Missing from Micro.blog

I don’t like to write about the system I’m using but I thought it would be good to check in a couple of times a year and see the lay of the land.

Micro.blog is a personal online publishing platform with a social layer built in. It differs from other publishing platforms in a few key ways:

  1. It actively encourages you to use your own domain name.
  2. It’s simple to publish.
  3. For some it is a paid service.
  4. It provides you with some stats.
  5. It provides you with some control of what your site looks like.
  6. The social element is managed.

I think that Micro.blog handles many issues in a wonderfully elegant fashion. However there is plenty of room for improvement. While I’m aware that @manton is but one person who is already doing a lot, it’s important to recognise that the sustainable thing is to have more than one person involved in the ongoing development of the platform, dare I say multiple people. To help him get to that ideal, the hosted option needs to become more appealing.

The Canonical App

I’m not going to focus on any of the apps that have been made for Micro.blog (official or third party), as I see these as nice to haves. For me the canonical view is the one presented at the website. This is the view that everyone on the platform shares (regardless of operating system). I think overall the simplicity of this interface is what makes things work.

Items that I would like to see included at some point:

  1. Let me filter the type of posts from people I follow. So if I want to see everyone’s photos then let me do that. Let me see everyone’s podcasts. Sure you can do something similar from the discover section, but that’s everyone (?) on the platform.
  2. It would be nice to see how many responses have been made on any individual post. Could be a small little number next to the ‘conversation’ link.
  3. Allow more than one photo to be uploaded at a time.
  4. Highlight the emojis that are supported on the platform directly underneath and allow you to insert them from there.

Photos

Photos should be showcased on a grid of three squares across. Ideally this should be another standard page found at mydomain/photos.

Micro.blog already is able to distinguish photos pretty well. Let me see my photos in a gallery. It’s one of the feature that made me stick with Instagram for as long as I did.

Stats

Micro.blog does not, by design, show the number of users that follow you. My view on stats is that as this site is focused on my words and pictures, then my stats should also focus on this output.

I would love to see a yearly view of the number of posts I’ve made on a month by month basis. Each month could have two bars showing how much stuff gets posted to my site and how much stuff is interaction with others.

Additional stats could highlight the total number of photos, posts and interactions. What is the number of people I am following (I can see this in the iOS app but not on the web).

The reason for this is simple. It’s gamifying the experience. Except I’m now in competition with my previous self.

Subscription

This is finally being offered, but not officially (blink that reply and it’s gone)? I’d like to see a yearly subscription to the service become official.

Two Streams

Micro.blog by it’s nature has two streams. The first is your website stream, and only includes your posts, while the second stream is the social one that includes everyone you follow and your posts starting with an @ symbol. As a user both are important, yet they are given wildly different treatment.

Your contributions to the conversation are still your words. These are currently only found in micro.blog/yourusername. I would say that these should either be allowed to be ‘published’ to your blog as part of your stream or captured in a separate page with a link back to the original conversation.

Design

I initially used to love the fact that I was limited in what I could do which was to play around with the CSS and that was it. Since then the addition of updating the footer has been added. A great additions for sure, but I want full control of my site. I’m paying for hosting, eventually I’d like to be allowed to control the whole look of my site.

I recognise that this is likely a much more involved design change, but it’s one that I think is important to provide as an option, so that there isn’t a pretty fundamental reason to go self host and attach an RSS feed in.

Categories

There are currently 9 categories that you can contribute towards. It’s a good start, but hardly what I’d call comprehensive. I’d like to see a great deal more categories. Architecture, Engineering, Comics, Stationary, Country-specific-categories, and the list goes on.

Clearly part of a much larger project, which may require the recruitment of moderators in this space, but again it needs to expand to allow people to huddle around the digital campfire.

Expectations

I absolutely understand how things have improved over the last 10 months since using the service and that I’m effectively providing some ideas/thoughts about how the service would become even more enjoyable for me.

The new Smashing Pumpkins album is such a treat for us fans. Solara, Alienation and Marchin’ On being the stand out songs.

Years ago, while in London, I would often turn to the movie Amelie in an attempt to help me relax, try be more positive about the world and life in general. All these years later it still does the trick.

I’m kinda over stationary. Once you’ve tried a bunch of things and realised that you have what suits your needs (and more), the continued hunt becomes hoarding. I have one big purchase left before I close the book on this hobby for a while.

I always end up surfing the web looking at a bunch of awesome t-shirts. Then I realise that they’re all super expensive (once you add shipping) and just close the tab depressed.

Totally underwhelmed by the new Field Notes Winter release, Clandestine. The video though has got the best production values I’ve seen from them. Not for me though, as I’ve got enough FNs to last me 3-4 years at least.

First rain have come with thunder and lightning. It’s been such a long time since we’ve had any rainfall in the Gulf.

Podcasts for November

🎙️ Seeing as I’m in the car for many hours of the day (travelling up and down to Abu Dhabi), I’ve been listening to a ton of podcasts recently….a metric ton in fact. Here are some of the highlight episodes:

  1. Unfiltered interview with Sir Nick Clegg - essential listening if you’re looking to understand Brexit more.
  2. Serial Season Three - I missed season 2, but this season has been very good.
  3. Song Exploder - John Carpenter Halloween Theme - Was made even better as we drove in pitch darkness on a moonless night.
  4. Broken Record - Hey, it’s Malcolm Gladwell.

The weekend is finally upon us and as always I’m hopeful of filling it with good activities for both myself and the rest of the family. It’s not so much living for the weekend as it making the most of the weekends which offer more time than the week.

It’s been an exceptionally tough week, which is to be expected as everyone is working on overdrive towards the imminent opening for Qasr Al Hosn in Abu Dhabi. Great video on the Twitter feed.

Finding your niche can feel like a life long struggle. Some discover it early on and continue to build on that discovery. Others meander through life until they settle. While other due to circumstance or ability never reach that discovery. You have one life. Go. Discover.

As much as I love October, really glad it’s finally over and can look forward to what November has to bring. Winter is finally upon us and I’m looking forward to enjoying the outdoors a little bit more. With both boys in tow I’m hoping for a bunch of fun over the next 6 months.

First proper halloween experience for Zane, which he absolutely loved. Got dressed as a pterodactyl, hunted for houses with their lights on and then stuffing his bucket with goodies. I’ve never been into Halloween, but starting to enjoy it through my kid’s eyes.

This new iPad Pro is a great way to finally get into the iPad lifestyle. Glad I waited out for this version (rather than getting one last year). Hopefully it’ll be my upgraded computing device for the next five years.

If you’re looking for a great alternative to the standard Apple case for your iPhone 6, 6s, 7 and 8, look no further than the Puro Icon case. Got mine in an amazing aquamarine colour.