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Colin Devroe

Photographer. Podcaster. Blogger. Reverse Engineer.

Make RSS more visible

Marcus Herrmann:

Personal website owners – what do you think about collecting all of the feeds you are producing in one way or the other on a /feeds page? You can put your blog feed there, but also RSS generated from your Twitter account (via RSS Box), Mastodon updates, or even the starred items of the feeds you consume (if you happen to use Feedbin).

I have my subscribe page. Which sort of lends to the purpose Marcus describes. However, it didn’t specifically promote RSS itself, and it wasn’t found at the /feeds URL. Now it does and is.

I won’t be adding any additional network activity to it.

/via Jeremy Keith.

Chris Coleman has a blog

Chris Coleman:

Eventually I ran out of steam, life changed a bit, and the vacuum that this site filled in my day was filled by other things. I was 23 when I started this site. I’m 41 now. A lot has happened in 18 years, but somehow it doesn’t feel like a long time has passed.

Also, hot on the heels of my previously published post about blogging’s heyday, comes this quote from Chris:

Running a blog was different in those days. Everyone benefited from the fact that the internet was a much smaller place. Real social media was still a few years away, and dominance by the big players was even further out. People I had never heard of would add my site to the sidebar of their sites. I would usually not reciprocate, but it was nice to be recognized, and it made it possible to build an audience of regulars.

He understands the old days are gone. And the future starts now.

These are the bad times, but good things are happening.

Welcome back Chris.

I too miss the old days of blogging but they are never coming back

TTTThis:

When you search for blogs now on you see things like ‘Top 100 Blogs.’ ‘How to Make a Successful Blog.’ ‘Most Powerful 50 Blogs.’ But what you really want is 10,000 unsuccessful blogs.

Much of the linked piece is likely to be taken as hyperbole but it is mostly true-ish. It is true that it is harder to find smaller blogs via Google these days. And even truer that you no longer stumble across blogs. Unless, of course, you browse something like Micro.blog and follow link after link after link to find stuff. But even then, it is a lot of work.

It reminds me of Brent Simmons wishing there was a blog search engine. There really should be because Micro.blog doesn’t even seem to be trying to fill that role.

I’ve written about blogging’s past, present, and future so many times I’ve lost count. So I don’t have too much to add that I haven’t already written; save this.

Back when blogging started the internet was smaller. So the blogosphere felt bigger. While today, the internet is much much larger. So the active blogosphere – while likely relatively the same size as it was in 2003-2007 – simply feels a lot smaller. I suppose it depends on how you keep count. Social networks now feel so much bigger in both scale and impact. That doesn’t mean there aren’t great blogs being created every single day.

It sort of reminds me of music genres. Classical, Punk, Hip-hop. Each have had their time. It doesn’t mean that they no longer exist. It also doesn’t mean that there isn’t new material being made every day in each genre. But, they’ve had their time and their impact. And each gets replaced by something different. Something new.

I’m no longer waiting for the good old days of blogging to come back. I think that was a feeling that simply can no longer be replicated.

/via Colin Walker.

Micro.blog for Teams

Manton Reece:

Today we’re launching a new feature on Micro.blog: support for multi-user blogs, so your whole team can write posts on a shared blog. We think it’s going to be great for small companies, families, and schools, with everything from shared photo blogs to podcasts.

This is a big update.

You may remember that I try to hold an interview with Manton Reece re: Micro.blog each year. Here is 2018, 2019. This year we couldn’t make it work. We tried for months. But he’s simply too busy – and now we can see why.

You may remember one of my questions of Manton in 2019’s interview mentioned “From an outsider’s perspective, I don’t know how you’re able to do as much as you do!” . Somehow Manton maintains Micro.blog’s code base, the server-side infrastructure, the iOS and Mac app, an additional photo-sharing app, customer support, billing, more than one podcast, his own personal blog, etc. And these are just the things I know about. I think we can all forgive him for not having time for an interview.

I wasn’t exaggerating with that question, I honestly have no idea how he does it.

Indoor Voices

Remember when I opined that blogging may see a surge with all of this quarantine stuff?

