Doug Lane is writing a series of blog posts about what real-world use cases for Micro.blog could help attract more mainstream users to the platform. It starts with this:
One of the biggest challenges that Micro.blog faces with its upcoming public launch is how to make the jump beyond its early adopter base of blog enthusiasts to “regular people”. It’s tempting to daydream about everyone from teenagers to grandmothers abandoning their social media silos en masse and simultaneously raising “Indie Blogger” flags, but that’s probably not realistic.
He then follows up with a few ideas. I think this approach is exactly right: carve out several niches that are perfect for Micro.blog and focus on those in marketing, providing as much value as possible for those users, then expand to more mainstream users from there.
Squarespace actually does a great job at this. The first thing you see when you click sign up — before being prompted to create an account — is to choose a template for your web site. At the very top of the list: a wedding blog and a product catalog.
Photoblogging and linkblogging are still some of the most common ways people use Micro.blog. From a business perspective, I also like it for product news. Earlier this year I posted some ideas for how to use a microblog.
I sent an update to Kickstarter backers today. I wanted to point people to the new Mac app for Micro.blog, and also show off some of the great photos that Micro.blog users have been uploading this week as part of the photo challenge. Here’s the email.
Hello Kickstarter backers! Today we’re wrapping up the 7-day photo challenge on Micro.blog. The challenge was a suggestion from the community: @douglane posted to his microblog with themes to inspire more people to take and post photos.
I’ve loved seeing all the new photos. Here are just a handful of the many photos that have been posted over the last week.
We also recently released version 1.0 of the Micro.blog app for macOS Sierra and High Sierra. This is the best Micro.blog user experience yet, with a timeline, posting to your blog, photo upload, and a new Discover section for finding posts and users to follow.
You can download the Mac app here.
I’m also continuing work on the Indie Microblogging book. I’ll be sharing more about the book as soon as I can. Thanks for your support!
We’re holding an IndieWebCamp in Austin next month! This is a 2-day event — Saturday and Sunday, December 9th and 10th — for anyone who wants to learn more about the IndieWeb, discuss web standards and tools, or just hack on your own web site. We’re lucky to have IndieWeb co-founders Tantek Çelik and Aaron Parecki in town for the event.
There was another IndieWebCamp in Berlin last week. Neil Mather had a great blog post about his experience there:
It ran over 2 days, with day 1 an unconference with a number of discussions, the topics and schedule decided entirely by participants in the morning. Day 2 was hack day, with everyone working on an indieweb related bit of work, be it on their own website or on a shared project.
IndieWebCamp Austin registration is open now. Tickets are just $5. Looking forward to planning some next steps for Micro.blog over that weekend. Hope to see you there!
“People will want to go to it because you’re passionate about it, and people love what other people are passionate about. You remind people of what they’ve forgotten.” — Mia in La La Land
Business without direction is hollow. Your company can be full of users or money but if it’s empty of purpose, no one will truly care about what you’re building.
This is one of several problems with Twitter today. It’s not just that the leadership team is overwhelmed and paralyzed. They can no longer articulate to users what Twitter the company is passionate about.
Over the weekend I opened up a WordPress importer for Micro.blog-hosted sites. Now that Micro.blog can serve as your primary web site — with personal domain name, short and long posts, themes, and pages — some users may want to consolidate their older WordPress blogs to Micro.blog. I’ve just finished a round of testing and bug fixes with a couple sites, including the 2000+ posts on my 15-year-old WordPress blog.
Micro.blog has always had great support for WordPress. If you host on WordPress and want to bring your posts into the Micro.blog timeline, all you have to do is add the WordPress RSS feed. This new importer is for people who want to migrate their whole site to be hosted by Micro.blog, not just mirror posts to the timeline with RSS and continue to use WordPress for hosting.
To access the importer on the web, click on Account → Edit Domains & Design → Import. It will prompt for a WXR file, which you can export from your WordPress site under WP Admin → Tools → Export. WXR stands for “WordPress eXtended RSS”, which is an RSS file with some extra WordPress metadata.
It’s important to note that the WXR contains post text, but not file uploads. To solve this, Micro.blog parses the HTML for all your posts, looking for
img tags. It then downloads those referenced photos and adds them to your Micro.blog-hosted site. For this reason, it’s important that you keep your old WordPress site online until the import has finished. (The importer does not currently support WordPress photo galleries.)
If you try the importer, I’d love to hear what you think. And of course you can add a new Micro.blog-hosted site for just $5/month under the “New…” menu.
For the initial rollout of Micro.blog, we had a bunch of pins you can unlock, to encourage people to blog more. For example, pins that get unlocked after a certain number of blog posts, or when you upload a photo. We also added a couple of new time-based pins for special events, like mentioning “iPhone X” during the Apple event last month.
