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Colin Devroe

Reverse Engineer. Blogger.

Doug Lane on Microblogging tone

Doug Lane, on thinking a bit more before publishing on his own site than he would on Twitter or Facebook:

If I let moments of anger or frustration sit for a bit, one of two things will happen. Most likely, I’ll move on to something more meaningful without shoving valueless negativity in anyone else’s face. Or, if something negative is still on my mind after some time has passed, I still have the option to post about it. But it’s likely that whatever I post, even if it’s still negative in tone, will be more thoughtful and constructive than a vent in the moment would have been.

I’ve recently jumped back into the fray. This is something I’ve notice immediately. I’ll post absolute drivel on Twitter whereas I curate and sensor myself far more here on my blog. Though, some of you likely wish I did that a bit more.

It also reminds me of an opinion that I have about Snapchat. I’ve mentioned it in the past. I think that it is totally fine that you feel a bit more free on Twitter or on Snapchat to post things that you may otherwise think are worthy of the bin. Because they are made for that. I actually like having the separation.

Required reading

The first time I linked to Colin Walker, which was only about 4 months ago, it was because he was fiddling with his blog, trying to come up with the right way to display his content for him and his audience.

It is a topic that has fascinated me for 20 years and to see someone else thinking about it out loud is great.

Over the years I’ve tried many, many different ways to layout a blog. Fortunately, I’ve been able to explore dozens and dozens of options due to my work. I’ve designed and developed online magazines, large-scale video blogs, large online libraries of information for teachers, students, television stations. I’ve even had the privilege of working on a network of blogs, called 9rules, where we aggregated hundreds of blog’s content into many categories and sections. The projects I’ve worked on over the years have had billions of views.

So, I can honestly say I’ve thought about this topic as much as anyone alive.

Long, longtime readers of my blog will remember how I wrote about how the blog format needed to be disrupted back in 2011. This post has ended up being a tent pole on this blog. Here’s the crux in a snippet:

I believe the blog format is ready for disruption. Perhaps there doesn’t need to be “the next” WordPress, Tumblr, or Blogger for this to happen. Maybe all we really need is a few pioneers to spearhead an effort to change the way blogs are laid-out on the screen. There are still so many problems to solve; how new readers and also long-time subscribers consume the stream of posts, how people identify with the content of the blog on the home page, how to see what the blog is all about, how to make money, how to share, and how interact and provide feedback on the content.

While the lion’s share of people’s microblogging, photos, video, and audio are still going to the big network sites – there are a few people who are rolling up their sleeves and trying to figure out how blogs should be laid out in 2017 and beyond.

Colin Walker is one of those people.

If you go back through a few posts from this month from him (I wish he used tags) you’ll see how Dave Winer’s post here sparked the idea of a required reading page. And how he’s been thinking about it for a few days now. I understand how he feels. When that seed is planted it is tough to uproot.

One of my reasons for saying that the blog format is in need of disruption has to do with the brand-new visitor’s perspective of a blog. On any given day if a new person were to show up on my site they’d only see the latest few posts that I’ve written. I could be making a joke, linking to a friend, writing about how to save battery life on the new Apple Watch, sharing some thoughts on Bullet Journaling using audio, or sharing a photo of a recent evening at a local lake. Would they come away understanding “what is Colin’s blog about?”. I don’t know. I think some days are more representative of what I’d like my blog to be than others. Some entire weeks probably poorly represent what I’d like my blog to be.

Currently my site’s layout is fairly simple. I’ve chosen this mostly due to the fact that traffic to my site is primarily to single posts and overwhelmingly viewed on mobile devices. So if I were to begin fiddling like Colin Walker is… I’d likely start with what my single post design is, rather than my homepage. More people are introduced to my blog through a single post than the homepage.

Based on Colin Walker’s thoughts I may update my about page this week a bit to include a section explaining what my blog is primarily about. For me, I think that will be enough. But I don’t feel like it solves the issue Winer and Walker bring up. I’m anxious to see what Walker ultimately comes up with.

Scott McNulty’s 31 TNG posts

Scott McNulty:

To celebrate the 30th anniversay of a show that has had a large impact on my life I’m going to write a TNG related blog post every day this month. Why? Why not!

TNG being Star Trek: The Next Generation. Let’s see if he keeps it up. I’m rooting for him.

FollowFriday, belated

I was away for the weekend, so this is coming on Monday, sorry.

Jimmy Baum:

Colin Devroe suggested a #FollowFriday movement. I’ll start off with two bloggers I’m enjoying.

Thanks to Jimmy for including me!

Here are two others I suggest following:

  • Manton Reece – Many discussions begin with Manton’s blog as he’s the tip of the spear in microblogging currently. He’s shouldering the responsibility well I think.
  • Jeremy Keith – A veritable cornucopia of interesting links and behind-the-scenes looks at conferences around the world as well as thoughtful discussions that impact the open web. All in one place.

I’m still experimenting with reposts (I’m unsure if I like them yet) and I’m adding an image to my statuses now and then. Fun to shake things up a little bit.

