A little background on how I microblog: I post short, untitled notes on my own site, and they get automatically posted to Twitter and Micro.blog. Micro.blog is a service that’s a lot like Twitter, but it’s based on RSS so you can post from your own website. It’s also designed in a way that makes it a lot less shouty than Twitter (no likes, retweets, or follower counts).

I do this to have more control over my posts and feel less dependent on Twitter. Here’s how I set it up.

When I got my blog set up for microblogging from my phone, I was looking forward to doing so at RailsConf. However, when I got there, I ended up mostly posting straight from Twitter, for several reasons:

  1. I wanted to post shoutouts to the speakers whose talks I enjoyed. I wanted to @mention them so that they would know it. If I put @mentions for their Twitter usernames in notes on my own blog, I think it would link correctly in Twitter, but it wouldn’t appear as a link on my site. And since Micro.blog uses @mentions for its own users, it could have been a big mess.
  2. I also wanted to use the #RailsConf hashtag, which wouldn’t link on my site or in Micro.blog, since Micro.blog doesn’t do hashtags.
  3. Sometimes I wanted to share photos of speakers’ slides, and my blog isn’t set up for posting photos.
  4. I was in Twitter already to see what everybody else was posting, so it was slightly easier to post from Twitter than to open up the Micro.blog app.

I realized Twitter is a major part of RailsConf. Almost every speaker puts their Twitter handle on their slides. It’s where people react to talks, and share ideas with those who aren’t at the conference.

However, I think the Rails community is primed to adopt an alternative to Twitter. I don’t know if you could find a group of people with more of a love/have relationship with Twitter than Rails developers. Love because it lets us see what the community is buzzing about. Hate because of how it steals our attention and encourages conflict. Love because of the pride we feel knowing early Twitter was built on Rails. Hate because of how Twitter has blamed Rails for its own failures.

Well, earlier this month, Jean MacDonald published A Guide to Micro.blog For People Who Have A Love/Hate Relationship With Twitter. Perhaps we could all migrate to Micro.blog?

The lack of hashtags might be hard to swallow. In place of hashtags, Micro.blog categorizes posts using a select few emoji. (Click on the books, microphone, or camera here to see.) Maybe if enough Rails devs joined, we could convince Micro.blog creator Manton to add a temporary 🛤 emoji tag for the duration of the conference?

I don’t know how you solve @mentions, though. As long as other people are on Twitter, we’ll want to be able to @mention Twitter users.

Maybe Micro.blog won’t be the solution. Maybe it will be something even less centralized. Maybe we’ll get enough people to adopt WebMentions, so that we can @mention anybody on the web from our own sites.

I hope Rails developers check out Micro.blog and turn their attention to the IndieWeb. I think they’ll appreciate the potential of both and have a lot of great ideas to make them more usable.