This is Part 3 of a series.  Part 1 is here. Part 2 is here.

In Part 1, I mentioned RSS feed readers and linked to resources to help you find one.  In Part 2 I talked about blog platforms.  Now we put together a simple social network.

Feed Readers

RSS Feed Readers:  These are the backbone of  your new web social network.  Blogs create RSS feeds. WordPress creates RSS feeds for both Posts and Comments.  When you subscribe to a RSS feed with your feed reader you will start getting updates for new posts (or comments) on subscribed feeds.  You can read the original post and you can read comments if you want.  You can go to the original post on your own and comment.  In short you have a conversation going just like Facebook.

It may seem cumbersome at first but you will quickly figure out shortcuts like letting your browser remember your name and email address.

The RSS Feed Reader lets you customize your timeline in ways Facebook and Twitter would never let you do.  You have control of your timeline – and you set the priorities.

If you are leaving Facebook or Twitter, get your friends to sign up for or download a good feed reader and subscribe to your feed and the feeds of others in your group of friends who might also be establishing their own blogs.

Steps

  1. Get your own feed reader.
  2. Get your friends to get a feed reader.
  3. Subscribe to each others’ feeds.
  4. Read and comment freely.
  5. As you discover other blogs you like outside of your circle, subscribe, read and comment freely.

WordPress Reader:  WordPress.com has it’s own feed reader called, wait for it, WordPress Reader!  It’s a very attractive feed reader that automatically comes with every WordPress.com account whether you establish a blog or not.  This is a very user friendly feed reader and blog discovery/recommendation engine and worth exploring as a feed reader option.

Crossposting

Crossposting:  I also recommend you crosspost to at least Twitter.  Twitter can act as a feed reader for those friends that for whatever reason can’t make the transition to using a feed reader.  And they can comment there too.  Twitter also lets new people discover you and your writing.  Your original posts remain on your blog so you still control your archives.

It does not hurt to crosspost to as many social networks as is appropriate.

Having Multiple Blogs?

You can have multiple blogs.  You may have a dormant specialized blog that you want to revive, plus start a generalist, personal, everything blog.  I would find having one single topic blog too limiting.

If you are new to this I strongly recommend starting with a generalist blog and write about whatever is on your mind.

Me? I have 3 blogs:

  1. Micro blog on Micro.blog.  I use this for short posts to both the Micro.blog and Twitter social networks because it’s so slick and fast.
  2. My Web Presence (you are here) on self hosted WordPress.
  3. A specialized self hosted WP blog.

Remember, networks and networking, are human creations for humans.  If you engage your readers and more importantly engage yourself, that is all that matters.  I think blogging is a less toxic environment to do that from.

 

 

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This is Part 2 in a series.  Part 1 is here.

In Part 1 I made the case that Facebook and Twitter had become toxic places and I suggest that blogging, micro blogging and long form blogging (either or both) on your own blog was a better choice

Here in Part 2 I’m going to recommend 3 blogging platforms as good places to get started.  I’m also going to make the case for going to the added expense of buying your own domain.  You can investigate each.

Three Best Blogging Platforms

  1. Micro.blog – $5 per month, charged monthly, gets you a micro + long form + photo blog. Bring your own domain and you can use it, although it is not required.  No ads. No tracking. No selling your private information to third parties. Micro.blog has it’s own social network.  You also have the option to cross post to Twitter, Medium, Linkedin, Tumblr, Mastodon. Inclusive.  Every time you start a new post to the social network a new blog entry is automatically made.  It’s very easy to move your content to or from Micro.blog to WordPress, especially if you have your own domain.  This means you are not locked in. Example: Manton.org is a blog on Micro.blog
  2. WordPress.com – Free with ads on a subdomain (ie. MYBLOGNAME.wordpress.com) $4 per month, charged annually, to use your own domain (ie. myblogname.com) and get rid of ads. WordPress.com gives you a lot for both free and paid versions.  You can set it up to cross post to Twitter, Linkdin, Tumblr, Facebook (post to FB Page only), G+ (being discontinued by Google).  WordPress was designed for long form blog posts.  You can micro blog and photo blog from it but posting updates is not quite as fast and easy as Micro.blog.
  3. Self Hosted WordPress – This requires more experience of an intermediate level.  You must have your own domain.  What I recommend is you get your own “C-Panel” type hosting account, which will give you a easy setup wizard to install your own instance of WordPress blogging script. Self hosting gives you the most control.  If you like to arrange things “just so” self hosting gives you thousands of plugins which can add capabilities to your blog.  Self hosting WordPress costs only a little more than Micro.blog or WordPress.com but it is a bit more to learn. Ramblinggit.com is a self hosted blog.

Why These 3?

There are dozens of blog platforms but the reason I chose these three is that you can move your content easily between the 3, especially if you use your own domain. One big reason to post from your own blog is keeping control of your own content.

