Trying out Micro.blog

Services like Micro.blog should spend more time telling everyone about features like “oh, by the way, we have a dedicated discovery page for posts about pizza“. 🍕

That kind of pitch and I would have signed up for an account 2 years ago.

Here I am discovering new things though.

I got here because of a series of articles. I started reading “Twitter to decentralize… something” after having it open in a tab for a few days. And while I nodded along to that quite a bit, there was a link to another post titled “Open gardens” that I really nodded along to.

The issue isn’t that Twitter doesn’t care. It’s instead a design flaw in the platform. Because tweets don’t exist outside of Twitter, when you’re banned from Twitter, you need to start over with a new format or on a new social network. For this reason, and because their business depends on a large user base, Twitter is hesitant to throw anyone off their service. They’re unwilling to tend the garden for fear of pulling too many weeds.

– Manton Reece, Open gardens

That paragraph had me hooked, but it still wasn’t until the middle of the post when the author mentioned the Micro.blog Kickstarter that I connected the dots to whom I was reading. Paragraphs like those are the gotchas when you’ve heard about a service but haven’t paid enough attention and now you know you really should check it out.

It’s not over.

At the end of that article was a link to yet another, “The way out“, linked to as “the way forward“, an exceptional play on title and URL that caused me to open the link twice because I wasn’t sure I had clicked the right thing.

This one talks more about Micro.blog in the context of content ownership and hones in on a good difference between it and things like Mastadon: (emphasis mine)

Mastodon helps by encouraging smaller social networks, distributing the task of moderation, but doesn’t prioritize content ownership. An account on an instance like Mastodon.social has no more ownership of its content than an account on Twitter. Both let you export your data but both live at someone else’s domain name.

– Manton Reece, “The way out

A link then drops to “Starting a new photo blog“. At this point I’m thinking to myself how excellent of a series of perfectly placed links this has been because here I am on blog post four and I’ve read every post and often when this happens those tabs sit unread for weeks!

That post is great and it was cool to see how easy it is to import past Instagram posts into Micro.blog using the MacOS app. There’s also a nice looking Sunlit app for iOS that I won’t be able to use, but I’m definitely interested in giving this all a shot.

When I left Instagram, one of the final triggering events was my discovery of the open-source and hosted service pixelfed. I setup an account and immediately declared it was the replacement I would use. I posted a few photos, followed a couple people, added the site as a home screen bookmark so that it would be app like, and then…

Forgot to login after a few days.

The browser cookies expired and I had to login again, and I had that ownership question poking in my brain—If I start adding photos here, how long will it be before I have to move them somewhere else.

Still a little upset about URL shorteners in general and especially 2009, the year I used tr.im for everything 😞

Me, on Twitter a few weeks ago

Of course there’s more history.

Way way back in 2009, Posterous (post.ly) was a thing. A year before Instagram came around, a lot of people had photo blogs and Posterous made it easy to post via email or web. In 2012, the team was acquired by Twitter, and in 2013 the service was shut down.

A custom domain at Posterous made it easy for me to move to self hosted with working post.ly 301 redirects. Happy for that. Own your stuff.

Me, on Twitter almost 7 years ago

Luckily, Posterous was cool in that you could point a domain of your own to your account so that jeremys.posterous.com was really posterous.jeremyfelt.com. When they shut down, I was able to export all of my data and have control over the redirects. I imported everything into WordPress, setup redirects to posts and now I can still go back and see how absolutely horrid a Blackberry Pearl’s camera was 10 years ago.

Here we are several years later.

Even though I’ve seen how these cycles go, I’ve published a whole bunch of content so that if I move it somewhere else, I break every reference to it.

Instagram was never web friendly anyway, so there are barely any references—you couldn’t even link to photos within the app.

Twitter, on the other hand—even though it’s perfectly fine to treat it as an ephemeral stream and just delete it all—has also been a log of work, feelings, annoyances, experiences, and all kinds of junk that becomes fun to look back at every once and a while.

That’s going to suck when Twitter shuts down or everyone stops using it.

So. I should learn that lesson a bit here while also being open to trying new hosted services that seem to be driven by good people. I setup a Micro.blog account and pointed a sub-domain at it. Thanks to my HSTS configuration on this root domain (jeremyfelt.com), I need to wait just a bit… 🛌

Ok. I’m back to finish the post, and only two weeks later!

It was getting late and I had to request an HTTPS certificate for micro.jeremyfelt.com from the Micro.blog team. Manton actually replied early the next morning and had the cert and domain all configured for me. I also received a very welcoming set of replies to my first post from the Micro.blog community. All great touches!

I then got busy with not being busy for the holiday and left all these tabs and this post open with the intention of finishing every day since.

I’m going to figure out the right way to incorporate this into my flow now. I think I’ll start by trying to import my Instagram archive. Then I’ll need to work out a mobile solution and determine how this may all fit as a separate piece from my main site.

In an ideal world, if this all works out, most of my tweets will originate at micro.jeremyfelt.com and then syndicate out to Twitter according to some criteria. Or I’ll find some entirely new use for it that takes me away from Twitter for good. Let’s see what happens!

Reactions on “Trying out Micro.blog”

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Really been enjoying your posts lately.... I miss Posterous too, connecting it with a previous post you made I think it was quite close to the ideal flow interface. Just open an email and type/add content. What could be easier than that?

Thanks, Davis!

Agreed - that email flow seems great sometimes. Even this comment box loses a bunch of distraction and allows for just text. I imagine that could be one factor that leads people to use newsletters rather than "blogs".

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