Colin Walker hits 1000 posts

Colin Walker:

I am enjoying blogging now more than I have in a long time. The addition of microblogging greatly removes the burden of constantly writing essay pieces and the clamour for perfection that it instills. And that’s something to be thankful for.

Agreed.

Congratulations to Colin. I expect him to hit 2000 in no time.

John George shares a solution

John George, fellow NEPA.js attendee:

I’m writing this because I discovered the hard way that .NET Core’s ‘dotnet run’ command is NOT meant to be production ready. My biggest headache was that my website shut down when I exited my shell. Not even the ‘disown’command would dissociate the running service from the user.

Posts like this by John often do not get enough attention. While it may not be applicable to you right now – dozens, hundreds, or perhaps thousands of people searching for this issue over the following months and years will be very glad that John took the time to do the write-up.

Kudos to him. More developers should write about their solutions.

Get your NEPA BlogCon 2017 Tickets

NEPA BlogCon 2017 tickets are available:

Attendees can expect presentations and roundtable discussions on branding, content development, podcasting, vlogging, and more.

I like the format changeup. (See also) Looks like some friends are presenting as well. Go grab your tickets.

Mobile blogging goals (audio)

Recorded September 10, 2017

Starting with this audio bit I’m making a few changes.

I’m ditching the episode numbers. My audio bits are not a podcast, they aren’t really episodes, and keeping track of the numbers is just more work. I will, however, denote in the title that this is an audio post.

I’m also switching to the audio format that comes directly out of Voice Memos on the iPhone rather than doing the work of converting the file to MP3. If you have any issues listening to this audio file please let me know.

Enjoy the listen!

Links

Download Audio File

Jack Baty: “Please just start a blog”

Jack Baty on his rather handsome looking new blog:

Would you all please just start a blog? I don’t care which platform you choose. Pick one and publish. Cross-post or don’t. Implement Webmentions or don’t. Allow comments or don’t. Tweak the design to within an inch of its life or don’t. Publish long posts or short, it doesn’t matter.

I wish.

Chris Lovie-Tyler on supporting different building blocks of the IndieWeb

Chris Lovie-Tyler, from the other side of our planet:

After reading a handful of Colin Devroe’s posts (links at the bottom), I’ve made a few decisions.

I’m glad my posts, in which I was just thinking out loud and forming my own opinions on these matters, helped him to form his. I believe everyone should do whatever is right and sustainable for themselves.

Colin Walker opens up comments

Hooray!

Colin Walker:

Colin Devroe’s post was the tipping point (I told you his points were compelling) and I decided it was time to get over myself and look at opening things up again.

This is the post Walker is referring to. You can read his follow-up as well.

Like me, Walker has opened up comments on his blog.

Any one that has a blog and is worried about moderating comments can let that fear go. Those days are over. Even if you’re incredibly popular there are tools that would make this relatively easy (like Disqus). And since the site is 100% yours that allows you to be super strict in your policies should that need arise.

One side note: I have WordPress set to automatically close comments on posts older than 30 days. Perhaps 8 or 10 years ago I wrote a WordPress plugin that did this since most comment spam was a result of a bot that worked like a Google spider. It found related posts via Google and left comment spam. By closing comments on posts older than 30 days this alleviates a huge amount of spam. This feature is now built into WordPress and works perfectly. It isn’t ideal, and I may consider turning that off in the future, but for now it means I only get about 5 spam comments per week which are automatically blocked by Akismet.

Colin Walker: “Should replies be posts?”

Colin Walker, in a post on whether or not replies to other posts (or, comments) should be their own posts:

There has to be a line, a point where a comment is just that and not a reply. It’s a question of semantics but not everyone’s answer to “what is a comment and where does it belong?” will be the same.

I struggle with this a lot.

It is likely the point I should have made in my post regarding Micro.blog becoming a commenting service (and the fact that I don’t like that). I don’t want to reply on my blog to every reply to my posts on M.b because then I would have dozens and dozens of posts on my blog that would be very tough for readers to follow contextually. I believe the commenting mechanism that has been around for decades, even un-threaded, is far more useful than dozens of desperate posts stitched together loosely with a link that says “in reply to”.

Webmention attempts to bridge that gap between post and reply but that also is tough to follow along if the thread gets unwieldy.

However, I also don’t want to reply to every reply on my posts directly on M.b either (though, I do from time-to-time) as that isn’t much better than using any other silo like Twitter or Facebook. Should M.b go away, all of those conversations would be lost.

This isn’t a new issue nor is it exclusive to M.b. If I replied on my own blog to other people’s posts on their own blogs (like I am in this post to Colin Walker’s blog) then one side of the conversation could disappear at any time. I can only control my side of the equation. But at least if I have my own blog I have control of that one side.

I think it is good that these topics are being discussed again. The same debates have been swirling since blogging began, they swelled again when the indieweb movement began to take shape, and I think they are happening again as a result of M.b’s growing community. I do not believe there is one single answer to many them. You have to do what is right and sustainable for you.