Micro.blog

If you are coming from Twitter or Instagram Micro.blog will feel comfortable.  MB is very good with Tweet-sized posts and posting photos.  You can do long form posts too.  There are many iOS apps for MB.  Android, Windows 10 and Linux users will need to use the web browser to access and post which works quite well.  If you just want to write, short or long form, and hate being bothered with the blogging platform itself Micro.blog is a good choice.  MB only charges your credit card monthly so there is no lock-in.  If you don’t like it you can move to a WordPress option.

WordPress.com

If you are coming from Facebook and most often write longer posts then you should consider WordPress.com on your own domain as a place to start.  You have to pay a year in advance so there is lock-in, but you can use that year to blog, grow your readership and learn how to use basic WordPress. At the end of that year you can decide to stay or move to either Micro.blog or self hosted WordPress.

About 25% of websites are using some form of WordPress.

Self Hosted WordPress

Learning wise it’s not a huge transition to self hosted WP.  There are more steps but it is far more capable.  This is something to graduate to from WordPress.com or if you already have past experience with other self hosted blogging platforms. A lot of people had blogs 10 or 15 years ago and gave them up for Facebook and Twitter.

Using Your Own Domain

Two reasons to use your own domain:

  • You establish your own address or home if you will, on the Internet.  You own the domain it is like a permanent address that stays the same no matter what host you are on.
  • Your hyperlinks will not change. So if somebody has bookmarked one of your posts or linked to it on their own site the link will not be broken even if you move.

You register your own domain through a registrar like Godaddy or Hover.  Buying a domain is a good first step before shopping for a hosting platform.  I like to keep domain registration always separate from my hosting.

Don’t feel limited to getting a *.com domain.  In the old days individuals often used *.org to represent a personal blog because it was less commercial sounding.  *.info, *.blog, *.name, *.me and a host of others can also be used.

I may do followup posts giving more detail on each option but this will get you started investigating each one.  If you have questions feel free to post them in the comments below. I will answer.

Part 3: Creating the Blog Network continues the series.

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Bookmark: New Clues

This has been around for awhile but this is the first time I’ve seen it.  I’m glad Doc Searls and David Weinberger wrote this.  When I say this stuff I get blank looks and people think I’m a crackpot.  (Okay, more of a crackpot than I already am.  I’m not denying my own crackpottery here.)  Anyway I’m glad they wrote it all out, it’s really good.

 

H/T: Doc Searls via John Philpin

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I always looked at being a webmaster as being like the owner, programming manager, DJ of a radio station.  Which is pretty cool if you think about it. You can create anything and each page is like a different show or episode.

Somehow it felt a little more fulfilling back when we were coding our pages ourselves in HTML, even if we were using MS Frontpage.  Making a new page on an all static site required some planning before you started.  Today, everything is handled by a CMS or blog script, it all looks the same, kinda boring.

OTOH those blog scripts make writing so much easier and faster.  But I’d love to see a blogging platform that let you change backgrounds and templates and stuff for each individual post on the fly.

Still, I have this itch to break out Netscape Composer and create a page.  Might do.

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Despite my earlier protestations, I am working on a web directory project on a different domain.  It’s not a big deal but there is work to do, like: seed the directory with a starter set of links.  I mean you go to a directory to find web pages or websites and it better have something for you to find or you will never come back.

Yeah, so I’ve got this used web crawler/indexer, that would be me, who is an old, slow and cranky, old git, but  works cheap. The slacker likes taking a nap during working hours. This could take awhile.

Plus I’ve got to edit CSS font sizes which I’ve never done, and write help pages that explain what the heck I’m trying to do.

All of which is to say, I’ve got to cut back on blogging here for awhile and just get this directory ready for launch.

Thanks.

Signed, Me.

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Bookmark: dokuwiki [DokuWiki]

Another wiki server script.  Doku looks to be even bigger than PmWiki as far as plugins.

This one seems more about formatting writing in HTML rather than markup.

Pros:

No database needed. Files are stored as plain txt, which means they are forever.

Low server overhead.

 

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Bookmark: Home | Solid

(From the Sir Tim Berners-Lee and Inrupt.)

Solid empowers users and organizations to separate their data from the applications that use it. It allows people to look at the same data with different apps at the same time. It opens brand new avenues for creativity, problem-solving, and commerce.

Note: Ownership of your own data and having control of your own data are very Indieweb.org concepts. Solid brings the concept to more to mobile and apps but it applies to the web too.

This was also posted to
/en/indieweb.

 

 

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Bookmark: Inrupt

It’s time to reset the balance of power on the web and reignite its true potential.

When Sir Tim Berners-Lee invented the web, it was intended for everyone. The excitement and creativity of its early days were driven from the notion that we can all participate – and the impact was world-changing.

But the web has shifted from its original promise – and it’s time to make a change.

This could be one of the most significant startups – ever.

Article by Fast Company:

This week, Berners-Lee will launch, Inrupt, a startup that he has been building, in stealth mode, for the past nine months. Backed by Glasswing Ventures, its mission is to turbocharge a broader movement afoot, among developers around the world, to decentralize the web and take back power from the forces that have profited from centralizing it. In other words, it’s game on for Facebook, Google, Amazon.

This was also posted to
/en/web.

 

 

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