping the other social networks improve, whether you’re still waiting for those sites to do the right thing, or already know it’s time to move on. I only wish we had started sooner.

Core Intuition 321

We start this week’s Core Intuition talking about the Apple education event in Chicago. More in the show notes:

Daniel and Manton talk about Apple’s Chicago education event, and Apple’s challenge in breaking into the education market so dominated by Google. They scrutinize whether the special event was “event-worthy” or not. Daniel talks about his motivation problems with shipping MarsEdit updates, and complains again about App Store Review uncertainty. Finally, they talk about the challenge of knowing whether a product with lackluster success is on the brink of something great, or should be moved on from.

Thanks for listening and subscribing to the show.

IndieWeb generation 4 and hosted domains

Naturally because of the goals of Micro.blog, I see a lot of discussion about “owning your content”. It’s an important part of the mission for Micro.blog to take control back from closed, ad-supported social networks and instead embrace posting on our own blogs again.

But what does it mean to own our content? Do we have to install WordPress or some home-grown blogging system for it to be considered true content ownership, where we have the source code and direct SFTP access to the server? No. If that’s our definition, then content ownership will be permanently reserved for programmers and technical folks who have hours to spend on server configuration.

IndieWebCamp has a generations chart to illustrate the path from early adopters to mainstream users. Eli Mellen highlighted it in a recent post about the need to bridge the gap between the technical aspects of IndieWeb tools and more approachable platforms. With Micro.blog specifically, the goal is “generation 4”, and I think we’re on track to get there.

I want blogging to be as easy as tweeting. Anything short of that isn’t good enough for Micro.blog. You’ll notice when you use Twitter that they never ask you to SFTP into twitter.com to configure your account. They don’t ask you to install anything.

More powerful software that you can endlessly customize will always have its place. It’s good to have a range of options, including open source to tinker with. That’s often where some of the best ideas start. But too often I see people get lost in the weeds of plugins and themes, lured in by the myth that you have to self-host with WordPress to be part of the IndieWeb.

Owning your content isn’t about portable software. It’s about portable URLs and data. It’s about domain names.

When you write and post photos at your own domain name, your content can outlive any one blogging platform. This month marked the 16th anniversary of blogging at manton.org, and in that time I’ve switched blogging platforms and hosting providers a few times. The posts and URLs can all be preserved through those changes because it’s my own domain name.

I was disappointed when Medium announced they were discontinuing support for custom domain names. I’m linking to the Internet Archive copy because Medium’s help page about this is no longer available. If “no custom domains” is still their policy, it’s a setback for the open web, and dooms Medium to the same dead-end as twitter.com/username URLs.

If you can’t use your own domain name, you can’t own it. Your content will be forever stuck at those silo URLs, beholden to the whims of the algorithmic timeline and shifting priorities of the executive team.

For hosted blogs on Micro.blog, we encourage everyone to map a custom domain to their content, and we throw in free SSL and preserve redirects for old posts on imported WordPress content. There’s more we can do.

I’m working on the next version of the macOS app for Micro.blog now, which features multiple accounts and even multiple blogs under the same account. Here’s a screenshot of the settings screen:

Mac screenshot

The goal with Micro.blog is not to be a stop-gap hosting provider, with truly “serious” users eventually moving on to something else (although we make that easy). We want Micro.blog hosting to be the best platform for owning your content and participating in the Micro.blog and IndieWeb communities.

Introducing the Micro Monday microcast

We’ve started a new podcast! Jean MacDonald will be hosting a weekly show talking with members of the Micro.blog community. I join her on the first episode to talk about our blogs and goals for the podcast.

You can listen to Micro Monday on the web, subscribe in Overcast, or follow @monday on Micro.blog. Thanks for listening! Update: Check out our subscribe page for more links.

Sunlit 2.0.1

We released an update to Sunlit today. Lots of little bug fixes and improvements. (The App Store has been slow this week, but it should show up in your Updates tab soon if it’s not already there.)

