Tag Archives: twitter

Twitter and the cost of links

Federico Viticci covers the news that Twitter will expand from 140 characters to 10,000, nicknaming the feature Twitter Notes. His nickname is appropriate given this latest transformation to become more like Facebook, since Facebook’s Medium-like capability for long posts is also called Facebook Notes.

The tweets and blog commentary on this have really missed a key aspect and cause for concern, though. Many posts – including even my own first attempt – have focused on whether Twitter Notes would water down Twitter’s unique strength. They then conclude that it’s better to include a long-form text feature rather than the compromise hack of screenshot text and tweetstorms. Federico sums up this endorsement with the following:

“Unlike other recent additions to the service, I want to believe that third-party developers will be able to support the feature in their clients (Jack seems to suggest as much) and that the iPad won’t be left behind again. I may be disappointed when the day comes, but if done right (see Matthew’s points here) and as long as Twitter Notes are intended as attachments for regular tweets with real text, I don’t see why I would be against them.”

Here’s why this matters, and it gets back to my post last week about the hyperlink. Closed platforms want to trap all activity, not send it out. The danger in Twitter Notes isn’t that they will replace textshots, it’s that they will replace external blogs.

For all of Twitter’s problems, at least right now most of the good writing we see on Twitter is actually linked out to external blogs (and yes, increasingly Medium posts). To shift that to be stored more on Twitter itself would be a setback for the open web. It would slowly train a new generation of timeline surfers to prefer Twitter-hosted content instead of blogs.

I wrote the above in draft form, and then later saw Ben Thompson’s daily update about the Twitter news. His take is the first I had seen that directly covered the issues of linking, even suggesting that no one really clicks on links anymore. But while he’s worried about Twitter from a business standpoint, I’m more worried about the attack on the web.

Ben also mentioned the clever trick Jack Dorsey used in writing his response as a textshot. Daniel Jalkut pointed out the same thing in the latest Core Intuition. Jack could have posted it to a blog, or to Medium, but he deliberately picked the worst way to work around Twitter’s current 140-character limit, to underscore his point.

Now, Will Oremus writes for Slate about the potential new Twitter walled garden:

“What’s really changing here, then, is not the length of the tweet. It’s where that link at the bottom takes you when you click on it—or, rather, where it doesn’t take you. Instead of funneling traffic to blogs, news sites, and other sites around the Web, the ‘read more’ button will keep you playing in Twitter’s own garden.”

I know we can’t rewind the clock to the heyday of the blogosphere. But we can still do more. More to encourage bloggers, more to spread awareness about how the web is supposed to work, and more to value open APIs. I think it starts with 2 things:

  • Build tools for independent microblogging, to make blogging just as easy as tweeting. I’m trying to do this.
  • Make the web faster, so the cost of clicking on a link goes down. Google’s helping this with AMP.

I was encouraged when I saw that Known had added support for AMP. They have their doubts about AMP, but at least they were quick to try it. From the Known blog:

“We’ve shipped support for AMP because we see potential here, and recognize that something should be done to improve the experience of loading independently-published content on the web. But attempting to bake certain businesses into a web standard is a malformed idea that is doomed to fail. If this is not corrected in future versions of the specification, we will withdraw support.”

Maybe AMP ends up being too ad-friendly to become a good standard. I don’t know. But if so, we’ll move to the next idea, because the web has to be faster. Slow pages are like a disease for links.

Anyone with a blog should be concerned about what could happen with Twitter’s 10,000-character push. We won’t feel the effects right away, but years from now it will matter. We should do more not just to promote blogs and writing on the open web, but to also make it easier for Twitter alternatives to exist through independent microblogging.

Timetable episode 5

I just published episode 5 of my new short-format podcast, Timetable. I’m having a lot of fun with this. Producing an episode that’s only 5 minutes long means I can experiment without investing too much time.