Today I added a Halloween pin. You can see some of the pins for my account in this screenshot:
I also talked about this on today’s Timetable. Happy blogging! 🎃
Micro.blog for iOS version 1.2 is rolling out to the App Store right now. This update features a new sharing extension, to make it easier to send photos and links from other apps to Micro.blog. It also has better support for the iPhone X screen.
We ended up rushing this update out a little to make sure it was approved in time for the iPhone X release, so there are a couple glitches we missed in testing when sharing photos. Working on a 1.2.1 update now to make the sharing extension more robust.
Thanks as always for using Micro.blog. In addition to the iOS app, the Mac beta is also getting regular updates. (This blog post was written and posted with it.)
We posted episode 302 of Core Intuition today. From the show notes:
Manton and Daniel anticipate the night of iPhone X pre-orders, and the shame of waking in the middle of the night to order a phone. They catch up with their faltering ambitions to ship MarsEdit and Micro.blog, and acknowledge the merit of sharing ambitions with others to help motivate progress. Finally, they contemplate whether eliminating a feature altogether is preferable to shipping it with obvious deficiencies.
Good luck to everyone trying to pre-order an iPhone X tonight!
I’m glad to see #WomenBoycottTwitter getting some traction. Complaints come and go, but a real break sends a stronger message and gives us perspective. I would never have started Micro.blog unless I had spent enough time away from Twitter to see a better way. It’s not enough to just complain.
Very little has changed since I wrote my 10-year Twitter post last year. If you wait for Twitter to solve all the platform’s problems, you’ll be waiting a long time.
I posted a new Timetable today after listening to the Release Notes podcast where Charles and Joe discuss requiring in-app purchase subscriptions. As I talk about on Timetable, I’ve been working on the Mac version of Micro.blog, so it was a good opportunity to make a final decision on Mac App Store support.
Speaking of Release Notes, I’ll be out in Chicago for the conference next week. If you’re attending, hope to see you there. Ask me for a Micro.blog sticker.
Micro.blog launched with 6 unique themes, and advanced CSS support to customize many aspects of the design. I love seeing users take one of the existing themes and make it their own, such as what Dan Counsell has done with colors and fonts on his site.
The publishing engine for Micro.blog is based on Jekyll, so of course the themes are Jekyll themes as well. I wrote last year about why I chose Jekyll. I’ve forked several themes to improve their support for microblogs, JSON Feed, and IndieWeb standards.
A few of these changes are now up on GitHub. You can find these themes in the @microdotblog repository:
I’ll be updating the other themes on GitHub soon. While you can’t upload an entirely new theme to your Micro.blog account yet, many people have asked for that, and hopefully these themes will provide a starting point.
For this week’s Core Intuition, Daniel and I spend the whole show talking about Twitter’s 280-character change and related fallout. It makes a good complement to my initial blog post, as well as yesterday’s episode of Timetable.
And of course I liked this part of Colin Walker’s blog post:
Having gotten used to a 280 character limit on micro.blog I can honestly say it makes a world of difference.
Dave Winer wrote about the need for Twitter to take risks:
So if you think the 140-char limit is so great, why isn’t Twitter making money for its shareholders? If you were management at Twitter would you be conservative or would you take risks? As a shareholder, I want them to take risks. Big ones. Why not? They don’t really have anything to lose.
My daughter’s Twitter account has access to the new 280-character limit, so I’ve had a chance to see the new UI. Instead of counting down, it uses a circular progress bar until you get near the end of the limit. The UI is further proof that Twitter didn’t make this change on a whim. They plan to ship it.
I had first suggested a 280-character guideline for microblog posts back in 2014. As I’ve said many times since then, and through launching Micro.blog, I believe expanding the limit will make for better conversations, less mangled punctation, yet still remain short enough that it encourages quick posting.
Twitter announced today that they are also experimenting with a 280-character limit! From their blog post:
We understand since many of you have been Tweeting for years, there may be an emotional attachment to 140 characters – we felt it, too. But we tried this, saw the power of what it will do, and fell in love with this new, still brief, constraint.
They focus most of the announcement on explaining how the current constraints are different for some languages, like Japanese, which can fit far more words into 140 characters. That’s true, but it glosses over the most important point.
Longer text allows for more thoughtful posts, fewer misinterpreted shouting matches, and Twitter desperately needs to improve the tone of conversations on their platform. I’m a fan of this change.
Manuel Riess has been writing about why he didn’t stick with previous blogs. On the topic of paying too much attention to stats:
When using WordPress, it’s easy to get the basic numbers of interest: how many visitors, from which part of the world etc. The next level is Google Analytics… what a plethora of settings and numbers! I stared at them all the time after a new post went up, it was exhausting.
I highlighted Manuel’s microblog in an email to Kickstarter backers recently, as an example of using custom domain names. You can follow him on Micro.blog.
