Rambling Thoughts from a Wandering Mind


Category: Microblogging

Post less, blog more

Yesterday, I saw this blog post, On Tweeting (Instead of Writing), come across my Mastodon timeline. I’ve lost track of who shared it, so I can’t credit them, but it got me thinking that I should apply the same rule on Mastodon (actually, the “rule” is from another blog post by the same author, referenced in the previous one). If I need two or three toots to communicate my point, I should probably write a blog post instead. After all, I can always share a link to the blog post with the fediverse (see also: fediverse.party).

I think the rule that two to three messages should be a blog post instead applies even more to Mastodon and other federated social media, since the character limit is longer than on Twitter. On Mastodon, you get 500 characters by default. On Pleroma, postActiv and GNU Social you get 1,000 or more characters by default. That’s easily 100-200 words, which is enough for a short blog post. This post, for example, is only 168 words.

Rediscovering the open web

#OpenWeb is trending right now. At least, I suspect it is. It’s kind of hard to accurately determine what’s trending on the open, decentralized web. And that’s a good thing.

Regardless of whether or not it’s actually trending, there is a lot of talk about the open web right now. Much of this talk is inspired by the #DeleteFacebook movement that has come about in light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal. People are thinking about changing their online behaviour and much of the sheen has worn off of the corporate, centralized web. After a decade of consolidation — so much of the web have been centralized into the hands of just a few companies — people are no longer sure about the benefits of using the services provided by Facebook, Google, Twitter and a few other large web companies.

This rethinking of who we give our data to has been good for decentralized social media platforms. Mastodon and diaspora* are probably the two services that have benefited most from this.

I’ve largely moved away from centralized social media in favour of these decentralized services. I still maintain a Twitter account, but am not very active; and I still have a Facebook account, but I’m very seriously considering closing it (more due to the fact that it’s a life-suck and rather terrible for my mental health than as a result of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, although I’ll admit the #DeleteFacebook movement has caused me to think more seriously about this).

But perhaps the bigger, more interesting thing about an attempt to return to the open, decentralized web is the possibility of a resurgence, however small, of personal blogs and websites.

I recently went through my RSS reader and unsubscribed from most (but not all) of the corporate blogs I was subscribed to. I wasn’t reading a lot of them anyway. In their place, I’ve slowly started adding personal blogs to my feed reader.

I’m finding that I enjoy reading personal blogs — or smaller “professional” blogs — for a number of reasons:

  • because they’re personal, I feel like I can better relate to and connect with the authors
  • they tend to publish less frequently than the corporate sites (they’re certainly not publishing a dozen or most posts every day); this helps prevent information overload and means I actually have enough time to read everything in my RSS feed, instead of just reading headlines and skipping the vast majority of articles
  • they’re unpredictable and provide unique perspectives that I wouldn’t otherwise get to read, because the corporate blogs are often very polished and without much personality

In addition, I find reading personal blogs and engaging in the more intimate conversations that decentralized social media allows for has inspired me to blog more myself. For me, that’s enough of a reason to rediscover and re-embrace the open web.

There is nothing wrong with your house

Whether presented as a self-improvement project (update your house lest you be judged for owning a dated one) or a form of self-care (renovate because it will make you feel better), the home remodel is presented as both remedy and requirement.

Instead of falling prey to this thinking, take a moment to consider this simple idea: There is nothing wrong with your house.

Read the entire article: Are home renovations necessary?

If all your friends jumped off a bridge…

When I was a kid, my parents often asked, “If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?”

I’m sure many of you had similar experiences. It was, and maybe still is, the pat response to a child implying they should be allowed to do something for no reason other than that all their friends were doing it.

When I was a child, I came up with what I thought was a very clever response. “That depends,” I’d say. “If they all jumped off and didn’t get hurt, then I’d do it too, because it’s safe.”

“But if they all got hurt,” I’d continue, “then I wouldn’t jump off and they won’t think badly of me because I was smart enough not to follow their bad example.”

“And,” I’d conclude, “if they all died then they’d never know that I didn’t jump.”

I was sometimes a very literal child. I was also a smart ass.

This tiny house is a good start, but it won’t solve the urban housing problem

This concept for a three-story tiny house that fits in the footprint of a parking space is a neat idea, but the initial prototype has some fairly obvious flaws. It has no kitchen or running water because it’s “based on the reasoning that someone living in the middle of an urban neighborhood could get food elsewhere and shower at a gym.”

While that’s technically true, you’ve just massively increased the resident’s cost of living. They’d have to eat out for every meal (or eat a lot of raw food) and they’d need a gym membership just to be able to take a shower. Maybe the idea is that these costs would be partially offset by the lower housing costs.

This would work for a certain lifestyle, but if we’re really trying to make cities more affordable, this seems like the wrong way to do it. Of course, it’s only a prototype and making a version that has a shower and small kitchen space is obviously doable. It would just need to connect to city infrastructure, like most normal homes.

NaNoWriMo 2017

I think I’m going to do NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) this year. It’ll be the first time in years that I’ve participated, but it’ll at least give me a reason to write a lot. The end result will likely suck, but that’s OK. NaNoWriMo is ultimately about quantity over quality. If there’s a kernel of something good in the finished product, then December can be National Novel Editing Month.

My goal will just be to write a lot and to finish the “novel.” Hopefully, doing a lot of writing — with a specific end goal — will help flex my creative muscles and get me back into the habit of writing regularly.

Response to a post on Mastodon…

@mpjgregoire @kepstin @noelle@mastodon.social True, but when a family with an annual household income of $200,000 thinks they’re middle class, it’s a bit silly. That’s double the median income of even a wealthy province like Alberta. Those people have very different class interests than a single person bringing home $30,000-45,000 a year. They might both say “tax the rich!” But they likely have very different ideas of who counts as rich.

—Posted here largely as a placeholder, since moosetodon.ca is down at the moment.