As I was listening to some other podcasts this week talk about the Twitter news, it occurred to me how important it is to have a good mix of podcasts, just as it is with blogging. Many of the most popular Apple-related podcasts hit the same news stories each week and have nearly the same opinion. Don’t get me wrong; I listen to a bunch of them and they’re great. But it’s a reminder to me that for Timetable, and especially for Core Intuition, not to be afraid of having a more contrarian role when it’s appropriate.

There’s nothing controversial in the latest episode of Timetable, though. Just me talking about getting some stamps to finally send out stickers.

Twitter’s 10k limit

First, Twitter experimented with changing the timeline, so it’s not strictly reverse-chronological. Then, they renamed Favorites to Likes. Soon, they will remove the 140-character limit, becoming Facebook, and the circle will be complete:

“The current plan is reportedly to show just the first 140 characters in the news feed and then allow readers to click to expand the tweet and see the other 9,860 remaining characters. The new option may launch later this quarter.”

The learner is now the master. Welcome to the dark side.

Stars vs. hearts and Twitter’s decline

In an essay about Twitter written in 2014, Ben Thompson described why he believed in the service:

“I think this actually gets to the problem with Twitter: the initial concept was so good, and so perfectly fit such a large market, that they never needed to go through the process of achieving product market fit. It just happened, and they’ve been riding that match for going on eight years.”

I’ve always thought the same thing. That Twitter started out so good, with such strong core features, that those basic features have carried it through all the years of missteps and inaction. But it’s not just that the features are “good” (although they are); it’s that they are unique.

Listening to the Connected podcast the other day, Federico Viticci and Myke Hurley made the statement that only nerds care about Twitter changing stars to hearts, favorites to likes. I was nodding in agreement until I talked to my daughter. She also didn’t understand why they would change away from stars, and she’s been on Twitter less than a year.

It’s not just nerds. Many new Twitter users recognize the subtle difference implied with hearts. But I realized that there’s something even more important about what this change says. Why is my daughter even on Twitter, in addition to Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and Vine? Because — even if most people can’t pin down exactly what makes it special — everyone knows Twitter is different and interesting.

All Twitter has going for it is its uniqueness. The timeline user experience, the retweets and favorites, the hashtag, and the short 140 character posts. Changing any of those key strengths to be just like every other social network means they’re watering down their own potential impact. Eventually that approach will produce a bland product that has no unique qualities.

We’ve already seen the timeline experience significantly altered. Promoted tweets, “while you were away”, inline conversation threads, and Twitter cards. Twitter in 2015 looks a lot more like Facebook than it did a few years ago, to everyone not using third-party Twitter apps.

Growing the user base is fine. But making Twitter more accessible to new users won’t do any good if you lose the much larger base of passionate users who have loved the product for years because it’s unique. You’re not going to beat Facebook by becoming even more like Facebook. If that’s Twitter’s strategy, then the service is already in decline.

Jack Dorsey to lead Twitter again

Three years ago today I posted my last personal tweet. That time and distance away from mainstream social networking has given me a new perspective on the importance of independent microblogging. It has shaped where I write and what tools I build.

But Twitter remains as fascinating as ever. Just a few weeks ago, the board seemed unsure about letting Jack Dorsey split his time between Twitter and Square:

“The responsibilities of running Square, which Dorsey reportedly refuses to give up, may now stand in the way of a Steve Jobs-esque return as Twitter’s full time chief executive. In June, its board took the unusual step of publicly declaring that it would only consider candidates ‘who are in a position to make a full-time commitment to Twitter’, a thinly-veiled reference to Dorsey’s preoccupations.”

Then they backed away from that:

“That declaration, as it seems to have turned out, has been a largely empty one. The idea that Dorsey might return gained steam among people both inside and outside the company over the past few months even though he had no intention of leaving Square. He even referred to the companies as his two children when discussing the dilemma, according to a source.”

