They’ve leaned pretty heavily into the membership system with this release. If that works for them and their users, I’m glad. It’s not really my thing, though. If I was using Ghost, I think I’d be a little put-off by its prominence in the dashboard, since it can’t be removed at all.
And that kind-of gets to the heart of one of the reasons I like WordPress so much — it really only does what you want it to and can be hacked and customized to accomplish your goals. Sure there are a lot of people that have bad experiences with bloated installs, but if you’re deliberate with the plugins you add, it’s not too difficult to keep it from getting out of hand.
I’m a little envious of the overall design of Ghost’s interface, though. The WordPress dashboard has remained mostly unchanged for years. It’s one aspect of the system that I’d like to see given a bit more development effort. Maybe when Gutenberg gets a bit more mature and established as a feature.
As a bit of an aside, Matt Birchler published a great video that goes over the features in this release.
Have you ever searched the web to find an article where you couldn’t see at what date it was published? It happens to me quite often. I don’t understand why such an important piece of information isn’t communicated to the readers.
He goes on to mention putting the date in your URLs, which I do here — the year and month, anyway. And while that’s still a very good idea, since iOS doesn’t show the full URL in Safari unless you have the address bar selected, having it in the URL isn’t as useful as it used to be.
The date on the webpage is a must. And if you publish an update more substantive than a simple typo fix, add the date it was edited too.
Most writers started writing to please the search engines (later just one search engine). To feed the beast, more “original” content was needed. The sharing moved to social media and got lost with the ephemera. Writers burned out producing longer and longer posts for ad pennies over trust and community.
Massive publications took over the attention of the majority, turning the sharing of a cool link into a bloated summary of whatever they were keeping you from seeing just long enough to show more ads.
This is now what your reader expects to see at every blog.
The trust is lost.
I think CJ is spot-on in his analysis of what happened to independent web publishing. But I’m hopeful that the unease surrounding the biggest social networks will start pushing people toward alternatives — some toward other centralized services and some toward their own websites.
It seems almost tragically ironic to think that newsletter subscriptions are the future of independent publishing. Email has been around for far longer than the World Wide Web, and has almost none of the design advantages or surveillance mechanisms celebrated by web publishers. All this time we have been subject to the whims of ad technology firms when the solution seems to be a rewind button.
From Umami’s About page:
Umami is a simple, easy to use, self-hosted web analytics solution. The goal is to provide you with a friendlier, privacy-focused alternative to Google Analytics and a free, open-sourced alternative to paid solutions. Umami collects only the metrics you care about and everything fits on a single page.
Here on Initial Charge, I don’t plan on switching from WordPress.com’s stats through Jetpack. But if I was looking elsewhere, Umami looks like a nice option.
This time, the change seems permanent, and irritates me so much that it singularly caused me to abandon Instagram. I signed up days after it launched, and posted often. I love the creativity that it encouraged. But I do not want to see photos in my feed from accounts I do not follow, and there is no way to turn this off.
This feature doesn’t appear to be implemented on the Instagram website, at least not yet. So one workaround would be to visit the site instead of launching the app. You could even add the site to your home screen, which will give you a more app-like experience without Safari’s browser chrome.
But the writing is on the wall. Instagram will only get worse with more features like this being added in the future. I’ve been toying with the idea of taking ownership of the platform in which I publish photos and this change on Instagram only further affirms my interest in doing so.
There was a time when feed readers were built into email apps and web browsers, but that’s rarely the case now. I don’t know that there’s anything that will make it much easier for less technically inclined users to begin using RSS. It is a niche technology from a user’s perspective, but that is completely okay. Not everything needs to be dominant to be useful.
I completely agree, but if RSS isn’t widely used, there isn’t much of an incentive for websites and services to implement it. When I think about the future of RSS, that’s my biggest concern.