I spent a few days over the past week working on a little project that’s been bouncing around in my head lately. I’ve wanted something like this to exist for years and with the skills I’ve obtained from Treehouse over the past several months, I thought it was finally time to build it myself. Today, I’d like to announce #OpenWeb.


The site aggregates headlines from independent publishers that focus on Apple products and software. It also serves as a directory of single-person weblogs within our community. Over the past few years, social networks have become less and less exciting to use and there have been some subtle indications that the open web is poised for a comeback. With Micro.blog, JSON Feed, the meteoric rise in podcasting, and the frustration that many of us have had with Twitter and Facebook — I think weblogs could be the next big thing.

Writing on the web has always been a passion of mine. From the moment I hit publish on my first Blogger site in my junior year of high school, I knew this was something I was going to do for the rest of my life. There’s nothing else in the world that helps me digest and formulate my ideas like writing. And the ability to receive instantaneous feedback from readers is just incredible. I think everyone should have a weblog.

But discovery is still a major problem. Why would you put the effort into buying a domain, setting up a site, and writing if no one is going to read it? And if you do manage to jump through all the hoops to start publishing, how do you find others in the community that have done so as well?

#OpenWeb let’s you find out what everyone’s talking about without having to wade through dozens of knee-jerk political reactions on Twitter or inspirational memes on Facebook. Those things have their place, but I think we need somewhere to go for more thoughtful commentary.

But this site isn’t just a collection of headlines. #OpenWeb’s sources page lists every weblog that feeds the site, alongside the author’s name, and prominently displays a link to an OPML file, which includes all of the RSS feeds. I want to showcase the writers that make #OpenWeb possible and encourage visitors to read these sites in whatever RSS reader they prefer.

And #OpenWeb isn’t finished yet. In the short term, I’ll be focusing on adding new sites to the sources list — if you know of one that might be a good fit, I’d love to hear your suggestions. But in the long term, I plan to modify the design to look better on larger screens and investigate new methods of aggregating the headlines. At the moment, I’m using IFTTT triggers for each site, which isn’t exactly ideal.

I’d also like some feedback about the design and what I could add to the site going forward — aside from the aforementioned addition of new weblogs, of course. This is only the second web design project that I’ve done entirely on my own — the current Initial Charge design being the first — and I’d love to hear what others have to say about it. Good, bad, or otherwise, just at me on Twitter.

Browse the Linked List.

Main Versus Only

On a bonus edition of the BirchTree Podcast, Matt Birchler had an interesting point regarding the debate about tablets being a viable alternative to the Mac. The thought was sparked by an episode of Versus with Lauren Goode, in which she says “people are wondering, can you use a tablet as your main computer?”

As Matt notes, the distinction of main computer instead of only computer is often lost in the conversation. This isn’t a zero-sum game — using an iPad doesn’t mean you have to remove Macs from your life entirely. Even the most adamant iPad-only nerds continue to use Macs on regular basis — myself included. The frequency might be decreasing as the platform’s capabilities grow, but the Mac still has a place in our lives. Albeit, on a much smaller scale.

When I want to write, read the news, edit photos, manage Initial Charge, communicate with friends and family, or perform most other daily tasks, I reach for my iPad. But I still use a Mac for hosting media with Plex, performing some web development, and working with a large number of files at once. The iPad is my main computer, but certainly isn’t my only computer.

An additional wrinkle within this conversation is the smartphone. Matt would consider his smartphone to be his main computer. He reads the news, plays games, listens to podcasts, checks email, and does most of his communication on his smartphone. And I don’t think Matt’s alone. I bet a lot of people would be shocked at how much more they do on their smartphones than they realize — even all the die-hard Mac users.

I expect I’m probably in that same camp, too. I certainly do a lot on my iPhone and because I’ve built all of my workflows around iOS, just about everything I do on my iPad, I can also do on my iPhone. Some of it is easier on the iPad, because of its larger screen, but all of it is possible.

Even taking that into consideration, though, I still think of my iPad as my main computer. Because of the nature of my job, I don’t have many opportunities to use my iPhone throughout the work day. I’ll pick it up here and there to check Tweetbot for a few minutes or do some quick math in Calzy, but it mostly lives in my pocket.

Of course, I use my iPhone to listen to podcasts in the car or do some miscellaneous computing while I’m out of the house — mapping, comparison shopping, fixing typos on the site, etc. — but the amount of work I do on my iPad while I’m at home vastly outweighs anything I do on my iPhone. On my days off, my iPad is with me from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed. And on many of those days, my iPhone doesn’t even leave my nightstand.

But when we’re having the debate of Mac versus iPad, it’s important to remember that this isn’t a binary argument. Most iPad users still find utility in owning a Mac and vice versa. The discussion should be molded around that idea to prevent it from devolving into a holy war. iPads are better at some tasks and Macs are better at others. Let’s collectively determine what each platform’s strength is rather than cling to petty infighting.

Education Event Speculation

—March 19, 2018

Tweetbot Over Twitterrific

—March 5, 2018

Apple HomePod

—February 23, 2018

iOS Widgets

—February 6, 2018

HomePod, Preordered

—January 26, 2018

Browse the Feature Archive.