Categories
Blogs and blogging Social Web

Reminders why blogs remain relevant despite social media

Here’s another reminder by Chris Maiorana why blogs remain relevant despite social media that arguably makes it easier to share with each other:

Those of us who take the idea of democratic publishing seriously rejoice at how the field has opened to include anyone who has something to say and is willing to write it down. That’s why we should be more alarmed when we see social media companies crowd the spaces once occupied by blogs and do-it-yourself content creators. We see a decline in diverse opinions as the web quickly becomes less free and more autocratic.

Bringing Back Blogs in the Age of Social Media Censorship – WordPress Tavern

I’ve also added Cal Newport’s “‘Expert Twitter’ Only Goes So Far. Bring Back Blogs in WIRED” to Pocket to read a bit later.

These calls to blog more aren’t new, just as assertions that blogs are irrelevant in a time when we can share anything with millions (hypothetically) on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and <insert name of hot new social service here> aren’t new either.

Yes, I’m biased given who I work for, and the fact that I still blog (somewhat irregularly). At the same time, does that detract the assertion that blogs remain relevant despite social media? I think you’d be hard-pressed to say that they aren’t.

In many respects, you just can’t beat blogs’ combination of having your own space to publish to, open platforms to power that publishing (such as WordPress), and the flexibility to communicate your ideas in a way that does justice to what you have to say.

On a related note, I also recommend reading Chris Hardie’s post titled “Multimedia journalism and the WordPress block editor“. The more time I spend with the block editor, the more I believe that it’s truly transformational, even at this early stage of its evolution, and despite the initial learning curve.

Categories
Devices Events and Life Wellbeing

Screen time for kids during a pandemic

Back when we were in a “normal” routine, our kids’ screen time was pretty limited during the week. We only permitted them to use their phones and computers for school-related tasks during the week.

On weekends, they could play (there’s a limit on the Nintendo Switch, mostly as an experiment) for as long as their phone batteries lasted (well, that was the idea, it becomes meaningless when their phones last all day 😜).

Our kids would go out to meet their friends at parks, or at their friends’ homes.

Since our kids were basically confined to our home, and couldn’t see their friends in person, we basically lifted the screen time limits. The way I think about it is that they tend to play games with their friends, so this is the new “go out and play with your friends” time.

I noticed that Clint Edwards shared a post about a similar issue recently, and I agree with him, here:

I don’t know if I’ve ever been happier about online gaming, something only a pandemic could make me say. My son’s pretty social, and being away from his friends has been really hard on him. I usually hate gaming and we normally have serious restrictions on screen time. But right now it is keeping him inside and giving him a social outlet, and that’s made this whole ordeal easier on everyone.

Let Them Watch Screens – No Idea What I’m Doing: A Daddy Blog

The challenge, now, is that I still want our kids to focus on what passes for their distance classes in the mornings. We expect them to stick to “normal” school days, finishing around the time they’d finish if they were at school.

I work from my usual space at our dining room, and they work in their bedrooms, so it’s difficult to keep a close eye on whether they’re actually focused on their studies.

Still, as Clint points out, a little extra screen time creeping in at the edges isn’t a calamity –

Listen y’all, we are going to get through this. I know it. But the last thing I think we should all be worried about is limiting screen time right now.

Let Them Watch Screens – No Idea What I’m Doing: A Daddy Blog

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Categories
Applications Social Web Telecoms

Google Wave 2.0?

According to Ars Technica

Integrating the service into Gmail is an aggressive move and something we haven’t seen the company do since the Google+ days. Reportedly a lot more integrations are coming in the future—the G Suite team apparently wants to make some kind of “new unified communications app” that merges features from Gmail, Drive, Google Chat, and Google Meet.

Google Meet, Google’s Zoom competitor, gets wider Gmail integration

Is “Google Wave” still taken? 🤔

Categories
Blogs and blogging Publishing Social Web

The blog helped build the Web, not break it

I read some wonderful ideas about personal sites as cultivated digital gardens over the weekend (here, here, here, and here), and one post that was linked to in one of these posts caught my attention. It was Amy Hoy’s post titled “Stacking the Bricks: How the Blog Broke the Web“.

We built every new page by hand. When we had more than one web page, we built the navigation by hand. We managed our Table of Contents by hand. We broke out our calculators to code boundaries for our image maps. We talked unironically about “hyperlinks.”

Stacking the Bricks: How the Blog Broke the Web

I remember those early days of the public Web, with the myriad flashing banners, and GIFs all over the place. It wasn’t quite as romantic back then, hacking together sites with the available HTML elements, and trying not to go too crazy with the flashy graphics.

People built sites like that because that was pretty much the only way to do it. It wasn’t easy to build a site. Domains were freakishly expensive, bandwidth was terrible by today’s standards, and building some sort of social fabric for the Web back then was daunting. As Amy explained –

The early web itself, of course, was pretty exclusive: first, you had to be online, then you had to know HTML, and that wasn’t enough, you also had to have a hosting account, and know how to use it. There was no royal road. Each would-be Netizen had to bushwhack their own path.

Blogs changed all of that, and gave more people a much easier way to build their own space on the Web. Sure, many looked pretty similar because templates and themes were a little sparse, but these were spaces that non-coders could create (mostly), and make their own.