Indoor Voices – a new blog (on blogspot!) from over 80 quarantined writers. Kottke covers it far better than I can here.

A few weeks ago, writer Kyle Chayka Tweeted “I predict a great Blogging Renaissance,” to which also writer Kevin Nguyen responded, “i kinda wanna do a weird free-for-all quarantine blog.”

I’ll set aside some time to dive into the archives this week.

NetNewsWire is the best RSS workflow on any platform

John Gruber:

It’s exactly what I want in an RSS reader, and it has changed my daily reading habits significantly.

It is, in a way, a return to what NetNewsWire was before the NewsGator acquisition of it and FeedDemon. Both NNW and FD were my go-to ways of subscribing to every interest, person, web site I had in the web in the early 2000s.

I’m so very happy to be back on the Mac and using NetNewsWire on both desktop and iOS. Even though I enjoyed using Feedly, it cannot hold a candle to the NetNewsWire workflow.

I have one request of the NNW team that would make my life a lot better. But it appears I may not get it. Perhaps I can find some workaround.

Cameron Moll “returns” to his site

Cameron Moll:

BUT. But, my dear friends. After years of neglect, what a rush of joy seeing this site breathing again! What a privilege to be back in the author’s seat! Why did I ever leave in the first place? Oh that’s right, I been busy with life.

Perhaps I was wrong. Perhaps the blogosphere is simply waiting in the wings. Ready to pounce. Maybe we’ll see a resurgence as people come home and remember they have a website. I certainly hope that is true.

Btw, Moll really has been here for years. The “est. in 1999” tells us enough that, like me, he’s an OG. If you look through my blog’s archives you’ll see links that date back well over 10 years to his blog – and, in some ways, Dribbble was born on his blog.

Come on blogosphere wake up!

Brent Simmons’ blog turns 20

Brent Simmons’ blog has turned 20 years old. A fantastic milestone! But, it was this bit that I wanted to comment on:

It‘s tempting to think that The Thing of my career has been NetNewsWire. And that’s kinda true. But the thing I’ve done the longest, love the most, and am most proud of is this blog.

I’ve long held that the most important and impactful thing I’ve made has been my blog. Not helping with 9rules, Viddler, Barley, etc.

The coolest thing about me is my blog.

Manton Reece also commented on this same bit from Brent, adding:

The great thing about a personal blog is that if you stick with it, your blog will very likely span multiple jobs and even major life changes. You don’t need to know where you’re going to be in 20 years to start a blog today and post to it regularly. Writing about the journey — and looking back on the posts later to reflect on where you’ve been — is part of why blogging is still so special.

Being able to look back through my blog’s archives is something I hope I’ll be able to do long into he future.

See also.

Colin Walker on personal blogging

Colin Walker:

Call it an inferiority complex, a belief that my life isn’t interesting as I don’t do that much. But, as Adam says, it’s the ordinary lives, the “random glimpses into humanity” that pique your interest, not just the grand gestures.

My favorite blogs tend to be those that are informal, unedited, and reflect the author’s voice and experiences. Rarely are they those that have grandiose lives or try to make them seem so. I truly adore a personal blog.

Alastair Humphreys on blogging for 18 years

Alastair Humphreys, adventurer, blogger:

I wrote my stories as I cycled around the world and updated my website intermittently whenever I found an internet connection stable enough to send a bunch of text. The screech of dial-up internet and being plunged into darkness by power cuts were regular accompaniments to my early days of blogging. I enjoyed two directly contrasting aspects of writing for the internet: the anonymity of writing for a website with no idea of whether anyone would actually read it, and the slowly burgeoning community of people from all over the world who stumbled upon my words. I remember the excitement of receiving an email from a lady who was reading my stuff from Antarctica. This internet thing is here to stay, I thought to myself, presciently.

Be sure to read his entire post. Subscribe to his blog while you’re at it. I have a feeling he’ll be doing it for a few more decades yet.

Audio: Everyone should have a podcast?

I think it is better said; Everyone should be able to have a podcast.

