I have long admired the way some bloggers are able to include an image when auto-posting to Twitter. Looking at the IFTTT applet I was using to auto-post from my own blog, there did not appear to be an option to do this, and a web search did not yield any useful results.
I turned to Twitter and asked Warren Ellis what service or plugin he uses. Having asked the question, I received a couple of suggestions from Doug Belshaw:
Looking into both of these I could see that they would achieve what I wanted but I was not satisfied with either implementation. Blog2Social requires you to create a Twitter application. This is not a big deal (I’ve done it before) but I did not believe this was necessary to achieve my goal. Furthermore, it is heavy-handed on the promotion of its paid features in the WordPress backend. The other option, Jetpack, is too feature rich and its footprint on the back end of your blog is quite intrusive. Furthermore, to access all of the auto-tweet features a paid plan is required. This does not sit right with me given the open source origins of WordPress.
Returning to IFTTT, I could not shake off the feeling that there was a way to do it. The search function in IFTTT is a bit hit and miss with a high noise to signal ratio. However, there were several recipes that indicated images could be posted natively to Twitter from other sources. This lead to me taking a fresh look at the Twitter channel in IFTTT. I saw that they have added a range of options and this indeed included the option to tweet with an image.
So, to relieve the proverbial itch, I started from scratch (😉) and created a new applet to share my WordPress posts to Twitter with an image.
This was a definite case that proved it is always worth digging a little deeper! Dr. Amp would approve.
Like all the cool kids seem to have done, I have added an archive of my tweets at
twitter.jamesmichie.com. I have not decided if I am going to delete all my tweets, but as you will see, I have been pretty close to inactive for some time.
Nor have I found an alternative social network to engage in. I had a brief dalliance with Mastodon but I was not enamoured with the format (in essence a distributed clone of Twitter) – unsure as to whether I could, or even wanted to, rebuild a close network of peers.
In fact, I am not sure that I need social media as it currently exists. I do not believe that I have missed anything over the last year or so by not being active on Twitter. Quite the contrary. I have read more books and actual news. I have grown a cultivated list of blogs in varying genres to read via RSS (yes that old chestnut). And I have focussed on my health and fitness (running has taken over my life!)
However, I signed up to Micro.blog, today, in the hopes that it encourages me to post more regularly in a shorter format. Sharing is important (IMO) and I feel there is space (once again) for writing to be a positive outlet for me. Micro.blog allows for self-hosting, via WordPress and other open source blogging platforms, which means that I will retain ownership of my data. It also offers a growing network and native MAC and iOS apps.
I hope the shorter, low-stakes format of micro-blog encourages me to post briefly and regularly.
We will see… I have promised a return to regular posting in the past and it didn’t happen. However, it’s been nearly two years since I wrote here, and a year since I engaged with Twitter in any meaningful way. A lot has happened and some of it is worth putting out into the world.
Those of you who subscribe to this blog’s RSS feed may have noticed some strange chemistry related posts appearing in the feed. These posts were not written by me and if you navigate to jamesmichie.com/blog via the web you will not find them. I became aware of the problem a few weeks ago and have been trying to rectify it. However, this has not proved successful.
What does this mean? It means that I wil be deleting my FeedBurner feed shortly. If you wish to continue subscribing to this blog you can do so by resubscribing to the following feed address: http://jamesmichie.com/blog/feed; or you can follow me via Twitter where posts are pushed automatically.
Unfortunately, for the small number of you who subscribe via Email, I will be unable to offer this form of subscription for the foreseeable future.
[Update: 03.01.13] Email subscriptions are back up and running thanks to MailChimp’s RSS to Email feature. Click on the following link to subscribe: http://eepurl.com/tAnET.