Colin Devroe

Photographer. Podcaster. Blogger. Reverse Engineer.

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.

How to enjoy a long winter

Jason Kottke:

I decided that because I live in Vermont, there is nothing I can do about it being winter, so it was unhelpful for me to be upset about it. I stopped complaining about it getting cold and dark, I stopped dreading the arrival of snow. I told myself that I just wasn’t going to feel like I felt in the summer and that’s ok — winter is a time for different feelings.

I’ve decided the same long before I read Jason’s post but it was a good reminder for me. I’m also going to make the best of winter. I’m going to embrace the differences this season brings and I’m now looking forward to that. Also, the worse the winter the more I’ll enjoy spring!

Dean Allen

I did not know Dean Allen. But you couldn’t have been a blogger in the early 2000s without coming across, and admiring and swooning over, Textism – Dean’s blog. I was no exception. In fact, I was still subscribed to Textism’s RSS feed until I heard the news. Likely a 15 or so year old subscription.

There have been some lovely things written about Dean that I’ve read over the last 24-hours.

Along with hundreds of tweets. I’m sure there will be more.

I read every word of these posts. It is nice that these people have their own blogs where they can post more than just a pithy remembrance, but something that can truly reflect their feelings going through this loss.

What Dean’s passing reminds me of is how much I miss really great personal blogs. But it seems like they are coming back stronger than ever. I really hope they are.

“My Fares” by Joseph Rodriguez

Joseph Rodriguez:

It was not unusual to see shoe-shiners outside of Grand Central. They’re not there anymore. I think it’s a Banana Republic now.

Incredible photo portfolio backed with incredible stories.

/via Kottke.

Colin Walker on blogrolls

Colin Walker:

Part of the problem with people based following models on social networks is that you follow the whole person so see everything they post whether it is relevant to you or not. There is no filtering system.

He goes on to mention that blogrolls that also supply an OPML file make it quick to subscribe via RSS to all of the blogs in the roll. Then, that person can determine whether or not to keep each subscription based on the value they get from them.

I can see that. But, I still go back to my original thought on this. If I subscribe to a bunch of blogs (and I do) and then I link to individual posts that I think are interesting, then I’m acting as a curator for my subscribers. This is why Kottke, Daring Fireball, and Waxy are so popular. They highlight some of the most interesting content, discussions, or resources they’ve found on the web. I do not intend to try to be as focused as Daring Fireball or as prolific as Kottke, but if I find something interesting I enjoy linking to them and giving my thoughts. If I really think something is worth discussing then I will link to it in an individual post.

If you subscribe to my blog and notice I’m routinely linking to a particular source (like Colin Walker) you may consider hopping over to your nearest feed reader and subscribing to his site as well.

Walker also mentions that anecdotal evidence suggests that people using RSS or JSON Feed to subscribe to blogs is on the rise. I’m seeing that too. And I’m very happy about it.

Tim Bray on blogging in 2017

Tim Bray:

On a blog, I can write about blog­ging and whim­si­cal­ly toss in self-indulgent pic­tures of May’s bud­ding aza­leas.

OK, Tim. I see your azaleas and raise you these springtails.

Tim’s post via Jason Kottke and Jeremy Keith.

See also.

Independence is a long play

Jason Kottke re: Medium’s announcement and why he chose not to move to Medium:

New businesses are unstable…that’s just the way it is.

In Silicon Valley (and in other startup-rich areas), these unstable businesses have lots of someone else’s money to throw around — which makes them appear more stable in the short term — but they cannot escape the reality of the extreme risk involved in building a new business, particularly a business that needs to grow quickly (as almost all VC-backed startups are required to do).

And, how he combines services on his own domain:

With, even though it hasn’t been easy, I’ve opted for independence and control over a potential rocketship ride. Instead of moving the site to Medium or Tumblr or focusing my activities on one social network or another, I use third-party services like The Deck, Amazon Associates, Stripe, and Memberful that plug in to the site. Small pieces loosely joined, not a monolithic solution. If necessary, I can switch any of them out for a comparable service and am therefore not as subject to any potential change in business goals by these companies. Given the news out of Medium, I’m increasingly happy that I’ve decided to do it this way (with your very kind assistance).

See also; this, this, this, and all of these.

The Future of Cities

I forgot to link to Oscar Boyson’s video in this week’s What I saw this week post. Sorry about that. So now he gets his very own post.

Oscar Boyson on Ev’s blog:

Jane Jacobs said that “cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.” I’ve worked on videos for companies, for the guy in the penthouse, for nobody in particular, in the developing world, with rich people and poor people, for me, for my friends, and for artists. I’m so thankful for everybody who allowed me to make this film the way we did, and I hope the parallels between filmmaking and city building — where the stakes are so much higher — aren’t lost on anyone trying to make their city a better place. We should all be involved. The most sustainable future is a future that includes us all.

Great video. See also, Kottke.

Writing from home

Me, last night on Twitter:

I know @jkottke said blogs were dead. I know I said they were “just sleeping”. It might be Jason’s fault, but I think they’re on the upswing.

Jeremy Keith has noticed too:

I’m not saying that this is a trend (the sample size is far too small to draw any general conclusions), but I’ve noticed some people make a gratifying return to publishing on their own websites.

Just. Sleeping.


In dependence

Jeremy Keith has chimed in on the conversation started by Jason Kottke’s “The blog is dead” piece from a few weeks ago with In dependence.

Many of us are feeling an increasing unease, even disgust, with the sanitised, shrink-wrapped, handholding platforms that make it oh-so-easy to get your thoughts out there …on their terms …for their profit.

I’ve written up my thoughts across several posts here, here, and here.

I think the bit I’ve quoted from Keith’s piece is an important distinction to make. Some of the platforms that do make it easier to publish online do not use your content for their benefit like Tumblr and Medium do. (if you pay), Squarespace, Barley CMS, and others, allow you to publish a site easily while managing the hard parts for you. A service most definitely worth paying for. Because, as Jeremy also stated, “Publishing on your own website is still just too damn geeky.”

Squarespace doesn’t make money on your content. They make money on providing an easy to use, solid web publishing service. Tumblr makes money on your content.

If you’re making a decision on what platform to use to publish your content, or build your site with, there are a lot of things to consider. The “network effect” is important for some cases. If I was Time, who already has their own site but needs a way to reach a broader audience with its content, I would agree that they should try to share their content on Tumblr or Instagram. They can leverage those networks to draw people into their main site or apps. And they can do it for far less effort and money than most traditional advertising would afford.

However, if I’m someone that wishes to have an online presence that I completely control, that can be ad-free, and that allows me to publish anything I want whenever I want; I’d look for the following features in that platform:

  • Is the data portable? Meaning, can I both import and export all of my content?
  • Can I pay a fee to make the platform ad-free?
  • Can my URL structure go with me? In other words, if I were to change from one platform to another can I ensure that all of my previous URLs will live on or be redirected to their new locations?
  • Do I trust the owners to do the right thing if/when they should go out of business or be acquired by another company?

This discussion over the last few weeks has caused me to add a few features to the Barley CMS near-term roadmap even though customers are not even asking for them at this point. First, make data import / export something the customer can do easily on their own. We have the tools internally to import from and export to a few popular platforms and schemas but we’ve never made those tools available to the user because, so far, our customers require a bit of handholding for these action. We should and will make this something the customer can do on their own without contacting us. Second, adding support for things like webmentions. I can almost guarantee that none of Barley’s customers will ever ask for this but I think we should do it anyway. It is a great feature for any publishing platform to support.

I’ve said it before but I’m very happy that this discussion is happening, out in the open, and that so many smart people are chatting about blogging again.