Sure, it’s fun to get your hands dirty with HTML, CSS, and other cool Web tools (and there are remarkable sites built on open standards, and that don’t run on CMSes like WordPress), but that’s not a viable option for millions of people who are online today.

No, the blog didn’t break the Web, it changed the Web. It turned the Web into a platform for just about everyone with a smartish device, and a decent Internet connection.

Not all the content on the modern Web is good. There’s plenty of trashy content out there. There’s even more wonderful content that people invest so much effort, creativity, and passion into.

There are no more quirky homepages.

There are no more amateur research librarians.

All thanks to a quirky bit of software produced to alleviate the pain of a tiny subset of a very small audience.

That’s not cool at all.

I disagree. The Web that blogs made possible is not what Hoy describes as the “old web, the cool web, the weird web, the hand-organized web”. It’s much more than that. It’s inspiring.


Disclosure

I work for Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, and home of many incredible WordPress developers. I wrote this post using the block editor that I believe is borderline revolutionary.

I’ve also been blogging (erratically) for more than 16 years. So, yes, I’m biased towards blogs.

Categories
Blogs and blogging Publishing

Still working on a more convenient publishing workflow on mobile

My publishing workflow for my site on desktop is convenient enough. I’d love to be able to share on mobile as conveniently. I’m just not there yet. That’s probably why this quote resonates with me:

This is important. I need to enjoy the workflow and publishing experience. For me, it’s technical and I want to have complete control. I don’t want to publish on a platform like medium and I actually enjoy some of the hacking around of having control of my own site.

🖋 Stop Giving af and Start Writing More

It certainly helps to have the block editor in the mobile WordPress.com app. The block editor, generally, makes publishing easier on WordPress sites.

Categories
Blogs and blogging Publishing

It makes no difference

This quote echoes my inner musings about my blog lately (as much as I love having my own space on the Web):

Seriously, who cares when anything on my site got posted. For the vast majority of things I’m writing it makes absolutely no difference what-so-ever.

 My blog is a digital garden, not a blog

Leaving that aside, I still feel like I want to post more stuff on my site. I come across stuff that I want to share all the time.

I just don’t share as much because it feels like a lot of work to share a video, or random link though a blog post with a title, taxonomy, formatting, and stuff.

I also don’t want to just tweet stuff into the social void either.

Categories
Blogs and blogging Coding Design Education People Tutorials

How Wes Bos built his new site

I’ve followed Wes Bos for a couple years now. I bought several of his courses, and look forward to when I have time to do his Beginner JavaScript — Learn JavaScript from Scratch course. He recently rebuilt his personal site using Gatsby.JS, and published both a post and a video explaining how he did it:

The details of his site are pretty technical, and the code is available on GitHub if you want to fork the repo, and take a closer look yourself.

I don’t see myself reproducing what he’s done, and building a new site for myself in the foreseeable future. That said, I have tremendous respect for Wes Bos, and how he approaches his work.

He shares openly, offers pricing for his courses that make it much more affordable (I especially appreciate that), and he produces really good quality content.

If you’re interested in how to build a really fast, static site using the Gatsby.JS framework, definitely take a look at his post and video tour. If you’re interested in learning how to code in JavaScript and JavaScript frameworks like React, check out his courses.


🖼 Featured image credit: Wes Bos (I took this version from his GitHub repo).

Categories
Devices Mobile Tech

When your iPad is your computer

The recent iPad updates are pretty interesting. I wouldn’t consider using an iPad as my primary computer for various reasons. At the same time, I can see the latest iPad, along with the keyboard and mouse (?) support as a primary computer for people with pretty straightforward or general requirements.

iPads are like netbooks

In many ways, the iPad seems to be in that place laptops were in back when they were under-powered netbooks, and weren’t quite at a stage where they could act as desktop replacements, like they commonly are now.

Simon Woods has been exploring this option over at Micro.blog too

I wonder if I would be able to avoid the PC chores even if I went with MacBook Air instead of iPad Pro, and just keep the Mac super lightweight. 🤔

Simon Woods

If you’re looking for a lightweight setup, then something like a MacBook Air (or similar lightweight laptop using another OS) is a good choice. Sure, it lacks the portability, and convenience of a tablet, but it makes up for that in support for more apps, and use cases.

On this topic, I enjoyed Marques Brownlee’s review too –

The Linux option

One option I’d love to see is an iPad-like tablet that runs a Linux distro like Ubuntu. It would need to have really good touchscreen support that enables you to use the UI with similar fluidity, and also support external peripherals so you could have a desktop experience when you need it.

I doubt we’re far from that sort of experience either. It could be a really interesting iPad alternative because it could offer more of a desktop experience (with all the app choices that brings) on more portable hardware, and using an OS that can support lower powered hardware.

I haven’t used Microsoft’s Surface devices, but they seems to be pretty capable already, so perhaps the future has already arrived, just for Microsoft users.


Reasons

I wouldn’t use an iPad as my primary computer for a couple reasons:

  1. I prefer using a different browser, multiple browsers even, and you’re basically limited to Safari for your browser experience on iOS (I understand that even if you install other browsers, Safari is basically the underpinning of other browsers too).
  2. I need more flexibility when it comes to apps than iOS would offer me. I don’t think that the apps I’d want to use there are available.

Still, I feel like it could be pretty close to meeting general, daily requirements.