@sakurina I don't think this episode came out particularly well but since others have expressed interest in hearing it, here is Limitless Possibility episode 89: The Justin Bieber Problem about Twitter alternatives.
@Lioncourt Agreed. Blogging was derived from "weB log" and it has a long history now with variations (i.e. audioblogging, videoblogging). I know the younger crowd doesn't use the term as much since they came online when it was more about "posting" stuff (usually from their phones).
But the term "blog" is very umbrella and neutral and will be used for many more years... possibly with a resurgence of use.
Hey man, we're all just pub'n.
@Lioncourt ahh, you managed to put into words what I was struggling to articulate, even to myself. Thank you. 😊
We all still blog, even if people know it by a different name now.
And just like how Twitter/Facebook/instagram has changed the way people post thing online, so too can MB herald another change.
Perhaps we shouldn’t be introducing people to MB as an Twitter/Facebook replacement. Maybe it should be considered a seperate thing of its own.
@sakurina I think there's an important distinction you're missing. “Blogging" is arguably dead as a term, not as an act. Just look at the number of Twitter threads that get posted every day. On M.B, you have the option to post longer form without having to resort to the clumsy hack of Twitter threading. If M.B has a problem, it is in terminology/marketing, not in core features/concept, IMO. Either way, "blog" is a term that has fallen out of fashion, but the underlying concept remains. “LP” is a similar example. Music artists still release albums, but they don't call them LPs anymore. Even there, blogging is not as archaic a term yet; it can easily be repurposed given time.
@fiona I think I've converged on "it's like Twitter but funded directly by its users, embraces third-parties, and run by people with taste and a desire for civility". That gets to the core issues surrounding Twitter today and casts aside the entire notion of the IndieWeb. IndieWeb values will always be a niche feature, they should not be the main appeal, as much as it pains people who "get it". Most people will never care about the ownership of their personal presence on the Internet, and it should be treated as a stretch goal, not the distinguishing factor. I think if the onboarding process was reframed in this way, it would be less confusing to new users who come here with no context whatsoever for the IndieWeb and blogging stuff.
@sakurina But the ephemeral and the longer blog posts both represent - you. Think of face to face conversations: they include microblog stuff like comments about soccer practice being canceled to longer explanations of why somebody needs to advertise their business more. To me this is the attraction of Microblog: both the short posts and the long posts are one stream and switching between the two is effortless and I own it. So I could just post a microstatus: "I'm cooking chili." or I could long post the recipie (hard to do on Twitter) or I could post a photo of the chili or I could post all three. With Microblog the line between short and long post blogging is more fluid.
I think the pitch for Microblog is easier to people who have been blogging (and perhaps Twittering) on and off for a long time. What attracted me: hosting was reasonable on my own domain, no ads, long and short posts (or formal and informal), syndication to Twitter and Faceebook. All those things became more important to me over time and experience. I signed up and didn't really realize that Microblog also had it's own great community.
If nothing else split the pitch: one pitch for Twitter users and another pitch for bloggers.
@sakurina As a young person who uses both Micro.blog and Twitter, I notice that I make far less inane, joke posts on here than I did when I just had Twitter. Everything feels better written and more meaningful. Perhaps that's for the best, but I do somewhat miss my old dorky days of tweeting whatever dumb joke came to mind.
@fiona it’s interesting to think about. I think there almost needs to be different pitches for different groups. I can appreciate the ideals of the IndieWeb, as far as I understand it, but as someone who knows nothing about development and is not really part of that scene, trying to explain it with that kind of language wouldn’t be super helpful.
@sakurina Look forward to the episode actually. Been considering how/when to have this exact conversation about Twitter alternatives sparked by a friend asking me. Despite being very tech-savvy, I realized during that explanation that the focus needed to be on ownership & POSSE as anything beyond that seemed lost on him (in terms of IndieWeb, or even the corporate nature of the networks we use today). It's just taken for granted.
@fiona I'm kinda seeing @sakurina's point, more so thanks to this post (easy to explain once they get the idea of the Indie Web). Perhaps the intro for micro.blog should change during onboarding: 'do you want us to host what you post vs do you want to host what you post' might make more sense over 'hey do you need a hosted blog', which misleads someone into thinking, no I don't want a blog (and then to realize that you do). That we all do blog, just in different ways today is a technicality to most because the word is associated with the old style: someone hosts a site and writes stuff in vacuum and then shares it on Twitter or the like.
@sakurina Going back to your elevator pitch question, I’ve been thinking about this too because I’m thinking of doing a short talk at a local programming meetup about it. One thought that I’ve had is that if you can get people to get the idea of the Indie Web, then Micro.blog is easy to explain as a service that handles some Indie Web features for you.
