It has been one year since the Kickstarter for Manton Reece’s Micro.blog service launched. From a high level, you can think of Micro.blog as an open, decentralized version of Twitter. The biggest difference in something like this and Twitter is your relationship to the content you post. If Twitter were to go away tomorrow, my 30k tweets since 2009 would disappear right along with it. With Micro.blog, those posts are owned completely by you. You can export them and move them to a newer service when ever you want it. You can even, like I do, host them directly from your own site.
I won’t get into all of the details here, but 2017 made it even more clear that Twitter is an incredible service that is run by a horrible company. In 2018, I am working to lower my dependence on Twitter by moving more and more of what I post to Micro.blog (and by extension, to this site). One of the great things about Micro.blog is that I can do that without losing out on the community that I have built on Twitter by using the automatic cross-posting feature1.
One of the things I want to do is get to the point where my site and Micro.blog are the default places where I go to post new content on the internet. The biggest barrier to this was the amount of time it took to post something to my site compared to Twitter.
My site is build with a static CMS called Jekyll. It basically takes a bunch of configuration files, Markdown files, and pseudo-HMTL and CSS files; runs them through a program; and outputs a website.
My site is hosted on GitHub Pages. The way it works is that I keep all of the before-mentioned files in a repository on GitHub. Every time I commit to that repository, GitHub automatically runs the program that converts those to a site and puts it up on the internet.
The best part about this setup is that everything about it is completely free. Jekyll is open source and GitHub does not charge for using GitHub Pages. They even allow you to use a custom domain name2.
With a setup like this, posting from iOS can be a little tedious. Once I have my post written, I have to put the Jekyll-required front matter at the top3. I then have to give it a file name with the correct format, put it in the
_posts directory of the repository, make a commit (with a commit message) to my Git repo, and push that commit to GitHub.
You could do all of this using an app like Working Copy on iOS, but publishing the post would take as long as writing it for something short.
My solution to this problem is a new app that I am writing called Reposit4. Reposit lets me take a Markdown file from Ulysses, my writing app of choice, and publish it with one tap from the system share sheet. It performs all of the steps listed above so all I have to do is write and hit publish. If there are images in the post, it will grab them and put them in the correct directory so they show up in the post5.
Once it is posted to my site, Micro.blog will pick up the post and mirror it there and post it over to Twitter. While this is still not quite as seamless as posting a new tweet from Tweetbot, it is getting closer.
With this system in place, my plan will be to post something here just about every day. That something could be an article like this, a shorter tweet-style posts, a link to something interesting, or an Instagram-style photo6.
I am seeing more and more people discuss moving their online water-cooler talk away from Twitter in 2018: Becky Hansmeyer, Billy Adams, Ben Brooks, Daniel Jalkut, Brent Simmons, and of course, Manton Reese.
I’m exited to try to add my name to that list.
If you want to take a hand at doing something like this yourself, Micro.blog is now open to the public for signups7. You don’t have to go through any of the trouble of trying to host a blog yourself: you can just sign up and let Micro.blog host everything for you. If you outgrow that and want to move it to your own site, you can export everything and do that later.
You can sign up here and download the iOS app on the App Store.
- This became a lot easier when Twitter upped the character limit to 280 characters, which matched what Micro.blog already had. ↩
- That, of course, you do I have pay for. I recommend using Hover. ↩
- This provides things like the title and timestamp for the post. ↩
- Thanks to Billy Adams for the name! ↩
- For the nerds out there, this is done by sending the post to Reposit in a TextBundle format instead of plain Markdown. ↩
- I am stealing an idea from Stephen Hackett and trying to post a picture here every day in 2018. Here was yesterday’s photo. ↩
- Signups are currently limited to 100 people/day. If you are unable to sign up, just try again the next day. ↩