Episode 4: Transcript

Guest: @patrickrhone

Release date: April 2, 2018

macgenie: 00:00:11 Hey it’s Micro Monday again, the weekly microcast where we get to know members of the Micro.blog community. I’m Jean MacDonald, community manager here at Micro.blog, and I am very happy to welcome Patrick Rhone to the podcast, also known on my Micro.blog as @patrickrhone.

patrickrhone: 00:00:31 I’m Patrick Rhone everywhere. I find it’s so much easier because it cuts through all the explanation. Just get right to it. Who are you? I’m Patrick Rhone.

macgenie: 00:00:42 It’s handy. Unfortunately for me, I picked my handle back 10 plus years ago when I thought it might be important not to have my name out there in social media, because it was new and I was a little afraid of it.

patrickrhone: 00:00:59 Understood.

macgenie: 00:01:00 Let’s us get right into it and talk about Micro.blog. I’d love to know how you heard about Micro.blog.

patrickrhone: 00:01:10 Strangely enough, I probably heard about it on Twitter but I don’t know. It’s one of those things. I never remember where I hear about things from. This is the reason why there is such a lack of “via”s and hat tips on my site. It’s like I have no idea where this thing came from, it just showed up, you know? And now, thinking back on it, it might have been Andy Baio’s Waxy.org, which is a long running…, I would call that a microblog even though I don’t know if he’s on Micro.blog. But yeah somewhere on the interwebs.

patrickrhone: 00:01:52 Oh, there’s a Kickstarter for this thing, and this thing looks a lot like something that I’ve either A) wanted to do for a while or B) actually have set up already in some way, shape, or form. Let’s see how this will turn out.

macgenie: 00:02:08 That’s true. It is part of the interwebs, and not surprising at all if you heard about it on Twitter. I know that Twitter, love it or hate it, it has been my source of news on things like Micro.blog for a long time.

patrickrhone: 00:02:25 There’s a lot of things, certain websites that I’ve long followed for stuff like this, whether it be Boing Boing, or Waxy.org, or Kottke, which tend to link to interesting things like this. I saw the Kickstarter, and said sign me up. Forked over some money.

macgenie: 00:02:53 We appreciate that support for sure, and I would love to know how you’re using your microblog, which is patrickrhone.micro.blog.

patrickrhone: 00:03:07 Well, there is that, but actually my true microblog and what’s actually connected to Micro.blog is patrickrhone.net. And patrickrhone.net is, as of say last December or so, my full-time blog. That’s where I blog everything, after having blogged for almost 15 years at patrickrhone.com. And there’s probably some people asking at this point , “Wait, why why did you do this new thing?” I’ll try to make some very long stories short.

patrickrhone: 00:04:07 Essentially know I had patrickrhone.com for many many years. I decided to take an online sabbatical for a year that actually lasted about 9 months, not quite. The intent was to take a step back from online publishing. I’m a writer. I’ve written six books. I’ve been blogging for 15 years but I was writing long before this thing called the internet was something that a normal person could publish to. As a matter of fact, I’ve been writing long before this thing called the Internet actually really existed, because I’m an old guy. So part of my interest in that was trying to see how much has the ability to publish anything anytime I want, how has that changed my writing, and what happens if I remove that. As a creative person, I’m always interested in playing around with constraints. As a history buff, I’m always interested to find out what it would be like to go back and take away those things, those tools that we now have that make things easy. What was it like before that? And so that’s what I did. During that time and what caused me to come back was I had a fairly serious personal events happen over the course of that year that led me to have a sense, a need for the community that the Internet provides and that I missed.