Links:

Andy Sylvester on making blogging a priority

Andy Sylvester:

The other important part of the habit was making it a priority (I tried writing at lunch before, but ran out of time after web surfing, so I changed the order and – voila – I was able to write!).

Writing first works for Andy. It also works for others like Fred Wilson and Seth Godin. Perhaps it will work for you?

See also: bad reasons not to blog and my blogging tips.

Another bad reason not to blog “I’m not a web developer”

Jamie Tanna, in a post about why everyone should have a web site, and it isn’t that you have to be a web developer:

Having a website and/or blog is not about being a web developer, nor about being a celebrity of sorts, but is about being a citizen of the Web.

Read the entire post for more. Adding this reason to my list of bad reasons not to blog.

/via Jeremy Keith.

Repost: Adam Tinworth on blogging

👉 Adam Tinworth:

In an age where the shortness and speed of content, of hot takes and clickbait, there’s still a role for slower, more considered writing. And that’s why I carry on blogging.

Bad reasons not to blog

There are a lot of bad reasons not to blog. Here are a few of them and why they are bad.

  • Someone already wrote about this. Terrible reason. You didn’t write about it. And the most important component in the equation is you. In over 20 years of blogging I cannot tell you how many topics I’ve covered that have been covered by so many other people yet still the posts helped so many. I have a few blog posts that have hundreds of thousands of page views.
  • I don’t understand this as much as others. Blah blah blah! The best blog posts are those written by people still figuring it out because they are new enough to a topic to cover them in detail. People that know something well tend to skip over important smaller pieces.
  • I’m not a good writer. Join the crowd. The only way to get better at writing is to write.
  • I’m a perfectionist, I would never publish. Publishing is a muscle. If you do it once, and keep doing it over and over, it becomes easier. Perhaps your tendency to get things just right will actually set your blog apart from others.
  • No one would read my blog. Who cares? A personal blog is less written for other people than it is for yourself. This post, as an example, is a reaffirmation of my own opinions to myself. If no one reads this at least I wrote it and it reinvigorates me to continue to blog. In fact, I would recommend not tracking analytics too closely.
  • Blogs are too complicated. Start simple. If you continue to do it, then you can dig in and make things more complex. Sign up to Micro.blog, WordPress.com, or Tumblr where there is zero configuration needed.

Update: See “I’m not a web developer”.

If you have any desire at all to have a blog and have ever thought that any of the above bad reasons should stop you – please reconsider and start blogging.

See also: My blogging tips.

Jake Dahn returns to blogging

Jake Dahn, who co-authored a blog called Waking Ideas with Danny Nicolas over 10 years ago:

I’ll write some thoughts in another post about why I’m getting back into blogging. But for now I wanted to say thanks to Danny and Colin who both inspired me to take the leap and to start hitting publish.

This makes me happy.

Automattic acquires Tumblr

Matt Mullenweg, on this Tumblog:

When the possibility to join forces became concrete, it felt like a once-in-a-generation opportunity to have two beloved platforms work alongside each other to build a better, more open, more inclusive – and, frankly, more fun web. I knew we had to do it.

Let’s get a few things out of the way immediately. Matt’s team acquired Tumblr for beans. That alone is a big part of this story. Yahoo! paid just over $1B for the platform and Automattic, reportedly, paid somewhere in the $3M area. In the world of acquisitions, this may end up being one of the most profitable acquisitions made by a tech company. Time will tell but I’d be willing to bet that Automattic will profit on this acquisition in a very short period of time.

Second, the tech stack of Tumblr is going to be replaced by WordPress. This is good for a variety of reasons. It ensures Tumblr will very likely be around in some form or another in perpetuity while still retaining its unique posting UI that its community no-doubt loves. I know I love it. I wish I had the same thing for my WordPress blog. Maybe I will get that now?

It also likely means that Tumblr and WordPress users can move back-and-forth between these two platforms much easier. I remember when I switched The Watercolor Gallery, which began as a Tumblog in 2010, to WordPress. It took me weeks to get everything right. Presumably this will no longer be the case.

