Tag Archives: microblog

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!

Discover books update, day 2

I love how the Micro.blog community is using the new emoji topics that I wrote about yesterday. We started with books because many people were already sharing what they were reading or wanted to read in 2018. This is working out so well that I definitely want to improve and expand upon it.

Some people have asked for more topics, and several already work: music, basketball, football, and tv. I’m thinking that some of these will pop up in the Discover section when they are actively being used, or when there’s a special event. For example, during the Super Bowl you’d see 🏈 to click on.

On Micro.blog there were some good discussions around this feature. Chris Aldrich said he was already using different book-related emoji, and Ben Norris wondered about supporting those too:

I love this! I thought I was ironic that you started it almost right after I went through and posted the books I read this last couple years on my microblog. I used 📖 instead of 📚 though.

I decided to add the open book and bookmark to the books topic, so they all map to the same place, but stopped short of adding all the other single-book emoji because I thought they might be confused with notebooks. After a few more days it may be more obvious how we should treat this.

Belle Cooper also had a good question about whether this is really much better than hashtags:

This is a cool idea, but I’m not sure I get how it can’t be gamed compared to hashtags. Or is that not the point of using emojis instead?

My answer is that they can be gamed, but the limited number of emoji means we can have a better sense of what people are writing about. It’s just simpler. Also, the backend implementation is not a search; it’s a live collection of posts that is updated whenever Micro.blog sees something new, and there’s a mechanism to easily exclude any inappropriate posts that show up without needing to block users or delete posts.

The Micro.blog community has grown a lot in the last couple of weeks. Every new feature has the potential to change how people interact with the platform, and I think this experiment with books has been almost completely for the better. I don’t think every post needs emoji — most microblogs will continue to be mostly text and some photos — but sprinkling in an emoji every once in a while will start to add value to the Discover section, and it also keeps Micro.blog fun.

Books on Micro.blog

Micro.blog doesn’t have special support for hashtags. It doesn’t automatically link them. There’s no global search yet. While Micro.blog users can include hashtags anyway, especially if they are cross-posting to Twitter, I’ve found that the timeline is much cleaner and readable without hashtags.

I’m not saying we’ll never have hashtags. But I’m not in a particular hurry to introduce native support for them. (Once a feature is added, it can’t easily be taken back. So we try to be deliberate in everything we do.)

Hashtags and Twitter trends go together. They can be a powerful way to organize people and topics together across followers. But they can also be gamed, with troublemakers using popular hashtags to hijack your search results for their own promotion or unrelated ranting.

It’s the organizational and discovery aspect of hashtags that I most want to bring to Micro.blog. There have been several recent discussions on Micro.blog about book clubs and reading, and this seems like a perfect topic to experiment with. I’ve also noticed that people love to include an emoji in their microblog post as a kind of theme indicator — everything from 📚 to 🏀.

Today we’re introducing a search collection using emoji, starting with books. Just include 📚 with your microblog text about a book you’re reading or related topic, and your post will automatically be collected on /discover/books. There’s also an emoji link at the top of the Discover section in the iOS and Mac apps. (Make sure you’re on the latest version of the apps released yesterday.)

If people like this, we’ll generalize it and start surfacing other topics. Enjoy, and happy reading!

Don’t worry about numbers

Rather than New Year’s resolutions, Aleen Simms has a list of liberations for 2018: things to let go of and not worry about. In particular I like this one about not looking at numbers:

Twitter followers, podcast download stats, blog post views, the scale, whatever. Life isn’t a video game. Happiness doesn’t have a numerical value attached to it.

It mirrors a philosophy we have with Micro.blog to launch without follower counts or public likes. Follower counts are not very useful for a new platform. They add anxiety and unavoidably lead to value judgements when considering whether to follow someone, instead of letting the quality of someone’s writing and photos speak for itself.

Andy Flisher posted to his microblog about how Facebook takes the opposite approach, encouraging the numbers game:

Facebook has genuinely ‘encouraged’ me to get more likes for my birthday than I did last year! 🤯 No wonder the youngsters are growing up so needy for likes and follows, not healthy 🙁

A social network doesn’t have to be like this. Micro.blog is a way to post to a web site that you control, and a place to discover and talk with other members of the community. Micro.blog is not a popularity contest.

Happy Holidays from Micro.blog

Thanks everyone for your support of Micro.blog this year! We’ve come a long way since I launched the Kickstarter campaign for Indie Microblogging back on January 2nd. We really appreciate all the feedback and new users who are embracing Micro.blog.