patrickrhone: 00:06:06 At that time I thought, “You know, with patrickrhone.com, I’ve gotten stuck in this loop, this feeling like I’ve got to publish these 500-1000 word essays, and that they have to have this kind of structure to them. And I realized, in my time away, how limiting that was. And so I set up patrickrhone.net just really as an experiment. My idea was: when I do come back, I’m not going to publish directly to Twitter. I’m not going to publish directly to Facebook. I’m tired of this idea of just throwing stuff out there that then just goes into the wind and doesn’t belong to me. There’s no way to really go back and look at it over time in conjunction and contrast with other things I’m writing and to see how these tweets are, these Facebook posts or whatever (I never really was into Facebook, so I should stop just pretending like I was posting there when I wasn’t). But you know, see how these things fit in with all of these other things like my longer form blog posts. And hey, I’ve got these shorter ideas that I want to post, maybe between 100 and 500 words and I want a space where that feels comfortable. And so I made patrickrhone.net. And this is before I really heard about Micro.blog and that it was going to be integrating, or I would say embracing, WordPress connectivity and all that. I had no idea; I had just backed the Kickstarter and I really hadn’t fallen its development much.

patrickrhone: 00:07:56 And so I actually built what is essentially a microblog at patrickrhone.net, with the intention that I would publish here and that that stuff would get fed via IFTTT out to Twitter or in the case of Instagram, which doesn’t let you post things into it, I set it up so that anything I post Instagram fed via I FTTT to into my blog, so at least I’d have my own copy of it. So I essentially set up this microblog of my own outside of Micro.blog and was very happy and relieved that when Micro.blog finally was released, at to least the Kickstarter backers, that hey, if you’ve got a Wordpress hosted site, you can hook it up and let that be your your Micro.blog. And I was like “Duh, this is what I want. This is what I’ve already built it and I can hook it up and this is great. And so now I kind of have a vision for how I will use this. So that’s a long way of answering actually two standard questions that you ask which is: did you have a blog beforehand? The answer is yes, I had several. And how did you end up here.

macgenie: 00:09:38 That was an excellent job of explaining how microblogging fits into your writing life because you were doing it before Micro.blog actually yes launched. And it was a happy…um, well it wasn’t a coincidence because Manton definitely had this notion that microblogging and Micro.blog had to work really well with the existing independent web.

patrickrhone: 00:10:06 Yes, and that gets to the other question, which is: what do I like about it? See I’m doing your thing for you, Jean! I’m sorry.

macgenie: 00:10:12 I love this! I’ll go get a coffee. You keep going.

patrickrhone: 00:10:16 (Laughs) That’s one of the things I love about it and certainly one of the things I thought very deeply about during my time away from the web. It was essentially: OK, if I were come back to it fresh, thinking about how I would go about doing things today, given the tools that are out there and what we know now, given how social networks work and stuff like that, how would I approach this? And yes I love the idea that Micro.blog is essentially just built on top of the independent web that is already there, and is embracing it, saying, “Hey, we’ll certainly give you your own kind of “post once syndicate elsewhere” experience here, and we’ll even host your little microblog for you. That’s our business model and it’s how we’ll make a little money. But if you’ve already got something and you’re independent and you’re happy with that? We’re going to support that too.” And I love that. I just love that. There’s something I like to call “philosophy.txt”.

patrickrhone: 00:11:46 You know how back in the old days of software, you’d download some program and it always came with a couple of text files. One of those text files was generally a ReadMe.txt. ReadMe, that was something you’d want to read that first, it would describe how to install it, and what it is, and maybe some special features, and probably give you the version history. But almost all software also comes with what I like to call a “philosophy . txt”. Even though it’s not included in the package. But it’s very evident once you start using something, you can immediately see the philosophy behind what went into this development: by the choices they they have made, by the features they have included and the features they have left out, by the way that those features that there are included work, by the sensible defaults that they have built in, by the insensible defaults they have built. And that will give you an overview of the “philosophy.txt” that should have been included with the software. In my humble opinion, I would love to see that with more software. I would love to see an actual “philosophy.txt” from the developer that says “Hey, this is why I made this. This is why this works this way. These are the choices I made. And this is the philosophy behind it.” Manton seemed very upfront with a philosophy . txt of here’s what this is; here’s why I’m building it; here’s why it’s got these features; any other feature requests will be weighed against this philosophy.txt.

