I had a conversation with someone recently about their site. They decided to give up their site, and their domain because they use social media for everything. I had to pause for a moment when I heard that.
As useful as social media is to so many people, entrusting your online identity, and content wholly to social media is quite a gamble.
I think there’s certainly merit in shifting your social network over to something like Micro.blog, in the near term at least. As Enslen explains –
As the name Micro.blog implies the primary thing you can do on it is write short form posts like Twitter and Facebook. But you can also post long form posts just like you would on a conventional blog, just keep typing and when you hit 280 characters in a post a Title Field appears and you are long form posting – effortlessly. There is no friction or barriers between you and just writing.
Posting is easy, like posting on Twitter and the blog just auto-generates itself. You can post, “I like pizza.” You can post a picture of your cat plus a poem about your cat. You can post a 600 word essay about the Chicago Cubs. Whatever you want, however short or long you want. It’s one of the features I like the most. Posting photos is very easy on MB. There are quite a few dedicated photoblogs there.
And you can move. If you decide to move you can export all your posts and import them on a different blogging platform. This is exactly why MB strongly encourages you to use your own domain it makes moving easier.
There are two challenges, as I see it at the moment:
If your social graph/network isn’t using Micro.blog, it’s value for you may be pretty limited (or you can create a new network!); and
I worry that shifting over to another, single service is repeating the same mistake we all made focusing our social streams into a small number of social networks that we don’t control. Micro.blog is certainly more open than Twitter or Facebook, and you don’t even need to host your blog there to participate, so it’s better in that respect.
I’ve been using Micro.blog as a pseudo-Twitter for a little while now. My blog posts publish there automatically, and I’ve discovered some fascinating people there along the way.
The syndication aspect is why I think there’s definitely something to adopting Micro.blog as a social network, even if it’s more of a stepping stone to something else. I’d love that “something else” to be a distributed social fabric that’s informed by posts on our personal sites/blogs.
I don’t think we’re quite there yet (wherever there is?), but I’m hopeful that we can move beyond a site as a static site or as a chunky blog, to a point where a site/blog can be a source of articles, and also simpler shares like status updates, Instagram-like photos, and so on.
Micro.blog is the closest to that, that I’ve seen. Here’s Manton Reece’s overview of Micro.blog. I think it offers a pretty good perspective on what this distributed social experience could look like:
I’m not really interested in moving my site away from WordPress, and that’s not because I work at Automattic. Overall, I enjoy using WordPress, and I think it’s one of the best options out there for publishing just about everything from a personal blog, to more complex publications.
Hopefully WordPress will evolve, and incorporate technologies that feed this loose vision of a federated social Web based on personal sites that talk to each other seamlessly. In the meantime, there’s a growing collection of plugins that add these pieces along the way (such as the wonderful IndieWeb plugins).
So, perhaps Micro.blog is a good candidate for an alternative to Facebook, and Twitter*. It’s certainly a couple steps in the right direction, while we figure out what a post-Facebook/post-Twitter social Web looks like.
*well, certainly Twitter given that Micro.blog doesn’t support privacy options you may want to use in a Facebook alternative, and assuming that the people you want to follow are on Twitter too …
As I test Gutenberg, I keep coming back to one question: is it good for blogging? The goal with Micro.blog is to make blogging easier so that more people will have their own site instead of delegating their web identity to a social network. Gutenberg is more flexible than today’s WordPress, but it’s also more complex for someone who just wants to type in a few sentences and hit publish.
The new editor is available to both WordPress.com and self-hosted sites ahead of the WordPress 5.0 release. I’ve been using it on this site for a couple weeks, and in a couple test sites so I can anticipate or troubleshoot issues that our users may encounter.
I think there’s some merit in Reece’s perception of Gutenberg. I also think I fall more into the category of bloggers who like to open a simple editor and start typing into a text box.
A lot of WordPress users don’t want this simpler experience. I come across many people who want a very visual editor where you can create pretty dynamic layouts on the fly.
The new editor may be more for those people, but it can work pretty well for someone who wants to open a blank editor window and start typing, too.
Put another way, as WordPress matures I think it moves further away from the ideal blogging interface for someone who wants to write every day. Even as we add features to Micro.blog — domain names, themes, full-length posts, photos, podcasting — the core platform will always be rooted in the simple idea of a text box and a timeline.
Granted I’m a little biased because I work for Automattic, and I believe in what we’re doing. At the same time, I was a blogger long before I joined this company, and WordPress has been synonymous with “blogging” for me for almost 14 years.
I’m still deciding whether the new WordPress Editor is going to be the default on my personal site. It’s still early days for Gutenberg, and I think it has an exciting future.
That said, I like my simpler text windows, Markdown, and monospace fonts when I write (thank goodness for MarsEdit). Not everyone does, and WordPress is still flexible enough to accommodate almost all of us.
(Now, if I could just configure this blog to play nicely with all its IndieWeb cousins again, that would be great.)
I like this approach, it’s what I’ve been doing for a little while now:
If you are frustrated with the state of social networks, I recommend blogging more. I love seeing new blogs and photo blogs just as we’re having a serious debate in the mainstream about social networks. The way out isn’t easy, but there’s a clear path waiting for us to take it.