I love blogging, I genuinely do, however, it’s one of those things that tends to consume more time than I have. For years, I’ve been using WordPress and I can’t be more grateful for all the hard work people have done to make it an incredibly accessible platform. Still, here’s how blogging tends to go for me.
- I come up with a really great idea, something that I want to tell the world about.
- I log into my WordPress blog, all fired up and ready to write.
- As soon as I log in, I see that there’s a WordPress update that, among other things, addresses some security concern or other. This seems important, so I go ahead and install it. After all, this just takes a sec right?
- WordPress uses a number of plugins to add additional functionality and my dashboard shows that a few of these need updating as well. I figure what the heck, I’m already updating other things, I might as well do the plugins too.
- And now the theme, the look and feel of my site, it has an update as well, might as well grab that while I’m here.
- Finally, everything’s updated, but wait, one of those plugins has a new feature and it wants to tell me all about it. I can have it tell me later, but maybe it’s a cool feature, I might as well read about it now.
- Wow, that really was a neat feature, can’t wait to try it out… but i came here for something … this great idea … just don’t remember what it is any more. Maybe it’ll come back to me tomorrow.
Simplicity is key for me because I’m easily distracted. Writing requires a lot of focus for me, so when it comes to blogging, I need something that allows me to log in, write, post, and just be done. And so I’ve started looking into other blogging platforms in the hopes that I can find one that works the way I work versus one that needs me to change the way I work best.
Microblogging is hardly a new concept, in fact it’s the one on which Twitter is based. There’s a rather fascinating Wikipedia article on the subject, but in short, microblogging traditionally is a stream of quick status updates – FaceBook and Twitter feeds are good examples. The problem comes in when I want to write something more than a quick update (e.g. something that exceeds Twitter’s 280 character limit): the answer has often been to use a second platform, one for the shorter microblog updates and the other for lengthier blog posts. The ability to cross-post may make it seem like only one platform is being used, but in the background, there’s usually two, possibly even more as there are other platforms that focus on specific media types such as images or audio.
Microblogging with micro.blog
I should take a moment to thank Josh, @Lioncourt, for turning me on to micro.blog. Josh has been talking about it for a while now, but it’s only recently that I really sat up and took notice, because it has the potential to solve many of my frustrations.
First, simplicity: Micro.blog couldn’t be easier to use, simply choose the “new post” option and start writing. If the post is less than 280 characters (Twitter’s limit) I don’t even need to title my post. This is actually quite handy as often times, it’s thinking about a proper title that gets me stuck for a while. If I want to be more lengthy, I then get an option to add a title. Posts can be cross-posted to Twitter FaceBook and elsewhere and they get cross-posted in a way that makes sense for those particular social networks. Best part for me, I don’t need to install plugins to make this happen, it’s just built in and it works.
Second, hosting and updating: I have options including the option to not deal with any of the hosting and updating at all. For what I would consider a nominal fee, $5/month as I write this, Micro.blog will host my site for me. This gives me the freedom to not worry about hosting costs, server updates, maintenance, it’s just all done for me. For an additional $5/month, I can add the option for Micro.blog to host audio for what they’re calling “microcasts”, or short podcasts. Given the storage requirements and other complexities, this extra $5 seems totally worth it for those who may want the feature. What if I decide to keep my content on my own blogging platform(s), but want to take advantage of the cross-posting and community aspects of Micro.blog? Micro.blog has a plan for that as well. Paying the monthly fee though gives me more than just the ability to get out of the frustration of self-hosting, it also helps ensure that my content remains mine. My timeline – I’ll talk about timelines in a minute – has no advertising. My content isn’t being sold and as a customer, my opinion actually matters. You can read more about Micro.blog plans.
Third, social media and community. Micro.blog has a concept of timelines. Very similar to Twitter’s, posts from people I follow show up in order. If I’m interested, I can reply to a post which comes across to them in the form of a mention. They can then reply to me, others can chime in resulting in conversation. I can read the timelines of microbloggers I follow to discover others that may be of interest – think Twitter in its earlier days. I’m still exploring, but I’m impressed with the sense of community I’ve already found.
What about the accessibility of Micro.blog? So far, everything seems very accessible, with one area – and it’s unfortunately a big one – the editor for actually writing posts. Using NVDA, I’m finding that I’m not able to track my cursor when editing. While I really hope this will eventually be fixed, I’m finding that I’m really not using Micro.blog’s editor at all though. Micro.blog uses the increasingly-popular Markdown standard meaning that I can write my post in almost any editor and just copy/paste it over. Many popular apps, such as MarsEdit and Drafts 5 even have support for posting to Micro.blog’s platform. Options abound and even more are being encouraged.
I’m still looking at solutions, but so far, Micro.blog has me very impressed. Micro.blog was created by Manton Reece You can read more about why Micro.blog was created, the article really resonates with me. @Lioncourt thanks again for convincing me to give this a try and @Manton thank you for making such a cool concept a reality.