In Praise of Micro.Blog

And All That Sail In Her

Setting SailSetting Sail

I recently pinged a friend of mine from the 1999 crowd asking why he wasn’t on Micro.Blog … turns out he is … although he posts through RSS, so you can find him, but not engage. He was apparently on the platform back in the Kick Starter days - but found he wasn’t posting too much. He wrote;

What do you feel are the benefits of the service, beside being “yet another blogging platform”? If you could help me understand the benefits, I might be more interested.

I started to write an email, and I thought - hell - why not write a blog post. So I did, starting with a rapid comparison to 1999 where he and I met. To be clear - this is not an original idea (writing a blog post in reply to an email). I first got it from Brent Simmons here when I wrote to Brent and Manton in a blog post last year. This is another one of those.

Though there are things that 1999 has, that doesn’t - yet - it works as it says on the tin, if you get stuck Manton weighs in. He also listens, takes input and responds. He doesn’t talk down, or assume. He genuinely wants to hear how to make the platform better. (I know right -a lready different to 1999!) The community is also growing, very active and if you find the dialogue not sufficient - then pop over to the Slack channel which tends to be in ‘over-drive’.

They also ‘speak in tongues’ (but as I am someone that Dave Winer classifies as a ‘POET’ … I find those channels interesting as I continue to learn. It is more than a blogging platform, it also has a community - which isn’t as apparent when you look at form the outside - but it is there - thriving and engaging and growing. But not just any community, as someone said on a recent podcast - right now it is a community of bloggers, since it is first and foremost a blogging platform and is obviously resonating best with bloggers. That said, it is changing … slightly. Changing in that even in the short time I have been here, the content of what people are writing about is pivoting. It tends to be less technical than it used to be - but still deep knowledge in, about and around other topics. For example, what I have learned about what I call ‘analog blogging’ is endless … think journals, pens, pencils, paper, bullet journalling and, and, and … The community builds on posts made to an individual’s blog. In my case [that is here] - but if you [go here] you can see the comments I am making into the community aswell. That said, without being signed in you don’t get the context or the other comments from fellow users.

If you are a member and following people - you can see all the dialogue and comments that build on that. It also auto posts into Facebook and Twitter - I don’t do Facebook - but Twitter posting is good and I am beginning to experiment with publishing to Facebook Pages - so that I can benefit from Facebook distribution, while continuing to own my own content on my sites. If you want to pull Instagram into your feed Manton has an excellent export-import mechanism that allows you to do that. This is one example of a post that I imported using this process. I haven’t brought it all over - mainly because there is a pile of crap there - and part of this exercise for me is a certain amount of curation of my content.

On that topic, I also managed to bring my entire 1999 archive into the stream. Not being a techy I got stuck at one point - but Manton sorted it ‘lickety split’. So, in a nutshell, it is primarily a blogging platform which ties into WP if you prefer for example - but the community is essentially a community of bloggers - which I like. I really like. Not least because everything seems to be considered and thoughtful .. not just mindless knee jerks. Not to say that there aren’t disagreements  .. but isn’t that what life is all about? ‘Vive la Différence’ as the French would have it! I see my friend’s posts at - for my friend is indeed Andy Sylvester - but it doesn’t seem to be very active - maybe this post will get him excited. Andy? The noise of Twitter and Facebook is not here - there is a respect you can also tie in as many other blogs there as you wish so whenever I post to People First, Beyond Bridges (now archived) or And Another Thing - the link also appears in the stream - e.g. this one :  - got pushed into my stream - you don’t see it on the main page - it is part of the community.

On apps, Manton seems to be primarily an Apple developer (so Mac and IOS are well supported by him). But because he is building the platform in an open way with a focus on the Indie Web, two other people have released alternative iOS apps and I understand that an Android app has just been released which seems to be getting big kudos from the community. In addition, Manton has released a podcasting app (Wavelength) and a photos app (Sunlit) dedicated to those formats - that you can use and which talk directly to the servers and in the case of Sunlit to Wordpress.

There is also a weekly ‘Micro Monday Podcast’ where Jean McDonald interviews a micro.blogger for ten minutes - so you can get to know people through that route as well. They are short and informal, but it’s funny - hearing a voice provides that extra dimension of feeling you ‘know’ someone. Finally - specifically for 1999ers (since I know you are one), there are one or two people I recognize from the 1999 crowd such as @frankm and @jack and that I see on - so you could also ask them … Hope that helps. PS - I might come back and append to this at some future point - this is just a rough first pass of what I see, feel and like about what is going in here - it isn’t meant to be an in-depth analysis - so might have missed some key points on the way through.

In fact … I know I have.


June 6, 2018