micro.blog: Looking forward for a new way to have a conversation

I’ve had my twitter account since 2007. When I joined twitter, it was a lovely way to step forward into conversations with a bunch of technologist friends who were mostly Mac (and soon IOS) developers. For me, it was a pipeline to the thoughts of friends and cohorts. It was really similar to the kind of experience I found at stopping by the pub at a developer’s conferences: lots of scattered conversations, forming, happening, and breaking down again. I described it as “tea party conversations” – where you didn’t need, or even want, to hear everything, but you could get a bit of feeling of what was being talked about, join in on the conversation, and step back out when you were done.

That lasted a good long while. During that time I used blogs and RSS readers (like NetNewsWire) to keep up with the longer form content. Tutorials, opinion pieces, demo links, whatever – stuff that didn’t fit in a small text message style conversation. I was using several devices at once; when the landscape changed and most of the RSS readers accumulated to Google Reader, I went with them. I still used NetNewsWire but sync’d all the data with Google Reader and also used the Google Reader web application.

Longer form writing started to die down – Tumblr rolled through, lots of folks posted to Facebook where they might have written something longer on a Blog, and Twitter kept being prolific at getting me pretty good conversation points. More and more, twitter became the place I learned about events, found links to longer form articles to read, and keep track of what was happening in quite a variety of technical ecosystems.

Then in 2013, Google kicked a whole bunch of folks (including me) in the nuts: It shut down Google Reader. They gave a lot of time to transition, they did it well and communicated fairly, but in hindsight that shutdown really collapsed my reliance on RSS and getting to longer form writing through RSS. I kept up with Twitter, LinkedIn was doing some technology news sharing, and I wandered and struggled with tracking news and information I was interested in, but was mostly successful.

In the intervening years, Twitter has arguably become a cesspool (so has Facebook to be fair). Harassment, fake news, overt advertising and with the service’s algorithms showing me only portions of what I wanted in both cases. What they thought I wanted to hear; it became more of an echo chamber than I’m comfortable with. Where it was once the pub where I could step into a conversation, learn something interesting or hear about something I should check out later and head on – it became incoherent shouting over crowds.

I intentionally followed a wide variety of people (and companies); I wanted the diversity of viewpoints. With the evolving algorithms, injection of advertising that looks like my friend’s messages, and generally just the sheer amount of noise it became overwhelming. The “signal to noise ratio” is really quite terrible. I still get a few nuggets and have an interesting conversation with it, but it is a lot more rare. Friends have dropped from twitter due to their frustration with it, harassment issues for some of them, and others have locked down their posts, understandably so.

So when I heard that Manton Reece was taking a stab at this game with micro.blog – getting back to conversations using open-web technologies, I was thrilled. I’ve been quietly following him for years; he’s a level headed guy with interesting opinions. A good person to listen to in my “tea party conversations” metaphor. Manton has his project idea up on Kickstarter, and got the response I think it (and he) deserved: resounding. It is fully funded, a couple times over as I write this. I backed it – as did over 1750 other folks.

Even though it’s funded, if you’re in the same situation I am with twitter and facebook, take a look at the micro.blog kickstarter project and consider chipping in.

I don’t know if it’ll be a path to solve some of the problems that I’ve experience with Twitter, and to a lessor extent with Facebook. I want a place where I can carry on conversations that isn’t tightly bound into one of those companies. I want some tooling where I don’t have to have a really high barrier to get different opinions and thoughts on topics I’m interested in. I want to “turn down the volume” quite a few notches. I hope that micro.blog does some of that.

I’m fairly confident that the people I started following on twitter back in 2007 will be in micro.blog, sharing their opinions (and blogs). I’ll be on it, and sharing my thoughts and opinions, and hopefully engaging in some interesting conversations.

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