[00:13:28] That’s why we never see direct messages in Micro.blog. Makes perfect sense to me right. Because I can’t see a way to make direct messages fit into the philosophy.txt of Micro.blog. I can’t figure out a way to have that be something that is built on top of and supporting the independent web, and the protocols and the technologies that already exist out there. So all of that’s a roundabout way of saying that you know what I like about Micro.blog? Number 1 is the philosophy.txt. Number 2 is community. I think that what this essentially is doing is building a community of bloggers. A community of small independent bloggers, one that really hasn’t existed officially before. A place for them to get together, a place for them to have conversations. A place for them to essentially comment on each other’s posts. In many ways I look at Micro.blog as a as a separate independent commenting system that you don’t have to host on your own site, and thus don’t have to constantly fight spam and trolls. Which is a fantastic thing.

macgenie: 00:14:54 It’s something I’ve had to get my mind around, even after I signed on to work with Manton, was how different it is than what exists currently and you’ve identified the two things you know that really make it special. The independent nature of it, but also the community. Now somebody could have a microblog and not participate in the community at all. We never have to use the apps or the timeline or anything like that. And that’s also fine. But now I’m going to be thinking about it as you described it, a little bit like an interesting commenting channel. And there is there’s a lot of back and forth among the timeline and people who are posting there. I really like that. And I also like that I’m meeting people such as yourself and everybody else actually who I’ve been interviewing. I’ve made it a point to interview people I don’t actually know.

patrickrhone: 00:16:02 OK that’s cool.

macgenie: 00:16:03 So until I’m in a pinch and then I have a few friends who are obsessive podcast e r types who I know I can get any time and they’re happy to do it. But so far so good. But that’s Micro.blog to me, that it’s a different community. I think if I had if I had been successful in getting a lot of people from Twitter to come over, people who I already follow, I might not have had the space, mentally or in the timeline, to appreciate new people and new points of view. Also it’s very visual. I like that it’s it feels like kind of a combo of Instagram and Twitter together.

patrickrhone: 00:16:54 And I will say since Micro.blog, I’ve actually turned off the smaller forum things that were going to Twitter. In fact the only thing now that updates my Twitter timeline is things that are basically category=”post” on my blog. Everything else that’s just a status or just a photo, or photo with commentary, those things only go to Micro.blog. Otherwise they’re on my microblog. They’re not going to Twitter. They’re not going Instagram. They’re not going anywhere else.

[00:17:54] And I’ve stopped posting Instagram. I mean quite frankly Micro.blog iOS app is the absolute easiest quickest way for me to publish my Wordpress-based site. So even if I didn’t participate Micro.blog, I’d like the app just for that, because the other solutions are all crap (for lack of a better term) or just fiddly or whatever. You know Micro.blog the app makes it dead simple to type a post.

macgenie: 00:18:34 Well, we could go on here forever. I’m so interested in all the things you do and write about. Your books: I own the one on meditation and I love that. I was looking at your site and thinking, “Uh-oh I think I’m gonna order this one, and this one… Patrick, We need a bundle. You need the Patrick Rhone bundle.

patrickrhone: 00:19:00 That’s not a bad idea. Maybe I should put that together.

macgenie: 00:19:04 Trust me I’m a marketing geek. One button is better than six or more.

patrickrhone: 00:19:08 For what it’s worth about the meditation book, I view that as my most important little piece of work, even though it’s a short quick little guide, it’s not very long. Those guides are living documents. I mean, ebooks are software. I don’t know why we don’t treat them like things that you shouldn’t publish updates to, things that come with like a changelog.txt.

macgenie: 00:19:47 That’s true. Well yes I’m going to encourage everybody to go buy them. What’s the best? It’s still patrickrhone.com though to find those ebooks, or I assume patrickrhone.net will get you there?

patrickrhone: 00:20:00 Yes that is correct.

macgenie: 00:20:01 I think we could wrap could wrap it up there. Otherwise I’ll just go on and on.

patrickrhone: 00:20:08 Thank you very much.

macgenie: 00:20:11 Thank you Patrick for coming on to Micro Monday. And I will see everybody with a new guest next week. Thanks.

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