Today they officially announced that Jack will return to lead Twitter. Of all the recent articles, my favorite is this one from Recode, a long profile on Jack’s role and changing attitude:

“He seems to be a completely different man than the one who returned to Twitter in March 2011 as executive chairman and product czar. Former colleagues recall a man looking for payback for his 2008 ouster; loyalty was key, and many who were loyal to Twitter’s other co-founder, Ev Williams, were booted from the company. Back then, Dorsey would routinely sit in on meetings without saying a word. When he did speak, his contributions were so abstract that few understood what he was talking about. In some cases, he’d simply write a single word or two up on the whiteboard.”

And it goes on, showing how Jack has matured as a leader. Everyone will be watching what he does, and how Twitter evolves. Every article written about an upcoming Twitter feature will mention Jack’s involvement, no matter how insignificant. He’s a big part of the story now.

Ev also wrote about the official announcement:

“Twitter is bigger and more important to the world than we ever dreamed when we started. And it still has incredible, unrealized potential. It will not be easy to unlock it. But we have thousands of smart, creative people working every day to make the company great. And Jack has already demonstrated the ability to inspire the team and think boldly about the next phase of Twitter.”

The greatest challenge for Jack will be figuring out how to take whatever those thousands of employees are working on and turn it into actual user-facing features that ship to customers. Federico Viticci, reviewing the new Tweetbot 4 release last week, wrote about how Tapbots has built something more ambitious than the official Twitter for iPad app, even though Twitter has a much bigger team:

“On the other hand, Twitter for iPad – long ignored by the company – has emerged again with a stretched-up iPhone layout presented in the name of ‘consistency’. It’s a grim landscape, devoid of the excitement and curiosity that surrounded Twitter clients five years ago.”

I still run Tweet Marker, which was created during that period of innovation that Federico refers to, but my focus now is on indie microblogging and the open web. I’m content to watch Twitter from the sidelines and wish Jack the best of luck.

I will return to Twitter when…

As I’m catching up on some news, two posts today about Twitter caught me eye. First, very big news via Federico Viticci, that full tweet search is available even to third-party apps. Twitter’s limited search was the main reason I originally built Tweet Library. It’s fantastic that this data is now more easily available.

But it was this opening paragraph from Jason Snell’s article on Macworld about Twitter neglecting the Mac version that got me thinking:

“Three years ago this month Twitter broke its covenant with the third-party developers who helped fuel its initial growth and create some of its most innovative features. The message was clear: Twitter was in charge of its own platform, and while other Twitter apps would be tolerated, it would only be in limited fashion and for a limited time.”

It was around this time, nearly 3 years ago, that I posted my last tweet. My bet with Daniel is over whether I will return to Twitter within 5 years. People ask if I’ll come back sooner, and if I did, what it would take. I’ve often struggled to articulate those conditions, because I think we are seeing slow but consistent progress to unwind the developer-hostile decisions made a few years ago. It may be that in a couple years the environment will be much improved, but there won’t be any single decision that “fixed” it, or it may be that Twitter is doomed to have changing leadership and there will never be any guarantees.

There is one thing, though. There is one change that was made while rolling out the version 1.1 Twitter API: they removed support for unauthenticated RSS feeds of user tweets or timelines. If they reversed that one decision, the next day I would be back on Twitter.

I can pick out a single feature like this, among every other improvement that third-party developers would love to see, because the combination of removing RSS and at the same time locking down the API — those changes together best represent the move away from the open web. Any other incremental improvement short of unauthenticated RSS, no matter how welcome, isn’t enough.

Riposte push server crowdfunding

Back in April, the App.net app Riposte was removed from sale. Riposte wasn’t just the best client for App.net; I think it held its own against even the best Twitter apps, too. The push notification server for Riposte (and its messaging app complement, Whisper) was to keep running for some months and then shut down this summer.

Even if App.net is slowly fading away, like many users I still have Riposte on my home screen. I cross-post all my microblog posts from this blog to App.net. When I get replies and mentions on App.net, I like to see them as push notifications in Riposte. I can reply in the app easily, or skim through the timeline to see what else is going on.

