When WordPress Rickrolls You. Lol!

I just signed into my site’s dashboard and I noticed this curious JetPack banner:

Curious JetPack banner

So I clicked on the button and this loaded:

Lol! Oh you crazy people!

All The Blogging At Automattic

When I see people dismissing blogs, I can't help but think that they're missing a huge opportunity by turning away from this incredible platform.

One of my favourite aspects of working at Automattic is how central blogs are to how we communicate (another important tool is Slack). We have loads of internal blogs that we call “P2s” (because they generally use the P2 theme).

We use P2s to post support requests, share tips for doing better work, update each other on new additions to our families, submit internal support requests, and more.

It feels like we’re using blogs in ways that seemed like futuristic stuff back in the early 2000s, and that really appeals to me. There’s something about blogs that have appealed to me every since I first came across the medium in 2003/2004.

To actually work in an environment where they’re actively in use for so many purposes, and by so many people, is like being in Blog Nirvana.

I find more interesting ways to use our blogs each day at Automattic, and I love it.

When I see people dismissing blogs, I can’t help but think that they’re missing a huge opportunity by turning away from this incredible platform.

The Mastodon in the room

I read Patrick Hogan’s post about Mastodon titled “Mastodon makes the internet feel like home again” last week. It prompted me to install a Mastodon app on my phone again, and take another look.

I read Patrick Hogan’s post about Mastodon titled “Mastodon makes the internet feel like home again” last week. It prompted me to install a Mastodon app on my phone again, and take another look.

The Mastodon.social timeline
Find me on Mastodon, if you want

Like many people, I’m not exactly in love with Twitter lately (except when I am). I’ve been on the lookout for something better for years (remember Jaiku?). I really like the idea of a federated update/micro-blogging service, and Mastodon has all the features you’d want.

What about the network effect?

The one feature that’s missing is the one factor that either boosts or kills any social service (again, remember Jaiku?) is the all important network effect. As Richard MacManus put it in his post titled “How social media fits into the Open Web” in AltPlatform.org (I can’t seem to load the site and provide a link):

I dip into Mastodon from time to time, but it just hasn’t managed to become part of my daily Web routine. Perhaps it will in future, but the old ‘network effects’ rule applies here: the value of a tool is ultimately in the strength of the community it builds.

This probably isn’t the platform I’d expect to see my friends on (and I don’t expect to). Still, if Mastodon is to be a viable alternative to Twitter for me, I’d want to be able to join communities that feature the people who I follow on Twitter. At the moment, I’m not sure most of them are even aware of Mastodon.

More importantly, what about my blog?

As interested as I am in a federated alternative to Twitter, what I really want is to be able to use my blog as my starting point for everything. Why can’t my personal site be the focal point of my presence on the web (at least one of my primary expressions of my self online)?

This takes me back to the work the IndieWeb community is doing to link all these sites together into a federated identity, and content network. How about extending that work to the point where I can use this blog as my identity that reaches into these federated networks?

This may be wishful thinking but I’d really like to see a future version of WordPress introduce this social connectivity that allows me to extend a unified personal presence to non-blog platforms.

On Mastodon, my identity is linked to the instance I am a part of. There, I am @pauljacobson@mastodon.social. I can use that identity to participate in other Mastodon instances (I think), so I have the beginnings of a distributed, social identity here. The challenge is that my nascent social identity is distinct from this site.

Update: I wrote too soon. Ryan Barrett pointed me to Bridgy Fed that seems to do what I was hoping I’d be able to do (pretty much). Barrett launched Bridgy Fed in October and it looks terrific:

Ryan Barrett's Bridgy Fed launch announcement.
Ryan Barrett’s Bridgy Fed launch announcement.

This is going to take a little time to configure but I’m looking forward to working through the process and connecting my site to the fediverse.

Om Malik: showing us how it’s done

Dave Winer paid tribute to Om Malik on Twitter. I shared my perspective in reply and it seemed wrong to leave my response just as a tweet so I thought I'd re-post my response here too.

