links

For The Weekend: Twelve

A few things for you:

Enjoy your weekend!

My bet on the next web-publishing company to fuck up: Squarespace.

Between their disconcerting deal with Unsplash and years-long seeding of the tech podcast industry, this dynamic has all of the elements required of a destructive fallout.

Further to the Gutenberg editor and the inadequacies of WordPress for those of us who are focused more on publishing the things we make, yesterday I posted my Micro.blog wishlist. I didn’t mention categories or custom homepage, since Manton has already spoken about those.

My Micro.blog Wishlist

I have been taking notes for this wishlist for some time. Two things have stopped me from writing it up and posting:

  1. Time and energy. I have spent more of it on making other things, being a believer in the idea that the best position from which to criticise is that of creation, or put another way: I feel much more comfortable writing a critique-based wishlist for Micro.blog now that I’ve significantly increased my exposure to working on different projects.
  2. Frankly, Manton, Jean, and John have all worked their arses off to improve Micro.blog in a variety of ways. Not only have I been able to remove items from the list but I have also been exposed to ideas for Micro.blog I had not previously come near to thinking about.

Now here I am, not only more convinced of just how right the entire idea of Micro.blog truly is – after all, it’s not just about Micro.blog but the potential in ideas similar to the platform insofar as sharing the same ideals – but also newly motivated to attempt to make a constructive contribution. As such, here is the list:

(Note: I have published three posts around this subject, all of which play a part in the list. Links: Quick list; Needs; Thoughts)

  • Comprehensive support of features centred around accessibility;
    • Easier alt tags, VoiceOver support, and a robust editor are some of the necessary pieces to making Micro.blog as accessible as possible.
    • Some improvements were recently made on iOS.
  • Thorough user moderation;
    • The ability to control as much of your timeline as possible is essential to making Micro.blog a viable space in which people can comfortably invest their time and energy.
    • Earlier this year the web and Mac apps gained muting and reporting tools.
  • Multi-account support on the web.
  • Keyboard shortcuts;
    • ctrl+enter to post, etc. The lack of these options on the web is jarring, especially in a post editor.
  • Mentions;
    • When replying in a thread, you ought to be given the option to reply-all or not.
    • Autofill when typing a username.
    • Autofill has come to iOS, when creating new posts.
  • Editing replies;
    • Even if there was a limit applied via time and/or length.
  • Conversations;
    • Some form of threaded replies is needed.
    • Links to replies go to the actual reply.
  • Better responsive design;
    • On the web it should be possible to make the browser window smaller without cutting off parts of the site.
  • Dark mode.
  • humans.txt;
    • An option to set this as a special page aligns perfectly with the web-centred philosophy around which Micro.blog was built.
  • IndieWeb support;
    • Like
    • Repost
    • Selected entry (for quoting)
    • Emoji link share – this is available in Omnibear, as a custom alternative to Like.
    • IndieWeb support has improved greatly throughout the year.
  • Feedback;
    • When taking an action there should be better, more obvious feedback from the site.
    • For example; taking you to your reply once it has been posted.
    • This has improved throughout the year.
  • Cross-posting per post;
    • A version of this exists on iOS.
  • Hosted;
    • Theme editing – some way to connect owner of blog to theme controls when they are browsing the site.
    • Improve performance of saving changes to pages, posts, and the theme.
    • Drafts – the ‘Preview’ feature is good but the ability to temporarily save posts would be fantastic.
    • Greater variety of payment plans.
    • Either an expanded trial or limited posting ability for free accounts.
    • A free test blog on which you can preview changes to pages and themes, and send out posts but they never make it to the timeline.
    • Discounted bulk blog subscriptions. (I am unashamedly biased towards this, heh.)
  • Help;
    • Add search. This has been mitigated by the recently improved homepage but over time a search box will become necessary for most people.
    • Further additions from other sources – ex: this ‘pins’ post from Manton – which has already happened a little.
    • Make sure the breadth of blog-centred web is covered.
    • For example: self-hosted WordPress, hosted WP, multisite WP, shared hosting WP.
    • WP has the potential to lack compatibility due to different hosts implementing their own version for whatever reason.
    • Micro.blog should, even if gradually, cover more and more of this ground until everything is up-to-date and quickly updated whenever different versions of WP are updated.
  • Broadly;
    • Where possible, all of these updates should be available to third-party apps.
    • The web MUST be the canonical version. App-centric approaches are in direct opposition to any substantial support of the open web, especially when they are Apple-only efforts, mostly due to the cost barrier.
    • This year has seen a lot of improvements to the web app, which is great! Long may it continue.
    • Example of Apple-centric approach: the Micro.blog home page for logged-out visitors has a screenshot of the Mac App.

There might be things I’m missing but there is one glaring omission; Android. I have mentioned the Apple-heavy support of Micro.blog but not listed Android, or any other platform. The reality is an official Android app is all but impossible in the current circumstances, whilst third-party efforts are ongoing but appear to be particularly difficult to implement; this is of course not at all exclusive to Micro.blog but remains a fact even so.

Windows and even Linux support have also been spoken about by developers but for now the web is the answer for those of us outside of Apple’s ecosystem, and I believe some of the items on my list would further soften the blow that is a lack of cross-native app support.

• • •

Micro.blog recently hit the first year of public release and it is fair to say it has come a long way in those 12 months, let alone the progress Manton has made from the earliest days of the Kickstarter project. I for one have found just the right place for my life online, to such an extent that I now begrudgingly use the mainstream silos of the web for work and do everything I can to avoid them in a personal context. For that reason and that reason alone I have spent plenty of my time on the timeline, my hosted site, my new photoblog, and Today I Learned.

And, like Micro.blog itself, I’m just getting started.