And lastly, Automattic is an excellent home for Tumblr. They don’t just throw things out like Google, or apparently Verizon. They believe in building things for the long haul, doing them openly (for the most part), and retaining the ethos of the companies they acquire.

Both Flickr and Tumblr have seemingly found good homes.

I’m cdevroe on Tumblr.

Chris Hannah on blogging

Chris Hannah:

If you are trying to start a blog, then the best advice is to just start writing, and then press publish. Sure, it might not be the best content you’ll ever produce, but it’s something. Then with the experience of writing and publishing that post, the next one will be slightly better.

I shall shamelessly quote myself from two prior posts.

Me, in 2016:

Stop worrying. Hit publish.

Me, in 2018:

History belongs to those willing to hit publish.

via Andreas Jennische on Micro.blog Discover.

Repost: Brent Simmons on blogging

👉 Brent Simmons:

Here’s the thing: blogging is like any other human activity — some people stop and other people start. It’s natural.

How Micro.blog’s Discover is curated

Jean MacDonald:

The Discover timeline has evolved and will continue to evolve with the community. The guidelines will evolve too. We want to have additional curators from the community. We need to build some tools to make that possible. It would be particularly nice to have curators who can encourage discussions and connections in languages other than English.

In the linked post she lays out how Discover is curated. It is nice this is now transparent. See also their Micro Monday wherein they answer a question from me re: this as well.

Khoi Vihn on the impact his blog has had on his career

Khoi Vihn, in an interview on Own Your Content:

It’s hard to overstate how important my blog has been, but if I were to try to distill it down into one word, it would be: “amplifier.” Writing in general and the blog in particular has amplified everything that I’ve done in my career, effectively broadcasting my career in ways that just wouldn’t have happened otherwise.

Same for me. Nearly every opportunity I’ve ever had has come as a result of my blog. I know this sounds like hyperbole but it isn’t. Yes Twitter helped (when I had an early account with thousands of followers, etc). Yes going to events all over the world helped. But it all came back to my blog.

Also, my blog has helped me to form, confirm, or reject my own ideas and hypothesis. I cannot even count the number of times I’ve started a blog post (read: rant) on a particular topic only to completely change my stance on it by the time I was done writing. Writing is how I think and I write on my blog.

/via Patrick Rhone on Micro.blog Discover.

I watched Tantek’s presentation Take Back Your Web from Beyond Tellerrand during lunch. Great presentation. From it I added Mattias Ott’s blog post and this one by Aaron Parecki to Unmark to read later. Via Jeremy Keith.

You can now follow any blog on Micro.blog

Neat feature from Micro.blog. Here is Manton Reece, from his personal blog, on the new feature:

You can now follow blogs in the Micro.blog timeline, even if the blogger hasn’t yet registered on Micro.blog.

Manton describes this feature as another type of “username”. I understand why he’s framing it that way but I’m unsure if it is the best way to describe it. A blog’s content being syndicated through Micro.blog, unwitting of the owner, isn’t a username. In fact, any interaction with those posts by the Micro.blog community may very well go wholly unnoticed by the owner of the site unless their site supports Webmentions. So these are hardly Micro.blog users.

Be that as it is, I am struggling myself with a better way to fully describe the different ways in which someone can use Micro.blog.

At current, here they are:

  • you can host your blog on Micro.blog at your own domain name
  • you can sign up to Micro.blog and post there using their domain name
  • you can sign up and syndicate your blog to an account (like I do)
  • with any account:
    • you can follow Micro.blog accounts
    • you can follow any Mastodon account on any instance
    • and now you can follow any blog irrespective of whether or not the site knows it or not (like an RSS reader)

A powerful service!

This brings back memories of two services that had some interesting tip-toeing to do as a result of syndicating the content of another persons without their permission.

One, I had a lot to do with, which was 9rules. We crawled the content of all of the blogs within the community and kept a copy of a lot of their content. This allowed a few things. We had categories on the 9rules web site that made it easy for people to find blogs that interested them such as Tech, Culture, Food, etc. It also made search possible – so in a way, we had our own blog search engine. It was one of the first services of its kind on the web.

