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Blot & Micro.blog

(This post had been up for barely an hour before I felt the need to revise or at least amend it. See the postscript below…)

I recently made some changes to the structure of my website, and I thought I would briefly summarize why I made them, and talk a little about how I made the decisions I made.

I had four goals:

  1. to collapse my two blogs into one
  2. to streamline how I manage all content
  3. to keep my blog subsidiary to the front landing page (that is, letterspace.org is not primarily a blog)
  4. to continue, if at all possible, to use (and thereby support) both Blot and Micro.blog

To speak of my second goal first, I wanted to address the following situation: Before, I needed to to go to one of three very different places to manage the content of my website:

I wanted eliminate at least one of these, and the HTML/CSS was the most obvious. I’m not afraid of it — I’ve been hand-coding websites for about twenty years — but it was just one thing too many. Blot and MB are both small, well-supported platforms designed to be easy to use, and I am quite comfortable with both of them. I therefore needed to see which of them would be better at serving as the first thing visitors see when they land at www.letterspace.org. I’ll get to that in a minute.

I had justified my second blog — the late A Foolish Consistency — by saying it was for posts related directly to my poetry, and for longer posts in general, and also as an archive for posts salvaged from several old, pseudonymous blogs from 2003 to 2007 or so. But it was simply too much to have two different blog timelines to think about. There were just enough times when a post really could have gone to either blog, and who needs that sort of quandary if you can avoid it?

Once I settled on keeping (fleeting) and eliminating AFC, the first goal was easy enough, if laborious: Using MarsEdit, I manually imported (almost) every post from “A Foolish Consistency.” (I could have used MB’s import feature, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to bring everything over, and I wanted to review each post for dead links, etc.)

So how exactly did I decide to keep (fleeting) rather than AFC? This was actually quite a difficult choice; if I had simply wanted my website to be a blog, I’m honestly not sure how I would have chosen between Micro.blog and Blot. It was in trying to satisfy my third goal that helped me come to a decision: I evaluated Blot & MB for how each could help me present letterspace.org as a website first and a blog second. Micro.blog is essentially, intrinsically a blog CMS: I don’t see any easy way to have MB serve a static landing page, with a blog “on the side” somewhere. On the other hand, it is much easier to make Blot function as a general CMS. It’s very simple to designate a static landing page with Blot, and host a general, all-purpose website — with no need to have a blog at all.

So I’ve set Blot as the backend for the top level of my website, www.letterspace.org. The “Pages” folder in my Blot folder is full of single-page writings, a few of which are already linked to on the front page or here (which serves as a sort of limited site map). Blot will also be, eventually, the engine beneath my digital garden.

And there you have it: My fourth goal was satisfied. Blot runs everything you see at the www subdomain, and MB runs everything at rnv, and the afc subdomain is gone (redirecting to rnv). I’ve eliminated the need to muck about with HTML and CSS and I didn’t have to go all in with Blot and leave Micro.blog or go all in with Micro.blog and leave Blot.

Micro.blog is home to my blog (along with a few static pages, like this and this); after four years of participating in its excellent community and nearly that long blogging here, I’m not sure what it could possibly take for me to move my blog elsewhere. I’ve been with Blot for almost exactly three years, and I have found it incredibly easy to use; Blot’s founder, David Merfield, is extremely helpful. I think they are both excellent services, and I’m glad I can continue to use and support them.


Postscript, 8 January — I need to add how absolutely crucial my third goal, above, is to me. It’s probably the most important of the four: When people visit www.letterspace.org, I want them to see an actual website, not simply a blog.

I believe that the “blog” metaphor is too ubiquitous, and can actually limit what people think they can do with their websites. Not everything is a blog. Not everything should be a blog.

Now, it is possible to create a custom home page on Micro.blog, but these instructions are buried away at a “beware of the leopard” level of obscurity (much like this literary reference), and I believe the technical barrier is such that almost everyone will continue to see Micro.blog exclusively as a hosting service for blogs. (Yes yes, of course “blog” is right there in the name. but so what? The “i” in front of the original iMac stood for “internet,” but it was still just a Mac; you could use it all day without dialing up.)

I would love to see a few themes for Micro.blog that are more like the “home pages” of þe olde times. Short of that, I hope that there will someday be an easy way to select a Page to serve as the “index,” allowing people to use Micro.blog as a hosting service for not just blogs but for general, old-style websites, with or without an ancillary blog.

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