Linking
8 min

Blogging thoughts on May 26, 2016

I struggle to follow threads or conversations on Twitter. It's too clunky, at least when viewing Twitter with a web browser and not being logged into the site. Maybe the bad UX disappears when viewing Twitter from a native app. I don't know. I don't need a Twitter native app.

https://twitter.com/mncahill/status/735835781856690176

https://twitter.com/davewiner/status/735841140952420355

https://twitter.com/davewiner/status/735835343694495744

https://twitter.com/davewiner/status/735835122008793088

https://twitter.com/davewiner/status/735834952005193728


DW preaches support for the open web ( #indieweb ), but he posts a lot at Twitter and maybe elsewhere with his thoughts not being posted back on his own website.

The Indie Web spammers, as Winer calls them, post on their own personal sites first and then syndicate elsewhere. Indie Web users conduct conversations on Twitter from their own personal websites.

Excerpts from tweets by DW and others:

A big part of blogging is technology. With the tech industry controlling the technology, i.e. not open, we can't evolve the tools.

The problem is that Blogging was at the beginning a simple publishing means. Over time it has been overcomplicated.

I totally agree. WordPress et al are WAY too complicated. That's why I've been working on a reboot of blogging sw.

They all seem to go down the :"All things to all people" content management path. Now it's good for content management but it leaves normal users behind.

That's one reason why the Ghost blogging tool was conceptualized in 2012 and released in 2013 because Wordpress was considered to be a CMS tool and not a blogging tool.

Ironically, Ghost has grown, and now in 2016, it has become more of a CMS tool, instead of a simple blogging app.

When Ghost started, it seemed that users wanted everything. I would have responded by saying: Use Wordpress. That's why the tweet by mncahill is a good quote.

"They all seem to go down the :"All things to all people" content management path."

Ghost has done that in 2.5 years.

Last year, I created a custom install of my Grebe blogging app to power the non-profit website http://babyutoledo.com/.

I don't think that makes my Grebe code a CMS. It's still a basic web publishing app. It supports multiple authors.

My Junco app is larger than Grebe. Junco supports multiple users. It contains wiki-like features. It also permits following users and following tags. All kinds of stream views exist.

My web publishing apps Scaup, Veery, and Wren are single-user programs. This winter and spring, I have enjoyed using my Wren blogging or web publishing tool far more than I expected. I like the fact that the app does NOT create things like archives, the homepage stream, and tag pages and tag lists. I have to create those features manually as web pages if I want them.

Wren is simple but it could also be considered difficult for non-tech users. Scaup and Veery rely on CouchDB (NoSQL) and ElasticSearch. Grebe and Junco use MySQL.

Grebe, Scaup, and Veery can store their homepages and article pages in memcached or Redis.

Wren relies on a web server, Nginx in my case. I use FastCGI with my Nginx setup. I could install Wren on my local computer and FTP the HTML pages to a remote server, eliminating the need for FastCGI. But I added a search function to Wren, which dynamically creates an output page, and this function relies on FastCGI. I could eliminate Wren's built-in search and rely on Google search, and then I would not need FastCGI.

But for my Wren sites, I like to create and update through the web browser, including on the phone.

Instead of installing code on a leased server, it's probably best for users to rely on Tumblr, Blogger, and Wordpress.com. If a user wishes to own a custom domain name, then Tumblr and Wordpress offer domain name mapping. I don't know about Blogger. I don't think people mind having their sites shown as a subdomain on those hosted platforms. Not having a domain name is one more item that the user does not have worry about renewing.

Ghost also offers a blog hosting service, but they charge a small fee.

A zillion static site blogging tools exist, but these might be too complicated for non-tech people to install and use.

The masses don't want to fuss with the tech details. They want to write. Medium.com provides a fine writing environment and a good network. Medium.com also offers domain name mapping, but I'm unsure if the service is available to all.

