Wouldn’t it be nice to have a site that’s not run by an amoral billionaire chaos engine, or algorithmically designed to keep you doomscrolling in a state of fear and anger, or is essentially spyware for governments and/or corporations? Wouldn’t it be nice not to have ads shoved in your face every time you open an app to see what your friends are up to? Wouldn’t it be nice to know that when your friends post something, you’ll actually see it without a social media platform deciding whether to shove it down your feed and pump that feed full of stuff you didn’t ask for?
Wouldn’t that be great?
A directory of blogs, all nicely categorised:
ooh.directory is a place to find good blogs that interest you.
Phil gave me a sneak peek at this when he was putting it together and asked me what I thought of it. My response was basically “This is great!”
And of course you can suggest a site to add to the directory.
Do you still miss Google Reader, almost a decade after it was shut down? It’s back!
A Mastodon server is a feed reader, shared by everyone who uses that server.
I really like Simon’s description of the fediverse:
A Mastodon server (often called an instance) is just a shared blog host. Kind of like putting your personal blog in a folder on a domain on shared hosting with some of your friends.
Want to go it alone? You can do that: run your own dedicated Mastodon instance on your own domain.
This is spot-on:
Mastodon is just blogs and Google Reader, skinned to look like Twitter.
Eventually, it becomes second nature: jot down some thoughts and hit publish. Until then, think of it like starting a running habit. The first few days you run, it’s awful and you think it’ll never feel any better. But after a few weeks, you start getting antsy if you don’t run. If you’re not used to writing, it can feel like a slog, but it’s worth getting over that hump.
A lovely collection of blogs (and RSS feeds) that you can follow.
(Just in case, y’know, you might decide that following people on their own websites is better than following them on a website controlled by one immature manbaby who’s down with the racists.)
Your easy guide to starting a new blog.
A blog is an easy way to get started writing on the web. Your voice is important: it deserves its own site. The more people add their unique perspectives to the web, the more valuable it becomes.
Blog your heart! Blog about something you’ve learned, blog about something you’re interested in.
Excellent advice from Robin:
There are no rules to blogging except this one: always self-host your website because your URL, your own private domain, is the most valuable thing you can own. Your career will thank you for it later and no-one can take it away.
I have days were I can write a well researched blog post in a few hours. And I have days were I don’t feel like writing. Or I want to add one more thing but don’t know how to speak my mind. So this is a reminder to myself: just hit publish.
So to me, this blog represents the original promise of the open web.
The one that’s here, and still is here, and always has been here, and is available to you.
The one where you can speak the truths that you believe without the permission, or the editorial control, or the power dynamics, of anyone claiming to hold authority over you; or, perhaps, anyone keen to impose it.
Heather takes a break from her relentless crusading in favour of users against the idiocy of the UK government and reflects on the joy of doing it all from her own personal website.
And perhaps you should too, on your own blog, owned on your own hosting space, using your own words, and speaking your own truth. That sounds like a good little weekend project, don’t you think?
- Each voice is individual and matters
- Slow is ok
- Diversified and independent is good
- Not fitting a pattern is ok
- Not being easily commodified is ok
I think, with the sheer volume of functionality available to us nowadays on the front-end, it can be easy to forget how powerful and strong the functionality is that we get right off shelf with HTML. Yes, you read that right, functionality.
Platforms come and go. Buy a domain and set up a permanent space on the web where others to find you and link back to. I have no idea what I put on Myspace back in the day, but everything I’ve published on this site since 2008 is still accessible and the links still work.
A personal website is a digital homestead that you can improve, tinker with, and live in for years to come. It is a home for your thoughts, musings, opinions, trials, and happenings, built in a way that suits you.
I like this little prompt:
What do you wish you had found via Google today but didn’t? Write that.
RSS is kind of an invisible technology. People call RSS dead because you can’t see it. There’s no feed, no login, no analytics. RSS feels subsurface.
But I believe we’re living in a golden age of RSS. Blogging is booming. My feed reader has 280 feeds in it.
How is all this social? It’s just slow social. If you want to respond to me, publish something linking to what I said. If I want to respond to you, I publish something linking to what you wrote. Old school. Good school. It’s high-effort, but I think the required effort is a positive thing for a social network. Forces you to think more.
A personal site, or a blog, is more than just a collection of writing. It’s a kind of place - something that feels like home among the streams. Home is a very strong mental model.
Blogging isn’t dead. In fact, the opposite is true. We’re about to enter a golden age of personal blogs.
Make it easy for people to find you. Buy a domain name and use it to create your own website, even if it’s very simple at first. Your website is your resume, your business card, your store, your directory, and your personal magazine. It’s the one place online that you completely own and control – your Online Home.
Good advice. Also:
Don’t write on Medium.
Look, I get it. Writing on Medium is an easy way to pick up readers and increases your chances of going viral. But the costs exceed the benefits. Medium is terrible for SEO. You don’t own your content and the platform makes it difficult to turn one-time readers into loyal ones.
The more you can use platforms you own, the better. Rather than writing on Medium, do the work to build a personal blog. That way, you can have a central place to point people to.
- You’re the curator
- You decide what’s interesting
- You have more control over what you read and how
- It’s a fast and efficient way of reading a lot of web
- It’s just better than the endless scroll of a social media feed
To me, using RSS feeds to keep track of stuff I’m interested in is a good use of my time. It doesn’t feel like a burden, it doesn’t feel like I’m being tracked or spied on, and it doesn’t feel like I’m just another number in the ads game.
To me, it feels good. It’s a way of reading the web that better respects my time, is more likely to appeal to my interests, and isn’t trying to constantly sell me things.
That’s what using RSS feeds feels like.
A blog is just a journal: a web log of what you’re thinking and doing. You can keep a log about anything you like; it doesn’t have to be professional or money-making. In fact, in my opinion, the best blogs are personal. There’s no such thing as writing too much: your voice is important, your perspective is different, and you should put it out there.
James is featuring a different blog every day of Christmas and he chose mine for day three. What a lovely project!
I love writing this series. For the last three days, one of the first things on my mind after waking up is “what blog am I going to feature today?” I have seen so many interesting websites in the last few years. If you ever feel like the web is all the same, I’d recommend checking out the IndieWeb or clicking through the websites I feature in this series. You’ll realise there is still a great deal of creative content on the web written by independent bloggers: you just have to know where to start looking.