Micro-Blogging? Probably Not.

Apologies to the three of my blog followers that got a glimpse of a test post that I tried to do a couple of days ago when attempting to connect my personal blog with the micro.blog service being built by Manton Reece.

I was turned on to the whole “Micro-Blog” idea by Alan Jacobs, who migrated his social presence to his own website through http://social.ayjay.org. His reasons for this (along with many others on the Micro.Blog service) essentially amount to the following:

  1. Twitter has the tendency toward being a cesspool of vitriol and nonsense (I am inclined to agree, though I can’t bring myself to delete my dumb account there).
  2. Micro.Blog’s setup is built to allow users to own their own content. This is important in a time when a small amount of unfathomably large companies not only own what we write and say and produce, but also own the means of production.

There are a lot of cool things that Micro.Blog is doing. They do not allow anyone to see follower accounts, they are promising to never show ads (the entry cost is a minimum of $5 a month, unless you host your micro blog yourself), and the timeline is chronological (i.e., algorithms don’t control what everyone sees). All of this is highly appealing to me, especially after having deleted Facebook and reducing my Twitter presence significantly.

But here’s the problem I ran into when I started to try and set up my own Micro.Blog (and perhaps where I went wrong). I signed up for the service (you get a 10-day free trial), but I wanted to host everything here at cdbaca.org. Now, I’m sure there’s an easy way to do this, but I spent too much time a couple of days ago trying to figure out how to do this in such a way that my Micro.Blog posts didn’t populate in my regular blog feed. I copied and pasted code from other people into my own site files and tried to do all the right things in the admin section of my WordPress dashboard. I couldn’t get it to work.

I’m sure that I just missed some steps, and to be honest, I’m smart enough to figure them out. But after I spent that few hours with no success, I asked myself: Why am I doing this in the first place? What do I care about this new social community? Why do I even want to write short posts in the first place? And on another note, if it’s this difficult for someone like me to do this, what is the likelihood that non-tech people are going to find Micro.Blog appealing?

In all of that, I basically realized that I don’t actually care that much about having a Twitter (or Twitter-esque) presence. I’ll keep my Twitter account for now (although I’m only currently only logging in about once a day for a short amount of time). But the work that I really want to be doing is right here on the blog. I own the content, I control how it looks, and I’m keeping a more consistent writing habit than I have since I was a teenager. My writing will continue to post to a Facebook page that I don’t manage, and to my Twitter account that I rarely see, and I’ll happily manage my personal, digital space in a meaningful, cultivating way.

Two More Notes on Blogging

I’ll get off of this sort of meta-discourse on social media and blogging and better uses of the web eventually, but I came across another couple of posts worth mentioning that spurred some more thoughts for me. First, I came across this post via Manton Reece’s blog (the founder of Micro.Blog, a new social web service that is pretty intriguing to me). Brent Simmons writes:

But if you think of the years 1995-2005, you remember when the web wasour social network: blogs, comments on blogs, feed readers, and services such as Flickr, Technorati, and BlogBridge to glue things together. Those were great years — but then a few tragedies happened: Google Reader came out, and then, almost worse, it went away. Worse still was the rise of Twitter and Facebook, when we decided it would be okay to give up ownership and let just a couple companies own our communication.

I remember this distinctly — in fact, this was how I grew up in the web. My friends and I all started blogs, and it wasn’t just a method of internet-journaling. It was more than that. It helped us to form early social networks, but networks that we controlled.

Then, after following the trail of breadcrumbs a little more, I found this post by Om Malik, where he writes:

What people don’t realize about blogs is that they are never a complete story. They are incomplete and by nature more mysterious, more episodic, and thus more interesting. Blogs are meant not to leave you with everything. The whole idea is to think to deliberate, and to come back again and again, to finish what was started a long time ago. But there is no end, just a pause, for a voice to start, talking again.

Which made me think two things:

  1. It reminded me of my previous post about making connections — the art of the blog is almost never to give a complete picture, especially to readers. Instead, the blog’s job is to help me to make connections. I’ll be able to look back one day and see things that I didn’t see before.
  2. I wonder — is it possible that blogs will make a comeback in the same way that podcasts did a few years ago? Podcasts were around long before the boom of podcasting happened in… what, 2013? Everyone thought podcasting was essentially dead, or at least had outlived its novelty. The “blog” was pronounced dead not that long ago, but if Manton Reece and others like him can help us build stronger support systems to make the web itself more social, outside of the walled gardens of social media, then we might just witness a comeback in the next few years.

(Side note: I’ve noticed that since I’ve been focusing more on my personal digital space [i.e., the blog here], I’m not all that interested in Twitter anymore, which is the last vestige of any “owned” social media that I still participate in.)