I still haven’t looked at stats for Timetable. And I’ve resisted adding follower counts and page view stats to Micro.blog for the same reason. If all that drives you is the number of likes on a tweet, or subscribers to your podcast, it’s easy to get discouraged when the numbers don’t pan out. Or worse, overthink your writing when you know a bunch of people are paying attention.
Everyone has something to say. Write because you love it, or to become a better writer, or to develop an idea. The stats should be an afterthought.
Micro.blog users have wanted the ability to edit microblog posts for a while. We planned to add it, but first I thought we needed an edit history and probably a window of time during which edits are allowed, to prevent people from abusing edits by changing the meaning of a post in an earlier conversation.
While I still want those things, I realized that they were just excuses to put off implementing the feature. And with full pages and longer posts, editing was increasingly a big omission.
This week I rolled out a complete overhaul to the posts interface under your Micro.blog account. The layout is better, it’s more prominently linked in the UI, there’s an easy way to switch between posts and pages, and you can finally edit posts.
There are a couple quirks of the UI still to improve. For example, if you’d like post edits to be reflected in the timeline, you should click the Remove link in the timeline so that Micro.blog pulls the latest version from your microblog. I’ll be working on polishing those areas over the coming weeks. But already it is much better. Enjoy!
Last week I wrote about Micro.blog for iOS version 1.1, which adds several new features including support for multiple photos and longer posts. Today I want to demo how longer posts work on the web version of Micro.blog. Here’s another quick screencast with audio:
Micro.blog for iOS version 1.1 is now available. This release adds a number of new features:
- Added support for longer posts with titles. Type more than 280 characters to reveal an optional title field.
- Added Markdown syntax highlighting while typing.
- Added formatting bar for common styles. Select a phrase and tap the link button for easier markup.
- Added support for uploading multiple photos.
- Added a Browser sharing item to open the current post on the web.
- Fixed a potential crash in profile links and glitch when holding down to select text.
Here’s a quick screencast showing some of the highlighting and title support:
Hope you like the update. You can download it from the App Store
As I plan for the iPhone X pre-order, I wanted to write a blog post about all the iPhones I’ve bought, and when. I’ve skipped a few generations, and even made some seemingly oddball choices like getting the iPhone 5C when all my friends got the 5S. In the process of searching old blog posts to confirm whether I even bought the 3G or waited for the 3GS, I found this old blog post about WWDC 2008.
In the post I had collected 95 tweets from myself and others during WWDC. This was 9 years ago, so it’s a bit of a blur. But reading them again brings back memories. These old tweets are gold.
If I hadn’t collected the tweets, I would never find them again. And if anything changes at Twitter, they could just as easily be lost. Remember, it wasn’t that long ago that you couldn’t go back more than 3200 tweets in your timeline. Searching old tweets is still impossible in third-party Twitter clients.
Obviously I’m all-in on indie microblogging. I post to my own blog and let Micro.blog sort out cross-posting a copy to Twitter. But looking at these old tweets, I’m just struck with how foolish it was to ever post content exclusively to Twitter. It was an assumption that today mattered more than tomorrow, when the opposite is often true.
A photo is the most clear expression of this truth. Taking a photo doesn’t improve the moment. It’s for later.
Twitter in 2008 was a mix of microblogging and conversations. It was writing without pretense, with no expectation of likes and follower counts. It felt ephemeral, and maybe it still does to many Twitter users today. But you never know when you want that fleeting comment to actually last, and if you don’t control the post, there are few guarantees that it will.
David Nield of Gizmodo has a sort of re-introduction to RSS, with an overview on why it’s more useful than ever:
One of the main reasons RSS is so beloved of news gatherers is that it catches everything a site publishes—not just the articles that have proved popular with other users, not just the articles from today, not just the articles that happened to be tweeted out while you were actually staring at Twitter. Everything.
Obviously I’m a fan of RSS. Micro.blog has great support for it throughout the platform. But even though I subscribe to hundreds of feeds, I even caught myself recently loading a few favorite news sites manually instead of using the feeds. Doesn’t hurt to be reminded that there’s a better way.
Tonight we’re starting up a local Austin chapter of the Homebrew Website Club. This is a group from the IndieWeb community which already meets regularly in San Francisco, Portland, other cities, and online.
From the IndieWeb wiki:
Homebrew Website Club is a bi-weekly meetup of people passionate about or interested in creating, improving, building, designing their own website, in the same structure as the classic Homebrew Computer Club meetings.
For Austin, the first meeting will be 6:30pm at Monkey Nest Coffee, 5353 Burnet Rd. Everyone’s welcome. Bring ideas for your own web site, questions about Micro.blog, or just grab a coffee and hang out. We’ll meet in the extra room at the back of the coffee shop.