Dave Winer paid tribute to Om Malik on Twitter. I shared my perspective in reply and it seemed wrong to leave my response just as a tweet so I thought I’d re-post my response here too:

@Om is an inspirational blogger/writer. One of a very small group of people who represent what makes a blog such a wonderful medium (you too, sir). When I think about how to be a better blogger and writer, Om is usually the first person I look to for inspiration.

Here is the Twitter thread:

Photo credit: Om Malik by Christopher Michel, licensed CC BY 2.0

My blog-Twitter stats synchronicity

A little synchronicity between my Twitter stats and my blog stats. Just sharing my momentary diversion.

I just noticed that there is a little synchronicity between my blog stats and my Twitter stats. 4,022 blog posts alongside 40.2k tweets … See? 😁

Blog stats
4,022 blog posts already … boy, where did the time go?
My Twitter stats
40,2k tweets and more than a decade on Twitter. Where did that time go?

I doubt very much that there are any stars and/or planets in alignment for this one. Just the same, it’s a fun little thing for me.

Easier mobile blogging with the WordPress Aztec editor

Automattic announced a new editor for its mobile apps. It may not seem like anything groundbreaking but improvements to the mobile apps that make it easier for users to blog on the go are very welcome.

Automattic recently released a beta version if its new editor for mobile WordPress apps.

Now that so many of us carry around tiny pocket-size computers, more and more of our Internet time happens on phones and tablets — not just browsing, but creating. You’ve been asking for a better publishing experience in the WordPress app to make mobile publishing smoother. Today we’re introducing a new editor for iOS and Android, codenamed “Aztec.” It’s speedy and reliable, works with posts and pages, and is ready for beta testing!

Given how much time we spend using our mobile devices, a great mobile blogging experience is increasingly valuable.

I still need to play around with this a bit more but I’m pretty excited to see what I can do with the mobile app.

Read more: “A Brand New Editor for the WordPress Mobile Apps

About the featured image: If you are curious, this was part of a very cool display at the Eretz Israel Museum called “On the Edge: Israeli Paper” that features some of the incredible things artists have done with paper. The exhibit runs until the end of October 2017.

The Open Web fosters opportunities

The Open Web is not a hot topic for most people. It's pretty esoteric and it will probably remain the domain of a pretty small group of people for years to come. Still, it's an important cause.

Emre Sokullu has a terrific post title “Why we should all care about the Open Web“. It’s probably aimed more at people who are curious or on the fence about the Open Web.

He deals with a couple core themes which are well worth reading about. Much of the Open Web’s value comes down to this statement for me:

Open web is equal to open data. And data fosters innovation and creates new opportunities.

The Open Web is not a hot topic for most people. It’s pretty esoteric and it will probably remain the domain of a pretty small group of people for years to come.

Still, it’s a drum worth beating.

As dismissive as many people are about maintaining a blog or site of their own (I have a half-written post about this somewhere), the time for indie sites isn’t over yet.

How to Indiewebify your site

Richard MacManus has an introductory post about IndieWebifying his blog and I think I'm going to dig into the process a little more and add more IndieWeb elements to my site.

The IndieWeb movement has seemed pretty geeky to me since I first heard about it (probably from Kevin Marks). I haven’t been sure what to make of it but the more I learn about it the more it interests me.

I’ve already installed a couple IndieWeb plugins in this blog and I like the benefits I’ve seen.

Richard MacManus (I mentioned him and his AltPlatform.org blog a couple days ago) published the first part of his guide to IndieWebifying his blog and I just started reading it.

I’ve decided to re-design my personal website, richardmacmanus.com. My primary reason is to become a full-fledged member of the IndieWeb community. If I’m writing about Open Web technologies here on AltPlatform, then I ought to be eating my own dog food. Another reason is to discover – likely by trial and error – how to route around Walled Gardens like Facebook and Twitter, which host so much of our content these days. In other words, my goal is to make my personal website the hub for my Web presence. Finally, I want to re-discover blogging in 2017 – what it can do in this era, who’s doing interesting things and how, and what opportunities there might be for the Open Web to cross into the mainstream.

I clicked across to the IndiWebify.me site he linked to and I think I have a new personal project to complete this site’s IndieWebification. Exciting!