Jean MacDonald, the community manager of, wrote a post today about diversity on the new platform. She specifically identified what appears to be an overall lack of diversity within the microblog community and encouraged people to bring in outside participants to the platform.

What’s nice is that this is something the platform is thinking about. Some of the problems with established social media largely seem to stem from the fact that people weren’t thinking about diversity in the first place. So building into the philosophy of microblog so early on likely bodes well for the future.

With that in mind, these are the potential barriers to adoption I’ve noted as a straight white cisgender male who still values Twitter because it allows me to learn from people who differ from me in a variety of ways: largely Indigenous Canadians, women, and LGBTQ+ people sharing their thoughts and perspectives.

  1. Privacy — Frequently someone I’m following will put their Twitter feed into “followers only mode” which means you can only see what they’ve written if they have explicitly allowed you to follow them. Or they’ll run a mass block. Facebook, too, has a lot of privacy options, including private groups. This is to avoid harassment, to allow them to navigate the social network without having to deal with strangers. currently doesn’t have that option that I know of, and I don’t if it’s on the roadmap or if it even makes sense with what it is meant to be. But I wonder if someone who uses a Facebook or Twitter in some form of privacy mode would see the appeal of putting themselves out on Microblog without that option. Of course, the solution would be to have microblog be a community without trolls, but given that it is, ultimately, not a social network but instead built on top of the public web, I’m curious about how that would work– allowing some people to interact with you in a public space but not others.

2. Technical know-how/ability/access — A big moment for Twitter was the Arab spring when social media suddenly became a source of information and coordination for people involved in protests. It largely happened from phones.

I’m trying to imagine a similar event occurring on as it is right now– the steps to sign up are relatively complex compared to “what’s your email? Start sharing!” You need to set up an RSS feed from some other site, figure out how to make that site interact properly with, etc etc. Granted, a free WordPress or Tumblr page is easy enough to come by, but you don’t see WordPress or Tumblr taking the same central role in these sorts of things  as Facebook and Twitter do, for a reason– there’s just that much less friction.

While friction can facilitate more thoughtful conversation, it also can act as a barrier to who joins that conversation, and it’s a difficult trade-off to make, I think. I have no solution to this.

By the way, I’m leaving out the lack of an Android app because I know it’s early days. But realistically, if you’re trying to reach more people from different walks of life, you’re going to want easy access on one of the most widely-adopted phone systems worldwide.

3. Cost — Again, Tumblr and are free but for now the most frictionless point of access to working on microblog is to start using a paid microblog domain. It’s pretty cheap, too! $5 a month is super reasonable.

But not everyone has $5 a month to spend on a relatively new platform – or even an established one. I saw a tweet a while back about how “wealth is being able to buy fancy cheese whenever you want without worrying about rent” and that’s my situation, but it isn’t everyone’s. Yes, you’re the product if you aren’t paying for it, but some people really don’t have that choice.

On this front, I think there may be a solution in the form of patronage. On, Tim Carmody wrote a post on the patron economy that really stuck with me for this line:

“The most economically powerful thing you can do is to buy something for your own enjoyment that also improves the world. This has always been the value proposition of journalism and art. It’s a nonexclusive good that’s best enjoyed nonexclusively.”

If the value-proposition of $5 a month for is I get a hosted site, then I’ll make the choice I’ve made which is build on top of my existing hosting platform. But if the value proposition is Microblog has the ability to provide better support and easier sign-ups for people who can’t afford the $5 a month but who I believe should be included in the overall community, things change in my mind. It’s not about what I get out of it, but what the world gets out of it. Already, is about the good of an open internet, and adding the plank of diversity seems pretty built in. So maybe that becomes a more central part of the model at some point.

I have no doubt most/all of these things (and more) have already been thought of over at microblog HQ, which as I understand is just two people?? but figured I’d put it out there anyway because one of the tenants of this new experiment is — if you have thoughts, write a blog post.

After reading a bunch of @manton‘s posts about the open web, I’ve decided it’s time to update my blog for the next stage of the internet.