I also updated the Micro.blog timeline to add tiny photo thumbnails for Sunlit stories that have a title. Here’s a screenshot:

Micro.blog timeline screenshot

Because Micro.blog is focused on microblogging, short posts without a title still show directly in the timeline, but longer posts with many photos and a title just link back to your web site. Adding this little preview gives a hint for what is behind those links.

Sunlit 2.0 now available

We rebuilt Sunlit for 2.0 so that it’s focused around blogs. You can collect photos together in stories and publish them directly to a Micro.blog-hosted site or compatible blogs such as WordPress. It’s a free download. (If you need a great place to host your photoblog, consider signing up for a paid microblog on Micro.blog.)

To show off Sunlit in the App Store, I created a few app preview videos. Here’s one of them:

Thanks for your support. Sunlit 2.0 is just the beginning for what we want to do with photos and microblogging. Hope you enjoy it.

Blade Runner 2049

Rewatched the original Blade Runner recently, and finally saw the sequel last night. As with all great films, still thinking about it the next day. The parts that were good, were really good.

There was a conversation on Micro.blog about the length. It would have been an even more powerful movie with a couple scenes cut short. Maybe it could have squeezed into a PG-13 rating too.

Nevertheless, it holds its own with the original. I say this as a compliment: a rare sequel that is no better or worse. Feels unique but consistent — in pacing, visuals, and music — as if 35 years haven’t passed since the first one. Loved it.

Micro.blog 1.3.3 is out

The new update to Micro.blog for iOS is now available in the App Store. As I wrote about yesterday, it includes an improved conversations gesture. Here’s the full list of changes:

  • Added swipe left on a post to view the conversation.
  • Added feed settings button when writing a new post for quickly toggling off cross-posting.
  • Added confirmation alert when removing a post.
  • Updated character counter to not include Markdown.
  • Updated sharing from other apps to not use the current draft or save it.
  • Fixed compatibility with some XML-RPC servers.
  • Fixed opening conversations from links in the timeline.

Enjoy!

Micro.blog conversations gesture

I just submitted a new update to the Micro.blog iOS app. It adds a couple new features, including better support for quickly toggling off cross-posting, but what I’m most excited about is swiping to view conversations. Here’s a 45-second screencast demo:

It should be out in a couple of days after Apple approves the release. Thanks for supporting Micro.blog.

No applause for retweets

DHH writes about how Basecamp is experimenting with removing their “applause” feature — the clap icon that Medium has also recently adopted:

But as I read through the replies from the few dozen people who answered the question on any given day, I was faced with the dilemma of the clap. If I applauded an update from Sam yesterday, but don’t today, does that mean I’m expressing discontent with the most recent work? If I don’t applaud for Javan on the same day as I applaud for Sam, does that mean I’m parting favor of one over the other?

The problem with these “just click a button instead of sending an actual reply” features is that they fool us into thinking we’ve done something meaningful by clicking. Anyone can click a Twitter heart button to show that they’ve noticed a tweet or enjoyed it. It takes very little effort and doesn’t mean much.

On Micro.blog, favorites are private. They are just for your own use, like bookmarks. We’ve found that the lack of public likes encourages people to reply to posts instead, even if it’s just a quick “Thanks!” or “That’s great!” or other comment. It’s a little more meaningful because it requires a bit of effort.

In an interview with Piers Morgan, Trump said something revealing when pressed on his retweets of a racist group:

Well, I know nothing about them. I did a retweet. You know, retweets… sometimes you do… retweets are very different. When you do your own tweeting, when you do your own social media, it’s fine. When you do those retweets, sometimes they can cause problems.

What Trump is trying to say is that retweets aren’t as important as a tweet you type yourself. Retweets encourage a sort of thoughtless approach to sharing.

We don’t like retweet counts or follower counts in the UI of Micro.blog, because it’s another place for judgement — “this person must not be very interesting if they have so few followers” — instead of letting someone’s content speak for itself. Likes, claps, and retweets aren’t a substitute for a real conversation. We’ll eventually have some form of public reactions on Micro.blog, but we aren’t in any hurry to get there.

