Burningbird Social Media Weblogging

Yet More WordPress/Mastodon/ActivityPub integration

The ActivityPub WordPress plug-in is working beautifully. Not only can people follow me on Mastodon, I can now follow them back using the complementary Friends plugin.

This plugin isn’t specific for ActivityPub. It allows you to subscribe to friend’s posts, ala Google Reader, and creates a personal Friends page to read most recent posts. ActivityPub integrates with this so you can follow Fediverse accounts such as those on Mastodon. The header screenshot shows the Friends page, which is a nice, clean feed reader page. But it’s personal. The following image shows what happens if someone else accesses the page.

Friends page that just has instructions in how to subscribe to Burningbird, shown to people who are not logged into my BB system

So now, people in Mastodon can follow my Burningbird posts (I’m Bosslady), and I can follow them back. And if folks reply to my Burningbird posts on Mastodon, I get a comment to the post here in Burningbird.

The integration isn’t seamless. Replies on Mastodon to a post show up as comments, but unless I enable comments for the post, you can’t respond to the comment. And if you do, it doesn’t show back up as a reply on Mastodon. In addition, I can star a Mastodon post in my Friends page here at Burningbird, but it doesn’t reflect back to Mastodon.

Still, the integration is impressive, and usable right now. I suspect it will only get better over time.

One change I did make was to limit my posts to a 400 character excerpt. It’s not usual for me to push out 2000 or more words in a post. I don’t think this is social media friendly. I also limit the content to non-HTML text, only. Don’t need to send out something that could cause issues in an ActivityPub application.


The 400 character excerpt didn’t work out well, because paragraph markings were removed. So now I’m trying Title and Link. I may see if WordPress excerpt will work with crossposting to Mastodon.

Connecting Diversity Weblogging

Marriage equality and one bright moment in 2004

The Supreme Court decided in June, 2015 that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couples. The decision was Obergefell v Hodges, and the was one of the most definitive for civil rights in the last century.

A few short years later, this decision, like that for Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed rights to healthcare, is under threat with a Supreme Court more interested in forcing a narrow, restrictive ideology than the law. In response Congress just passed the Respect for Marriage Act. Though the protections aren’t as comprehensive as the Obergefell decision, at a minimum this Act ensures that same-sex marriages would be recognized by both federal and state government, though it could not force states to issue marriage certificates to same-sex couples.

Perhaps at a minimum, it will provide a warning to the Supreme Court that no, they won’t be allowed to turn back the clock, and they’ll leave Obergefell alone.

Serendipitously, this week while I was recovering old weblog posts from the Wayback Machine, I recovered one titled “No other word works but great.” I wrote it February 18, 2004 and it was about that brief and shining time when Gavin Newsome and the city of San Francisco, in an act of civil defiance, issued marriage certificates for same-sex couples.

As I wrote at the time:

This news coming out of San Francisco, is the first news I’ve heard in a month, over a month, of the triumph of the human spirit, the fire of those who will not accept the dictates of a hypocritical society, and the goodness of people reaching out to other people.

Enjoy this flashback, and think on how far we’ve come, and what we can’t lose.


The follow up longer essay I promised, also recovered from the Wayback Machine: For those who inhabit the empty spaces of the coloring book.

Burningbird Social Media Technology Weblogging

Mastodon and Burningbird

The social media upheaval continues but things are starting to quiet down a bit. Oh you can’t tell this from the media, which is full of stories leading with “Elon Musk says…”, but that’s primarily because the media hasn’t figured out how to wean itself off Twitter, yet.

I quit Twitter the day that Musk reactivated the Project Veritas account. Even a lie would be ashamed to be associated with Project Veritas. Not so Twitter and Musk.

Out with Twitter

I didn’t delete my two Twitter accounts, because bots and trolls can snap up a previously existing username in 30 days once deleted. And I didn’t deactivate them because deactivated accounts are deleted in 30 days. What I did was post a last note where to find me on Mastodon, set both to private, and then walked away. I won’t even look at Twitter now, because doing so triggers ad impressions and that gives Musk money. I don’t plan on ever giving that guy money, and I’m severely curtailing the amount of attention I’ve giving him.

I’ll miss the folks that stubbornly stay on Twitter, but they’ve made their choice, I’ve made mine, and someday maybe they’ll wise up.

On to Mastodon

In the meantime, my move to Mastodon has had ups and downs, but has ended up on an up. My choice of kickoff point on was a good one (@burningbird) because the creator of Mastodon (Eugen Rochko), who is also the administrator of, is quite welcoming of new Twitter folks. No nonsense about content warnings.

Speaking of content warnings, I was told to use them, and told not to use them. My account on was frozen and I believe it was because I did use content warnings when cross posting from Twitter. But I got into a disagreeable argument with another person about not using them when cross posting. A lose/lose.

Well, to hell with that server and any server administered by hypersensitive admins letting the power go to their heads. And to hell with other people’s CW demands.

