Simon Woods

Man beaten after trying to rob UFC fighter Polyana Viana in Rio de Janeiro

Early contender for news story of the year. šŸ˜„

Ya’ll is my favourite piece of US slang.

Finally settled on a music set-up for my computer:

  • iTunes for playing music I own, minus Apple Music.
  • Spotify for streaming, minus music I own.

iTunes is the best local player, whilst Spotify on the web is a good thing and their player for streaming is also good.

Them: Get rid of your books to truly embrace joy! (ļ¾‰ā—•ćƒ®ā—•)ļ¾‰*:ļ½„ļ¾Ÿāœ§

Me: You will pry my books out of my cold, dead hands. (ļ¾‰ā—•ćƒ®ā—•)ļ¾‰*:ļ½„ļ¾Ÿāœ§

I don’t have a recommendation for Micro Monday but I do have suggestions:

Enjoy! ā­

To all of the Micro.blog community!

Today is the last day wherein you can invite people to Micro.blog including 3 free months of a Hosted site. Links:

We can’t do it, we just can’t ship junk.

Steve Jobs, August 2007

Look who is sitting next to Steve Jobs in that video. Meanwhile, on Twitter.

Don’t use swear words on your blog.

I’ve seen this floating around. Again.

Listen, say the fuck whatever you want on your blog. We have enough self-censoring, sanitised bullshit on the web without independent voices adding to that mediocre pile of shit.

For The Weekend: Fourteen

A few things for you:

Enjoy your weekend!

The Mainstream Conundrum

… I have always thought of Facebook as a necessary evil.

Luis Gabriel Santiago Alvarado, I don’t know anymore!

A familiar feeling with which I empathise. The behemoths of the social web (silo platforms) have been constructed to have this exact effect on as many people as possible.

Joyce Garcia agrees:

It’s very heartening to know that I’m not the only one struggling through decisions on the social media morass.

Weighing up the value of where the crowd is, or at least appears to be, against the reality of contributing to a bad thing – often definitely very bad things – is difficult.

People might say “oh but what do you think you’re really contributing by leaving” but the fact remains that as more people leave, even more people feel comfortable doing so; after a few consecutive years of steady decline in activity and visible membership, these silos have no real backup plan on which to rely. They are not web-friendly at all and with that comes the lack of local copies, which means everything just disappears, and people will inevitably see the patently destructive core of these systems.

Even the people who remain in the silos will likely change their approach to them; for example, Twitter as a simple means of producing a microblog feed as well as RSS. Over time enough people are only likely to get smarter about these platforms, in the aggregate, that their move away from the centre of our culture, our very societies is inevitable.

These platforms do not need to disappear; we simply need to put them in their place.

Reminder that taking a break from mainstream social media is not that different from taking a break from work; it’s good for your health in a lot of different ways. Consider that when the urge to rage-quit your account rises up at a particularly stressful point in your day.

My Micro.blog Non-Wishlist List

Last month I posted my wishlist for Micro.blog, outlining a number of items should they be implemented I feel would make significant contributions to the effort of making substantial improvements across the platform.

I built this list over time and that included removing items either implemented in that time or those that, upon reflection became less fitting for my list. Below is a list of some of these items, along with some quick thoughts:

  • Android

    • Perhaps the most forcefully requested feature for Micro.blog at all, at least publicly. More than a few people have disregarded the platform altogether when it becomes obvious just how Apple-centric it is as far as apps are concerned.
    • Whilst I do think the platform will grow for the better with official Android support, I continue to believe it is unlikely to such an extent to be irrelevant, at least for now; if a significant portion of my list is implemented the lack of Android will soon become something of a highly visible flaw, especially for a platform founded on the principles of the open, inclusive web.
  • Windows

    • Similar to the above issue with Android, although to a much lesser extent; aside from anything else, the web app is likely to be easier to access in a desktop-class browser. However, an app through which you are given a smooth and clean interface, even with just basic functionality, would be rather impressive on Windows; I say this as a lifetime user of Windows who has rarely seen third-party software worth talking about.
    • I wonder if a browser extension – at least for Firefox and Chrome, as well as Safari – would help a decent number of people for whom a Windows app would be appealing, at least in the short term.
  • Replies on hosted blog posts.

    • This has been requested on more than a few occasions, especially from those for who the stated goals of Micro.blog are particularly attractive – for people to blog more/get back to blogging, something of a return to the old pre-social behemoth web, etc. Whilst I agree this would be a great feature, I do not believe it is important at a fundamental level for enough people to justify its theoretical status as a priority.
  • Metrics.

    • This includes direct access to your Following list in a way with which most people are familiar thanks to the increasingly homogenic design of mainstream social media, the very presence of public Likes and/or Reactions, and through to the likes of built-in stats for posts. Not only do I think this would muddle the main message through which Micro.blog is promoted, I have yet to be convinced that the presence of such features ever contribute to the net positive of platforms through which people seek to discuss ideas and matters at hand.
  • Search.