For me, I will use one or more of the publishing apps that I have created. And I will install this on a server (Droplet) at Digital Ocean. I will pay for the domain name, and I will pay for the monthly hosting fee. I will also pay an annual fee to Fastmail.fm to use that service and an additional fee to Fastmail in order to have an email address that uses the same domain name as my website. And I will do this for multiple sites.

The little costs add up. And then I use a free SSL certificate on my private web-based messaging site. Each year, I have to renew the cert and install the new cert on the server. Non-tech people, like my wife, won't do all of these things. That's why she likes Facebook, which was built to be used easily.

If my wife decides to blog, I could allow her to blog on one of my Grebe-based sites, or I can setup a site for her that is powered by one of my web publishing apps.

Or my wife could do everything on her own by creating an account at either Tumblr, Wordpress, Ghost, Blogger, Medium, Svbtle, etc.

Or she could use Facebook's Notes function as her blogging tool. Last fall, Facebook redesigned its Notes area to operate more like a blog app.

I think that too many tech people forget that "normal" people are disinterested in tech terms, such as open web, silos, CMS, blog, Markdown, etc.

Normal people want to app or site to be easy to use. They are not going to use Amazon Web Services. They won't download or build software. They won't configure a web server or a database server.

Normal users want to create an account and begin using it. Minimal setup. Tumblr, Medium, Blogger, and Wordpress and I'm sure others satisfy this requirement. Users can blog at Quora and LinkedIn.

Linking

From the above tweets:

Dear Facebook: When I type this into a status on FB, it should work. Probably should work in Twitter too. Why not? btw, this was innovative in 1992.

because both Twitter and Facebook want you spending time on their site, not going out to others.

One word: scammers. Obfuscating links is a vector for scams repopulating on people's feeds. Better to disallow all html/scripts.

I've spent two years trying to get Facebook to add linking to their statuses, to absolutely no avail. You can't write in 2016 w/o links.

yeah they should support markdown.

that would be over-the-top great. You'd see the lights come back on in the blogging world almost instantly.

If Facebook supported Markdown, would even one percent of its users use it? I'm guessing most would say, "Mark who?".

DW has been fired up about Facebook not supporting links within its status posts. I'm guessing Facebook has a valid reason for not supporting links.

The odd thing is that DW has written in the past about how users on social media don't click links, especially on Twitter.

Dave has wanted Twitter to allow for more than 140 characters to be posted. Others have said, logically, post a long post elsewhere, such as on a personal website, and drop the link to the post at Twitter. But Dave has argued that users won't click those links.

Maybe Facebook users click links.

I don't understand why Dave does not use Facebook's Notes publishing function. Notes permits some HTML formatting.

I created a new post with Facebook's Notes. Whew. Awkward and painful.

I'm not a fan of the fancy wysiwyg-type of web-based writing environments. I am much faster typing within my JavaScript editor that I'm using to create this post, which means I format by typing the commands, using either Textile or Markdown/MultiMarkdown.

But non-tech users who don't care about Textile and Markdown would prefer the fancy editors of Facebook Notes and Medium.com.

Anyway, raw URLs are automatically made into links within Facebook's Notes function. But I cannot see how to create a link that uses link text. This could be done with the old Notes.

Back in 2009 and 2010, I created some Notes posts as small blog posts, and I could create links with link text. The old Notes allowed for typing some raw HTML tags.

https://www.facebook.com/ohioyoungbirders/notes

Facebook Notes Formatting Cheat Sheet from 2010. Yep, the anchor tag was supported.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/johnhaydon/4382920858

Ah, I figured out how to use the wysiwyg editor to create links, etc.

Before typing text, clicking the formatting icon provides options to create H1, H2, bullet point list, numbered list, pull quote, and a code block.

Once text has been created, then the text must be highlighted, which causes additional formatting options to pop-up, such as bold, italic, mono, and link.

The new Facebook Notes permits creating links from raw URLs and by using link text.

Man, that Facebook Notes writing environment takes time figure out. Too many pop-ups. Whatever. It's not my writing environment.

But Facebook supports links. DW needs to use Notes.

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