Another attempt at revitalizing my blogging

For some time now, I’ve (mostly privately, sometimes “out loud” (which could mean either actually talking to people, or in online text ramblings)) been lamenting how rarely I’ve actually been posting to my blog. For the past years, various forms of social networking sites and applications — primarily Facebook and Twitter — have done a good job of monopolizing my online interactions.

It’s not all bad, really, as they’re great ways to keep in touch with friends, and I’m not making any sort of “quitting social media” declaration. But concentrating on those spaces has meant that this space, where I’ve been posting in one form or another for over two decades (seriously: my oldest “blog post” is dated December 29, 1995 and was posted back when I was still hand-coding; I have earlier posts entered into the blog, but they’re ports of old Usenet posts), hasn’t been getting much attention at all. And, as importantly, if not a bit more so, it means that virtually all of the writing and content creation I’ve done over these past years has been going to sites other than my own.

So going forward from here, I’m going to make a more concerted effort to make this blog the central, canonical repository of my online ramblings. I’ll still comment and get into discussions on Facebook and Twitter, but this is where all (well…most all…) content should appear first and will canonically reside, even as it’s mirrored elsewhere so that I’m not simply disappearing from those other spaces.

Here’s how I have things set up at the moment:

In brief (Twitter)

I’ve set up a micro.blog account, which is tied to both this blog and my Twitter accounts (I heard about micro.blog from a few places, including articles by Brent Simmons, Jean McDonald, and Charlie Sorrel). So now, when I have something quick and simple to say, it posts to my blog first as a post with no title, then picked up (via RSS) by micro.blog and piped to Twitter and Facebook.

Look here (links)

When I find interesting links, I’m posting them to my pinboard account — this is something I’ve been doing (off and on) for some time now, I’m just trying to be better about doing it consistently. If I want a saved link to post to Twitter or Facebook quickly, I give it either the .twitter or .fb tag respectively, which are picked up by IFTTT and piped to the correct site. Otherwise, the (apparently abandoned, but still quite functional) Postalicious WordPress plugin occasionally catches any recent links I’ve saved and creates a digest-style post for my blog.

Rambling on (blog posts)

If I have something more in-depth to say — like, oh, a few paragraphs on how I’m trying to start blogging regularly again, and brief explanations of the tools and services I’m using to start doing that — then those posts get written (in Markdown format, using Ulysses on either my Mac, iPhone, or iPad) and posted here. Not long after they show up here, micro.blog picks them up, creates a post that links back here, and then that goes to Twitter and Facebook.

It’s technically possible to just connect WordPress to Twitter and Facebook without using micro.blog as a middle step, but micro.blog is smarter about how it cross-posts than WordPress is alone. Without this step, every post would show up as a truncated excerpt and a link back to the blog; this way, that’s only the end result if a post is long enough to make that necessary, and shorter posts just appear to be “native” to whichever platform they’re seen on.

Will this system keep me going the way I hope it does? Only time will tell. But between Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica privacy mess and Twitter looking more and more like it’s going to be killing third-party clients soon, I’m hoping I have enough motivation to actually keep this going, rather than falling back into the ease and convenience of staying inside Facebook or Twitter’s ecosystems.

Linkdumps are Back

For quite a while in the past, I used the del.icio.us bookmarking service to save bookmarks, which were then automagically gathered and posted here as occasional “here’s what I found interesting recently” posts. Unfortunately, del.icio.us went through some changes a few years back, things fell over, I got distracted by other projects, and the whole thing fell apart.

I’ve been missing that aspect of my blog, though (along with the ability to quickly search through a list of bookmarks to find that thing I know I read a while back that I’d love to refer someone to while it’s on my mind), and have finally resurrected the system (with a few changes).

Rather than using the del.icio.us service again, I’m instead using Pinboard. It’s essentially the same thing that del.icio.us was “back in the day” — simple and fast saving of bookmarks, complete with a field for descriptions or excerpts, and tagging for categorization — with some extra niceties that either weren’t part of del.icio.us or that I just don’t remember, such as being able to designate particular links as “private”. Plus, there are a few iOS apps for easy mobile use of Pinboard, and after finding this review of a few, I’ve installed Pinner.

I’ve set up an IFTTT applet so that if I tag a link on Pinboard with the “.twitter” tag, that link will automatically get posted as a Tweet to my Twitter account for quick sharing that way.

Finally, I was quite happy to discover that Postalicious, the WordPress plugin I used to collect and post my del.icio.us links, still works (even though it hasn’t been updated in six years), and works fine with Pinboard.

So, as I find interesting stuff, I’ll toss links into Pinboard, and every so often (when there are at least five new links since the last time Postalicious checked), a Linkdump post will show up here on Eclecticism.

I’ve started off by tossing a few of the many Tumblr posts I’ve liked into Pinboard (both as a test of the new setup, and because there’s a lot of discussion on Tumblr that I’ve found and enjoyed over time, but which is nearly impossible to find again without something like Pinboard to keep track of them). More links will come as time goes by.

It’s not quite the same as if I were actually posting here as regularly as I used to (or that, ideally, I would like to), but at least it will get some movement here between my all-too-infrequent “real” posts.