Micro Matt


Realizing something about building products for me. When I need to enable something new, I think about it in terms of verbs, not nouns.

For example, while taking another pass on the design of a new “categories” system for Write.as, I started asking myself the fundamental questions: why even add this at all? Does it add anything, besides satisfying a requirement for someone? What’s the galaxy-brain view on a feature like this?

At first thought, categories seem superfluous to me, personally. I don’t need or really want them — I hear “categories” and think “management.” Blech, no thank you. But some larger customers need it, and it will help things behind the scenes.

Still the feature didn’t make sense until I figured out the verb of it all. So on Write.as, categories won’t be about categorizing — putting things in constrained little boxes, for yourself and your readers, giving you new work to keep you busy and distracted from doing the real work (writing).

Instead, categories are the next, more orderly, stage of tagging.

For most writers, you might start tagging your posts only when you want to keep things organized. But it’s optional! You don’t have to organize anything if you don’t want to, and I love that.

But if you do, I feel like tagging is an organic growth from the content. The type of writers I want to build for don’t start a blog with a perfect, unchanging list of topics to write about. They write to explore, and then common themes arise from the writing itself.

So, categories are more like these organic themes or topics that arise from your writing. They solidify and bring more order to the previous stage, tagging — or they can be explicitly created if you feel the need. But first and foremost, categories aren’t things, but merely processes that are born out of your work.

#categories #design #product #writeas

Thoughts? Discuss...

One question: where is the line between writing as “you” and distributing that writing as “Matt” or “Anonymous” or “John Doe” or whatever you choose to go by? I could imagine that the blog selector menu we have in the Write.as editor right now enables writers to “put on the clothes” of whatever alias they’re publishing under, perhaps getting them in the mindset. But I know, for example, I’ve personally started a post fitting for this Micro Matt blog, and ended up realizing it needed to be a full post destined for my Matt blog. In that case, I’ve switched the publish destination, added a title (required on Matt; elided on Micro Matt), and ended up elaborating on whatever I was writing. So I’m not sure if the distribution context should be intertwined with, or separate from (perhaps in another step), the writing process.

#design #writeas

Thoughts? Discuss...

Spending time designing an entirely new UI for Write.as / #WriteFreely today, tailored toward power users. After breaking down jobs-to-be-done and building up an interface from scratch, I’ve arrived at… essentially, WordPress or Ghost or any other CMS. So, how do I plan to make this different?

First: two distinct interfaces, “basic” and “advanced.” This CMS-ish UI would be the “advanced” one, activated only when you indicate you need it, such as when starting a publication rather than a personal blog. By default, users would continue getting a minimalist interface that is centered around writing and distribution, rather than advanced content creation and management. My idea here is that we hopefully don’t lose the plot, and Write.as remains useful as a personal writing / blogging platform. But if I’m rethinking things, I’ll probably want to revamp the “basic” UI users will see by default…

#design #publishers

Thoughts? Discuss...

I was aiming to have made some progress on Remark.as by this point in 2021, but as tends to happen, other priorities took over — namely, some large migration projects that have spanned several months, some long-standing bugs that have grown too painful, and the continual waves of various SEO spammers from around the world.

I recently shared that the timeline on it is indefinite for now. But the topic got me thinking about it again in spare moments over the last few days. Coming at it fresh, with a “weekend project” state of mind, I came to a new design that basically resembles a link aggregator site like reddit or Hacker News.

This was what I imagined for the “social space” — basically, you head to Remark.as when you’re ready to read comments and shoot the shit with other people. Discussion happens around links back to the original content, rather than hosting the content on Remark.as itself; a close integration with Write.as means we could automatically “post” your articles over there, and we can dynamically link from your blog posts to the discussion, e.g. showing the number of replies you’ve received. Overall, of course, the goal is to keep the social space separate from the composition and publishing space. And I think with this design, for those who want a more social atmosphere, Remark.as would replace Read Write.as as their daily destination.

#remarkas #design #ideas

Thoughts? Discuss...