I’ve been blogging since roughly 2007, when as far as I knew there was really only one option to do so: Blogger. I ported that over to WordPress in 2010 in what I would classify as the “just make it work”” phase. Since then I’ve gone through what I would say are two major redesigns. They are:

Phase 2: Responsive Design

I’m actually surprised it was this long ago, but in 2012 I retrofit my theme to work on all devices: computers, phones and tablets, without serving up different versions of the site. It was time-consuming, but given that it’s served me well for six years now with, as fast as I know, no sign of things breaking down, I’d say it was well worth it. Here’s a screenshot from the time:

Phase 3: Distributed design

This one, from 2016, was a little different. Rather than being technical, this was more of a philosophical change. As I spread my writing to different places- mainly Medium and Facebook, but also Tumblr, Twitter and Tinyletter- calling all of it “” seemed kind of silly. To that end I rebranded my main blog with a title (confluence) and logo that could be used in a variety of situations. I also created a default preview image that would show up when articles were shared to social media.

This came with a few code changes, as well, but nothing major. The big idea here was that my words may originate on my blog but they could spread through different channels with a consistent identity tied to them.

What’s next: Homepage reconsolidation and futureproofing

Since then, my thoughts have changed. Medium feels more like a publisher I write for for free rather than a platform. I’m increasingly ambivalent towards Facebook. Twitter kind of seems like it could disappear any day now.

And, as I’ve written before, I miss the old internet. The one that was based on people with their own websites and identities talking to each other via thought-out posts and comments, not pithy one-liners. And part of that is predicated on people actually, you know, having their own websites with thought-out posts and comments.

The idea behind, as I understand it, is to build a social layer on top of that sort of internet. Rather than an owned silo, it works to make it easier to connect independent blogs and platforms in conversation with each other, as part of or in parallel to the indieweb movement.

It’s an idea I like and one I want to take part in. And doing that means rebuilding my homepage to fit into that new environment.


At first I thought about finding a new theme to work with, but the truth is I really like the one I have and I’d like to take it with me. I think it’s doable, but I have had to make a Trello board full of changes I need to make.

Goal 1. Remove bad code:

The first smart thing I did was clone my existing theme and install it in a subfolder so I can mess around with it without affecting my homepage. I know it’s stupid, but in previous runs I always just modified the main template until it worked, which meant I did marathon sessions so nothing would be messed up.

This also meant a lot of solutions I have are essentially duct tape and glue, so the first thing I’m doing is getting rid of a lot of cruft I have that works, but is always in danger of breaking. I’m mostly done and the site looks like this now.

Goal 2: Make compatible with WordPress

WordPress is also undergoing a major change with the Gutenberg editor. I’ve tried the plugin and as best I can tell the idea is to allow for more styling within posts that isn’t dependant on having the right code in your theme.

This is good for me as my CSS is currently a mess. Again, I’m stripping as much as I can in the hopes it will make things more compliant with future WordPress versions.

I’ve also added post-format support. Previously, posts were styled differently based on their categories and I have a whole bunch of <php if> commands making them work that I don’t fully recall how I implemented. So yeah, bad code.

Goal 3: Be able to do as much as possible from apps

If I’m going to write on WordPress more it means I’m going to want to do it from my phone. And that means either the official app or some other setup, and it also means I can’t be goofing around with plugins that I need to modify. So I’m trying to add native support for things like turning post titles into links and nice looking footnotes in the hopes it makes posting more frictionless.

Goal 4: Make OpenWeb compliant

I think it mostly is, already, but I want to make the new site compatible with protocols like indiementions and JSON feeds and stuff that I don’t fully understand, but understand will help make for a more connected independent internet. This will be the final step, but it is ultimately what I’m working towards.

Stretch goal: decide what I want my homepage to be

I’ve played before with the idea of posting status updates and links and such to my main blog, alongside other articles. I didn’t love it but I think if implemented correctly I could — maybe a main page with just articles and a sidebar that shows recent statuses, for example. I have a while before I get there and in the meantime I can play with microblogging here and at microblog to get a better sense of what that might look like.