Now, I use content warnings sparingly—primarily for larger posts or posts that contain what I deem to be sensitive material. If people don’t like it, they don’t have to follow me.

Mastodon and RSS

I did add some Mastodon stuff to my weblog. You’ll see a “post to Mastodon button” at the end of a story. And you’ll see my latest Mastodon entries in the footer. The latter comes from the RSS feed appended to each account in Mastodon (mine:

The really nice thing about Mastodon having an RSS feed is you can follow a person’s Mastodon entries in the same RSS reader you use for weblogs. Pretty soon, we’ll no longer be able to tell the difference between a weblog and a micro-blog.

Post to Mastodon

The post button is interesting (how-to). Unlike one centralized location for Twitter and Facebook, each person is on a specific Mastodon server, so you have to specify what server you’re on in the ‘toot this’ web page that opens. This is the nature of the federated beast. It’s no different than if you have a weblog or web page and you have to provide its unique URL when asked for it.

I also bookmarked the Toot dialog and use it when I post a link to Mastodon. I found using the dialog helps to trigger the link excerpt, while posting a link directly in Mastodon usually leaves the link as just a link.

The downside to using the Toot dialog is it logs me out of Mastodon, every time. This is a PITA when you’re using two-factor authentication.

Mastodon and Burningbird

My plan is to create my own Mastodon server, but I’m working through how I want to do so. I can spin up another Linode for it, or try putting in on this server. There are Mastodon hosting sites that are attractive, if for no other reason than you have to have SMTP access (for email), and it will be a cold day in hell before I try to run an SMTP service again. But I’m leaning towards spinning up another Linode and then using a 3rd party SMTP server such as Gmail.

The great thing about this federated universe is when I do create my own Mastodon instance, I can move all my follows/followers to it. I don’t believe I can move my posts to it, but really I don’t care about my older Mastodon posts. In fact, I’ve set my account up to delete them automatically after two weeks. Why burden with my old crap? I might be restoring my old weblog posts, but I don’t care about old Twitter/Facebook/Mastodon postings. These are just social media blurbs.

I do care about the people, so I don’t want to lose those connections.

When I do setup a Mastodon instance, I’ll spin you a tale of my trials and tribulations setting up a Ruby on Rails project. The one downside to Mastodon is it’s Ruby on Rails, an environment I have no experience with. I may also install something like PixelFed, which at least is good, honest PHP and Node.



Just Shelley Weblogging

Weblogging and 9/11: Something kind of broken

We look at today’s social media world post-Trump Presidency and we see a highly disconnected and fragmented world. The media proclaims it’s never seen society so polarized, but we’ve always been polarized. The only difference now is who controls the visibility of the fragments.

Unlike earlier years, what was fit to print, or fit for all of us to know, was controlled by the media. First the newspapers, then radio, and finally TV.

Now, we’re all publishers, even if all we publish is 280 character blurbs to a handful of people. And as publishers, every single one of us proclaims as loudly and emphatically as we can our interests and our beliefs, and all too frequently, our disagreements. It’s a wonder we can still think with all this chaotic noise.

It never used to be this way I think to myself, as I spend time recovering old weblog pages from the Wayback Machine. Before there was Twitter, and before there was Facebook or TikTok or Instagram, we had weblogging: a tightly integrated community of early practitioners who linked each other in a continuing dialog that was equally special and mundane, profound and silly.

Yet at the very beginning, we were broken.

9/11 and the rise of social media

Weblogging wasn’t the first example of social media. I’d say that honor goes to Usenet, which was fairly popular before the invention of the web. But weblogging made social media accessible to everyone, not just enthusiasts and geeks.

This page is as good a history of weblogging as I can find online. As you can see, weblogging started not long after the web, itself, though the number of webloggers began small. But this all changed with 9/11.

I remember watching the horrific events of 9/11 unfold in real time on TV that day. We watched as the planes hit and the towers fell. In the days after 9/11,  many of us wanted to reach out to people, to connect, and to talk about the events and try to make sense of what happened.

At the same time, our country was in a virtual lockdown. We’ve forgotten with the recent COVID-related restrictions that this isn’t the first time the country has been locked down. It isn’t even the first in recent history. The photo at the beginning of this writing is one I took from my apartment in San Francisco. Two days after 9/11 the military showed up with barbed wire and concrete barricades, blocking off a major street in order to protect the machinery of the Bay Bridge.

A combination of wanting to connect while physically distanced combined with new tools and inexpensive hosting led to an explosion of weblogs. And thanks to blogrolls and linking, we formed communities of seemingly like-minded people who became close even though we might be on the other side of the world from each other.

However, if 9/11 brought us together, the events following 9/11 soon started tearing us apart.

