Microblog

    It’s been less than two months since I decided to use Micro.blog for my short Fediverse posts. It was an interesting experiment, but I’m going back to Mastodon. Just reactivated my account there and will soon import my followers back.

    Like before, you don’t have to do anything. And, yes, I’ll write a blog post explaining the reasons 😉.


    📺 How to customize the Tiny Theme Archive page on Micro.blog

    In a recent episode of my podcast, I told Manton, the creator of Micro.blog, that I would prefer if the blog categories on the Archive page were horizontally displayed, instead of the current list. To my surprise, the solution arrived a day after I published the video.

    When Otávio finished listening to the episode, he wrote a code (below) to do just the task. Now it’s my turn to give back to the community. The video below shows how you can use Otavio’s code to customize your own Archive page.


    Otávio’s code:

    {{ define "main" }}
    <div class="archive">
    	<h2 class="p-name">Archive</h2>
    	{{ if templates.Exists "partials/microhook-archive-lead.html" }}
    	{{ partial "microhook-archive-lead.html" . }}
    	{{ end }}
    	{{ $list := ($.Site.GetPage "taxonomyTerm" "categories").Pages }}
    	{{ if gt (len $list) 0 }}
    	<div class="archive-categories">
    		<h3>Categories</h3>
            <span>
    	        {{ $sortedList := sort $list "Title" }}
    	        {{ $length := len $sortedList }}
        	    {{ range $index, $element := $sortedList }}
            	    <a href="{{ $element.Permalink }}">{{ $element.Title }}</a>{{ if lt $index (sub $length 1) }}, {{ end }}
    	        {{ end }}
            </span>
    	</div>
    	{{ end }}
    	<div class="full-archives h-feed">
    		<h3>Full Post List</h3>
    		{{ $list := (where .Site.Pages "Type" "post") }}
    		{{ range $list }}
    
    		<p class="h-entry">
    			<a href="{{ .Permalink }}" class="u-url"><span class="dt-published" datetime="{{ .Date.Format "2006-01-02T15:04:05-0700" }}">{{ .Date.Format "Jan 2, 2006" }}</span></a>:
    			{{ if .Title }}
    			<span class="p-name"><b>{{ .Title }}</b></span>
    			{{ end }}
    			<span class="p-summary">{{ .Summary | truncate 150 }}</span>
    		</p>
    
    		{{ end }}
    	</div>
    
    </div>
    {{ end }}
    

    VCP 4 - Building a central hub to help you share your thoughts and ideas (with: Manton Reece)

    Manton Reece, the creator of Micro.blog, talks about the journey that led him to build a platform that enables users to apply the IndieWeb principle of first posting on their own blog, and then strategically cross-posting or sharing links on social media. Obviously, topics such as ActivityPub, the AT protocol, and the Fediverse in general were also discussed. I hope you enjoy listening to this conversation as much as I enjoyed producing this episode.

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    Transcript


    Early today, I had a wonderful conversation with @manton@manton.org about #Microblog, #IndieWeb, and #ActivityPub. It will be released in a couple of days as episode 4 of my podcast, as well as a video on my YouTube channel.


    Heads up! Starting with this post, I’m going to add a little mess to my online presence for a while. I’m trying out #Microblog’s cross-posting feature to see if it works for me. The original posts added to vladcampos.com will be automatically shared on #Bluesky, #LinkedIn, and #Mastodon.


    What inspired me to move from Obsidian Publish to Microblog?

    TL;DR: a gateway to a thriving online presence

    What if I told you there is a tool that can replace your blog, website, newsletter, podcast, bookshelf, and more? 🤯 It’s even compatible with the ActivityPub protocol.

    In a recent article, I discussed how owning a domain and using permalinks can help you seamlessly move from one hosting service to another without losing your audience. Then I published another article devoted to describing a similar approach for your social media presence.

    Well, there is a way to combine the best of both words in a single place. Better yet, what if you could also include other services, like a newsletter? Have I mentioned that the price is a fraction of what you would pay for a combination of similar services from other companies?

    Since this is too good to be true, I feel like a disclaimer is needed. No, this is not a sponsored post. I paid for my subscription, and no one at Micro.blog had any input on this article or any content I’ve been publishing about them. I’m doing it because, as you already know, I’m an enthusiast

    Anyway, I hope you’ll find the information below helpful.

