Whither microblogging?

I never actually considered Twitter to be a microblogging platform, at least not for my own purposes.

At its most basic level your Twitter profile fits that brief (a reverse chronological list of short posts from a single author) but the lack of true ownership and the overarching social aspect meant I could never really see it as such.

It just never felt like a blog, even a micro one.

A new way

Micro.blog seeks to usher in a new era for microblogging but if there wasn't the self-hosted option I feel it would suffer in the same way. If everything was just hosted on the platform then you would essentially have just another Twitter clone.

But it's not, the idea behind it is wider reaching. However, that still doesn't mean there aren't issues.

I think Micro.blog's one problem is that it has multiple use cases and, because of this, some don't really understand exactly what it is.

The description on its About page includes:

"Micro.blog shows recent posts from sites and people you are following"

Fair enough, it's an aggregator, but we also have:

"Micro.blog is a new social network for independent microblogs"

Two use cases within the first couple of lines but they are not incompatible - remember FriendFeed? Later, the description expands and clarifies this position:

"Instead of trying to be a full social network, Micro.blog is a thin layer that glues the open web together, making it more useful. Micro.blog adds discovery and conversations on top of previously unconnected blog posts."

Now we're getting somewhere; this is where it starts to get interesting and is what really appeals to me on a visceral level.

But people have a hard time understanding "layers" - we only need to go back to Google+ to see this. It was never meant to be just a social network, it was supposed to be the glue that bound all of your Google activity together.

Just like Google+ some can only see Micro.blog as a social network, they don't understand why it is needed, why they should participate or the relationship with content on your own site. As I mentioned yesterday, many just don't see the need.

Add hosted microblogging to the mix and some are confused about Micro.blog's purpose. Surely, if microblogs are hosted then they are not independent as mentioned above.


Whether you get the purpose of Micro.blog or not, blogs themselves are more valuable, more powerful when they are connected, when there is an exchange of ideas. I go on about having conversations via blog posts as I feel this is an important part of the web - how it used to be and how it should be again.

But Micro.blog can't do this alone which is why it sits squarely atop the principles of the #indieweb and why so much emphasis is placed on webmentions.

The hope is that as Micro.blog grows, the proliferation of webmentions will drive the adoption of ways to consume them across different blogging platforms, in turn driving wider adoption of the indieweb as a whole.

As I have also written, I hope that microblogging may spawn a resurgence in longer form writing - especially on people's own sites. If a mechanism exists to reduce the isolation of blogging then more may be tempted to share their thoughts in more depth.

The indieweb provides such a mechanism but the technology and terminology are beyond many. Micro.blog has the advantage of using a familiar trope (the social network) to introduce this mechanism and its concepts in a more accessible way.

It just needs to better explain what it is and how its different use cases relate.

It just needs to better explain why.

# Tweaking, always tweaking. And breaking. But mainly tweaking.

Colin Walker Colin Walker colin@colinwalker.blog