@smokey That's all true on paper, but it doesn't mean people view it that way, especially given Twitter's real-time nature.
Young people treat Twitter like ephemera. It is the scratchpad you reach for in an impulse when you want to share thoughts about something that is happening right now. Yes, that record is permanent, but no one actually considers it to be so, nor does anyone really expect people will go back through their archive to find dumb things they said in the past. Just ask politicians. While the UI is very similar visually to what we have here on Micro.blog and the underlying API calls are about the same, the mental model is completely different.
It is much harder to be impulsive on Micro.blog because you always feel like you are being watched. Ostensibly someone has to be reading every post to decide what goes on the Discover page, and you would feel bad for them if they had to read the 100-something posts you made during a e-sports game they didn't even watch. I'm pretty sure this is by design to encourage thoughtfulness in your posts, but it does feel incredibly weird and constraining to someone coming from the other side. I make less posts here than I do on Twitter but they tend to be more thought out and with better capitalization and punctuation. That said, I do feel like they read as "less authentic" by trying to fit in to the mold of what people expect posts to look like here rather than just posting the same stuff I tweet on Twitter.
(The weirdest thing about all of this is that the main issue with Twitter and third-party clients right now revolves around the deprecation of the streaming API which is what enables stream-of-consciousness tweeting to be viable in the first place. Twitter was the last big social network with a straightforward reverse chronological timeline, and they signed deals with major sports leagues to be the streaming partner for those games, and yet... they've dumped the chronological timeline for an algorithmic one, they never integrated streaming into their own mobile clients, they never made a play around integrating live tweets into their live programming, and they're deprecating the one strength they had over everyone else: their real-time nature. It makes no sense whatsoever to me.)
@sakurina I'm caught up now. I def understand what you're saying. Just curious if you could elaborate on what you think ppl who dont care about indieweb/blogging/domains etc actually want, if not Twitter etc. Mastodon is def relevant but hosting instances is more akin to hosting a forum (a motivated person who doesnt mind setting up a server). Is it the fundamentals of publishing stuff (which is basically the same concept across the board) or issues more related to privacy, control, censorship. If MB looked like Mastodon and de-emphasized "blog" lingo and the blog website option, does that help?
I don't think that indieweb philosophies are ever going to be for the masses, but a lot of people do gravitate to it and that may be enough for MB. But interested in this topic so look forward to listening to your podcast.
@sakurina That’s fair. I think it ultimately will come down to whether the people and topics others find interesting are represented in some form within the community. It’s still early days for micro.blog but I think it’s already doing relatively well, given how young it is. In fact, If anything, I think @manton should do more to appeal to the niche of blog enthusiasts and the kind of interesting, engaging people that will create the content and conversations that lead to “normies” being interested in the first place. Once people like @craigmod are present and posting and engaging, I think you’ll see it pull more and more people in.
But, having said all that, by virtue of being a paid service it’ll always be a niche network. Which is also totally fine and maybe even a good thing.
@sakurina While micro.blog is technically a blogging platform, I prefer to think of it as my social feed. It’s like Twitter, Instagram, and FB rolled into one, except I own my feed and there are no ads. That isn’t the only way to use MB, but it might be a good starting place for explaining it.
@sakurina That's a fair point. And you're right that the expectation that MB has about what you will post (primarily sub-280-character posts) does make it feel different to Tumblr.
I've had similar conversations with friends where I've struggled to find a concise explanation. I agree with you that the blog is the complicating element. I think on balance I agree with Manton's decision to build MB on top of blogs but it introduces inherent conceptual difficulty since a post 'lives' both on MB and on the blog it's hosted on (which might itself be hosted by MB).
@fiona It's weird because I feel like the entire blogging aspect of the site is a continuation of Manton's theme of permanence/archival throughout his software development career, whereas posts regarding everyday life tend to be what I consider to be the most ephemeral. I do lead a pretty mundane everyday life though. Maybe yours is more fascinating than mine.
Before you can sell them on Micro.blog, you have to sell them on blogs being relevant, and I can't even do that because "blog posts" and "status updates" are two completely distinct things that really shouldn't have anything to do with each other.
I disagree with that; a person’s Twitter is exactly a blog of all very short posts (a microblog); one just writes it on a commercial platform run by a community-hostile owner. And then on top of that there’s a timeline to make reading the “latest” microblog posts from your friends easier.
So lean in to Micro.blog’s primary purpose of short status updates (that the platform can do traditional long-form blog posts all in the same place is just a bonus you don’t need to mention if it’s going to be confusing) and a timeline for ease of following your friends/whatever and interacting, and community guidelines to keep it nice.