    • Global search built right into Micro.blog. This will immediately solve “Discovery” or so it would seem when people react with shock at the lack of conventional search. Not only does the hosted search feature provide a practical option for those who are aligned with the philosophy behind Micro.blog (i.e. bloggers, including those who are more concerned with writing and posting than they are fiddling with technical toys) but the search available via Discover provides search within a focused context. For the moment that is more than enough.
  • ‘Show More’ everywhere (replies especially).

    • I totally forgot about this. It is an example of feature parity, or lack thereof and whilst I would dearly love to see it (hi from Windows and Android šŸ‘‹šŸ») it’s definitely not a deal-breaker nor a thing I believe would turn many people away, at least not in the short term.

I am confident there are plenty of other items I could have put here, however those are the ones I have noticed when it comes to looking at both the platform and community as a whole. It’ll be interesting to see if any of these make progress ahead of my actual wishlist.

Let’s see how @dialog handles posting. Ooh that’s a Markdown preview. Sweet! šŸ˜

2019

Sometimes things don’t turn out the way you think they will. Life can be full of surprises that way. Here I am, not even a week into this year and already changes are afoot that even a few days ago I would not have expected. Let’s get to those changes.

Updates:

  • Posted my CSS as a Gist.
    • I use the Marfa theme for Mumblings, with a bunch of custom CSS to twist it into the shape I prefer. The code is now on GitHub, for anybody to grab and/or leave feedback. I’ll also soon post it to this site.
  • Projects:
    • They Chose Us is a website dedicated to my cats, Kismet and Aria.
    • Firebyrd is the home of my wife and I for our collaborative work, including our blog with which we will post updates.
  • Increased contributions to Micro.blog on GitHub.
  • Snapshot has been put on indefinite hiatus.
  • Returned to Twitter and Instagram.

The future:

  • Today I Learned returns proper on Monday, the 14th of January.
    • The December edition of The Macro Report will be back before then.
  • For The Weekend returns this Friday, the 4th of January.
  • Introducing: Broken Ground, a photo-based record of the public infrastructure in Liverpool.
    • I’m going to highlight the condition of the streets and roads in my local area, within the relevant context to talk about why this is important and exactly why, as citizens, we should demand more from both those in positions of authorities and each other.
  • Introducing: Chronicles of Thedas, a fan-site hosting stories set in the Dragon Age universe.
  • Regular longer form blogging is forthcoming on Mumblings, with a reduction of shorter posts.

I briefly moved Mumblings, this site, from Micro.blog Hosted to Tumblr but now it is back again and I couldn’t be happier. I believe strongly in the work being done by the team, that Manton is right when he says the best future for the web is one made of smaller networks of higher quality rather than the current roster of social media behemoths.

I have big goals for this year and Today I Learned is a big part of that. I can’t wait to restart the project on the 14th of the month, especially with the plans I have in place for further expansion.

I hope to get my Micro.blog Hosted photoblog back up before the end of the year, along with a couple of other blog-based ideas for which I am currently in the early planning stages. In the meantime I’m going to keep blogging here and look forward to a year of even more people getting back to blogging.

Happy New Year!

– Simon

Random Thoughts: Blog, Tweet, Instagram, or otherwise?

During my downtime over Christmas I’ve been thinking a lot about the time I am spending on writing, especially with regard to how I am moving away from constant, daily blogging and toward longer form blogging whilst increasing my time on writing-based projects.

Between this and the pressing need to maintain my overall health – as a carer, there is no other choice; if I do not maintain my health then I cannot do my job – I am looking at cutting away those activities of my day-to-day life that are in fact excessive. A post from tones helped me see this ambition in the sharp reality that is text and I have never felt as driven to do my best work as I do right now.

That being said, there is no question that my decision to move away from regular shorter blogging is an important part of this focus; don’t get me wrong, the activity is brilliant and has been integral to my year-long rejuvenation thanks to which I am now well equipped to reach for my aforementioned goals. However, those goals are unlikely to be met if I continue to spend time with such regular blogging; I do not write about a specific subject or have a well established history of sharing via link blogging, or have any real access to the type of material about which I could write and thus gain traction with any sort of audience.

… and there it is. I want to make things for people. I believe the world is better when we all try to contribute to it and right now I wish to do so directly, with intention. This means posting my general, mixed blog is purely for me as a hobby, which again is great but for me unfortunately little more than excessive; a thing that has the potential to drag me down as it were.

And so my blog, this very site, will be for the longer form writing and that is fine.

However, there is still microblogging. Those short posts for which my favourite social media platform is named; Micro.blog. Everything about the platform is great… well, almost great. I recently posted my wishlist for the platform and have come to realise my main issue can be summed up in a word: friction. There’s just too much of it still, be it foundational issues such as the lack of cross-platform apps, cross-platform parity, or a lack clear messaging about how it is safer than mainstream social media platforms… I still wouldn’t recommend Micro.blog for the average person and so it is not quite great.

