Micro.blog: Providing Control Of Your Online Life

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As a person who has covered the Apple ecosystem for a long, long time, it really surprised me that I didn’t know about Micro.blog. It’s a service and set of apps (web, iOS and Mac) developed by longtime Apple developer Manton Reece to give microbloggers — those who write short posts on services like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook — more control over their writing. I’ve been playing with Micro.blog recently, and thought it would be a good topic for review since many of our readers are looking for ways to have control of what they’re sending out on the Internet.

Reece describes the reasons he created Micro.blog in an article that’s appropriately hosted on the service. The key reason is in this comment about systems such as Twitter and Facebook:

But this simplicity comes at a cost: it’s impossible to move content between these platform silos, ads are everywhere, and if a company goes out of business, all the writing hosted there vanishes from the internet.
— Manton Reece, http://help.micro.blog/2015/why-i-created-this/

You can register for free, pull in posts from a WordPress blog if you have one already, or host a microblog for $5 a month.  There’s a podcast hosting service for “microcasts” — short podcasts that can be sent from your, available for another $5 a month. Want to cross-post your micro-blog posts to those other services like Twitter? $2 a month. 

A screenshot of the curated discovery page

A screenshot of the curated discovery page

The web service, iOS app and Mac app all work in a similar manner. You can create a post  (of any length, although long posts kinda defeat the purpose of “microblogging”), use Markdown to add limited formatting, throw in photos (although they can’t be placed in between paragraphs — they all show up at the end), and then post it. 

So how do other people find your microblog? There’s a discovery service where you can see a curated list of interesting posts that others can read and subscribe (via RSS) to, and there are emoji search collections for posts about books, for posts with photos, and for microcasts. Microbloggers can add the appropriate emoji (📚, 📷 or 🎙) to have their posts show up in the search collection. 

You can also point people directly to the micro.blog site associated with your microblog (for example, manton.micro.blog), or associate a “real domain” with the microblog so people can be sent directly to it. 

A bit more about microcasts: there’s an app for that! Wavelength is a companion app for recording, editingand publishing short podcasts. While it can be used by itself, the app can also send podcasts to Auphonic for post-processing.

One more app! Since Micro.blog is designed to be somewhat of a safe and secure social media network that you have complete control over, why not add something like Instagram for adding photos, location checkins, and text. That’s what Sunlit is all about. From a set of photos with added text and Swarm check-in data, you can put together a “story” of a trip, event or place to share with others. 

Finally, let’s talk about security. You don’t have a password for your microblog. Instead, when you want to log in, a message is sent to the email address Micro.blog has on file for your account. Click or tap the link, and you’re logged in. Each app you use also has a strong authorization token generated for it, and you can use that token to log in instead of using your email address and the email that is sent to you. 

The Bottom Line

If you’re thinking about giving Twitter and Instagram the heave-ho, Micro.blog is a great way to get started. If you want to blog but don’t want all of the hassles associated with writing big posts like this, a microblog can publish your information for the rest of the world to see. You can choose to follow people…or not. 

Twitter used to be a lot of fun, until it turned into a place where people started harassing each other constantly. Micro.blog has done away with a lot of the “features” of Twitter that turned it into a stinking cesspool of hate: follower counts, retweets, likes, hashtags and so on.  You must follow community guidelines or it appears you can be turned away from Micro.blog. 

Any downsides to Micro.blog? If you want to monetize a blog, there’s no way to include advertising (this may not necessarily be a bad point, as you’re not inundated with ads!). It appears to use a limited subset of Markdown commands, so your ability to format posts is limited — but still better than anything that can be done on Twitter. 

Support appears to be limited, although there is a Slack channel that you can join. Reece and the wonderful Jean MacDonald appear to be the primary support for Micro.blog, and it appears that responses to problems can be a bit slow. As an example, I created two separate microblogs with two separate email addresses and now wish to get rid of one, yet I can’t find out how to get rid of the excess blog. I’m hoping the Slack channel folks can help.

It’s an interesting ecosystem and I encourage others who would like to set up a small, personal space to publish their lives to look into Micro.blog. It's already a surprisingly robust blogging / social media network, and it will only get better in the future.

Apple World Today Rating (out of 5 stars): ★★★★

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