However, 9rules’ main income came from ads. Our homepage featured a few primary ad spots and some of our subsequent pages did as well. A few of the members wondered if we were profiting off of their content. A valid concern, one we didn’t intend, and I remember it being a topic of debate.

Another service I had nothing to do with, Get Satisfaction. This service created forums for people to ask questions and get answers and rate their favorite products and services. One reason it caused a kerfuffle was because the companies had no idea these conversations were happening and it made them look bad when a big issue with one of their products went unanswered. Many asked to be removed from it.

I don’t think Micro.blog will end up with ads but never say never. Also, I trust Manton and his team to be mindful of how they use this content and how they notify site owners of anything that is happening with that content on their platform. So far they’ve proven themselves to be careful, purposeful and altruistic.

If you want to follow me or my blog on Micro.blog you now have lots of ways to do that. My account, my blog, and my Mastodon account. Cool.

On blog search engines

Brent Simmons has been reminiscing about blog search engines and writing down some ideas for how one could be made today.

Something he wrote sparked a memory.

Instead of having it crawl blogs, I’d have it download and index RSS feeds. This should be cheaper than crawling pages, and it ensures that it skips indexing page junk (navigation and so on).

In 2005 or so, for 9rules I had built this exact feature. I scheduled a script to run every hour or so to poll all of the blogs in the 9rules Network (which, at its peak was hundreds of web sites). I did so before ever knowing about scaling something like this. Today it would be so much easier and cost effective to build something like this that could scale to hundreds of thousands of feeds without much effort or funding.

Like Brent I miss the days of Technorati and its ilk. It gave us a window into what people were writing about. It gave us a back channel to people’s thoughts on topics we enjoyed. These days, I suppose, you can search for “Star Wars” on Twitter to see what people are saying about last week’s announcements. But it doesn’t feel the same.

Also, these days, I don’t even know what a blog is! Is The Verge not a blog? Is the WSJ not kinda-sorta a blog? Perhaps that is why even Google removed the blog-only search. Because so many things are blogs now.

It is fun to think about. But, like Brent I too am busy with side projects.

Chris Coleman returns

Chris Coleman, on his 17-year-old and recently unearthed personal blog:

I want my platform back. I don’t want algorithms or the cacophony to drown it out. If nobody’s going to see what I write, it’s going to be on my terms.

Chris was vital part of my career though he likely doesn’t know it. The first time I saw Photoshop used for web graphics was on his Powerbook. The first time I saw someone use a portable Mac for building cool stuff that had nothing to do with work was him. And the first person I saw combine his interests with the web was him as well. All of these things I hold valuable to everything I do.

In short, Chris taught me by example to work on what you love and use the tools you love to do it.

I’m glad his blog is back. I’m subscribed.

Joshua Blankenship celebrates 15 years of having a blog

Joshua Blakenship (dude has a name like a superhero doesn’t he?) on 15 years of blogging and on bringing his personal blog back online:

I don’t know much, but I know I miss 2004 web, personal websites, and curation that has nothing to do with algorithms. And maybe you do, too. So here we are, dusting off the URL, like a baby Blankenphoenix rising from the ashes of 27,000 deleted Viagra comments.

Welcome back.

A new interview with Manton Reece of Micro.blog for 2019

Last year, around this time, I published an interview with Manton Reece – founder of Micro.blog (M.b) – about how the platform was growing and what the goals for 2018 were. It was such a great interview and it helped me to understand the direction that M.b was going that I knew I had to interview him again to check in for 2019.

Answering these questions isn’t easy. Manton and I have been volleying back and forth for about 60 days for this interview to come to this point. So before we jump into the interview I just want to take a moment to thank Manton for taking the time to thoughtfully respond to my questions. I hope the entire M.b community enjoys this interview and it helps to give an idea of what is happening there and where the community and platform are headed.

I’ve tried to include links to most everything we mention so that you’re able to find all of the little tidbits. If I missed anything, leave a comment or reply on M.b and I’ll try to track down what you’re looking for.

