Twitter, Mastodon, and This Blog

#media, #meta

It's been a weird few months on the internet.

Elon bought Twitter, and started doing the sorts of things that a person like him would do. I initially stopped posting, and eventually stopped going there altogether. I don't miss it.

Part of why I don't miss it, though, is Mastodon. I wasn't on Twitter in the early days, but I am told that Mastodon currently feels like that. I really like it. Not having quote-tweets is a big part of that, as well as the algorithmic timeline that rewards outrage, makes it a much more pleasant place.

But jumping onto Mastodon has a cost – I basically don't write here anymore. I built this website so I'd have a place to put long-form content on the internet, and so I'd have a sort of home base. But my publishing workflow is pretty clunky. I write a text file with some metadata at the top, commit it to a git repository, then pull the changes on my server. Then I visit a special url, type in a code, and some php chews on all the text files and spits out a directory structure and html.

That works fine if I write stuff that my text parser can understand. But if it spits out garbage, or I need to fix typos, the whole thing falls over. It's not robust. I have resorted to writing drafts when ideas occur, then firing up a local copy on a LAMP stack on my home Mac to make sure there aren't any errors, and finally doing a dulpicate "real" publishing workflow. It's not exactly friction-free.

So instead, I just fire up one of several Mastodon apps on my phone and post something there. Easy edits, no worries about text parsing, and a small audience sees it. A 500-character limit and pre-posting threading makes long-ish form stuff easy, too.

So what do I do here? I tried hosting my own Mastodon instance so I'd own and control my own stuff, and gradually call that my micro-blog. But it's heavy enough software that I don't care to increase my server hosting costs by a factor of 2-3x just for a micro blog. Write Freely is another piece of software that can be self-hosted and implements ActivityPub, but I couldn't get it to work well on my server.

So maybe I install WordPress again. It's fine, I guess. But in earlier iterations of this site, it gave me nothing but headaches. There are other, more lightweight cms's out there. Might give one of them a shot.

In any case, this may be the last post using the current system. Building it was a fun project. But my day job isn't in software, and I don't have the skills or time to dedicate to making it actually good. It's probably time to rely on the professionals doing what they're good at.