Now the developers have launched a crowdfunding campaign to keep the Riposte server running. Their goal is a modest $500 per year to cover AWS hosting and time to keep everything running smoothly. Even if you’re not very active on App.net anymore, consider donating as a thank-you for everything Riposte did for App.net, and for what it did to advance the state of UI design in social networking apps.

Two weeks notice: Core Int 192

Continuing from last week’s Core Intuition, today Daniel and I talk more about how things are going with the final days of my job winding down. We then take the second half of the show to catch up on recent news around Twitter’s leadership.

From the show notes:

“Daniel and Manton acknowledge celebration as a survival tactic, discuss the urgency of making ends meet as an indie, and examine changes underway at Twitter with interim CEO Jack Dorsey.”

You can listen or subscribe at the Core Intuition web site. Special thanks to returning sponsor CocoaConf. They’ve got conferences coming up in Boston and San Jose, and then Yosemite National Park next year.

Embrace cross-posting

When App.net was first taking off, many microbloggers struggled with how to decide where to post their short-form writing. Should they post some topics to Twitter and others to App.net? Should they cross-post everything to both services? At the time, there was an informal consensus that cross-posting was a cheat. It couldn’t take advantage of each platform’s strengths, and followers might often see the same post twice.

I now believe that cross-posting is a good thing. Photos, as one example, are frequently cross-posted to both Instagram and Facebook. Tweets can be sent to Twitter as well as our own blogs. Many apps like Instagram or Foursquare support and even encourage cross-posting. It’s good for developers because it helps spread knowledge of the publishing app, and it’s good for writers because it means there are multiple copies of our content.

It’s no secret that I’m building a microblog aggregation and publishing service. The goal is for us to get back to our roots with blogging — to write on our own web sites first, not as an afterthought to Twitter. Cross-posting is an important bootstrap for that.

If you don’t have a blog, start one today. It takes minutes to set up, and hardly any more time to wire up automatic tweeting via IFTTT from your RSS feed. Start with cross-posting and see if something interesting evolves from there.

Ev on Twitter third-party devs

Business Insider quotes Evan Williams on the developer-hostile attitude of previous Twitter management:

“The API denial was, ‘One of our strategic errors we had to wind down over time,’ Evans explained. ‘It wasn’t a win/win for developers, users, and the company.’”

Just acknowledging this publicly is progress. It’s now been almost 3 years since my last tweet. I don’t expect to return to Twitter, but I’m still very interested in whether there’ll be a noticeable change in direction from the new CEO.

Microblog timelines, Project Lightning, and River.js

I said that one important facet to microblogging is the timeline experience. This is a basic foundation to Twitter’s success, although they continue to de-emphasize or twist it. Their upcoming Project Lightning will attempt to curate and deliver tweets to you that are important regardless of who you’re following. From Mat Honan’s scoop on the project for Buzz Feed:

“Launch one of these events and you’ll see a visually driven, curated collection of tweets. A team of editors, working under Katie Jacobs Stanton, who runs Twitter’s global media operations, will select what it thinks are the best and most relevant tweets and package them into a collection.”

David Pierce wrote for Wired with further speculation on what it could mean for Twitter. David starts with the premise that Twitter is basically full of junk:

“Sure, yes, everyone’s Twitter is different—that’s one of the service’s best aspects, that you can follow anyone you want and see whatever you want. Unfortunately, this only works if everyone on Twitter isn’t terrible most of the time. They are.”

The essay continues, describing Project Lightning as the death of the Twitter timeline as we know it:

“With this change, Twitter doesn’t have to look like an endlessly flowing, context-free stream of tweets; instead, you can see a hand-curated set of tweets, links, images, and videos related to what’s happening right now. You see one at a time, swiping through them until you get to the end. And there’s an end!”

