Micro.blog Is Now Generally Available
by Frank McPherson Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A few weeks ago I received an invite to Micro.blog, having requested one earlier in the year. It has now opened up to everyone, so if you are interested in it, here is what I have learned about it so far.

Micro.blog, developed by Manton Reece, is a cross between Twitter and blogs. Reece started the project on Kickstarter. The idea is to provide a way for users to own short forms of web content. Overall I like the service and plan to continue to use it, although the one thing I think it is missing as a blogging platform is the idea of archives. (Or at least I haven't discovered it if it exists.)

Like Twitter, Micro.blog has a timeline, where you see items posted by other Micro.blog users that you are following. You can favorite items, see mentions, and discover other users on separate tabs. 

New posts are published to a timeline (like Twitter), a profile page, and a blog. Items that you share into Micro.blog are only published to the timeline, you have to explicitly create new blog posts via the app. You can configure RSS and JSON feeds to automatically post to the timeline, but those items are not published to your blog.

The app is available on the web, and for OS X and iOS. An API exists so that anyone can write an app for other platforms, and I believe an Android app is in development. To grow, Micro.blog needs at a minimum an Android app, in my opinion. If you use a Mac and use MarsEdit, you can use it to post items to micro.blog.

Blogs are hosted and cost $5 per month. It is a little unclear to me whether you can use the timeline (Twitter) features and not host a micro.blog. The URL for blogs are [username].micro.blog by default, which is pretty nice, but you can map a domain name you own pretty easily. 

There are six default styles for your blog, but you can create your own style via CSS. You also have the ability to mirror your blog to a Github site, as a backup. 

I find the hosted aspect of Micro.blog a bit inconsistent with my understanding of Indieweb. As far as I can tell, the only way to get your data out of micro.blog is to mirror it to Github, which is better than nothing, but to me not the same as publishing directly to a web server under one's control. 

What I like about micro.blog is the clean layout and lack of advertising, although you are paying $5 per month. The iOS app is simple to use, and makes creating new blog posts on an iPhone and iPad easier than with Wordpress. Frankly, I like having both web and tablet apps, unlike just one or the other as is the case with 1999.io that I use for this site.

Another aspect of interest to me, but which I have not looked into, is the plan for SSL of hosted sites. Given the push to SSL, the value of which for blogs is debatable, I like the idea of an easy way to set up SSL. 

My one nit with micro.blog at this time is that I think the blogging component needs to support archives. Right now the blog is one continual thread you page through, which means things you write will be harder to find over time. I would like micro.blog to provide a way to consolidate a month's worth of posts to an index page, such as you find on my site here. Most users appear to be using their micro.blog as an index to other blog sites that has archival features.

Now that micro.blog has opened up, I expect to see more people checking it out. Whether they decide to pay the money to stay around after the first month, only time will tell. The question is, will people stick to it for the network that will form around the timeline, or because it is an easy to use blogging platform?