I really liked @Starman’s post today, including the quotes from the Micro.blog front page. Maybe you take the quoted paragraph 1 and the first two-thirds of quoted paragraphs 2 and 3 (if the blog/hosting/ownership angles are confusing to people), add in the great community that’s already here, and you have your elevator pitch?
I feel like in some ways Micro.blog is exactly Twitter, just built with different parts (blogs, RSS, open web) under the hood and designed/guided by a different purpose and values. We should just start calling Twitter a commercial microblogging platform, and then Micro.blog would make sense to everyone naturally ;-)
@sull I have largely covered this throughout my other replies in this conversation so read them when you get the time, but too much emphasis is put on blogging, when anyone who thinks actual blogging (excluding Tumblr which is used more as a multimedia scrapbook) is relevant to the average person under 30 in 2018 is delusional.
@vishae The onboarding process makes you choose between having a hosted blog or if you already have a blog, so one of two questions will come up:
How do you explain the distinction between sakurina.micro.blog and micro.blog/sakurina. Two are different views of the same data set and it's not clear why both exist instead of just picking the more relevant one. All of this appears like needless complexity unless you already know and care about IndieWeb stuff.
@sakurina I’m wondering whether it’s necessary to tell your friends about the blog aspect of micro.blog at all. If you just told them it’s like Twitter but with a monthly fee, what’s the harm? They are free to post 280 character posts as much as they want and not have to think about long form blog posts if they’re not interested.
@pyrmont That's part of the identity crisis: I do not consider Tumblr posts and Twitter status updates are the same "format". You compose differently for the context in which it is displayed, and having Micro.blog present the same text as both a Twitter-like feed and a Tumblr-like blog just adds to the confusion of what this is. (Also, people already fake replies on Tumblr via the clumsy hack of nested quote repost chains, so in their mind, there would be nothing gained by switching to MB.)
@matigo Unfortunately, having plenty of choice just means more inboxes and timelines to check as all of your friends splinter off to different siloes all over again. I want an open system of some sort to win out to avoid this very scenario and I feel like Micro.blog is more pragmatic of a solution than a network of Mastodon instances. Unfortunately, there is too much mental baggage involved to get people to even check Micro.blog out, and the lack of a straightforward free option is keeping my friends in less prosperous countries from taking part in the community as well (which is sad since I think they might enjoy it more than those who could afford it).
@justinhudgins I'm 27, so I'm not saying it's impossible to be a fan, but it is hard to convince any of my friends to join because even the technically savvy people don't understand why blogs are involved at all. Manton has said on Core Intuition that the onboarding may be too complex and that is an understatement. A lot more work needs to be done for this to appeal to people who are not already blog enthusiasts.
@sakurina this isn't necessarily a bad thing. I've had a blogging/social platform available to people for 5+ years and the majority of the people using it are most certainly 30+. This leads to a more relaxed form of communication where the goals are completely different from what you'd find on the commercial platforms.
One of the great things about the web is that there are billions of people using it with millions of similar preferences. There is plenty of space for plenty of providers to offer plenty of choice :)
@matigo I think it's a lot easier to pitch if you start with the assumption that blogs are relevant in 2018. They aren't to anyone under 30 (aside from Tumblr which is largely treated as a social network and not a traditional blogging tool), and that's the non-starter. Before you can sell them on Micro.blog, you have to sell them on blogs being relevant, and I can't even do that because "blog posts" and "status updates" are two completely distinct things that really shouldn't have anything to do with each other.
I think younger people have a wildly differing view of how a social network like Twitter is used, and our assumptions about that will influence how we view potential alternatives. Unfortunately for me, that probably means Micro.blog will skew older, and something more familiar and less complicated to explain like Mastodon will grab the younger audience.
Putting together my notes for this week’s podcast about Twitter alternatives and as much as I love this place, I can’t find a concise elevator pitch that actually conveys what Micro.blog is and why you should bother to join. The entire blog aspect complicates things greatly.
New Microblog — $5/month
We'll create and host a microblog for you at username.micro.blog or your own domain name. Includes cross-posting, pages, themes, and publishing from the web, iOS, and Mac.
New Blog + Microcast — $10/month
All the features of a hosted microblog plus audio hosting. Upload MP3s via the web or use the companion iPhone app Wavelength to record and edit your own microcast. We'll create a podcast feed for your site.
Enable Cross-posting — $2/month
Already have your own microblog? Add Twitter, Medium, and Facebook cross-posting via Micro.blog. Works with any RSS feed.