Micro.blog theme updates

Over the last couple of days we’ve shipped a few improvements to Micro.blog. There’s an update to the Mac version with some bug fixes and better support for showing the title field when you’re writing a longer blog post. The default themes have been updated too.

It’s also much easier to preview themes for your microblog. Under your account there’s now a “Preview Themes” button that lets you click through and test out the themes. Here’s a 10-second screencast recording to show how it works:

Sunlit beta update

Yesterday we sent Sunlit 2.0 to beta testers. The feedback has been great so far. We just pushed a new version with several important fixes, especially to publishing existing stories.

It’s a little overwhelming to ship a brand new app in the middle of everything going on with Micro.blog — opening the platform to new users, trying to stay on top of bugs and feature requests, and planning for the future. But it just feels right that Sunlit should be part of the Micro.blog suite.

We love photos and we love blogs. Sunlit combines those things in a way that accommodates more advanced features than can fit in the main Micro.blog app.

Micro.blog makes it as easy to write a quick short post as it is to send a tweet. The timeline and simple posting interface are part of that. Sunlit supports microblog posts while taking a different approach in the UI, focused around stories and longer blog posts, whether they’re hosted on Micro.blog or elsewhere on the web. And we can do it without much fanfare on the Micro.blog server side because the technical scope of the platform already supports it.

Sunlit 2.0 demo

Here’s a short screencast demo of the upcoming version of Sunlit. We’ve rebuilt it for blogging and Micro.blog. You can create stories with photos and text to publish to your blog, with editing and filters, plus a new Discover section for browsing photos.

If you’d like to try the TestFlight beta, email help@micro.blog. You don’t need a Micro.blog account to use it — it also supports publishing to WordPress — but we think it makes a great companion to Micro.blog. Enjoy!

Interview on Colin Devroe’s blog

Colin Devroe interviewed me about Micro.blog:

Yesterday I volleyed back and forth via email with Manton Reece, the founder and creator of Micro.blog. Micro.blog is in that same relatively early stage where new features are released with regularity, where the community is growing steadily, and where the users have the strongest voice.

I’m happy with how the interview turned out. It’s one of the best summaries of what we’re trying to do with Micro.blog, all in one place. Hope you like it.

Share to Micro.blog and new apps

Two great feed readers added support for Micro.blog this week: Evergreen and Feedbin. Evergreen is still in beta but improving quickly. Feedbin is a mature, well-designed RSS reader and sync service.

Here’s Brent Simmons announcing the Micro.blog support in Evergreen:

This is hugely important. RSS readers exist not to just make reading easy but to make the web a conversation.

And Ben Ubois on the Feedbin blog writing about the new Feedbin sharing, including some thoughtful words for what we’re trying to do with Micro.blog:

Micro.blog is good for blogging, because it acts as sort of gateway-drug into that habit. Say you start off just using it for Twitter-like microposts, but then you realize you have more you want to say. Micro.blog detects the length of your post and prompts you to add a title, turning that post into a full-fledged blog post.

Support from Evergreen and Feedbin represent the start of a new wave of third-party support for Micro.blog. There are other third-party iOS apps and even an Android app in development, including Micron for iOS in public beta now. There’s also a command-line tool for the Micro.blog API called speck.

Thanks for the support, everyone. If you haven’t tried Micro.blog yet, there’s a lot of activity in the community and in new apps. Now is a good time to join.

Core Intuition 312

New episode of Core Intuition is out. We talk about what’s new with Micro.blog, cryptocurrency, and more:

Manton talks to Daniel about just missing jury duty during a busy work week. They talk about the virtues of differentiating a product by both features and personality. Finally, they react to the Stellar cryptocurrency’s surprising value, and the potential for cryptocurrency and blockchain technology to change the world.

Thanks for listening!