For now, here are my personal rules for replying to posts. These will most definitely change over time.

  • If I want to say a quick “congrats” or “excellent post” or something of that nature I will leave a reply directly on their blog. If they do not have commenting turned on I will attempt to email. If they do not have email publicly available I’ll say nothing at all.
  • If I have something substantive to add to the conversation, or if I would like my “followers” to see the post I will quote the post on my blog with my additions to the conversation. Like this post.
  • If I simply want to direct people to the content I will use my new repost tag that I’ve been experimenting with. I’ve seen others use the “a post I liked” type post. That could work too.
  • If people reply using M.b, Twitter, or Facebook I will not reply on those services*. But I may reply on my own blog.
  • If I would like to keep my reply private I will attempt to email.

As an aside: I know some of you do not want to leave a public comment. I love getting reader emails. I get a fair number of them. And some of them have been excellent conversations. So please don’t hesitate.

* I no longer have a Twitter or Facebook account. I do have a M.b account but I’m beginning to wonder if I need one as I have my own fully functional weblog. If I didn’t and I wanted a microblog and didn’t want to use Twitter, I could see having an account. If I wanted a more fully featured blog I still believe WordPress is the best tool for that. Also, I’m sure as the M.b community grows it could mean that my content would be discovered by more people. I think M.b may end up being a thriving, well run, community and service. It is why I backed Manton’s efforts via Kickstarter. But, if I have my own blog, and if I really don’t care much about my content being discovered, then I see little reason to syndicate to it. For the time being I’m still going to as I want to see how the service matures.

Colin Walker on thinking out loud on his blog

Colin Walker:

It’s always a little weird glancing at my visitor stats and seeing that someone has read a post that no longer reflects my position.

100% agree. Most of my posts are out-of-date and my opinions have changed slightly since I’ve written them.

I love this bit:

This is why I always refer to the blog as an ongoing conversation with myself – it is the public manifestation of working things out in my head.

That is why I say that writing is how I think. See also.

Fred Wilson’s public record

Fred Wilson:

AVC has been going on for almost 14 years now. I write every day, mostly about tech and investing in startups and observations about entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship.

He goes on to say that this has created a public record. A record that shows when he was right and when he was wrong. And he really likes that.

So do I. I wish I wrote as consistently as Wilson does. I really like having a public record.

Side note: AVC won blog of the year in 2009 here on my blog. I wish I still gave out awards like that.

Zach Leatherman’s garden

Zach Leatherman:

As my own little corner of the web uncermoniously turned ten years old this year, it’s really starting to feel more like a garden than a piece of software. I certainly enjoy tending to it. I can plant what I like and with proper care it can grow into something useful.

First, how cool is his last name?

I like this analogy of comparing a personal web site to tending to your own personal garden.

Ron Chester on Webmentions

Ron Chester:

I have only one reservation about the development of this IndieWeb stuff. While it is in progress, most of these websites have disabled regular comments, if they ever had them. Often there is also no contact information given, or it takes a lot of hunting on their websites to find it. So if one doesn’t have webmentions working on one’s own website, there is no obvious way of communicating with these folks about things they post. I have found that if they’re also on the Microblog website, one can post a message there, addressed to them. But that seems pretty round about, when an old school place to post a comment on their original post would be very easy to leave.

Please go to his site and read his entire post.

I read Ron’s post before making my decision to turn comments back on. Also, my email address is available on every page of my site. So if anyone would like to comment on anything on my site they should be able to do so both publicly and privately with ease.

Side note: One of the reasons we all turned off comments, aside from the benefits of disabling comments like more traffic to your site (I wrote this post 10 years ago!), is that people claimed that moderating comments is too much work. I no longer think that is an issue. Even if my blog became a popular place to comment I think I’d be able to keep up with it with the tools we have available now.

As a result of this decision, I’ve now opened commenting up on all posts so far in August 2017.

Replies from Micro.blog and oh hai, comments

If you visit my site at all you may have noticed many of the recent posts have replies showing up on them from Micro.blog. Here is one example post. That is because webmention works pretty well on Micro.blog.

However, this is causing me a bit of frustration because it feels as though the conversation about a post is happening on Micro.blog rather than on people’s own blogs. Even if those people have their own blogs they are using Micro.blog to reply*. It is an interesting thing to see. Effectively, Micro.blog is feeling a lot like Twitter – replies to my posts are on there so I have to go there to reply to those replies.

To that end I’ve decided I’ll start turning comments on some posts (like this one). I’d much prefer people reply to my blog posts on their own blog or – starting today – on my blog. Even though I like Micro.blog better than Twitter or Facebook doesn’t mean I want to have to navigate to that web site each time I want to reply to comments on my posts.

* I’m unsure if that is what the M.b team wants to happen. But that is what is happening right now. Also, M.b is supposed to be a host for blogs if people want it to be. But, again, even people with their own blogs are using M.b’s reply feature to reply to posts.