9/11 and the fracturing of social media

What brought on this writing was spotting a graphic from a Wayback Machine archived page of my friend Jeneane Sessum’s Allied weblog. I had recently discovered my old Radio weblog pages in the Wayback Machine, and shared the discovery with my Facebook friends. Many of these friends are people I’ve known for decades now because of our earlier weblogging connections. So, I posted links to some of their pages, too.

In a page from 2002, Jeneane had posted a sidebar graphic that read “1st off Mike Sanders’ Blog”.

Graphic reads 1st off Mike Sanders' BlogI hadn’t thought about this event, or Mike Sanders, in years. The graphic brought back the memories, albeit a bit fuzzy from time.

I searched throughout my Wayback Machine archives for the same time frame, and found the post that explained what this was about. I’ve recovered it to Burningbird, but you also have to look at the page in context.  It links a March 1, 2002 weblog posting that read:

I was out of town but had to return early.

This morning I received an email from Mike Sanders asking me to remove his weblog link from my blogroll and he has removed my weblog from his. The reason is because of my “moral equivalency” arguments last week, and because I linked to Daniel Ord’s piece Stereopticon in Friday’s post.

According to Mike:

    • Unfortunately some of my fellow bloggers understand and/or support both the Palestinian terrorist reign against Israel and terrorism against the US. I can longer in good conscious include those people on my blogroll list and I respectfully request anybody who understands or supports Palestinian terrorism or Islamic terrorism to please remove my name from your blogroll list as well.

I wrote the following in an email to a friend, regarding my posting on Friday:

    • No one noticed in my posting, my use of “viewpoint”, not opinion. Though sometimes treated as synonyms, they aren’t the same thing. A viewpoint is a point of view, the culmination of all our life’s experiences. How we see things. From this issues both action and opinion. Without understanding and respecting each other’s viewpoints, we can’t hope to understand where each of us is coming from when we speak or act.
    • I started my list with Ord because he is doing just that — he’s showing two viewpoints of the same incident. Without understanding the Palestinian viewpoint of the WTC tragedy, we can’t hope to stop these incidents from happening again, because we’ll never understand why they happened in the first place. The title of his piece tells us this — stereopticon.
    • stereopticon — viewpoint
    • I deliberately listed absolutely conflicting opinions, and invited the audience to understand the different viewpoints.

My first time being accused of supporting terrorism

Two things made Sanders’ email stand out. The first was that it was the only time when someone had asked me to remove a weblog link, not just remove a link to my page from their weblog. Today, this would be equivalent to someone on Twitter blocking you, but having to ask your permission, first.

The second was being accused of supporting terrorism because we weren’t willing to condemn Palestinian actions post 9/11. Mike Sanders was a strong supporter of Israel. In the process, he not only stepped over the line into Islamophobia, he raced across it. To the point where he would label us terrorists solely because we were willing to listen to other viewpoints.

Being labeled a terrorist by some extreme conservative isn’t all that unusual on Twitter or Facebook today, but it was a shock back in the early days of weblogging. Especially when the person leveling the accusation was a friend, or at least, you thought he was a friend.

And the fragments would only grow as our group broke into pieces over the Bush invasion of Iraq.

Killing the Blogroll

My response to the Sanders’ request was to eliminate my blogroll in its entirety. I had been considering doing so anyway, because I thought it was better to introduce folks through my writing and referencing them, rather than a static list of links in the side of the page.

If you random sample my old weblog URL on the Wayback Machine in later years, you won’t see a blogroll. Hell, you won’t even see more than one page column to my site now, in deference to mobile devices.

Mike Sanders’ request was the tipping point to the decision. I didn’t want to list or be listed or be beholden or not to someone because of links or not. I didn’t want to endorse or be endorsed. If I liked what someone wrote, I wanted to point it out to folks. If I wrote something interesting, I hoped for the same.

barbed wire

Thankfully, I never had anyone email me and tell me not to link to their writing. Perhaps this will change as I become more active in this space again.

End of Story

So much writing about something that happened so long ago. And probably much ado about nothing.

Mike Sanders quit his weblog that December, but he was back weblogging the following spring. And yes, he had a blogroll, and yes, I was on it.

It wasn’t as easy for me to push it all aside, though. It wasn’t just being accused of supporting terrorists. It was the idea that someone felt that they could tell me what I could or could not do on in my own web space.

Yet here I am, on Facebook and Twitter, letting them tell me what I can or cannot do in my own space.

There’s something kind of broken about that.







Comments cont.

I just published the second part of the essay on comments at Many-to-Many:

When I chastised the other person, when I suggested how they should change their interaction and behavior, we were no longer peers discussing a volatile subject – I had assumed a parental role, trying to force a child role on the other person. And, in some ways, Sam assumed a parental role when he chastised me.

I hope you also take a moment to read what others have written on this subject by following the trackbacks attached to my earlier posting, and those who have trackbacked to Sam’s postings. There are many eloquent and thoughtful arguments on what is not an easy issue.