    My previous set-up

    I have an institutional website for many years, but have been posting my articles on Medium for a long time to take advantage of the algorithm. Two YouTube channels, one in Portuguese and another in English, a newsletter hosted by Substack, and a presence on multiple social media platforms.

    I believe that diversifying like this helps spread the word because I can take advantage of algorithms from multiple platforms. However, my entire business is run by myself, and things can quickly become overwhelming. So much so that last year I was forced to pause my newsletter for several months.

    Why Obsidian Publish didn’t work for me

    When I moved my website from WordPress to Obsidian Publish, I was trying to simplify things by having my notes and the website in the same tool. But if I’m being honest, it ended up creating more work. Not because of the publishing process, which is easy and straight-forward. The problem was me. I love taking notes, so I suddenly felt compelled to share as much as I could, and that came with its own set of complications.

    Instead of just taking notes, I was constantly thinking about how to structure my notes to have them ready for use and, at the same time, good for publishing. Furthermore, my folders structure became a little chaotic due to the numerous additional files needed to create a website. I was constantly afraid of accidentally moving or deleting files.

    There’s no way to have a blog when using Obsidian Publish, but I was kind of okay with that because Medium was my blogging platform at the time. I also read numerous complaints about SEO, but I’m not a specialist on this topic and cannot say much about it. However, the final hurdle was the verification process at Mastodon, which could never identify the needed code because of the way Obsidian Publish builds the website.

    I couldn’t care less about verification, but I have already been impersonated, and unfortunately, some people following my YouTube channel in Portuguese were scammed. After that, I’ve been constantly trying to do all I can to prevent it from happening again.

    What’s next?

    In 2022, I tried Micro.blog, but it lasted for less than a year. It was the way the platform handled engagement that made me give up on it. If you would like to learn more about it, I have already explained everything in more detail in another article.

    For those of you who are not aware of Micro.blog, we are talking about a complete online presence solution. It is a space to share short posts like ‘tweets’ and pictures, a blog, a website, a newsletter, a podcast hosting service, and many other amenities like bookmarks plus a ‘read it later’ with a highlights feature, a bookshelf, and more. And the price is amazing. US$5 or US$10, depending on the features you need. To learn more about it, I suggest you watch the video below. But beware that it doesn’t cover all its potential.

    I still have my two YouTube channels, and they are not going anywhere. But I reactivated my blog on Micro.blog. I won’t stop publishing the articles on Medium, but I started adding a ‘Canonical Link’ that tells Google that the story was originally posted at a different place.

    Micro.blog can be used as hubs to share the same content on other websites, like Medium. However, for now, I’m doing it manually.

    ActivityPub

    Regarding the newsletter, I am still using Substack, but I also intend to transition it to Micro.blog in the future. However, the feature in which I’m most interested is precisely the one that made me live in the first place. The blog is compatible with ActivityPub and, as explained in another article, anyone can follow it from any Fediverse service.

    The strategy Flipboard is using inspired me. Their Mastodon instance — flipboard.social — works as a Twitter alternative, where the community can share and interact with one another. As for flipboard.com, it is being converted to be 100% compatible with the ActivityPub protocol. If all of this seems too much, please watch the video below. It may help you better understand the terminology I used above.

    My plan is to rebuild my Twitter community on Mastodon, while Micro.blog will host my blog, site, and other services, acting as a central point to help people access all the content I’m constantly sharing online.

    27 APR 2024 | UPDATE: I migrated all my followers to @vladcampos@vladcampos.com and that’s the only Fediverse account I’m using now.

    Nostalgia

    This doesn’t necessarily count as a rational reason, but since when is feeling at home something that’s rational? When I first tried Microblog in 2022, I noticed a familiar face among the team: Jean MacDonald. I had the opportunity to meet here only twice for brief moments during the 2013 and 2014 Evernote Conferences. Nevertheless, the conversations we had were so pleasant that those moments remain etched in my memory to this day.

    Jean MacDonald and Vladimir Campos at the 2013 Evernote Conference
    Jean MacDonald and Vladimir Campos at the 2013 Evernote Conference

    In conclusion, there’s nothing terribly wrong with Obsidian Publish. On the contrary, during those months I used it, it proved to be a fast and reliable service. But there’s no blog or ActivityPub there, and those are some reasons why Microblog is gradually becoming my online home.

