Some settling may have occurred

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Foster Floodplain Natural Area, Portland

Micro.blog was great, as it turns out, for getting the stick out of my ass about blogging again, while also presenting enough limitations that I decided I wanted to go back to something with a few more publishing affordances.

I learned that I wanted to be able to just squirt a photo or a slightly longer thought off into the ether; and that I also wanted to be able to sit down and have a longer thought. I learned that for the former use case, I’d be happy with not a lot of niceties.

It also gave me a lot to mess around with this weekend. Still cleaning some things up but you can go back four or five pages in the history and it’s not horrific.

MarsEdit editor limitations

I felt irritated that MarsEdit wouldn’t hand Markdown editing off to anything besides BBEdit & TextWrangler. Ended up sort of glad to go through fixing up my BBEdit config on this machine. It’s such a nice tool if you live in a range of purposes starting at “simple Markdown editor” and ending somewhere around either “single-file scripting project” or “a website,” depending on the website. There are plenty of configuration options for that range of functionality, wrapped in a reasonably discoverable configuration interface.

I don’t think I’ve ever used anything better for the “utility text mangling” use case, either. It is so easy to import a lump of textual data and massage it, with nice automation affordances if it’s a task you have to perform a lot. During my web editing days, I had a small toolkit of BBEdit scripts and text factories for each of the writers I worked with that made it super easy to flatten out their HTML idiosyncrasies. There are so many ways people think you should be able to make a heading in HTML, and automation allows you to forget they exist once you’ve cataloged them all.

I’d appreciate an iOS port of BBEdit that remembered my editing preferences across versions and ensured version control support was in the iOS version, somehow. A lot BBEdit’s greatness on the Mac is down to its amenability to extending it with scripts. I guess that’s where the versions would diverge: I’d want to see pretty tight Workflow integration on the iOS side.

Digging micro.blog

dot unplanned has been a going concern for almost twenty years. It started life as a Greymatter blog for a brief while, then moved on to MovableType, wandered briefly into OctoPress, then settled into a self-hosted WordPress blog for a bunch of years.

Last year I gave the blog a long read, going all the way back to the beginning, and I didn’t like a lot of what I saw. It didn’t feel representative of me: The earliest stuff was pretty coarse and angry, and some of the stuff in the middle felt misguided and potentially hurtful to people I’ve learned more about over the years.

I struggled with that for a little bit, then decided to just take most of it down and put back only some recent things I would stand by, plus a few posts of historic interest. The rest went into a personal diary app that pings me on the anniversary of each post (2,000 of them), where I can still have access to content that amounted to a public journal and where I can be reminded of where I used to be.

I decided at the time that my main creative outlet had become photography, so I built a hosted WordPress site with a heavy emphasis on photography. I didn’t end up using it much after the initial setup lift: Clunky, constant plugin updates, didn’t feel graceful.

So now I’m on micro.blog for blog stuff and SmugMug for photo hosting.

micro.blog is pretty awesome. I looked at it a year ago and shied away. I still wanted a little complexity and I wanted a “substantial” platform, and thought I wouldn’t feel overwhelmed by WordPress. What I get with it, though, is a really simple way to share ideas and status without the heavy feeling of WordPress. There’s room for customization that’s not much to manage if you’re used to something like Jekyll. I was able to bring my personal domain over (with SmugMug, too) and add a few menu links to other bits of my web presence without a lot of hassle.

One thing I’ve noticed now that I’ve internalized that I have this as an outlet, is a willingness to write little things that are longer than tweets but smaller than stuff I would have reserved for WordPress. It’s a sort of megatwitter that isn’t as willfully esoteric as Mastodon feels and that leaves room for acting as the anchor for a web identity.

When I think back to that first Greymatter blog, wow. My laptop weighed eight pounds and got three hours of battery life. I don’t think I’d even given in to having a mobile phone at that point (but did have a Handspring Visor). I splurged for a 2 megapixel digital camera. The world I live in now, where just an iPhone and a mirrorless camera would allow me to maintain a ‘net presence, is so far away from that.