Micro Matt


Thinking about the idea of “ownership” bandied about by web3 proponents, and real ownership, and the “creator economy,” and my suite of products. What would monetization mean for us?

Remark.as points in an interesting new direction: community. Whether that’s someone’s “fans” or “followers,” or a group of like-minded people getting together for something.

Online, I’ve never liked the experience of buying a subscription to written content, even if I really want to read it. I can’t put my finger on why; maybe it feels too pushy? like there’s no context? like they’re drawing an arbitrary line in the sand on when to charge? like I’m getting bait-and-switched? like there’s no consistency or common understanding?

What I do enjoy is buying in an online shop. The purchase flows are often similar and easy to understand across sites, like the checkout counter at any brick-and-mortar store. If people could pay for things in our ecosystem of apps, I think they’d be presented in more of a store format, instead of hand-wavy “subscribe” thingies.

What could people sell? Maybe exclusive posts or access to their blog, sure. But what about things readers could “own” in the old sense of owning digital goods, i.e. downloading files? Maybe eBook downloads could require payment first, or you could download a single article as a PDF. Maybe you could curate a collection of your posts (say, I want to gather all my articles about the open web) that can then be downloaded in different file formats. Maybe a subscription to an author would give readers commenting access / community membership via Remark.as. Very interesting to think about, and probably in our future future.

(And of course, none of this would require or even be enhanced by any “web3” technology being pushed right now, like blockchain.)

#monetization #remarkas #web3 #digitalGoods

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Writing a Twitter thread introducing Remark.as and poking fun at “web3,” and I think I’m actually going to build some of these things I’m talking about. Really follow the joke to completion, and it’ll actually be interesting to have an open, social collection of “Neat Fun Things” in the product.

Last night I made more progress on the app. I’m trying not to get too bogged down by a checklist of “blog commenting” functionality, and focus more on the experience of “hanging out around blogs.” That means things will be a little funky when you arrive, and maybe a little disorienting — but that’s kind of the point. I don’t want to build a sterile, Facebook-ish environment.

As of last night, instead of landing in a network-wide space (the “Café”), I have the app landing on your “Buddy List.” So instead of overwhelming you with a feed-reader-style inbox of content to read, you’ll only see the people you care about (that you’re following), and a hint at when they posted last. From there, you can consciously choose when and where to engage.

#dev #comments #remarkAs

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Working on something else today; but some quick thoughts on Remark.as this morning:

Some validation: Earlier this week, heard from yet another person that they’d like to use this, if possible. We’re a good way’s off from integrating with other sites, but it’s good to know this will be so useful.

UI ideas: In some sketches over the weekend, I came up with essentially a chat interface. Blogs you follow show up in your “buddy list,” and their posts in particular are the “chat rooms.” Each post is the topic of conversation; you can reply with a short message or a blog post — the latter would then take you to another discussion room. Replies via ActivityPub would show up in-line. It’s interesting, but I’m not sure how technically feasible yet. There’s a lot to still think about.

Social club: This will basically be the “social network” of the suite (if we have to call it that). Thinking about reducing spam and abuse in the early days, I’m imagining we leverage our paywall, since that’s worked well for reducing junk on Read Write.as. But I’m imagining an additional twist: if you’ve ever paid for Write.as Pro, or our old Casual plan, or bought an add-on, you’ll be able to socialize on Remark.as. And if you haven’t bought anything but you want to join, maybe you’d pay a cheap one-time “membership” fee. The goal would be to stay widely accessible — I’m not trying to make this an exclusive club — but filter out drive-by trolls and spammers.

The business: I’m trying to distill down the “point” of our business at this point, from the user’s perspective. I’m thinking less in terms of “creative tools” now and more “starting a discussion.” Because even when we write something without the chance for someone to comment, are we not starting a conversation? Even if it’s just in the reader’s mind. It seems that if we’re publishing on the internet, it’s to reach someone else — no matter who that is, or if we even get a response. The change in framing is interesting and eye-opening.


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An idea occurred to me last month. All along, I’ve been pursuing this idea of “separate but connected apps.” But as I’ve started implementing them, and later with the release of WriteFreely, I’ve had to change my view on what that “connected” part meant. It turns out that they need to be not just connected, but highly integrated in some important ways, if I want to give people the best experience.

An easy example is the photo upload feature in our Classic editor. Previously you had to switch apps to upload a photo, then switch back to insert it into your blog post. Now it’s a part of the Write.as interface, and seamlessly powered by Snap.as behind the scenes. You don’t even have to know Snap.as exists to use it — but if you do, you can do things like manage your photos through this separate tool. Maybe that’s where the separation actually makes sense.

So this idea I had was: some sort of unifying interface. Open it and decide whether you’re writing (Write.as) or uploading photos (Snap.as) or reading (Read Write.as) or checking your inbox (Remark.as). Each action points you to the correct product, and each product contains elements of the others, where it makes sense. For anyone fully utilizing our ecosystem, this could fit them best, while not disturbing those who just need one tool or the other. Importantly, the model could also fit WriteFreely, so it’s no longer just a blogging platform, but actually a multi-application tool (kind of like Phabricator).

#suite #studio #WriteFreely #snapas #remarkas

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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

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