Since I haven’t seen this new feature, I can’t tell whether it’s a major shift in how Twitter is used. Federico Viticci is optimistic about it:

“This is another example of Twitter moving beyond Legacy Twitter and the belief that Twitter is still only a timeline of tweets in chronological order. The company has been enhancing the service with media improvements and design changes aimed at making Twitter less static – the opposite of a traditional timeline. If anything, they’ve been moving too slowly in this area.”

I agree with Federico on the value of curation and surfacing great content. But also the timeline must remain at the heart of Twitter, just as a reverse-chronological list of posts has been on every blog home page since the term weblog was coined 18 years ago.

Dave Winer calls these timelines “rivers”, and last week he open-sourced a browser for the River.js timeline files. Formatted as JSONP, you can think of River.js as conceptually the same as an RSS feed, except that it’s easy to display with HTML using only JavaScript.

I plan to fully support outputting River.js in the project I’m working on. For the last few years, Twitter has had a monopoly on the timeline. We need to break that up. The first step is encouraging microblogs everywhere, and the next step is to build tools that embrace the timeline experience. If you’d like to see my take on this, please sign up on the project announce list.

Why Ello isn’t enough

Last week, to not much fanfare at all because nearly everyone had already lost interest, Ello shipped their iPhone app. Credit to them for attempting to build a new social network, because this is extremely difficult. But it seems to me that Ello is a bust. They needed a more compelling pitch than simply “no ads”.

(I’ve heard some people joke about Ello’s monospaced font, but I kind of love that about Ello. If you want to differentiate yourself, design isn’t a bad place to start.)

App.net was — and likely will be for many more years — the most successful attempt to compete with Twitter and Facebook. If they fell short, despite how many things they got right, how can another clone of existing social networks hope to do any better?

I wish I could cheer Ello on. Spend enough time clicking around on Ello and you discover a niche but fascinating community, full of beautiful art and photos. It’s just that after so many months, there’s still not even a mention of an official API on the planned features page.

The next great social platform can’t be yet another centralized system. It has to be more distributed and more open even than App.net. It has to focus on writing and bloggers and embrace what is good about the web. Ello doesn’t do any of these things.

More quick blogging workflows

I had a great conversion with Seth Clifford one night at WWDC, about writing and blogging. We all want to get better at writing and posting more frequently. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the best way to improve anything is to do more of it, more often.

I believe there are two important facets to microblogging. The first is the timeline experience: a reverse-chronological list of posts from your friends, like you see on Twitter. The second is that posting should be effortless: if there’s less friction between your idea and publishing it, you’ll write more often. So a big part of posting regularly is just having a system that makes it easy.

Seth updated his iOS blogging workflow by using Drafts and WordPress’s email-to-blog feature. As a nice bonus, he gets Markdown files of each post saved to Dropbox:

“Drafts allows you to send email as an action. WordPress allows you to post into the system via email. Using a combination of the action and the Jetpack plugin’s email functionality, I can go from idea to published in seconds, without touching the WP iOS app (which continues to get better, but still isn’t fast) and get my local copy stored away.”

Also this week, Ben Brooks has switched his core Twitter posting to go through WordPress. He has a standalone microblog at benb.me where the posts live. They go out to Twitter automatically via IFTTT. Posting to a blog first and then Twitter second seems like a simple idea, but it is extremely powerful. Years from now you end up with an archive of all your short-form writing at your own domain. Not as an afterthought, but as the default.

The great thing about blogging is there’s no one correct way to do this stuff. I’m really happy to see these solutions from Seth and Ben, and I know other folks are working on similar workflows.

Microblogging with WordPress

I wrote at a high level how I improved my microblogging workflow before WWDC, but I’d like to use this post to show the surrounding details. I hope it’s useful to other folks who want to control their own content.

Post formats. Newer versions of WordPress have the concept of post formats. Normal blog posts have a “standard” format, but there are also these types: aside, image, link, quote, and status. For microblogs, I recommend “status”.

