Feed Readers, Micro.blog, and Digital Pedagogy

Many of us web old-timers are lamenting the centralization that has happened since the rise of The Four (GAFA = Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon). We remember how it used to be and want to remind the web of its Small b blogging roots.


That site, rnbn.blog, is my microblog. Writing too short or too casual for my long-form blog go here. More and more of the things I might otherwise Tweet go here too.

Micro.blog recently opened to all after a closed beta. It is a community based on open standards like webMentions and syndication feeds that federates blogs together into something with a Twitter-ish timeline.

With micro.blog, I can host my blog anywhere. rnbn.blog runs on WordPress.com, which is my preferred place to POSSE — Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere. Incorporating it into the micro.blog community is the work of typing in the location of my blog in a text field and hitting a button. Micro.blog handles federation while letting me own my content. Here’s my presence on micro.blog:


Right now, micro.blog is inhabited largely by open web, open source folks. Much of the conversation is about blogging and writing. I’m interested in seeing how this and similar communities grow and fare.

Microblogging is a low friction way to get back into blogging flow and be social in a way focused on reflection and small b blogging rather than likes, retweets, and stats (micro.blog purposefully doesn’t have any of these).

I’m giving GAFAT less of my attention these days. They and their algorithms are still useful and part of my learning and networking, particularly Twitter, but I’m spending more of my time on micro.blog and in my feed reader.

My feed reader is my highest quality and most enjoyable information source. Within my reader, I curate my favorite voices. I suggest Feedly or Inoreader as a feed reading service. I currently use Feedly. These services work with a variety of client apps (yay open tech). I use Unread on iOs and Reeder on macOS as my feed reading apps. They easily connect to Feedly, which keeps all of the clients in sync. Feedly offers its own apps if you don’t want to pay extra for something like Unread or Reeder.

I recommend micro.blog and feed readers to you. Take some time away from social media to setup up a feed reader and a microblog. Instead of relying solely on algorithms that you don’t control deciding what you see, curate the sources you enjoy most. ”An RSS reader is the window into your curated world.”

If you’re an educator looking to feed your new feed reader, here’s who I follow:


If you see the value of Twitter as a learning network but can no longer make it a formal part of your curriculum due to its problems, consider Small b blogging and microblogging.

That’s the piece that’s been missing, bringing the safety to the serendipity.

Jesse and I have taught with Twitter for ages, often requiring students to create accounts, tweet about their coursework, even crafting assignments where a single tweet was the assignment. But we don’t anymore.

Why not? What do we do instead? How do we help our students navigate the world of public, digital scholarship in a world increasingly dominated by harassment, abuse, disinformation, and polarization? Well, for that, you’ll have to listen. 🙂

Jesse and I mention a number of tools, platforms, and services that we find useful in different contexts. As promised, here are links!

Jesse’s and Kris’s past class Medium publications can be found here: Introduction to Digital Studies and Modeling Music.

Slack is the online community space that we use regularly for our classes, especially (but not exclusively) online classes.

Kris’s (former) guide for public student writing (including Jesse’s Twitter essay prompt reworked for a music class) can be seen here.

Jesse mentioned Mastadon, a distributed social platform based on GNU Social.

A number of the tools Kris mentions for privacy and security can be found here. Kris also mentioned Keybase, a Slack-like, end-to-end encrypted communication platform that functions similar to Slack (though balancing increased security with less bells and whistles).

Source: Closing Tabs, Episode 3: Teaching with(out) Social Media

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