Now, onto the interview:

Thank you again Manton for taking some time to answer my questions. Last year’s interview was fun so I thought it’d be a good idea to revisit a few of the topics in it and also catch up with you on how Micro.blog is doing and see where it is headed in 2019. Last year you mentioned that most of the growth on the team would come in the form of curators or support. Has the team grown? If so, what does the team look like today and what will it look like in 2019?

Manton: Great to talk to you again! The size of the team has not grown since last year, but I think we’ve done more with the people we have. Jean MacDonald has hosted over 40 episodes of our Micro Monday podcast, and Jon Hays has lead recent improvements to our iOS app and new apps Sunlit and Wavelength. I still expect the growth to be on the curation side and hope that can be a focus of 2019. Where the other big social networks try to use algorithms to solve problems, we think if you want a great community, humans need to be actively involved — featuring content, listening for problems, and thinking about the impact of new features.

Customer support and system administration are the other areas that I’m looking forward to getting help with, but as the platform evolves it’s still valuable for me to be handling most of that myself. I hear from customers every day about what they love and what features are missing. Since we last talked, I’ve also moved my primary blog with thousands of posts from WordPress to Micro.blog hosting, and that has been a great way to prioritize improvements to the hosting part of the platform. Blog hosting is the actual business of Micro.blog and enables us to do everything else we want to do for the social network and community.

From an outsider’s perspective, I don’t know how you’re able to do as much as you do! You are coding Micro.blog, keeping up with the infrastructure software/hardware, dealing with support, paying the bills… the list goes on and on. Then, on top of all that, you’re building a few iOS apps like Sunlit and Wavelength. You also have your own podcast called Timetable and a long-running podcast called Core Intuition. Not to mention your personal blog, help documents for Micro.blog, and keeping up with the community and the Slack channel.

How do you prioritize all of this? Is one project more important than another?

Manton: I think good things can come from trying to do a little too much, but it’s not usually sustainable. Eventually it catches up with you and you have to simplify and wrap up or delegate some tasks. We are in that kind of period right now with Micro.blog. We will continue to do a lot, but some parts of the platform — like the iOS apps — can reach a point of maturity where we work on stability improvements and polishing existing features rather than adding brand new features.

Android is another good example. Many people ask for an official Android app for Micro.blog. Because I don’t have much Android experience myself, I know I would be stretched too thin right now to tackle it, so we are encouraging third-party solutions instead. There’s a new version of Dialog for Android which has full support for the Micro.blog timeline, posting, replying, the Discover sections, and more. I’m really excited about it.

The most important project is the Micro.blog web platform, because without that foundation nothing else is possible. Improving the API and blog hosting will always be something we work on, alongside other priorities that come and go.

I for one am very happy that Dialog exists. I’m also happy that it is pretty good too. What other third-party projects have you come across that more people should know about? And, what haven’t you seen made on top of Micro.blog that you wish existed?

Manton: People should keep an eye on Gluon, which is in development now for iOS and Android. I’ve enjoyed reading developer Vincent Ritter’s blog post updates about working on it — the early choices he made on how to build the app and later decisions to update the UI and rewrite portions of it.

Integrating other platforms is another area that is great for third-party apps. For example, IndieWeb-compatible tools like OwnYourGram (for copying Instagram posts to your blog) or IndieBookClub (for posting about books you’re reading or want to read). Having so many third-party apps that can supplement the basic features on Micro.blog means that we can keep the primary experience as streamlined as possible, because the goal is to make blogging easier. I’d love to see more advanced tools for managing posts as well, such as batch editing posts or for import and export.

Switching gears for a moment to Micro.blog’s long term financial sustainability. I know at first there was a funding push related to the Kickstarter campaign, and of course there are those that pay a few dollars per year for the hosted service or other features like cross posting. What does long term sustainability look like for Micro.blog? Does there need to be a lot of growth in the customer base? How else can people like me, who use Micro.blog daily but are not currently paying, help keep Micro.blog funded?

