Indie Microblogging by Manton Reece

Part 1: Rewind

“This device isn’t a spaceship; it’s a time machine. It goes backwards, forwards. It takes us to a place where we ache to go again. It’s not called the wheel; it’s called the carousel. It lets us travel the way a child travels — around and around, and back home again, to a place where we know we were loved.” — Don Draper

I loved the old web. The simplicity, where knowing just a few HTML tags was enough to be at the forefront of web design. The playfulness, where experiments were not overshadowed by a fear of the future hanging over any attempt to try something new.

But this book is more than nostalgia. Before we can take the next step forward, we must first look back. It won’t help the web to blindly reinvent the same platforms with the same problems.

Anything new is a reaction to what came before. I would not be writing this book if it weren’t for all the social networks that have come and gone, and the bloggers who have stuck with publishing to their own site.

What can we learn from older platforms? What good ideas from blogs can we bring forward, resurfacing them into the modern web?

Tumblr and LiveJournal brought blogs together under a social graph. MySpace opened up the possibility of editing HTML and CSS to users who would never run a server. Pownce added a richer timeline of posts, events, and shared files. Google Reader provided a comprehensive UI for RSS feeds and centralized comments. And of course Twitter and Facebook made posting easy.

Things were moving quickly. Years seemed to pass in a blink, until much of the naive enthusiasm for the web — the tinkering and the blog-based foundation — had slipped away to be supplanted by Twitter and Facebook at scale. It was gone before we noticed what had been lost to expired domain names and lapsed dreams of a more connected web.

Next: Penn Station →