No titles. As I proposed in a previous blog post, for small posts we should revisit an original feature of RSS: the title of a post is optional. In fact, early blogging systems like Radio Userland didn’t even have a title field. When you’re writing a microblog post in WordPress, just leave the title blank, and if necessary update the post template to not include the title in HTML or the RSS feed.

RSS feeds. If you create a brand new WordPress blog for microblog posts, you won’t need to do anything special about RSS feeds. But if you share a single blog for both standard and status formats, you may want to have 2 feeds: one that excludes microblog posts and one that contains only microblog posts. Just use a special category for microblog posts in addition to the post format. Here’s a section of my .htaccess file where I use the “cat” parameter to include or exclude this category for my blog’s feeds.

iPhone posting. One of the lessons from Twitter is that posting should be effortless. Using WordPress on iOS is fine, but I’ve found that wiring up a simple posting recipe in IFTTT’s Do Note app makes it trivial to post from your phone. Use the WordPress action in IFTTT but also get this WordPress plug-in. Since the WordPress action can’t yet specify a post format, the plug-in can simulate it by using a special ifttt-status category. Here’s a screenshot of what my IFTTT recipe looks like.

Tweeting. Now that you have a blog that contains all your microblog posts, you can wire it up to Twitter to automatically cross-post them as tweets. You’re writing on your own site first, but the posts still go out to your Twitter followers. Again, use an IFTTT recipe that pulls from your microblog RSS feed and sends the post content to Twitter. Since I don’t post to Twitter, I’ve set mine to post to App.net instead. You can continue to reply and favorite directly on Twitter.

I’m very excited about the potential for microblogging. For the last year I’ve been working on a new platform around this stuff. By adopting some of these tips for WordPress, your microblog will be ready for my platform, but more importantly your blog will be open and extensible. Let’s get back to our roots with RSS and see what tools and web sites we can build.

Twitter Island

To cope with his dislike for how Twitter treats the microblog part of their platform, Brent Simmons has adopted a strategy of deleting old tweets:

“So I haven’t deleted my account or made it private. I will respond to some messages. It’s just that I’ll delete my response after a day or a week or whatever so that Twitter is a chat-only service for me.”

Justin Williams joked that Brent and I are now the sole inhabitants of “Manton Island”. That’s funny but it’s actually backwards; it’s Twitter that is the island. Everyone is there, though, in an overpopulated mess, so they don’t realize they’re cut off from the rest of the world — the open web, designed 25 years ago as an interconnected system of countless islands.

The risk on Twitter Island is that the monarchy can change the rules. Cars that once were great now can’t run on the road. Windows that once had a beautiful view now only look inward. Eventually maybe the whole thing sinks, with waterlogged tweets (which you thought you controlled) floating above the surface like lost bubbles over Atlantis.

The rule of the open web is much simpler: you own your content if it’s on your domain name. That’s why I have my microblog posts here on manton.org and with their own RSS feed.

I’ve been working on a new project that I think is the next step for microblogging. It still has elements of being an island, as most web apps inherently do. But mine isn’t just an island; it’s an island builder, with massive bridges to the mainland, to other nearby islands, to places we haven’t even dreamed up yet.

Watermark transition plan

I sent an email to Watermark customers over the weekend, letting them know that the service as it currently exists will be going away on May 15th. As I wrote about last year, Twitter has improved their search enough that a part of what Watermark is good at is no longer as necessary as it once was. However, I still see interest in Tweet Marker, from developers and users, so I wanted to keep the web-based timeline and sync from Watermark and make it available to all Tweet Marker subscribers.

You can learn more about Tweet Marker here. I’ve had to significantly scale out the backend servers this year, including adding a second load balancer, so I’d love your support. The new timeline feature will roll out later in May.

While I’m happy to keep offering a part of Watermark (now back in Tweet Marker), I have less good news for Tweet Library. I’ve found it very difficult to justify the time to finish the new version. It’s now looking likely that the current version will be the last.