What do you think? Do you have your own wishlist? Here are some links for getting involved if you want to do more:

GitHub questions: I was thinking about using it for somewhere to post the custom CSS for my blog theme. Is that a good idea or should I put it somewhere else? If it has a place on GitHub, where exactly? Somewhere in the repo? Fork? Start my own?

Oh, it’s Micro Monday again! I’d like to point you to @Miraz, who posts about a variety of subjects in a thoughful and considered manner and gives a look into her world all the way down there in glorious New Zealand; her photos are often stunning and make me super jealous. 😍

Five decades of Met publications on art history, available to read, download, and/or search for free.

MetPublications is yet another project of the web in which we freely share the best of our societies.

… there’s no fallback to a web page …

John Gruber, I’m Ping Pong King

The feature stories for iOS can’t be viewed on a Mac. The same stories Apple says negate the need for affiliate revenue to exist.

Reminder: Apple doesn’t give a shit about the web.

For The Weekend: Eleven

A few things for you:

Enjoy your weekend!

Apple and the Halo

This is kind of an “iTunes on Windows” moment.

Manton Reece on Apple Music coming to Alexa devices

I couldn’t agree more. iTunes on Windows + iPod = my only exposure to Apple previous to the stage in my life when I actively got involved with the Apple enthusiast community, and those two things made a lasting impression.

In fact, earlier this year I tried going all-in on Google, Android phone, the works, and that included not just dumping Apple Music but also iTunes; in the end, every other music player grated on me and that was in comparison to iTunes for Windows. Things have become bad enough overall that I have now returned to my goal of attempting to go all-in with Apple, starting with AirPods (they’re fucking awesome) and the 2018 iPad.

With moves like this Apple could build up a buffer of goodwill and for sure help themselves with future mistakes; the past few years has seen most of the heavy criticism aimed at the company come after other mistakes and missteps were made. Too much negative momentum has built up over time and making as many steps into cross-platform waters as they can will likely help negate that momentum, even if only as a starting point in the effort to do so.

Hosted Micro.blog Comments

In reply to:

I really think hosted Micro.blogs need an on-blog comment system so non-blogging friends can comment. If you are coming from FB, you can tell your friends about RSS readers and keeping in touch, but if they can’t converse with you it’s all for nothing.

Brad Enslen

If it worked with webmentions and the like then sure, even still that would mean needing to prompt people to get that set up for themselves – the infrastructure for this already exists through Micro.blog accounts and IndieWeb custom domain usernames – which flies in the face of that which people have been trained; easy, frictionless, embedded, centralised.

I don’t think closed Micro.blog commenting (like WordPress comments) does much to change enough of the existing problems with commenting systems; as one of the stated goals for Micro.blog is to encourage people to own the things they post, I’m not sure ease of use is a strong enough factor to encourage such a thing. Also, if it was done similar to WordPress comments we get back to the point where it’s down to the person running the blog to manage comments – personally, I’d rather take a walk in traffic – and invariably includes the complications inherent therein; aside from anything else it often looks cluttered and unintuitive.

If the option to display comments comes to hosted sites a good first step might be the aforementioned messaging to encourage people to use their own domain or a Micro.blog account for commenting. Beyond that, I think it’s a case of waiting for other commenting systems based around similar ideals to surface; the open web, ownership, etc…

Although, if Micro.blog commenting were to become that in and of themselves I wouldn’t complain. I mean, I would be shocked to see such a thing since, seriously, there is no skeevy VC money here or soul-destroying monetisation through which Micro.blog could gain a team and work at the level required to also build a separate, complimentary commenting system.

Mira Sorvino makes an observation about the US with President Trump, then some rando decides it’s time to put her in her place via Twitter, and her reply is FUCKING. EVERYTHING.

I love seeing sad little manbabies getting put into their place. It feeds my soul.

The UK would be significantly worse off under all possible Brexit scenarios in 15 years’ time, according to a benchmark economic analysis produced by a range of government departments including the Treasury.

The Guardian

Water remains wet.

Apparent Apple Failure

In reply to:

so unless apple delivers something as successful as a product that repeats the success of a prior product that pretty much all in the industry agrees is unparalleled in terms of success than any other product ever produced … they are stalled?

(Did that make sense?)

John Philpin

I’m not talking about the best they’ve ever done… I’m talking about the bottom standard:

  • The relative lack of movement with regard to hardware updates.
  • Further dumbing down their own software for no discernible reason…
  • whilst making clumsy changes that affect third-party developers badly.
  • Ramping up prices overall.
    • Not just premium but an actual fuck you to all but the wealthy few who care.
  • The utter failure in managing optics for their messes – the “PRIVACY TECH COMPANY THAT CARES” cannot be forgiven for failures in optics.
  • … and the stupid book, the ridiculous fuck ups with leaks, the iPhone battery bullshit.

I mean, come on. Of course they have always fucked up, that’s to be expected since people run these companies but Jobs set a platform and Tim Cook has missed a great chance to create a cavernous difference in quality and stability between them and the competition, a true and undeniable justification for the premium label.

Now of course, I am an outsider (I have an iPad and AirPods – both of which are brilliant) who has listened to a bunch of Apple tech podcasts and read Apple punditry for the past few years. If over the next year, as I get more Apple hardware and immerse myself further into their ecosystem, things aren’t as bad as they seem (see: the list above) then great, turns out perception does not match reality. At that point, despite the failings of the people in my position I will still lay some of the blame at Apple’s feet; too many times when they engage in any sort of PR action it is either neutral to the point of irrelevant or so clumsy you’d think they were a bunch of young idiots running their first company, and that is unacceptable.

Made some minor edits to @til pages. The one page that will be continuously updated is Links, which will get mentioned in update posts and the like but can easily change multiple times in a day; there’s just too much activity centred around Micro.blog to not take this approach.