    Another reason, as I mentioned before, is that Micro.blog can work as a hub for publications. At some point in the future, when I finish my migration process, I’ll start using it to automatically cross-post content to other social media platforms.

    Combined with all the other benefits I mentioned above, I’m expecting Micro.blog to significantly reduce the work I currently do every time I publish a new article or video.


    Future-proofing my online presence

    My thoughts and opinions on ActivityPub and the Fediverse are numerous, and I am already working on an article to share them with you. For this one, the plan is to explain my strategy to future-proof my online presence.**

    If you don’t know what ActivityPub and the Fediverse are, please watch my recent video about this topic. But the most important information to understand is that one can follow and be followed, as well as engage, regardless of what social platform is being used.

    Many services have been compatible with the ActivityPub protocol for a long time now, but I don’t think we can deny the fact that if large corporations adopt it, the chances of it becoming mainstream are higher. And based on the recent announcement by Flipboard and the tests being conducted by Threads, I’m pretty sure this is what’s happening right now.

    Again, I suggest watching my recent video on the topic to understand the details and implications. For now, let us discuss the reasons behind my choice of Micro.blog and Mastodon.

    Micro.blog

    I believe that Micro.blog is a link between the old Internet, before social media, where people used to write on websites and blogs, and the new Internet that is all about sharing everything.

    At Micro.blog, you can make a website with static pages and and also have a blog. The cool thing about the blog is that it uses the ActivityPub protocol. This means that anyone using any ActivityPub service can read and engage with your posts.

    But there’s more, or, should I say, less? If you read Manton Reece’s book about starting a Micro.blog, or follow him online, you’ll see that he is really into writing short posts. It is also evident in the company’s name and the blog feature on Micro.blog.

    If one writes simple posts, such as tweets, they will be added to the timeline, like what happens on Twitter and other similar services. On the other hand, if a long-form text is created, that will become a blog post like this article you are reading. However, it will also be added to the timeline with a link to the article. And, once again, that timeline is compatible with ActivityPub.

    All these means that someone, say, on Mastodon, can follow and engage with all the posts without ever being a Micro.blog user. You can use my blog to try it out. Just look for @social@vladcampos.com on your preferred Fediverse platform.

    NOTE: There are already many great interviews with Manton Reece about Micro.blog out there, but I’m thrilled to share that he recently accepted an invitation to have a conversation about all this on my YouTube Channel.

    But if Micro.blog is both services in one, why would I need Mastodon? Well, a year ago, I tried using it alone, but I had no success. I left because of a design decision. There are no likes or re-posts on the Micro.blog timeline. To explain why I care about it, let’s talk about Mastodon.

    Mastodon

    When I first heard about Micro.blog, I was already a Mastodon user, where I was building a new community after leaving Twitter. On doing so, I quickly learned how important likes and re-posts are. Because of them, I got to know so many nice people re-posted by someone I was following. The same thing happened the other way around. People re-posting me on Mastodon helped me get noticed by others.

    Nevertheless, I fully understand Micro.blogs decision. The goal is to stimulate conversations, but, to be honest, I felt very isolated there. And at that particular moment, I did not have a significant number of people following me on Mastodon, and I still do not. Until these days, I keep discovering interesting people and communities through re-posts.

    How is this future-proofing my online presence?

    First of all, ActivityPub is a W3C protocol. Then, there’s the fact that major corporations are beginning to embrace it. But the most important reason is that ActivityPub-compatible social media allows you to move between different services and bring all of your followers with you. Let’s say that in the future, Micro.blog adds likes and re-posts and I decide I want to leave Mastodon. I’ll be able to easily do it, bringing with me all the followers, whom, by the way, I prefer to call community.

    This is such a win-win situation. Whenever and wherever it pleases me, I am free to move, and I don’t have to ask anyone from my community to move to a different social media platform. Furthermore, if they also wish to move somewhere else, that’s fine. As long as it is compatible with the ActivityPub protocol, neither technology nor CEOs will prevent us from keeping in touch with each other.