Textshots

Federico Viticci of MacStories provides some context for so-called textshots with the upcoming release of Wikipedia’s new app:

“The practice of sharing ‘textshots’ – screenshots of text, as they’re often referred to – has taken off among certain tech niches for two reasons. First, turning text into a static image is a primitive but effective workaround to circumvent Twitter’s 140-character limitations. But more importantly, humans have a natural tendency for convenience and visual feedback, and these two aspects are combined in the art of well crafted textshots: they save you a click, and they make shared passages of text more visually appealing.”

I don’t like textshots. They’re like DRM for tweets: a trade-off that obscures real metadata and text selection just to hack around Twitter’s limitations.

If I were building a Twitter-like social network, I’d certainly allow basic HTML styled text and inline images in a microblog post, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to encourage textshots.

New social networks for Apple Watch

The Verge highlights 6 apps that show the promise of third-party apps on the watch. About Twitter:

“As you’d expect, many of the biggest social networks are ready with Watch apps on day one. Of those, Twitter’s short-form updates seem to make the most sense for the Apple Watch — but it isn’t Twitter’s app itself that really stands out here. Rather, it’s that Twitter is one of the social networks that soared thanks to the rise of smartphones. The Watch may not change that, but there’s a chance that we’ll see new networks build around it, the same way that Twitter, Snapchat, and Tinder have all built up around the smartphone.”

This is certainly on my mind as I write about and work on microblogging projects.

Medium as the new Twitter

Daniel Jalkut had some fun recently, exploring whether Medium’s improvements to posting are turning it into a next-generation Twitter:

“Medium is now the most Twitter-like service on the web, was founded and is run by one of Twitter’s creators, and answers most of the gripes that people have had about Twitter over the years.”

My gut reaction to this was that Medium creates more problems than it solves. In a reply on Medium:

“Medium is really interesting, and beautifully designed, but it’s not progress over Twitter unless you’re annoyed about the 140 character limit. It’s still totally centralized, has no API, and works against wanting to host and control our own content. Basically a step back for the open web. (Although I think there’s real value in mirroring content here.)”

Medium also feels like it wants to be a desktop experience right now. It’s not optimized for mobile in the way that Twitter has been from the beginning. There’s good stuff happening there, but I want to see more tools that encourage blogging instead.

Typed.com and the state of blogging

Typed.com from Realmac Software looks great. Set to launch later this year, crowdfunding for the project has already passed $67k.

Ben Thompson wrote recently about how blogging has changed:

“Twitter has replaced link-posts and comments, Instagram has replaced pictures, and Facebook has replaced albums and blogrolls; now Medium is seeking to replace the essay. None of this is a bad thing: literally billions more people now have a much simpler way to express themselves online thanks to the ease-of-use that is characteristic of any service that seeks to focus on one particularly aspect of communication, a big contrast to a blog’s ability to do anything and everything relatively poorly.”

It’s a good post, although I’d say that even if those changes aren’t “a bad thing”, they can have bad consequences. Medium is a beautifully designed site and there is some great writing published there. But if it discourages people from owning their own content and writing at their own domain name, then it is a step back for the web. The best use of Medium is to cross-post there, to expand your audience, but not as the primary location for your writing.

If you’ve read between the lines on my posts about microblogging and open APIs, you may have guessed that I’ve also been working on a blog platform, although (I think) of a much different kind than Realmac’s Typed.com. I believe we need more blog platforms, not fewer. Accepting that Twitter and Facebook are the only way to publish online is like collapsing all the publishing systems down to a couple centralized tools. That approach is convenient in the short term but ultimately bad for the web.

The best and most diverse writing on the web still happens on individually-owned blogs. It’s linked to from Twitter, but it originates on blogs. If you’re not blogging than your writing doesn’t have the reach, doesn’t have the permanence, doesn’t have the impact that it could have.

And 2015 is going to be great for blogging. I’m looking forward to trying Typed.com and also sharing some of what I’ve been working on. If you want an early heads-up, sign up on the announcement mailing list.