Yesterday we added another “secret pin” to Micro.blog for the holidays. You can unlock it by posting to your own blog and mentioning Christmas, Hanukkah, or one of a bunch of different winter themes and celebrations for this time of year. (It also works for posts from last week, so you may already have unlocked the pin.)

We love adding pins because it encourages people to blog more, and we hope to do more in 2018. This is also a great time of year to earn the Daily Blogger, Photo Challenge, or Night Owl pins!

Wishing you and your family and friends the best this week. Thanks again for being part of the Micro.blog community.

Twitter’s weeds

Mike Monteiro wrote on Medium this week about the daunting, insurmountable problems facing Twitter’s leadership team. He talked about meeting in person with Jack Dorsey:

We discussed Twitter’s role in the world stage. And I admired his vision, but feared his approach. Jack, and to an extent Twitter’s pet porg Biz Stone, have always believed that absolute free speech is the answer. They’re blind to the voices silenced by hate and intimidation. The voices that need to be protected. But anyone who’s ever tended a garden knows that for the good stuff to grow, you have to deal with the bad stuff. You can’t let the weeds choke the vegetables.

I love the metaphor of a garden. In fact, I wrote a whole chapter of my upcoming book Indie Microblogging about gardens. The chapter is a longer version of what Mike says above, but with a twist.

The issue isn’t that Twitter doesn’t care. It’s instead a fundamental design flaw in the platform. Because tweets don’t exist outside of Twitter, when you’re banned, you’re done. For this reason, and because their business depends on a large user base, Twitter is hesitant to throw anyone off their service. They’re unwilling to tend the garden for fear of pulling too many weeds.

Imagine instead a service based on blogs, where the internal posts on the platform were the same format as the external posts. The curators of the platform would have more freedom to block harassing posts and ban nazis because those problematic users could always retreat to their own web site and leave everyone else in the community alone.

That’s how the web is supposed to work. It’s a core principle of Micro.blog.

Twitter will continue to improve. I believe they’re trying. But the root issue can’t be fixed without starting over.

UIKit and Eminem

Another week, another set of new podcasts. Daniel and I talked on Core Intuition about opening up Micro.blog and speculated on UIKit for the Mac:

Manton and Daniel talk about the major update to Micro.blog, and how to cope with demand as it either meets or doesn’t meet daily limits. They opine about the virtue of having a baseline product on which to build future updates. They react to Mark Gurman’s report that Apple has a plan to make it easier to bring iOS apps to the Mac, and finally, they catch up on Daniel’s post-release MarsEdit activity.

I also posted episode 91 of Timetable. It’s about 3 minutes on Eminem lyrics and getting your one shot.

Major update to Micro.blog today

Micro.blog is now available to anyone. There’s a limit of 100 new sign-ups each day, so that we can better respond to feedback as the community grows. Thanks so much to the thousands of Kickstarter backers and new users who have helped us improve the platform this year.

We’re also rolling out the following improvements across the web, iOS, and Mac versions of Micro.blog:

Mac icon

  • New app icons on iOS and Mac! We love this redesign by Brad Ellis. Micro.blog now feels much more at home on macOS.
  • Added photo upload to the web version of Micro.blog.
  • Added a “Show More” button to load more posts in the timeline on iOS and Mac.
  • Fixed Discover section in iOS and Mac to allow selecting posts.
  • Improved iOS sharing from Safari to include the page title in addition to URL and selected text.
  • Experiment with following domain name user accounts. The first is @nytimes.com, letting you see headlines from The New York Times home page in your timeline. (This is not affiliated with the New York Times. It’s possible because Micro.blog works with RSS feeds.)

Plus a bunch of minor improvements and bug fixes. You can download the latest versions of Micro.blog from the iOS App Store or directly for your Mac.

Core Intuition 309

This week on Core Intuition, Daniel and I talk about how the MarsEdit 4 release is going:

Daniel and Manton catch up on MarsEdit 4’s progress a week after releasing. They talk about the anxiety and fear of making a huge mistake when releasing, and the relief of discovering you haven’t. They reflect on the effectiveness of direct email to inform existing customers of updates, and Manton looks forward to releasing Micro.blog to the public, and how much PR fanfare he should be looking to generate.

I’ve been working on several new features for Micro.blog this week. Consistent with Daniel’s advice on the show, I think we’re going to roll out new stuff for Micro.blog next week and start ramping up promotion. Really excited about the way things are coming together.

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.

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.