    The Plan

    My website has already been migrated to Micro.blog, and from now on, I’ll be blogging from here. But I will continue to post on Medium, which is, incidentally, also in the process of adopting the ActivityPub protocol. 

    Regarding micro-posting, I’ll be doing it on Mastodon. So, if one wishes to follow only my articles or only my micro-posts, they can do so. Or, they can also follow both. And the best part is that anyone can follow and interact with me using any ActivityPub-compatible service. This is absolutely remarkable!


    Building your brand out of a domain name

    TL;DR: Social media is a great space to become known, create authority, and grow your audience, but you need a home base that is yours. Buy a domain, create a basic website if you don’t want to spend too much time on it, and always, always promote it on all the social media services you are using.

    How having my own domain gave me so much freedom

    Like many of us, I have grown tired of social media, and in recent years my posts have shifted to basically promoting the content I create and getting in touch with other creators and potential partners.

    About 20 years ago, after using Geocities and other similar services, I decided it was time to establish a web presence by creating a self-hosted WordPress website with my name as the address. When that became too technical for me, I switched to WordPress.com. But I didn’t stop there. I decided to give Squarespace a shot long before it became the recognizable name it is today, primarily because I wanted a more professional-looking website.

    Many years after that, I moved to Google Sites because I was already paying for it on my Workspace subscription. It ended up not working out for me because of some limitations, and last year I went back to WordPress to give it another try.

    Between all the switches described above, I also tried Micro.blog and Postash.io for a while. More on this shortly. Finally, last week I moved to Obsidian Publish.

    Despite all these transitions, people could always find me visiting my website. Having my own domain and using something called permalinks made this possible.

    If you search for ‘what is a permalink?’ on Google, many of the results will be explanations based on the SEO benefits. That’s a good reason on its own, but I also think they are a great tool for moving your website to another hosting service. Let me tell you what I mean by this.

    When you publish a page or post on a website, it may end up with an address similar to this:

    your-website.com/2023/08/have-your-own-domain.html

    Sometimes the address is, in reality, a permalink. In other words, an address created by the website hosting service you are using that points to a real address that is usually more boring. Something like:

    your-website.com/post12345.html

    This will keep the public address, or permalink, the same, no matter where you move that page in the website folder structure. Even better, if you move to another service that doesn’t have the same internal structure as the old one, you can set each post to use the permalink instead, and the external world, specifically your visitors, will have the impression that you haven’t moved at all.

    This was precisely what I did when going from one service to another. Many times I used the moving opportunity to remove some posts and rearrange others. But because the permalinks were kept the same, rearranging pages in different places didn’t break anything.

    Here’s an example:

    For a long time, I have had a page listing some of the books I have already read. The address has been vladcampos.com/library since I created it. But when I recently moved to Obsidian Publish, I decided to rearrange parts of my website structure. I now have a ‘toolbox’ directory containing the ‘library’ and other pages, like one for my filmmaking gear. So instead of the address above, I ended up with:

    vladcampos.com/toolbox/library

    Because the page is now located inside the toolbox subfolder, I set vladcampos.com/library as a permalink. Now, if you type vladcampos.com/library, the website will present you with the correct page. In other words, old visitors and Google Search will still find the page.

    Yes, you can set up permalinks on Obsidian Publish.

    Why did I move to Obsidian Publish?

    Back in 2014, a company called Postash.io released a service to create blog posts from Evernote notes. All one had to do was add the “publish” tag, and the note would be converted into a blog entry. And, yes, removing the tag would unpublish the note.

    Until this day, I still believe that this is a genius solution because all of my articles start with an idea that I write down and work on using an app like Evernote or Obsidian.

    Postash.io is still available, but it hasn’t been updated in a long time and doesn’t have many important features a website need. That’s why I used it for less than a year back then and quickly moved on. However, as a concept, Postash.io still makes a lot of sense for my workflow, and that’s why I recently moved my site to Obsidian Publish.

    Publishing became so much easier, but there are many other reasons that I’ll explore in future articles and videos. Furthermore, having the original posts on my computer as notes is like having a backup of a backup, and this is pretty comforting.

    What were the lessons we learned today?

    Social media platforms come and go. Use them to your advantage, but make sure you have a home base — a website with your own domain name. And if you wish to experiment with other hosting services, permalinks can help you keep all the old links working.