Manton: Kickstarter was perfect to get us started, but paid subscriptions are better long term. I want to build features that are valuable and worth paying for. So we’ll keep making our blog hosting more compelling so that it’s good for people who are just getting started with a new blog, or people who want to migrate from other platforms. We often see people who might have a primary blog on WordPress — and a secondary microblog or photo blog on Micro.blog — decide that it’s simpler to just consolidate everything to Micro.blog, importing their WordPress posts. We don’t expect all the millions of bloggers who host on WordPress to move over to Micro.blog, but even a relatively small number moving to Micro.blog will make the platform more sustainable.

We just rolled out several major new features for blog hosting, including categories and custom themes, so you can have full control over the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript on your site. You don’t need to be a designer or developer to use Micro.blog, but it’s nice to allow some more flexibility for those people who do want to tinker with their site. And now web developers can create custom themes for Micro.blog that can be used by other members of the community.

As for supporting Micro.blog if you aren’t a paying customer, the best way is to tell people about it. All our growth right now is from word of mouth. It’s great when people invite their friends from other social networks, or when they post about why they like Micro.blog on their own blog or talk about it on their podcast. You don’t need to have a large audience to make a big difference.

I’d be remiss to not mention the apparent resurgence of blogging. If not in action then in the collective consciousness. It seems many people are talking and writing about blogging lately. With Medium changing its policies, Tumblr being owned by Oath/Verizon/Aol, Twitter being a hive of villainy, Facebook selling our fears to our captors, and Instagram growing up to be like’s its parent… it seems that blogging is poised to have a huge comeback. Are you doing anything at all to capture that momentum? Or, are you just trying to keep on your roadmap as usual?

Manton: It feels like everything we’ve been working toward for a few years is starting to come together, as more people realize the downsides of these massive, centralized platforms. Whether someone is quitting Facebook tomorrow or a year from now, I want Micro.blog to be a great default choice for reclaiming ownership of your content and getting in the habit of writing or posting photos regularly. When Basecamp recently migrated their long-running blog Signal v. Noise away from Medium, they summed up the change just like we see it: “Traditional blogs might have swung out of favor, as we all discovered the benefits of social media and aggregating platforms, but we think they’re about to swing back in style, as we all discover the real costs and problems brought by such centralization.”

The other part of this is to have a safe, welcoming community. I hate to see people get discouraged from blogging because “no one” is reading, so it helps that we have the Micro.blog timeline and replies where a blog post can start a conversation, or new posts can be featured in the Discover section. I think 2019 is going to be great for blogging. Micro.blog differentiates itself because it offers a solution for both blog hosting and a great community.

Professional blogging; whether that be funded by advertisers, subscribers, fans – is a big business. What are your thoughts on how Micro.blog helps or ignores people or businesses that may want to use the platform to share their content and earn a living from it?

Manton: Micro.blog was designed for people, not “brands”, but there’s no reason it can’t be used for businesses as well. Toward the end of last year I wrote a “12 days of microblogging” blog post series, and on one day highlighted how businesses can use Micro.blog.

Personal blogs can evolve into a revenue source as well, like offering subscriptions or sponsorships. But Micro.blog will never have ads and we aren’t likely to add features specifically for people to make money from their content in the way that Medium is trying to do. We want to focus on helping people discover blog posts, and whether someone monetizes their blog or uses it for occasional self-promotion is up to them. It’s okay if most blogs are personal and non-commercial because that lends itself to authenticity, and there’s great value in just having a space of your own to publish to.

We also think podcasting is only going to get bigger, which is why our first new paid plan was microcast hosting for short-form podcasts. We keep increasing the limits and now you can publish even hour-long episodes to Micro.blog. Like personal blogs, podcasts could be sponsored, or they could be just for fun, or they could indirectly benefit your business, such as supplementing a blog or helping promote something else you’re working on.

I believe you’ve touched on open source regarding Micro.blog in the past. Some of your own projects, like JSON Feed, are open source. Will you be open sourcing Micro.blog or any pieces of it?