Then there is mainstream social media, specifically Twitter and Instagram. Flawed though they are, I have written previously about the reality that they are where people are; within contexts that are important for my life this is simply true and remains so to this day. There is also another thing; they are relatively free of friction, to enough of an extent to matter.

To this end, a recent post on Instagram by Federico Viticci caught my eye. He is effectively blogging on Instagram. I guess Instagram is photoblogging by another name anyway but I had never thought much about it also as a general purpose blogging tool. Yet there it is, again, relatively friction free.

It’s a similar story across mainstream social media:

Tap -> tap -> tap -> done. Boom; on with your day.

This ought to be one of the big aims for Micro.blog. Not necessarily as friction-free but much closer to that point than it is at the moment. I believe this is possible, likely to happen, and the true moment when I can thoroughly attempt to convince people I know on a day-to-day basis to give the platform a try as a replacement for whatever social media platforms they are using.

A lot of these thoughts have come in the midst of a deep desire to finally push on and maintain the momentum gained from a particularly busy year. Cutting away excess, minimising friction for hobbies and side projects, and thus making tangible contributions through my work is the path I am taking… as a result, I will continue to think about such matters as I have written about here, make the relevant decisions, and update my blog as I do so.

2018

It’s been… well, one hell of a year. There are plenty of things I can’t remember right now and that’s OK; if it’s important enough I’ll remember it and make a note. In fact, I’ve been advised by more than one person to start a diary and I’m looking forward to doing just that.

If there’s one thing I’m currently feeling it is anticipation; after taking a break, I’ll be back on my bullshit and determined to take on all kinds of projects, as well as shoring up my basic organisation of various tasks so that I can use more of my time to do actual work. The improved use of my time will also grant me the chance to rediscover some hobbies, which now feels like a thing I ought to be better at prioritising.

I don’t have much else to say, so here are some recent updates:

  • Deactivated my Now page.
    • It’s been a great writing exercise over the past year, and has helped me with regard to making decisions about exactly what I want my blog to be, the degree to which I am involved in mainstream social media, and more. I thoroughly recommend it.
  • Edited menu links.
    • This now better reflects my thinking about this site. It will change if certain features are implemented on Micro.blog but the basic structure is set.
  • Edited the About page.
    • This continues to be an ever-changing page but the rate of change has slowed over the past few months, which is good. I would prefer it to be relatively stable, mostly with changes in the future centred around additions.
  • Moved my home page to WordPress.
    • It’s almost done; just missing a single post that I’ll have up at some point in January. Tumblr is decaying as part of its life as a social media silo, whilst Micro.blog does not currently have the features I require for this kind of page/site, and I can’t afford the other options. Fortunately I won’t be blogging at this site so the recent update by Automattic won’t be a problem.
  • Started contributing to Micro.blog on GitHub.
    • I haven’t done very much yet but a start is better than none. I think this is the best place to focus the various discussions across the community about Micro.blog itself; hopefully this will help make it easier for people to get a good idea of the extent to which Micro.blog is developing and the actual influence the community has on that process.

I have also done some light work on project planning and since stopping regular work a few days ago have found it a lot easier to note down ideas and think about my exact intentions for the next few months. The various parts of my projects are moving forward together nicely and I’m looking forward to getting some hobby projects off the ground during my break.

Other than that I am winding down my usual computer-based activity as a whole and will spend more time with both my iPad (reading, video, etc) and my Chromebook (limited functionality means focusing on specific, smaller task), as part of a much more relaxed approach to each day. It’s gonna be fun!

With that in mind, this is the last post on Mumblings until next year. Have a fun, safe end to the year everybody. :)

Bye!

Donald Moffat had a guest role in my favourite episode of The West Wing. Rest in peace, sir.

The WinterFest page on Eastgate is one of the reasons I want to give the Mac a try. I hope this happens every year.

I haven’t written anything of consequence for 48 hours. This is… odd.

Quick update: Issue 13 of For The Weekend is the last one of the year. I look forward to get it back up and running in 2019. :)

I’m too old for senseless cynicism. We need to be constructive, direct, and more efficiently spend our energy; read a book, watch a movie, go for a walk, talk with somebody… anything is better than lashing out, especially on the web.

Die Hard is the only Christmas movie worth watching every year. Fight me.

Iā€™m tired of managing plugins. Iā€™m tired of managing themes. Iā€™m tired of wrangling metadata. Iā€™m beyond tired of trying to manage the growing complexity of the Wordpress platform.

Paul Craig

Oh look, a mirror.

Over the past couple of years I’ve seen and heard people use the word “socials”, referring to their social media accounts.

Socials

šŸ˜

I don’t have a recommendation for Micro Monday but I do have suggestions:

Enjoy! ā­