Manton: I don’t plan to open source all of Micro.blog in the near future. It’s a complicated project with several components across multiple servers, so it’s not really suitable for just “running yourself” right now. However, I’d love to open source more of it, especially when there’s an immediate benefit to people. For example, for the new custom themes feature, I rewrote all of the themes to use the Hugo blogging engine, and we’ve shared all our changes on GitHub. That’s something people can use right away. Jon Hays also wrote a framework called “Snippets” for the Micro.blog API and Micropub API that we’ll be using in our iOS apps, and we’ve open sourced that as well. I think there is more in our iOS apps (including Wavelength for podcasts and Sunlit for photos) that would be great to open source.

I think I catch myself looking for a search feature on Micro.blog at least twice a week. For instance, I’m big into houseplants lately and I wanted to find some people on M.b that were as well. And I can’t figure out how to do that. Is search coming?

We now have a basic search on the web version of Micro.blog under Discover. This currently searches any post that has been included in Discover. We have plans to add search to the native apps so that it’s easier to access, and expand it so that it searches even more posts on Micro.blog. However, one of the early design goals with Micro.blog was to launch without a full search index, because I didn’t like how Twitter’s search and especially trending topics could be gamed or expose the worst conversations on the platform, even in some cases being a place for more abusive, hateful replies. So we’re going a little slowly with search to make sure that we don’t recreate any of those problems.

I know I’m only scratching the surface for the questions that the community is likely curious about. I hope I did an OK job asking the important ones. Are there any topics I left off that you wish I had asked you about? Or anything you’d like to highlight?

Your questions were great. Thank you! I’d like to mention again what Jean MacDonald has done with our podcast Micro Monday. This podcast didn’t exist when you interviewed me last year, and now we have a great archive of episodes highlighting members of the community — how they got started blogging and what they are interested in, whether that’s related to Micro.blog or something else. It helps people understand Micro.blog while at the same time featuring stories from the community. I’m always inspired hearing what people are up to, and it’s a weekly reminder to me of how important it is that people have a voice on the web with their own blog.


What a fun interview! Until next year…

Baremetrics left Medium last year

Josh Pigford, last year, on leaving Baremetrics leaving Medium:

I realized Medium is really great about surfacing content, but it removes the face of it. It neutralizes all content to basically be author-agnostic. It’s like Walmart or Amazon in that you can buy from thousands of different brands, but you rarely actually know what brand you’re buying…you just know “I got it from Amazon.”

This is an excellent analogy for Medium. Distribution at the cost of customer acquisition and brand loyalty.

Responses to RSS isn’t dead. Subscribing is alive.

There were a number of responses to RSS isn’t dead. Subscribing is alive. Partly due to being on Micro.blog Discover and perhaps also due to Brent Simmons linking to it (thanks Brent!).

Chris Aldrich:

I’ve been enamored of the way that SubToMe has abstracted things to create a one click button typically with a “Follow Me” or “Subscribe” tag on it.

SubToMe seems interesting. A single button that gives the user a ton of options to subscribe. For now, I’m sticking with my Subscribe page that gives a short description of what Subscribing is and where they can do it. Perhaps I’ll extend the list of services in the future.

Jeremy Cherfas:

As for tools creating better ways to surface stuff, Newsblur does allow you to train it, which to me seems more useful than using an algorithm to train me.

I don’t need an algorithm personally. I actually like the urgency having many subscriptions creates. It forces me to weed through my subscriptions from time-to-time and unload a few. But I’m glad to hear Newsblur has something they are working on for this.

Rian van der Merwe:

I really like how you structured your “Subscribe” page in a way that non-tech people would understand. I went with “Follow” as the title, since that’s a word that has become synonymous with getting updates. What are your thoughts on Follow vs. Subscribe?

Follow is likely the more modern and widely popular verb. I think each network has had to make this choice on its own to help users infer what type of place they signed up for. Facebook has “friend”, Twitter “follow”, LinkedIn “connect”. Each of these verbs have meaning. Follow and Subscribe are both impersonal enough to fit with blogs but each have their own feeling behind them. Subscribing, to me, feels like I’m reading a publication (whether it be by 1 person or many). Following feels more like I’m one wrung down on a ladder. I could be alone in this feeling though.

As an aside: I’m so happy that blogging is being talked and written about so much over the last few months. 2019 already feels like a boon for one of my favorite things.